Recently, my friend Tina at the Bringing Along OCD blog wrote about “reading OCD” – which she had in an earlier post described this way:
Imagine opening up a book to begin reading it. Chapter one. You read a paragraph. Then you reread it. Then you move to the second paragraph, but you realize that you may not have read the first paragraph well enough. So you go back and read paragraph one again. Then you read and reread paragraph two several times. You finally make it to the end of the page, and in turning the page, you think, “I’ve read page one adequately.”But you can’t be sure. Did you understand everything you read? Will you remember it?So you reread page one, reading and rereading the paragraphs again. After an hour of being on page one, you get tired and decide to put down the book. You’ll get through the book someday. It’s only the third time you’ve tried to read chapter one.
“Stella,” I said, reaching out and touching her hand.
She looked at me. “What’s up?”
“I think it’s wrong to write my poems.”
She frowned. “What.” It was an accusation, not a question.
I tried to explain my logic. “So I write about feeling scared about hell, for example, okay? And then other people read about it, and I’m causing them to sin.”
“Neely, the Bible talks about hell.” The brown eyes of Stella Bay-Blake were flashing—and looking dangerously similar to Trapper’s.
“There is that,” I said, pausing to think it through. Maybe Christ’s brief mentions of hell didn’t warrant people’s actual dwelling on it, whereas a poem would. In that case, I’d still be out of line. “I don’t know.”
“Neely, there is rape in the Bible. And adultery. And murder.”
“But maybe not really in a way so that the reader dwells on those things, you know?”
“No,” she said. She sounded angry, and with her curls falling forward into her face, she looked violent, like a lion. “This is the one way that you can healthily process your stupid OCD.”
“Maybe I could try to dwell on lovely things. Write about lovely things.”
“Yeah,” she said sarcastically. “You can write ‘Walking on a Rainbow to the King: Reprise.’ Because what I want to read are a hundred pages about sunshine and puppies.”
“Not sunshine and puppies, not necessarily,” I said. “But things like … like faith and confidence.” Father God, I love You.
“You have OCD,” she reminded me, “and you are going to write convincing poems about confidence?” She had a point. “My gosh, I will really blow a nut if you quit writing. I’m the writer who doesn’t write!”
But we sat in silence at the tiny table, my closed journal a symbol of all my failure.
OCD. Is. A. Thief. It will steal whatever you love best. It will warp your mind into believing things that are so far from the truth. It is a liar. I hate the bondage it keeps so many people in. I am so glad to no longer listen to and believe all those lies.