Monday, December 14, 2009

Small pieces of heaven

I'm struggling to stay positive, so rather than focus on the negative, I'm gonna share a story about a moment today that made my heart smile and my free spirit soar.

On Monday's one of the therapists here (who happens to also be my personal therapist) runs a "Process Group." The group varies from week to week. Today, it was a 3 part group, and the last part of group was that we were going to go outside and play in the snow. Nothing is mandatory here so we were not forced to play in the snow, but it was a part of programming, therefore, encouraged. By the time we finished with part 1 and 2 of the group, I was struggling tremendously with racing thoughts, intense triggers, and ridiculously strong urges to that I would feel better, so that I could go out and play in the snow....because that's what I wanted to be doing anyways. I felt paralyzed by my thoughts. I stared out the window watching everybody else, bundled up and cozy cute, sled down the hill we have in our front yard. The absent colored faces that I see everyday, and the eyes that are filled with constant fear and apprehension, were alive.....their cheeks were rosy not only from the winter air, but from the movement of smiles. Their eyes were not wet from tears, but moistened from the exhilaration and the air that they cut though as they flew down the hill on a plastic sled. Warm tears tumbled down my face as I watched. I wanted to be out there. I was angry that I wasn't.

I was paralyzed by my thoughts of how angry I was that someone put their shoes up on the couch during group, contaminating it, eliminating a place for me to sit, and therefore ruining my day. This reaction is all too familiar. I get angry at an unknowing person as if they did something terribly wrong, when in reality it is my OCD....the overwhelming fear I have about a specific thing or action....and has nothing to do with the person at all. My misdirected anger jails me. I am defeated every time. I miss out on life.....big things and small.

As I continued looking out the window, I concluded that I would do the exact opposite thing that my OCD thinking would have me do.....and to be honest, I was skeptical as to the outcome, even though all the behavioral therapists swear by it. So, out of pure spite, I put on a second pair of sweats, my leopard rain boots :) , and finished pulling on my beanie and gloves as I walked toward the hill. Several people cheerfully offered a sled to me before I could even reach the snow-packed sledding track. I sat on the sled and took off down the hill. When the sled came to a stop at the bottom of the hill, I was a little fun. I walked to the top of the hill, sat down and took off again. This was pretty fun. I smiled. I was forgetting to stay angry. I sorta ran to the top this time, and when it was my turn again, eagerly hopped on the sled, this time giddy with excitement and smiled all the way down the snowy slope. I had completely forgotten I was angry, and all of a sudden the shoes on the couch and all the other triggers from group didn't seem like that big of a deal anymore. They had NOT gotten the best of me. I had broken out of my jail. I was living.

A couple hours later, I was sitting at the kitchenette table when a big, burly guy walked past me and said, "Hi Kristen. Did you have fun today?"
I said, "Uh-huh. Did you?"
He looked at me and with the biggest smile I've seen on his face since arriving here, he said, "Ya, it was the best time I've had since I was a kid."

This guy is a full grown man. A dad. A US solider.

I wish I could explain the moment better. It was amazing. I was in awe of the joy that his free spirit had brought him. It may have been just for a moment, but that moment is hope. From my own experience, I know that we have missed so many moments of joy, so many small pieces of heaven, because of the destructive power we have given to irrational thoughts. Even more than the excitement of sledding, this man's simple statement made me soooo happy. I was excited for him. For years, he fought for the freedom of his entire country.....and now he's fighting for his own free spirit.

Not only would I have denied myself the opportunity to defy my OCD, I would have missed out on the opportunity to share in this man's victory had I chosen to stay irrationally angry.


  1. You go girl!! I'm so proud of you...that you don't give up and give in to the irrational thoughts, feelings and behaviors that "jail" you. May your tenacity and fortitude continue to guide you to make the right choice, even when it's the hardest choice! Soar, free spirit, soar!!! xoxo

  2. Yeah Kristen!! You did it--you were stronger than that irrational fear. You can do it again and again and again and again. I am proud of you for this milestone against fear.

  3. Kristen,
    I try to read your blog when I can, but not nearly as often as I would like. I still remember those nights when you would spend the night in my dorm room with me, and we would talk until we fell asleep from exhaustion! I have missed you over the years. I don't know you like I used to, but I am enjoying journeying with you now. I am so very proud of you. I want you to know that you inspire me. I have been battling postpartum depression and can relate to some of what you describe about taking steps to bring yourself joy, breaking free of the thoughts that have been holding you prisoner.
    I will pray for you when I pray for myself. I love you, my friend!
    Love, Sarah

  4. Kristen, you are not alone on this journey. If not OCD everyone struggles with their own personal fight for their free spirit. Not only are you brave for stepping out and fighting for your free spirit, you give courage and hope to those who are missing out on life. Thank you, for taking the step. Thank you for being so brave. And thank you for communicating to everyone so that we may draw courage and bravery from you. You are making a great difference, not only for yourself, but for others who can walk with you through this trying time.

  5. This one makes me smile. There's Kristen, there she is. Leopard print rainboots and all. :)

    You better believe that you have infinite moments -- just like that one -- ahead of you, ready and waiting. And I'm so grateful I get to be a part of your family and witness all of them.

    Love you, Sis. You're doing phenomenal.

  6. Definitely my favorite moment of this verse was...

    "So, out of pure spite, I put on a second pair of sweats, my leopard rain boots"

    Ha ha... "pure spite" is great.

    But even after reading this blog the first thing I thought of was us swimming in that nasty fountain outside of my crappy Fullerton apartment in the middle of the night. Ha, I'm not too sure if you had to over come any triggers or anything to jump into that fountain with me, but I am glad you did. One of the best memories from our college days. I swear that the stink from that fountain remained embedded into my skin for at least a few days afterward. Ha, good times...