Amen, Amen, Amen

An exploration of how obsessive-compulsive disorder can be a gift

This Year I Am Thankful For....

I love the English language, but "thank you" feels weak.

This year I give thanks for...

Christi

For letting me text her in the evening after the kids are in bed and I need to spill my newest and greatest fears. And for always answering my texts with a question, as in

Me: M has a rash and B didn't eat his peas and I just heard a mouse!
Christi: what then?

Really the rash, the peas, even the mouse in itself isn't so scary. It's the pathology I create - the rash is a symptom of some creeping cancer, infesting bedbugs, the bubonic plague, the feeling that I am not in control. Christi always asks me to follow my fear all the way through and make the story complete. And sometimes the dot dot dot is what I've been fearing the whole time so once I say it out loud or text it, I can actually laugh or at least see it as words instead of reality.

The Monks and Nuns of Plum Village

Led by the venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, who visited New York City a few weeks ago and made me feel infinitely hopeful. The tickets were a gift from my father-in-law. The day was cool and bright. People were swarming the convention center dressed as thunderbolts and superheroes for a comic book convention. And I love the English language but "thank you" feels pretty weak to describe the deep gratitude I feel. For the nun who led 900+ people in a collective meditation, singing us a lullaby that poured through her small body; for the monk who taught us mindful eating, chewing his lettuce leaves so precisely; for the nun who told of wanting to forgive her father after an abusive relationship. And realizing she couldn't. But she could start from where she was and make him a cup of tea. Which is what she did and how she knew this Buddhist practice was for her.

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The Mouse in Our Bathroom

Yes, the same one whom I accused of carrying the bubonic plague. Too many nights I've blasted anyone who wants to talk on MSNBC because I want to scare you away. And I don't want to kill you because what would the monks of Plum Village say but I also don't want you in our apartment because of that plague thing and the thought of my one-year-old chasing you across the linoleum floor. But just yesterday morning, when I was downstairs saying my prayers and my husband Jason was getting the kids ready for school, you came out to play. And for the first time in our eight-year relationship, Jason interrupted my prayers.
Very quietly calling, "Um, I could use some help here!"
Thank you for that miraculous moment, Mr. Mouse. And thank you

Jason

For those eight years of unwavering acceptance. Yes sometimes tinged with frustration but I can't even explain my prayers or OCD to myself sometimes. Thank you for walking with me for eight years as I try to make prayer a healthy, non-ritualistic practice. Thank you for stopping me in the middle yesterday.

Daring me to evolve.

And it was neither scary nor earth shattering. Jason caught the mouse and released him. My daughter, son and I played hide and seek and then I said goodbye, and started my prayers over. Which leads me to...

This Space

Thank you Psychology Today, for giving me this space to sound out these fears and challenges. To also record my victories and true love of OCD at times. And to all the wonderful and insightful readers and comments. It has been immeasurably helpful to me and I hope it has resonated with people and offered some solace.

Oh, and can someone please pass the cranberry sauce?

Abby Sher is a writer and performer in Brooklyn, New York, and the author of Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn't Stop Praying.

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