Amen, Amen, Amen

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

A Sequel to Frozen

How do we thaw our stormy fears?

I know Frozen is totally 2013. But after my kids’ hundredth viewing, I wanted to see if they were just mouthing the words and swishing their hips to the music, or actually picking up some plot points.

Here’s a quick synopsis of the movie, for those of you who have somehow escaped its icy clutch. It’s really well-written by Jennifer Lee, based on the Hans Christian Andersen story “The Snow Queen”:

Anna and Elsa are sister princesses in Arendelle. Anna’s the plucky redhead who wants to do cartwheels all day. Elsa is the older one with snow-white hair and a deep dark secret: she was born with magical powers to create ice and snow. She can whip up a blizzard with a snap, which is pretty awesome and scary at the same time. Turns out, her magical powers are triggered by strong emotions. So when she feels overwhelmingly happy or sad or scared or frustrated – poof! – she sets off an eternal winter. Then she hides on top of a mountain in a self-erected ice castle so she can’t hurt anyone else. Anna tries to brave the storm and bring Elsa back, but she gets frozen too.

I asked my kids how the girls survived in the end.

“With the magic of a blue glove,” my five-year-old daughter said proudly.

“Do you mean the magic of true love?” I asked.

She thought about this for a good minute before giving me the benefit of the doubt. “Maybe. But there was also a cool glove.”

(My 3-year-old didn’t have an answer at all. He was too busy making kissy faces like Elsa and singing her hit song… "The cold never bothered me anyway.")

Don’t get me wrong, I think this movie is amazing in many ways. The message is truly empowering for little girls especially. The strength of true, selfless sacrifice. The fact that Anna has two guys who could smooch and “save” her, but it’s actually her sister’s tight embrace that resuscitates her. The snowman with his butt on his head is hilarious. Not to mention, the music is darn catchy. (My other favorite lyric: "Why have a ballroom with no balls?")

It’s just the whole emotions-setting-off-an-all-encompassing-ice-storm stuff that has me troubled. This feels all too familiar to me, and it’s also something I’m fighting fiercely. My strongest emotions/obsessive fears throw me into hurricanes that aren’t nearly as sparkly and clean as Elsa’s ice castle. Plus, I don’t get a snazzy gown like her or grow magical snowy cleavage.

My fears most often revolve around my kids’ tummies. Did they eat enough? Are they hurting? What if one of them throws up? It’s a ridiculous obsession, I know, but it’s been swirling through the snow of my brain for a few years now. And when one of my kids utters the words, “Ow, my tummy hurts,” my instinct is to run as far away as possible and erect a scaffold of ice daggers around me so no one can smell my terrified helplessness. I also spritz sanitizer and rub my hands together over and over.

I wish this movie could give me some clues about how to get to the other side of that storm. Besides one hug/blue glove. I don’t need a huge resolution. I just need to know that Elsa’s working on her baggage. Does she try exposure therapy? Gratitude lists? Meditation? She obviously needs some guidance with handling her high’s and low’s.

So this is a direct plea to Jennifer Lee, because she must be working on the sequel by now. May I please suggest:

T.H.A.W., aka Therapy Helps Anna&Elsa Weekly.

All right, I need to work on the title, but believe me, I already have some songs cooked up, including a salsa number called Stop Blaming it on Your Mom and Take Responsibility, Cha cha cha.

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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