Shelter is defined as: a place giving temporary protection from bad weather or danger.
We all are in need of shelter. It does not have to made of brick and stone. It can simply be an offering of understanding, an offering of support. Many times I found shelter in not jut a friend but a simple conversation shared between someone who understood my plight, my dysfunction, my pain.
Whenever I run into someone with OCD I feel connected to them. Kind of like the feeling when you meet family for the first time. A simpatico. A sameness. Almost as if we are all brothers and sisters separated at birth. We may all have different symptoms but we all know exactly how it feels to suffer from them. We get the guilt of being imperfect, the shame of having intrusive horrible thoughts, the pain of being lied to by our minds and betrayed by our false perceptions. I can feel their pain and not just in the sense of saying that in a sympathetic tone. No, I actually feel it. Like an OCD empath. I can taste their fear like coppery bile and I know how they are tortured. I too have danced in the barren room of ice, twirling around while my fingers and toes slowly turn frostbit. It is a frozen barren field of feeling alone but being forced to participate in a game that has rapidly lost it's amusement, we have learned to hate, and don't want to play anymore. It is a blizzard of snow covered emotions and most of them are sorrowful and depressing. Sadness becomes your blanket, pain becomes your pillow, and self loathing becomes your pajamas you wear so often they have started to become your second skin. It's no longer easy to remember where you begin and your OCD ends re we even sure anymore? Feeling lost and alone and so very cold is something any OCD sufferer can identify. We have all done time in this place. Our jail cells of ice and stone. It is our punishment for crimes we have only thought but never actually done and never wanted to think about in the first place. We are punished twice. Once for the horror they cause us and then again for the simple fact we had them to begin with. We beat ourselves up for thinking such things. We hate ourselves for the images. We learn to hate the voice in our head. It is the enemy and we fear him. He is the ice demon and he sends ice water through our veins. He lies. He devastates any sense of self confidence. He shows us false images and tells us false stories leaden with his silver tongue and poisonous adjectives. He is the cold, bitter, frigid, cutting, biting winds of shame. He is the frosty earth that crunches beneath your feet threatening to break under your weight and swallow you whole.We need not fear the boogeyman that lies in the dark shadows beneath our bed who threatens to climb out with his long scraggly bone like talons and grab you by your ankles to drag you down in hopes of getting to devour your soul. He is child's play compared to the the boogeyman in our minds. He is the real threat. He doesn't need to hide under the bed's comforting shadows. We waits for us in the recesses of our minds, the corners of thought processes, the wrinkles in our peaceful thoughts. He always there, always aware, and always hungry. We fear him. We are mostly in a state of constant terror. Not of things that we are afraid we will do, because we know that we will not. We are incapable of harming others like we see in our heads. We fear him because he makes us watch these atrocities over and over again like a horror film stuck in a belt loop. So we understand each other. We know how it feels. We are fundamentally the same when it comes to the ice man and his room of frosty horrors.
To find someone who knows what that is like, to me , is like a miracle. Finally I know that this person is familiar with the ice room. This person knows what the betrayal of the mind feels like. This person knows what I have gone through. This person is my kin and we have never even met. It is freeing. It is absolving. It is wondrous. For the first time in my life I feel safe. I feel like I am sheltered in their understanding. I am protected from the storm in my head by the masses of my peers.
To finally know that I am no longer the broken ballerina twirling in a room of desperation has been life changing. It has become my saving grace and my chosen duty to try and reach out to others. To let them know we all feel like broken ballerinas and we are not alone. Just like every false thing OCD tells us, the feeling of being the only one is also false. We are many. The feeling of being broken is false. Are we repetitive? Sure. Are we confused? Sometimes. Are we broken? Never.
So, I have decided that I no longer am willing to listen to the ice demon's lies. He is repetitive and boring. Not to mention rude and vile. I am no longer willing to play his game at only my expense. I refuse to feel guilty for something I have never done nor will I ever do. I refuse to bow down and wear the red letter of shame. These pajamas of self loathing suck. They are ill fitting and not my taste. These blizzards of emotional turmoil are pointless and damaging. I am going to not only seek shelter by being open but I am going to build my own shelter by reaching out and sharing .I didn't ask to be born like this and refuse to be punished for it. And most of all I refuse to punish myself for something that is no fault of my own. I will no longer cower in fear or avoid the happy positive things and relationships in my life just because my OCD wants to be in control. I think it has taken up plenty of time in my life already and I refuse to allow it to do it anymore. So, I will obsess but I will not give into the fear. I will have intrusive thoughts and they will be upsetting but I will not call myself names or blame myself for them anymore. They are not my fault or my doing. I am going to talk, and speak, and shout, and yell until I am heard. Until we are all heard and we can finally stop living in fear of what our minds say. I will write. I will write. I will write. Each post will be the bricks that build my walls. Each word will be the mortar. Each comment will be the support beams. Each time I write I will build a shelter for those like me to stand under when their storms are heavy.
When I run into someone else with OCD I feel like we are the same. We have fought the same battles and weathered the same storm. I would like to offer them the shelter of knowing I understand. The shelter of knowing I have been there too. The shelter of knowing they are not alone. The shelter of believing that we are not broken ballerinas twirling around blindly in the snow. We are so much more than that. Many times, I have found shelter with other's words. I hope that others can find shelter with mine.
I felt it shelter to speak to you___Emily Dickison