Mary Jane's Shoes

Mary Jane's Shoes

Musings of one person among many. Not exceptional in any way, as with all, I have exceptional experiences and varied reactions to those events. Mine is one of many life stories and how I manage and cope with the events which make my life my own, I attempt to put forth by way of my writings.

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As It Should Be

May 29, 2014


I saw the fear
in the mirror eyes
reflecting back to me.
Just move,
do not think.
Release thoughts that bind
and freeze your arms and legs
curled on soft pillows
but oh so hard.
In an icy prison
repetition keeps you,
just move.
A thaw will ensue
loosening the sinews,
freeing the synapses.
Warm gauze will cover wounded feet,
will slow the freeze
of mind cells.
Cyclical warmth
builds on each move
correcting caustic mind patterns.
Feet travel fresh.
Tar’s heat is as the bite of a bitter apple.
Splintered wood annoys the skin.
The cool of tile awakens sleep feet
and tendons no longer stiff with cold now enjoy the softness of once hard pillows.
Just move.
Do not think.

Steadfast yet Coercive is my Friend

February 22, 2013

I put utensils in the dishwasher, without thought, without plans.

This is significant, as not all forks have their tines pointing towards the ceiling. Not all knives have the cutting edge down. Silly to some yet not inconsequential. I dare say, “To mix the spoons amongst the other silvers is somewhat delicious.” Odd I had the desire to say such in a somewhat proper manner. I might be trying to create order by using those words; create the illusion of it, order. Something upon which I know I will think.

Ruminating thoughts of creating order, creating a certain peace in the midst of the continual chaos of a full life is a difficult place from which to steer away. “I do not have the papers in their proper place,” is a remark I shudder to make, so I catch those perceived mistakes before my hands are off the file. To believe I have reached that point takes time, and much time in my mind’s file cabinet.

I have one important note which cannot be overlooked in an attempt to clarify my experience with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Should there not exist the time to order and manage according to my inner friend’s voice, I simply and regrettably leave the object or issue in an associated stack or grouping, real or in thought only, until I can give it its deserved time. With a family of six children, homeschooling the youngest four for the past 14 years at this point, dealing with the demands of a complicated life, which we all do, this type of organization is often left to eat away at me. It can reach and has reached the point of paralyzing me and restricting my movement.

While breathing and dreaming, I have sorted all aspects of life. I have built an Organizational Bible,of sorts. This is my link to correct perspective and peace. It is my safe haven.

It is not a minute, minuscule effort to see the world with eyes not blurred; my vision is blurred with all there is to see, hear and touch. The undefined, hazy mix has been and still is, to a large extent, a reality that causes me much stress and anxiety. Defined. Distinct. Genuine. True. Pure. These are adjectives that I have tried so diligently to see become a reality, amongst all, within all, within the entirety of living.

As it may be obvious, much, much, too much time is used in the endeavor of order. Too much is used in the effort of reaching a perceived perfect. Too much is spent in the effort of achieving rightness, as subjective as rightness is. Too much time is lost trying to break life into pieces to see how the whole is formed. As it is a method to attain these conditions, I find divisions in life and separate one from another. The divisions in these aspects of life are carried down to the smallest coin, the oldest toy in our home, the seemingly most useless piece of written information. Thoughts are spent, recently, trying to create a straight line between the political parties in our government, cleanly delineating the two, three, or more. Black and White. My rational mind knows it cannot be done, but my sidekick tries to force the issue. The order of clothing in the closet, or drawer, by type and by color, and divisions beyond, causes much stress until I have righted them. Photographs and albums now also in digital form as a means to store and share has muddled my outline of living. Add slides, movie film, video tapes, CD’s and DVD’s we have recorded, and cataloguing becomes an all-consuming endeavor. Every newsletter from a charity, political campaign or college must be mentally processed before it can be used or tucked away, neatly. Thoughts of religion consumed me for a period. The questions we all ask about our purpose in being alive, being human, would seep into my dreams, and nightmares.

To do what I have tried to do is not possible. I at one time was proud. I believed using my brain in this way helped me explain the world, life, and keep all intact so to speak. I did eventually learn it was an effort to control any anxiety or hurt, or fear. I am learning still; it does not eradicate negative emotions; this coping mechanism buries them and gets stronger with each burial.

I am learning each thought does not live alone. I am learning each item, each word I encounter does not fit neatly into the deep and far-reaching outline I have created. I have touched a tiny seed of letting go. I have felt that seed move from plant through the wind to the soil. The wind is freedom. The momentary exhilaration of not employing my own self-employed rules is somewhat new.

And it simply, purely is exhilaration. Though short-lived, I have experienced this brief, breakthrough moment on occasion. To me it is a breathtaking sight. It is very awkward to live in a new pureness, one of pure feeling, emotion and not logic. Little movements of breaking free are things of no usual consequence to those without this same invisible entity that resides in me.

It is heavy and busy and demands constant care. It is intrusive. It holds its own mind and controls mine.

To remove it and its decidedly arrogant stiffness is done slowly so as not to shock and awaken.
If movements are too large, its heart beats rapidly and fear takes room in its mind. This separate, but very much connected life lurches then forward to ruminate and press order. It sees no sense in the world without tremendous thought.
I feel the pressure to return to my lists and my alignment of….

every thought, spoken word and object.

To place a flower in a vase, without thought as to how this action fits into its place in my life, is at that moment tense. To dress unrestrained by the order in which I bathe my body and feet, fingernails and hair, apply lotions and add jewelry provokes an underground anxiety. For years, from the age of nine forward, I have organized and straightened. It became something of which I was proud, as if I had it “all together,” knew where I was from and where I was going. This desire grew into something much more. These obsessions and the resulting compulsions (actions or ruminations) took on a life of their own. My husband and I argued about whether what I was doing actually made a difference; was it necessary? I would argue that my thoughts and my rituals made life better, more organized. I argued nothing would slip through the cracks. Something did slip through the cracks. Me.

I was suffocating. The oxygen meant for me was being used by the entity that had been controlling more and more of my thoughts and actions. I, at this time, still did not see that I could be or should be separated from this presence. I believed it was me; I was it.

Through a residency rotation with psychiatry, my husband met a patient, a boy. This teenager was suffering with OCD and anorexia. Now this was during a time when OCD was not a catch phrase for casual organized behavior, as it is often used today. The term was just beginning to walk out of hospital environs and into mainstream media. My husband, upon meeting this young man, began rather quickly to see that I was living the same life, in some respects. After months, years of denial, I came to understand that my thought processes were not normal. Very difficult it was to see this and accept it. Even more difficult to change. I do now have to admit that it was a very small start to a grand, new way of life. Again, I didn’t see it at that time.

Through therapy and medicines, I still struggle but am living life now more than I ever did before. I am learning that no thought or word stands alone. No item dwells in a lonely place. No bits of information are solitary. All musings, beings, objects affect others beyond themselves. Just as the wind has taken the seed and the seed disturbs the soil, every action or non-action weighs in on another. This is the freedom I desire. I desire to move and drift and find joy in the interaction of all in life. To see and accept the amazing play between circumstances and objects, action and consequence, this is my aspiration. I want to accept the hazy mix, the interplay. It is in this home I want to stay, where my coercive friend is not taking any of my oxygen.

Honest Words, Trying to Break from OCD

December 9, 2009

I have been through some of the therapy; I have been through meds for this disorder.  OCD.  Today was the end of a 5 day separation.  I stayed away while my incredible family attempted to create a home again.  A this point I am scared to go to the house.  I know that once I enter, it will not feel as if it is my home.  That is the OCD speaking.  I will have a home in my head, all in order by the alphabet, color or subject.  I suppose reviewing this is a coping mechanism.  At the moment, this is how I can tolerate the changes.  Crazy to feel this way, considering I live to be with my kids every moment of the day, to be a loving parent, to make a wonderful home filled with laughter, to really live and experience life IN our home.   Funny, I would write articles and send them to national magazines on the subject of parenting, always rejected, but I tried.  This was in the 80’s and 90’s.  I did get “published” once.  The publication was Charleston’s Parent monthly news “mag”.  I actually used to be an awesome mom, not really, but I was pretty darn good. My husband wants that person back.

This will be the best thing that has ever happened to my children and my husband, well that was a stupid statement.  Concerning my disorder, yes that maybe true.  Hope that nothing as tumultuous is again a part of their lives.  Maybe I can continue on the positive path that has been started.  I so need to let go of the issues swirling through my head.  I very much want  for them to live their own lives without my monster.  Can I possibly be the example of overcoming a hardship?  One of our children is already a master at that game, though it is no game.    Maybe I will be an example in another regard.

Tomorrow will be a personal victory.  However I respond, I still will have made it through the trauma, drama, the changes.  I realize this issue is trivial compared to other, more significant concerns.  My family is healthy at this time; we are so tightly bound that we can say the words we feel.  My girls are my best friends, my sister too.

I guess writing is one of the ways I am preparing for the shock that will come tomorrow morning.

Obviously I am frightened.  I do not know how I will react when I open the door.  I do know I have to accept the changes.  The girls will be at school or work.  Elliot will be in class, or the recording studio ;),  and Ben, Isaac and Noah will need to start math.  I have this feeling we may start the morning playing a game, Labyrinth.

It is 10:31. I am going to try to fall asleep.  Jen, Mary Caroline and Hannah, your phones will be ringing soon.

I Have

September 30, 2009 4 Comments


I don’t know why I write, therapy possibly.  Trying I am to understand why I am somewhat dysfunctional.  Well I actually know the answer to that question, OCD – obsessive compulsive disorder.  Writing helps me gain control, operative word, of blinding emotions and extreme thoughts that push and pull me to complete certain rituals.

“I have six kids.”

This statement runs through my head without conscious decision.  OCD.  This other half is the basis of who I am. Though I know this is not true, OCD rules my life.  Through therapy, I am to think of it as a monster of sorts, something to rid myself of completely.  It is difficult to push what seems such an innate part of me, and has for my entire life in various forms, away.  Upon those times when I try to push anxiety away,  not follow through with the vast outline form of life that resides in my head, “I have six kids” is immediately in the front of my brain. It arrives without warning and seemingly without conscious decision. It is the beginning of a list that I repeat in attempt to decrease fear and anxiety. This way of beginning a ritual is new to me and a great deal simpler than in previous years. I have shortened it, cut off some of the initial thoughts. For me, progress.

I can stop myself there sometimes.  It is a bandage of sorts to stop the flow of returning to my REAL lists. Yes I have lists upon lists.

Those that really know me, the members of my family, have suffered greatly as the recipients of my insatiable desire to “make it right”, perfect, organized. In lovely addition, I save; I hoard.  Every drawing, test, every newspaper that might have some significance to our family, to ‘our lives together’  has been a source of stress.  Do I hold on or give up.  Choice of words says much I guess.  I have recently relinquished many items that have meaning to me, perhaps they had been inappropriately important..  There is a guilt I feel when not repeating the same behavior with my younger children. Guess not repeating these behaviors is progress.  To me it is a type of failure….still.  I have a long way to go.

I have tried to explain it as a nesting disorder, in my case, as well as an effort to freeze time.  Items, as are photographs, are moments suspended. They represent moments that I cannot begin recapture, unless I have a photograph, or some sort of documentation. The passing of daily life is a melancholy event to me. I find the joy in what is happening at the moment but am greatly saddened when the fleeting moment has passed.  I suppose I want to stop the world from turning.

In reference to nesting, I veered, as is my way.  As females, in particular, the desire to take care of our offspring is animal.  This makes sense as we are such.  Survival of the species.  This is a biological urge that is very difficult to overcome, should one desire to do so.  Within the realm of OCD, this urge can overwhelm and consume.

This disorder manifests itself in various forms.  The thoughts, obsessions, dictate behaviors, compulsions.  They intrude when not desired.  The obsessions resemble a recording playing on a continuous loop.  Hitting stop isn’t an option.

Epiphany.  1987.  My husband was doing a psych rotation during his years as a student in medical school.  One patient that caught his attention in particular had OCD.  For this patient almost no movement was spontaneous.  He was the male version of me, including his eating disorder.  He and I were trying to do everything without mistake…trying to be perfect in some ridiculously unattainable manner.  The similarities were shocking to me, as they are to any that suddenly realize that they are moving through life in an extraordinary, different, fashion.  This realization though did not impede my behaviors

I remember an article, a short piece in a parenting magazine.  (As of this day, I have every issue of every year during which a child of ours was born.  I promise I am trying to let go.)  The author, as a new mom, refused to let herself not handle all that she had pre-baby.  She wrote of the broken, unpolished nails and clothes that were out of style.  She wrote of the yard that was strown with toys and the worry of neighbors’ disapproval.  I thought her concerns were extremely ill-placed, her priorities silly.  I still, though, understood the need to make all just right, albeit with different priorities.  This fed my OCD monster.

Everyone has a desire, to some degree, to ‘do it right’, correct mistakes, keep illness and germs away from themselves and loved ones.  Within the confines, literally, of this disorder, the drive is much stronger.  Nesting has gone awry.  Counting, washing, retracing a path, these behaviors are an effort to rid oneself,  one’s family, the world, of a negative.

I have come to understand that nothing is in complete order.  Fighting that notion is a different beast.  Perfect is very different for each one of us AND is unattainable.  I am learning.  The word ‘perfect’ should be negated from our vocabulary.  It is elusive, beyond such, it actually makes no sense.    I suppose, with my belief in tolerance and acceptance, I have finally begun to apply that concept to myself.  This acceptance is allowing me to try to get rid of the monster under my bed.

It is a daily, hourly struggle.  I will somehow move through and beyond this disorder, one day, for the sake of my children, my husband, and myself.

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