Ri(tu)als

I nailed my feet to the ground

I did not trust gravity

I did not want to float away

Feebly flapping

My arms tried to fly (they didn’t like that we were rooted)

So I duct taped them to my torso

When my fingers wiggled

I tied them together

A breeze came and blew my hair

I weaved my locks into a tapestry

They could have made good money if they would have sold it

When the birds sang, my ears would hear them

I filled my ears with silly putty

Stuffed cotton balls into my mouth

I sewed my eyes shut

Velcroed my lips together.

Only then could I sleep.

I do not want (to)

I do not want to

look in the rearview mirror

see the damage

cry for the dead (only on the inside)

drive on

leave the last 27 seconds behind

waste the next 27 years forgetting

the past 27 seconds

drive on

your sunglasses with block out the blood

your radio will drown out the screams

roll the window up

lock the door

you are in

they are out

you are safe

they are dead

you’ve been spared

check your seatbelt

it prevents deaths, they say

turn up the radio

it prevents thoughts, they say

keep your foot on the gas

leave the scene

flee the pain

do not turn around

it is done

you are complete

you are innocent

the blood does not stain

your hand or

your wheels

it only tints the side mirror

avoid them for the rest of the drive

the rain will clean it all later

On Alcohol

all of them were old enough to be my grandparents

none of them were young enough to by my parents

I never wanted to drink

to occupy the hands so that they wouldn’t

peel the frayed cuticles

so that the teeth wouldn’t

bit the lips

so the brain wouldn’t

freeze

I never waned

to want this

to understand the logic of the mouths

that drank the blood

or the willingness to take another glass

even though your car is outside for you to drive it

I never wanted

to understand

understanding becomes acceptance

acceptance becomes compliance

compliance, surely death

I took a sip of my 0 proof

blood orange soda

wishing that it would turn into wine

On Books and OCD

Books, Me, and OCD

“Can we please read Madeline tonight?” I asked as if I were a toddler asking to read her favorite book for the fifth time.

She ignored my pleas and excavated through the piles of clothes and books that littered the floor of my room. She came up with Eloise Takes a Bwath.

“For someone with OCD, your room is a disaster,” my mother said.

I ignored her comment; she knew that OCD didn’t work like that.

“We read Madeline the last two nights;” she declared, “it’s time for something different.”

She did have a point. We did need a new book, and Eloise was that new book.

We only made it through the first few pages that night. I kept getting s-t-u-c s-t-u stuck on the words. Starting and stopping, we read for an hour that night, and every night. She read aloud, and I listened, trying to form the words into sentences instead of grouping the letters into clusters of fives.

This counting of the letters interrupted my life the summer before my sophomore year when my great grandma had her second heart attack. Because I could not save my grandmother, I had to do the second best thing: make sure that every word that I saw or heard or thought had five letters in it.

Diagnosed in with OCD in 9th grade, I thought I had lived the hard chapter of my life. I had spent several months in therapy and was finally doing better, until my grandmothers got sick. In 9th grade, my OCD had been nothing more than a series of rituals in order to make sure that things felt just right. When my grandmother had a heart attack, my OCD turned into preventing her death. As my OCD became more intrusive, school became harder since all I was doing was counting, and I lost one of my favorite things, reading.

Mom and I never finished Eloise Takes a Bwath; we switched over to The Phantom Tollboothinstead since you can only read the first page ofEloise Takes a Bwath so many times before you cannot take it anymore. We slowly made our way through The Phantom Tollbooth.

As the harsh Florida winter ended, I was at a point where it was no longer necessary for me to be read to; I could finally read a book on my own, something I had not done since school had started back in August. Over the course of six months, I had gone from nearly illiterate to reading again.

My parents often say that they wished they could have made it all better, wished they could have made my OCD go away. Looking back, I am happy their wish did not come true. Although I am grateful that I am better and my OCD is managed, I am more grateful for what my OCD has given me. When I was diagnosed with OCD, I was given the choice to let it control my life or get my life back. Through therapy, I’ve been able to learn one of the most important things, that I have the power to change my life. Beyond learning the power I have to change, I’ve also made some of my closes friends because of my OCD. I’ve met an incredibly community through the International OCD Foundation’s Conference and was able to speak to kids with OCD on the Teen Success Panel. I feel like I was given this challenge in order to make something out of it. Because of this belief, I’ve started a nonprofit summer camp for kids with OCD. Since I had to fight to get my life back, I will make something out of the life I now have.