The War Inside Your Head

Imagine, you’re 13. It’s the summer before your eighth grade year. You play softball all summer. You get hot and sweaty; you roll in the dirt. If it rains you go out with your friends and play in the mud. You catch frogs. Everything is fine.

Then one day you get a horrendous case of poison ivy, your knees are covered, it’s crawling up and down your legs, you’ve got it on your arms. It’s miserable. It itches all the time. You sleep with socks on so you don’t scratch. You visit the doctor. You get oral medications and a shot. It doesn’t help, you go back for a shot. Finally, it starts getting better.

But then you start feeling weird. You get these weird emotions. Your mom leaves for work and you chase her to the car and hug her one more time. You’re afraid she won’t come home. You go to the bathroom, wash your hands and leave. You start washing farther up your arms. Eventually you wash to your elbows every time you go to the bathroom.

You start sitting on a sheet when you are in the front room so your body doesn’t touch the furniture. You move your sheet every time you move your seat. Want to sit on the couch, place the sheet there first. Want to sit on the floor, sheet first.

You wash your hands before touching the freezer door. You call your mom at work and ask if you need to rewash a towel because it touched your thigh while you were folding it.

You go to the bathroom, wash your hands up to your elbows, walk out of the bathroom and turn around and do it again. And again. And again. You use a nail brush every time you wash your hands.

You’re in the shower, your long hair touches your butt while your washing it. You have to wash it again. You shower for at least an hour, repeatedly washing, every shower. Your parents have to check on you because you’ve been in there so long.

You are constantly afraid that your germs will kill your family. You cry because you don’t want to kill your family.

You can still go out and play in the dirt. You can still catch frogs. You can still make mud pies, but you constantly worry about your germs.
When you’re on you period, it’s ten times worse.

Your mom doesn’t know what to do anymore so she takes you to the doctor. You are diagnosed with OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. You finally know what those feelings are. It’s anxiety. And you’re not alone.

You get medication. You get counseling. You get better. But it’s not easy. There are tears. There are wars in your head. You KNOW that you are clean but still there’s that little voice that says you’re not. That little voice says you can still kill your family with your germs.

Your mom takes away your nail brush. You learn to live without it by digging the soap. Then eventually you can stop that. Your showers get shorter, there are still occasions where you have to wash your body a couple times.

You wash your arms in public and make excuses that “Oops, I’m messy and spilled soda on my arms.”

But you still have some issues. You leave for college. Your mom talks to the college and arranges for you to get a dorm room where you don’t have to share the communal bathroom.

You go out into the big world. You still worry. You still wash occasionally. You still have freak outs. You still call mom and have her talk you down.

You get pregnant and go off your medication. You do fine. You stay off the meds until you get poison ivy again and get another shot. You start having problems again. Years go by, you have occasional problems. Sometimes you call your mom to talk you down but most times you have your husband do it.

You get pregnant again. You go off your medication only this time you don’t make it through the entire pregnancy. You have anxiety attacks. You cry uncontrollably. Only now it’s not just fear of germs but other anxiety attacks.

You go to your doctor because you can’t do it anymore. Luckily you are far enough along that you can start your meds again. Your doctor takes you off work for a week. You slowly start getting better. You war in your head. You use those things they taught you in therapy to talk yourself down.

A couple years go by, you decide you want to try to go without meds, you don’t want to be dependent. Your able to make it several months without a problem and then BAM! Out of nowhere anxiety attacks start again. Thoughts start again. Fear comes knocking again.

You pray, you beg, you plead, you go back on your meds. You get better.

You still have problems, you still have to talk yourself down, you still have wars in your head, you still have anxiety.

OCD is not fun and games. Sure it may be funny to others that so and so has to keep their pencils in a line. Or that so and so has to check the front door to make sure it’s locked 5 times. Or so and so has to count every pole along the road. Or so and so won’t shake peoples’ hands.

You might laugh along. But you have lived like this 20 years, you know what those people are feeling.

You will live like this the rest of your life and you will cope. You will be ok.

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Poetry

I found my old poetry journal from 15 years ago. Here’s some samples:

My mind is a maze full
Of fantasy tales
and make believe
Like a child
I wander through my thoughts
Trying to find a way
To express myself
But I want to be liked
For what I’m not
I’m afraid if I express
me for who I am
I’ll be an outcast
not liked
Left to wander my
mind of maze full fantasy tales
and make believe.

Open your eyes
See what is not there
Listen
Hear words not spoken

A man with no sin was crucified
And for my sins He died
His love for me
Has set me free
And I will forever worship him

His nail scarred hands
And the whips’ bands
Were taken for Love
SO I could be with Him above
And live eternally

He died upon a tree
Hoping we could see
He is the One
God’s only son
Sent as the ultimate sacrifice

If I could paint a rainbow across the sky
For you, I would
If I could make the sun shine
For you, I would
If I could make the flowers bloom
For you,, I would
If I could send away the rain
For you, I would
If I could make you smile
For you, I would
If I could take away your pain
For you, I would
For you, I would do anything
Because you are my friend

I said a prayer for you today
Asked God to take your pain away
To bring a smile to your face
And His blessings to your place
To know deep down in your heart
That you and He will never part
And that He’ll take care of you
No matter what you go through
And if you ever need me
Don’t hesitate to call me
Because I’m here for you
Just like He’s there too

The Bridesmaid

The only thing she hated more than being a bridesmaid was flying across the country to be a bridesmaid. She’d been a bridesmaid so many times she could open her own bridal boutique with her dresses. Ok, maybe she was exaggerating but she was sure it was a lot. She had worn that pepto bismol pink dress for Jenny’s wedding, the brown potato sack dress for Cordelia’s wedding, her personal favorite was the blue mermaid dress for Jackie’s wedding. That dress was hideous, it had no room to walk. It was a straight line down with a lighter shade of blue tulle at the bottom. It was so gathered that she couldn’t take a normal step. Do you know how hard it is to baby step to the wedding march?

The dresses weren’t the only horrible things at the weddings she was a part of, they paled in comparison to some of the men that had walked her down the aisle. At Carrie’s wedding she was walked down the aisle by the groom’s younger brother, way younger, 15 to be exact. He may have been a young man but he acted like a grown man, all hands. She had smacked his hands away from her bottom a couple times before they walked down the aisle. Then at Erin’s wedding, her groomsman was every bit the gentlemen, except he smelled like onions and sauerkraut, she held her breath most of the way to the groom. At each wedding, there was at least one single groomsman that thought because she was single that they should hit on her.

The best part of all of those weddings was that they each had an open bar. She reminded herself of that each step down the decorated aisle. With each “accidental” feel. With each smelly breath.

If this were any other wedding she would bail but she couldn’t do that to Morgan. It’s not every day your little sister gets married. Family obligations trump any other feelings, comfort included.

She hated flying. The airplanes were too crowded and she was always stuck next to the most talkative flyer. This particular trip was even more horrendous than normal. A severe storm on her layover flight in Dallas grounded the planes. It wasn’t just any storm; it was left over from a hurricane that had hit land in the gulf.

She had spent the night in the airport, dozing as comfortably as she could next to her boarding gate. She missed the wedding rehearsal and the dinner. The bridesmaids were scheduled for a day of pampering at the spa she and Morgan had frequented since they were younger.

Finally, her flight was cleared for boarding and take off. She was mere hours away from home and that open bar. She had been to so many weddings, when she finally found the right man, she was going to elope.

She landed in time to run to their parent’s house and shower before being whisked away to the stylist and then on to the church.

Morgan looked so beautiful in her empire waist silk chiffon dress and just as she had promised the bridesmaids dresses were a simple and elegant burgundy.

“Oh, by the way, Kevin’s brother was going to walk you down the aisle but he was hit by a stomach bug so we had to find someone to fill in really quick. Just remember that I love you so very much.” Morgan said before she was whisked away for final make up touch ups and extra hairspray.

Dread filled her stomach. Morgan never said she loved her like that unless something bad happened. Like after Morgan had dyed her hair. She looked in the mirror and stared at bright orange hair and when Morgan came home after borrowing her car and putting a huge dent in the bumper.

She couldn’t wait for this to be over and get a glass of champagne.

“Places,” the wedding planner yelled.

She stood at the end of the line on the right side of the entry way. She couldn’t see any of the groomsman on the other side of the entry. She was anxious to see what kind of disaster would be walking her down the aisle.

It was her turn to join the groomsman and walk down the aisle but her groomsman wasn’t standing there. Panic set in, what was she supposed to do?

“I’m coming!” a familiar voice loudly whispered as he came into view.

Her eyes narrowed and she imaged steam was escaping from her ears as the heat started traveling up her neck and into her face. She was going to kill her. Kevin was going to be a widow before he even made it to the honeymoon.

“Ah, Serena. Kevin didn’t tell me that I’d be walking you down the aisle.”

“Well, Trace, Morgan didn’t tell me it would be you to walk me down the aisle.”

“Please play nice. Just hook arms, walk down the aisle and step to the side and then walk back to the exit after the wedding and then you won’t have to see or talk to each other anymore tonight.” Morgan’s pleading voice came from behind her.

He held out his arm for her to grab. She took it rather roughly and walked with him down the aisle to the large lattice arch filled with beautiful flowers that Kevin and Morgan were going to be married under. The same lattice arch that she and Trace were supposed to be married under 2 years ago.

The Search

The glint in his eyes and his mischievous grin should have been a warning for her not to agree to go with him. But how could she say no to such a polite request? Not to mention the handsome face and alluring green eyes.

“Fine, Dillon Chase, I will go with you on this wild goose chase but when we don’t find whatever it is you’re looking for, you have to do the ‘I told you so’ dance with me.”

He feigned shock, “You wouldn’t dare?”

“Oh, I would. Better get your dancing shoes laced up because I feel a jig coming on.”

“Just wait and see, Imogen, just you wait and see.” He grabbed her hand and rushed into the dense forest.

She followed his pace through the woods. She looked at the surroundings. Tall trees with leaves turning shades of orange and red. Fall had begun. Her gaze returned to Dillon’s back. He had his lucky backpack, like always.

He had always been an adventure seeker. Some people even called him an adrenaline junkie. He was always out hiking or rock climbing or doing something wild.

There was one time he convinced her that he had found a map and swore there was a treasure. He begged her to go with him. She was 10 and his eyes were alight with excitement so she went with him.

Two hours later they were hopelessly lost. They didn’t find a treasure and couldn’t find their way back. The sun started to set and she knew it would only be a matter of time before their parents started to worry.

When they hadn’t made it home by supper their parents called each other. They had been inseparable since preschool. Wherever Dillon was you’d find her and vice versa.

The rescue team had found them fairly quick. That was all Dillon could talk about for weeks. He decided that day that he would grow up to work search and rescue. He even joined the boy scouts and started taking classes at the nature center.

“Gen, I have a good feeling about this. I just know you’re gonna love it” he said bringing her back to the present.

“What is it? You didn’t even tell me what you thought you found. Just like me, huh? To blindly follow you into some dangerous adventure.” She playfully slugged him in the shoulder. “You’re not going to get us lost again are you?” She teased.

“Oh, come on Gen. That was what 8, 9 years ago? Am I ever going to live that down?” We haven’t gotten lost since.”

“Yeah,” she snorted, very unladylike, “because my parents wouldn’t let me go on another adventure with you for what? Two months? And even then, I could only go if I took one of their cell phones”

“Yeah, Yeah,” he chuckled, “we’re almost there.”

“You still haven’t even told me where there is”

“Hold you horses, Gen”

They walked another ten or so minutes. She continued taking in the beautiful forest and it’s change from life to death. Her palm itched for her sketchbook and pencils. She could sit here for hours and draw. She noticed that the trees were starting to thin out. Up ahead she glimpsed a hillside or maybe some cliffs.

Not only was the forest filled with the many different colors and sights but there were the sound of bird and insects. Not to mention the sounds of their feet crunching on the fallen sticks and leaves that littered their path. She was could barely discern a low hum. There must be a stream close by.

He stopped and turned around to face her. “Okay, we can’t go any further until you put this on.” He produced a blindfold from his pocket.

“Oh, no! Dillon Chase, I will not fall for that again!”

“Please, Gen,” his handsome face transformed to the puppy dog look he had given her for as long as she could remember when she didn’t want to join his adventures.

“Nuh uh. Nope. Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me. Not gonna happen. I will not let you leave me alone in the forest. Again.”

“Gen, it’s not like that. I’m not going to leave you. I promise.” Using his index finger he made an x over his heart. “You can even hold onto my arm the rest of the way to make sure I don’t leave you.”

“Ok, but if you leave me here, I swear I’ll hunt you down and – “

“Put a sock in it.”

He put the blindfold over her head and positioned it over her eyes. She reached up and grabbed his hand.

“Geez, Gen, loosen your grip, you’re cutting of circulation,” He took her hand and placed it on his forearm.

“Not on your life.”

“Ok, let’s go.”

Dillon led the way. He would warn her to watch her step. They only walked for a couple minutes but the closer to their mysterious destination they got, the sound of water grew louder and louder.

Finally, Dillon stopped, “Ok, we’re here. I’m going to take the blindfold off.”

She let go of his arm and allowed him to remove her blindfold.

It took a few moments for her eyes to adjust and once they did she was speechless.

In front of her was not just a rushing stream but a beautiful waterfall thirty feet high. The waterfall was framed by moss covered rocks, small trees of different shades of yellow, orange, and red were scattered about.

The dense forest had opened up and a cloudless blue sky could be seen above them.

There was so much beauty here. Her palm itched to catch it in her sketchbook.

The unmistakable click of Dillon’s camera reminded her she wasn’t alone.

“You should see your face. You spaced out in complete awe.” He smiled that lopsided grin that melted her heart.

“It’s so beautiful. How did you even find it?”

“Have a seat and I’ll tell you over a bottle of water>” He found a spot not covered in fallen leaves and sat, pulling a bottle of water from his backpack and lifting it up to her.

She accepted the bottle and sat down next to him. While he told her an encounter with a hiker a few miles outside of town she looked around savoring all the details. She couldn’t wait to get home and put all of this on paper.

“I was going to bring Lillian out her but you know how she is with nature.”

Her heart sank at the mention of his girlfriend’s name. She had finally worked up the courage to tell him that she wanted to explore a relationship with him beyond friendship. That same day, he introduced her to his new girlfriend. That had been several months ago.

She watched their relationship flourish and sat back wishing she could have told him sooner.

“Oh” was all she could say.

Another click of the camera and she looked at him. He was taking photos of the scenery. There was no doubt in her mind that the pictures would be beautiful. Not just because the subject matter was beautiful but because of Dillon’s photography genius.

He had taken some photos of an old dilapidated barn. The angles and the lighting he used made it look like so much more than just a pile of old rotting wood. It was majestic. She didn’t know barns could look majestic until she saw those photos.

He set his camera down and stated rummaging through his bag. “Silly me, where are my manners” he said producing her sketchbook and box of pencils. It wouldn’t’ be fair to bring you here a not let you capture the beauty for yourself. I hope you don’t mind, I grabbed them when I picked you up and said I had to go to the bathroom.”

“Oh, Dillon, I could kiss you!” The excitement of the moment must have temporarily broken the filter that runs from her brain to her mouth.

She grabbed her stuff from him and tried to make a joke of her comment, “If you weren’t such an ogre.”

He pressed his index finger to her lips. “Would kissing me be so bad?” He asked cupping her cheek.

She was stunned by his reaction. By his touch. He slowly started to trace her lips with his thumb. He leaned closer and her breath hitched. As much as she wanted to kiss him, wanted him to kiss her, he was not free. Kissing him wouldn’t be fair to Lillian, or to him, much less to herself.

She pulled away. “Dillon, I can’t. I can’t come between you and Lillian.”

His piercing eyes held hers in a trance. “You won’t be. We broke up.”

She licked her lips. Was this real? Was she finally going to have the chance to tell him? “I thought you said she might be the one?”

He grabbed a tendril of her hair that had fallen from her ponytail and wrapped it around his finger.

“At one time, I thought she might be, but something was missing. Something was wrong.” He leaned closer.

“What was that?”

“She wasn’t you.” With that he closed the distance and gently pressed his lips to hers.

His kiss was everything she thought it would be and more. He slid his hand into her hair and gently deepened the kiss.

He pulled away and lay his forehead against hers, nose to nose and whispered, “Imogen Rose Johnson, I love you.”

Hello? Anybody there?

Has it really been a month since I last posted? My how time flies when you’re absolutely totally and completely lazy. Busy, I meant busy. Ok, it’s been both. I’ve been super busy but when I’m not busy, I’m lazy. I use my non-busy time to space out.

I wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo this year but as luck would have it, I’m too busy to focus on it.

My Blurb2Book submission is coming together slowly. I finally figured out what my villain’s motive is and now I’ve got to go back in and edit in some foreshadowing. I do have 25k words written on it, only 30k more to go. Do I hear cheerleaders out there cheering me on?

I’ve also started jotting down some different story ideas. As a matter of fact, on my lunch break today I wrote over 700 words on another story. I must have writing ADD.

I took my kids to a new to us used bookstore over the weekend. They walked out with 2 books a piece, even though I’ve told them I’m not buying them anymore books until they read the ones they have. Books are my kryptonite. You can’t have too many books, right? I refrained from buying myself books because I do have lots that I haven’t read yet. But I did walk out with the knowledge that there is a writing group in my area. Super excited for that.

Since you’ve wasted the last several minutes reading my steam of conscious I will reward you with what I wrote today. Keep in mind, this is not a complete story. Just the beginning.

Untitled

The glint in his eyes and his mischievous grin should have been a warning for her not to agree to go with him. But how could she say no to such a polite request? Not to mention the handsome face and alluring green eyes.

“Fine Dillon Chase, I will go with you on this wild goose chase but when we don’t find whatever it is you’re looking for you have to do the ‘I told you so’ dance with me.”

He feigned shock, “You wouldn’t dare?”

“Oh, I would. Better get your dancing shoes laced up because I feel a jig coming on.”

“Just wait and see, Imogen, just you wait and see.” He grabbed her hand and rushed into the dense forest.

She followed his pace through the woods. She looked at the surroundings. Tall trees with leaves turning shades of orange and red. Fall had begun. Her gaze returned to Dillon’s back. He had his lucky backpack, like always.

He had always been an adventure seeker. Some people even called him an adrenaline junkie. He was always out hiking or rock climbing or doing something wild.

There was one time he convinced her that he had found a map and swore there was a treasure. He begged her to go with him. She was 10 and his eyes were alight with excitement so she went with him.

Two hours later they were hopelessly lost. They didn’t find a treasure and couldn’t find their way back. The sun started to set and she knew it would only be a matter of time before their parents started to worry.

When they hadn’t made it home by supper their parents called each other. They had been inseparable since preschool. Wherever Dillon was you’d find her and vice versa.

The rescue team had found them fairly quick. That was all Dillon could talk about for weeks. He decided that day that he would grow up to work search and rescue. He even joined the boy scouts and started taking classes at the nature center.

“Gen, I have a good feeling about this. I just know you’re gonna love it” he said bringing her back to the present.

“What is it? You didn’t even tell me what you thought you found. Just like me, huh? To blindly follow you into some dangerous adventure.” She playfully slugged him in the shoulder. “You’re not going to get us lost again are you?” She teased.

“Oh, come on Gen. That was what 8, 9 years ago? Am I ever going to live that down?” We haven’t gotten lost since.”

“Yeah,” she snorted, very unladylike, “because my parents wouldn’t let me go on another adventure with you for what? Two months? And even then, I could only go if I took one of their cell phones”

“Yeah, Yeah,” he chuckled, “we’re almost there.”

“You still haven’t even told me where there is”

“Hold you horses, Gen”

They walked another ten or so minutes. She continued taking in the beautiful forest and it’s change from life to death. Her palm itched for her notebook and pencils. She could sit here for hours and draw. She noticed that the trees were starting to thin out. Up ahead she glimpsed a hillside or maybe some cliffs.

Not only was the forest filled with the many different colors and sights but there were the sound of bird and insects. Not to mention the sounds of their feet crunching on the fallen sticks and leaves that littered their path. She was could barely discern a low hum. There must we a stream close by.

He stopped and turned around to face her. “Okay, we can’t go any further until you put this on.” He produced a blindfold from his pocket.

“Oh, no! Dillon Chase, I will not fall for that again!”

“Please, Gen,” his handsome face transformed to the puppy dog look he had given her for as long as she could remember when she didn’t want to join his adventures.

“Nuh uh. Nope. Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me. Not gonna happen. I will not let you leave me alone in the forest. Again.”

“Gen, it’s not like that. I’m not going to leave you. I promise.” Using his index finger he made an x over his heart. “You an even hold onto my arm the rest of the way to make sure I don’t leave you.”