My husband and I just returned from celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary. We decided to celebrate at the House of Mouse. Yes, that's right, we chose Disneyworld. Though we're in our 40s, we're still just little kids at heart. As I've continued to improve and recover from OCD, I find that I'm ready to seek out more adventure. For so long, I've led a sheltered life trying to avoid anything that would trigger my OCD. Of course, my ever steady companion, OCD, accompanied me wherever I went. Though it tried to ruin my trip, I fought against it. There were moments of pain, of course. More on that in another post. However, I would like to concentrate on some victories, because indeed there were some.
I decided to really take Michael Tompkins' advice in his book "OCD:A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed." On page 95 of his book, he states, "Willingness to approach discomfort, rather than to escape it through compulsions or avoiding certain situations and objects, is an essential feature of your recovery from OCD." I did not, however, use this thinking for only specifically OCD types of issues. I tried to use it everywhere.
My husband loves Space Mountain. Me, not so much. But I knew my hubby wanted to go on it so we got a Fast Pass for it. However, before our Fast Pass became available, we noticed that the line was really short, so we went on the ride then. I was petrified. So much so, that by the end of the ride I was actually praying to God, begging him to make it end! When we got off the ride, we realized that our Fast Passes were ready to use. I could tell my husband really wanted to go again, but he also told me that we didn't have to if I was too scared. That's when Dr. Tompkins' advice started floating around in my head. I knew I needed to face it head on. So we went again. What a difference! Because I was so determined to face my fear, it wasn't nearly as frightening the second time. I truly could not believe how much easier it was. I was able to keep my eyes open the entire time, and I focused on looking at the ceiling, which was decorated with stars and solar systems, and the like.
Later on in our vacation, we visited Discovery Cove to go swim with the dolphins. I do not know how to swim, but they had life vests available for use. The dolphin swim was wonderful and not scary at all. The snorkeling, however, was quite another story. I had never snorkeled before. So my husband took me through the task of putting on my mask, and then putting on the snorkel. I took each task slowly. Once I got used to breathing through my mouth (you can't breathe through your nose with the mask on), I then put on the snorkel. That was scary. I had to learn to trust the snorkel. Once I got used to both the mask and snorkel out of the water, it was time to stick my face in the water. Again, very scary. The next thing I knew, I had my face in the water and I was breathing through the snorkel! At that point we set off to swim towards all the fish. WOW. There were all types of coral reefs and a variety of fish, including huge sting rays. Once I got over my fright, I even touched a sting ray as it swam by me. This was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and I almost missed it because I was too afraid. That day I told my husband that I really felt like I was alive for the first time in many, many years.
I'm really praising God for bringing CBT into my life. I'm also praising Him for all the wonderful support I have through my family, my psychologist, my friends, my blogging family, my support group, and the wonderful books written by people like Dr. Tompkins.
I want to encourage you today. Please, please, take a step. Just a little one. You will never know how far that first little step can take you. You can do it. You really can. Believe me, I've been afraid of my own shadow for years. If I can do it, you sure can!