A lot has happened since I last sat down to write. I think that might be the understatement of the year. Raising a puppy, engaged, married, baby on the way, new home.. At least I covered all major life decisions in a matter of 6 months max. And if you’ve asked me how I’m feeling about all of it, you probably haven’t gotten the answer you were expecting. I think I’ve been subconsciously avoiding facing my thoughts lately, because I don’t believe society deems them as “acceptable” for a soon-to-be mother or a new wife. So allow me to do a little soul searching, and go somewhere a little darker with you: I am absolutely terrified of this new life. The thought of raising a child sends me free falling into a panic, without a parachute in sight.
You don’t hear people talk about that side of starting a family. You hear the excitement, the joy, and the gratitude for being able to carry a child. Don’t get me wrong, I feel those things too, but most of the time I feel like I’m drowning in doubt. Which makes sense, because OCD tightens its grip whenever a glimmer of something unknown appears. OCD is funny that way: It’s perfectly complacent when wedged between concrete facts and tangible truths. “But Caroline, life doesn’t work that way. And wait until you have a baby, it gets SO much worse.” Thank you, perfect stranger, for the ray of sunshine and helpful advice. I am keenly aware of the potential for OCD to grow exponentially larger in my life in the coming months, and I often experience paralyzing fear as it looms ever closer to my tortured mind.
My husband does not suffer from OCD. He lives joyfully, he is present in each moment, and I envy him that. Connor doesn’t know the depth of my anxiety. And I am so grateful for that. You see, I don’t want anyone, especially my husband, to see me as fragile. I’m not weak, and I refuse to allow OCD to gain that foothold in my life. I struggle with OCD daily, that much is true, but it does not own me or rule in my life. But I bet you didn’t know that if I see someone drop a piece of paper on the floor, I want to burn that paper on the spot. Setting utensils on the restaurant table, without a napkin, sends me into a cold sweat. And I am keenly aware of the number of people who touch door knobs, keyboards, office chairs, car doors, grocery cart handles, and the list goes on. I can’t help but wonder if I try on clothes in a store and then put them back, if someone will pick up my germs and/or a sickness because of me. Am I sick? No, but strangely enough, that fact does not provide any comfort. I cannot handle loving on my dog after he gets blood drawn, because I cannot fathom what would happen if I got his blood on my hands and didn’t realize it. And I’m supposed to have a baby? I’m supposed to be responsible for keeping him healthy, raising him, and praying he ends up relatively normal?
I think the answer to that is obvious: Absolutely I am. Of course the Lord decided that I needed to raise a child. “But Caroline, that makes no sense. It sounds like he is setting you up to fail.” Yeah, it sure does. OCD is a selfish disease. It catastrophizes every event, turns it on its head, and uses it to create terror, crippling fear, and inaction. But now here’s a fact about our God that you probably already know: He made me. He knows me intricately, so he knows that my vice is also my greatest strength: The overwhelming compassion for others, and for leaving them better than when I found them. The enemy knows this too, so he tries daily to destroy this strength by contorting it into weakness. You see, even he knows that there is nothing more powerful than a person who embraces their God-given strengths, and uses them to advance the Kingdom.
So, I press on. Because truth be told, I am so grateful for the gift of a newly beating heart. I stand in awe of my Creator. That he is knitting my son together in my womb, and already knows him intricately. Already loves him unfathomably. I remind myself daily that my God has gone before me and made a way. So yes, things are going to get harder. Yes, I am scared and often times that fear clouds the excitement. I may still clean pacifiers incessantly, cry when my child eats dirt, and scrub our home on my hands and knees like a crazy person. And even if I am never “healed” of the OCD, even if I have to fight each individual thought, hour by hour, for the rest of my life… my husband, my son, and my life are worth it. And I will do it. Thank you Jesus, for Gatlin Rhett.