Another Perspective

Image courtesy of Photokanok at
Image courtesy of Photokanok at

We have been traveling for nearly two weeks.  Our whole family.  Far, far from home.  We are with a tour group.  Most of these people we have never met before.  They do not know our stories, and we do not know theirs.  We are all getting to know each other as we travel from place to place and cling to one another as something familiar, something from home, in this land that is foreign to us all.

One thing almost nobody on this trip knows is that Blake has OCD.  They do not know that one way it shows itself  is in scrupulosity and that he repeats prayers over and over because that last one didn’t feel “quite right” or that he frequently worries that his actions may offend God.  Since they don’t know, their reaction to him has been interesting to me, even refreshing for my own perspective.

Let me say that is has escaped no one on this trip that Blake is a religious young man.  However, since our group is more than forty people, it doesn’t stand out to everyone that he repeats or overdoes. Most only recognize him as religious.  So, instead of the angst we experience at home with his practice, I simply keep hearing words of praise.

“Blake is such a dedicated young man at such a young age,” one woman tells me.

“Blake, you impress me with your commitment to your religion,” another tells him.

“He is so smart and he knows so much about religion,” another traveler who has been enjoying conversation with Blake remarks.  “Do you think he’ll become a religious scholar?”

There are times when I might have wanted to correct these people’s perceptions.  I might have wanted to adjust their viewpoint by letting them know that, yes, it is lovely that he is so dedicated, but that they didn’t know the downside – the fear and anxiety that came along with it.  I have opted against that on this journey.  First, Blake (and the rest of our family) deserves whatever privacy he can get.  It is his personal life and I’d rather the fact that he has OCD only be shared if he wants to share it.  Second, it has actually been a perspective changing experience to listen to people glow with compliments about my almost 15-year-old son and to just sit with them, soak them in.

It is this second thing that has created some very positive and appreciative feelings in me.  Often, I sit in angst about Blake’s OCD.  Instead, over this vacation I’ve been able to see my son through another lens.  I’ve been able to see what others see when they look at him and interact with him.  I’ve been able to appreciate myself what a special young man he is.

Yes, of course he has his challenges and those are his to deal with, but, for this time, I am enjoying hearing others praise him.  I am enjoying seeing him take in that praise.  I am grateful he is having the opportunity to be appreciated by others without having “OCD” hanging over his head.  More importantly, I am reminded that there are wonderful, non-OCD parts of his religious observance, and he deserves to enjoy those.

9 thoughts on “Another Perspective

  1. I loved this post 🙂
    It is true that as parents, sometimes we are stuck in the worry and the fear. We try to work through it, but sometimes it is hard. I commend you for having the courage to take the trip because your fear could have stopped it. As an outsider, I think the repeated prayers are probably devotion and respectable; you probably could have had a different response if he repeatedly did something not as socially appropriate.
    Thank you for sharing 🙂

  2. Wow, first I have to say that being on a tour with a group of strangers would be the most miserable vacation in the world for me, and I admire you for doing it! Second, what a wonderful perspective you’re getting, going “incognito,” as it were, about your son’s illness. Something that was always important to me was to be able to get away from the illness in our household – I took some fun classes at our local community college simply so I could get away where no one knew me and felt compelled to ask how our family was managing with my husband in such bad shape. It was nice to sit back for a bit and remember what it’s like to be “just like everyone else.” Really I know that such avoidance wouldn’t be healthy in the long run, but it was helpful in small doses. -Amy

    1. I agree with you, Amy. It is helpful to just get away from it sometimes. Your comments reminded me that you know full well what it is like to have a family member’s illness cast a shadow over everything. I’m usually the person who spills our whole story out too easily. It was nice to sit back and keep it to myself. On another note, you would think traveling with strangers would be miserable (and I imagine sometimes it could be), but we went with a really terrific leader who attracts great people, so it turned out awesome. Great to be home now, though. The jet lag, though, not so fun! 🙂 -Angie

  3. Great post, and it sounds as if your vacation includes a much deserved “vacation” from OCD as well. Sometimes you just need to get away from all the worrying, and I’m glad you are able to focus on what an amazing young man your son is. Personally, I’d love to hear more about where you are traveling :)! Enjoy!!

    1. Funny! Our vacation was a “vacation from OCD!” Yes, it was nice to be able to appreciate him, and a little disconcerting to confront how quick I can be to become critical. Some day, Janet, our paths are likely to cross – and then we can talk about the travel details! 😉

  4. It’s wonderful to me that you’re able to allow yourself to just take a step back and enjoy your vacation without worrying about OCD, and let Blake do the same. It can certainly be hard at times, knowing that there’s really more than everyone is seeing, but sometimes building up self esteem by not having to worry about what’s “really going on” can also be very valuable.
    OCD is after all an anxiety disorder, so feeling less anxious while just being able to go about life can be a good thing, I think. 🙂
    As well, despite the way Blake’s scrupulosity, he still has a genuine interest in observing his religion too, so when he kicks his OCD to the curb, he might yet still decide that studying religion is very important to him.
    Who knows? It is certainly possible they could be right, but it is, of course, for Blake to decide. 🙂

    1. You are so right about how important it is to just be able to be less anxious. I’m so glad Blake had the chance to hear people make many nice and supportive comments about him. Traveling can be so stressful and I think we all needed to be able to step back and appreciate the positives about one another.

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