It’s No Picnic

Image courtesy jackthumm @ freedigitalphotos.net
Image courtesy jackthumm @ freedigitalphotos.net

“It’s beautiful outside,” my hubby remarks.  “Let’s eat dinner on the patio.”

“That’s a great idea,” I say.

“I don’t like that idea at all,” Blake pipes up.

It’s an unseasonably nice weekend night (I started to say “warm,” but it’s not warm, really.  We will need jackets outside) and I’m grilling ribs.  They were a request from Michael.  Something to make the evening a little more festive, a break from his piles of schoolwork.  We all welcome the opportunity to eat outdoors. Well, all of us except for Blake.  He’s looking uncomfortable and I can tell he’s trying to figure out how to dodge this event.

“I’ll eat inside,” he says.

“Um…that would be a ‘no.’ ” I say.  “You’re part of a family.  You’ll join us.”

“Then, I’ll sit outside with you, but I’m not eating out there.”

“You can choose not to eat; however, that means you choose not to eat for the night.  You don’t get to start grazing after we all finish.”

Blake already refuses to eat the food I cook.  He prepares his own meals.  I stand firm, though, that we eat together as a family.

“I’m not comfortable with this.  There’s…flies…and other insects out there.”

“Yep, probably.”

He paces around for a while.  He stares out at the patio. Then he disappears.  He comes back a few minutes later.  He’s lugging a card table with him.

“Can someone open the back door for me?” he asks.

“Blake, what’s this about?” my husband asks.

“There’s not enough room for everybody at the table,” he says.

He manages to get the table outside onto the patio.  I watch him set it up.  It’s about ten feet away from the table where the rest of us will eat.

Our Food Is Contaminated

Image courtesy chawalitpix @ freedigitalphotos.net
Image courtesy chawalitpix @ freedigitalphotos.net

“Blake,” move the table closer to the other one.  “You’re not eating in isolation.  And, by the way, I know that this is about you thinking our food will contaminate yours.  You’re not fooling anyone.”

“I’m trying to figure out a way to be out there with you guys, Mom!  Really!  I’m trying!”

“Come on, Blake.  Let’s get this set up.  I think you can be closer than that,” my hubby says.  He steps outside onto the patio with Blake.

Blake’s best friend is sitting on the sofa just inside the door from where Blake is.  He stays focused on his video game.  He knows the drill with Blake.  He’s watched it for the past seven years, since they were in third grade together.  And he accepts Blake unconditionally.  I thank heaven for him regularly.

When dinner is ready, we all manage to eat together.  Blake and his friend eat at a table tandem to ours.  Blake makes it through his meal without flinching when everyone else’s food is passed.  We have a nice conversation.  Blake even leaves his food uncovered for a time, and we laugh at the fact that he seems suddenly unworried about flies.

He leaves the table, briefly, while we are all eating.  When he returns, he has a can of soda in his hand.  “May I?” he asks.  “This is hard work being out here.  I think I deserve this.” And he opens the can, takes a big swig, sighs a big sigh, and joins his friend back at their table.

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6 thoughts on “It’s No Picnic

  1. Having formerly lived with pretty severe OCD (think refusing to eat or drink anything for days at a time, spending most of my time back and forth to the sink/hand sanitizer, stripping/showering upon getting home for the day), I just wanted to tell you how amazing I think you are in accommodating Blake enough to not force him into a panic, but not so much as to allow him to sink deeper…it is easy to “love too much” and make the person with OCD feel totally comfortable, but at least for me, deep down while I really appreciated it, I knew it was only going to make things worse in the end if everything was catered towards my fears…and on the other side occasionally people wouldn’t realize how hard something was for me, or something would accidentally happen, and it was too much and that, too is a problem, because it could trigger me to a point where the OCD got worse…in the end, enough accommodation to let me feel included in things that would otherwise be over my head is good, but so is pushing me just a little…I can remember vividly a friend who would loan me her shoes to wear to go into public bathrooms, but would refuse to let me go wash my hands in the middle of Bible study because they felt dirty…I know it can be frustrating living with someone with OCD, and it might be hard for Blake to verbalize how much he appreciates you, but I just wanted to uplift you today…Thx

    1. Thank you so much for visiting – and thank you for your kind, encouraging, and supportive words. It always helps to hear from someone who has been there. And thank you for the reminder that a little accommodation while pushing gently ahead can be a good combination. Warm regards, Angie

  2. My son has religious and moral scrupulosity too. He is 34 and his hands look like the picture of your son’s from the 2013 “ERP in the home” post. He doesn’t have contamination OCD (his brother does) but he washes his hands for various other reasons related to OCD. It is a very, very hard way to live for all involved. I feel for all of you.

    I, too, am praying for that time my son can decide to take this on. He knows a great deal about how to put OCD in its place, but the fear is too great 85% of the time.

    He suffered a concussion last August from falling out of a tree, and since then his condition has changed from moderate to moderate-severe. We have tried two psychologists to no avail.

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