“Please forgive me for anything I did wrong today. Please forgive me for what I did do that I wasn’t supposed to do and for what I didn’t do that I was supposed to do.”
I wish I were home. I wish I were alone in my bedroom, with the door closed. I’d be able to close my eyes or bury my face into my pile of stuffed animals, be alone with the whirl of prayers in my head.
“Please forgive me for not being happy where I am. Please forgive me for not focusing on you.”
I’m on the van that is carrying me home from school. I have to keep my eyes open so that the other riders won’t know that I’m praying. Everybody is so noisy. I can’t keep the rhythm of the prayer going.
“Please forgive me, Lord. Please forgive me for everything I’ve done wrong. Please forgive me for the mean thought I just had about the kids in the back of the van. Please bless them. Please bless them. Please forgive me for all my sins.”
Those were my prayers when I was a teenager, when I kept the journals that I wrote about in my last post.
I don’t pray like that anymore. I don’t feel like I’m physically straining to get the prayers right anymore.
I’m not all better. But I have begun to understand.
Late last night, or early this morning, as I got ready for bed, I knew I was too keyed up to fall asleep right away. My husband was still up, in another room. I sat in the dark on top of the bed and meditated.
When I meditate, I concentrate on the sounds around me. Starting out, I hear the larger sounds, the furnace running, perhaps, or the train passing through town.
But as I continue to listen, I hear the smaller sounds. The faint tick of something rolling around in the dryer in the basement, in the load I put in before bed. Or one of the cats munching a midnight snack.
Last night, as thoughts distracted me, I pictured myself apart from my thoughts. I pictured my hand holding a globe, with the thoughts swirling around in it, in pictures. I tried to be that Impartial Spectator that Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz writes about in “Brain Lock.”
My thoughts slowed down. I felt calmer. I felt like my mind was empty enough to go to sleep.
I put my head down on the pillow. But my mind wasn’t empty enough, after all.
I don’t remember now what I was thinking. I don’t even remember what I prayed, but I prayed one of the “spurt prayers,” something like, forgive me, God, or help her, God, or oh, Lord, be with him.
They’re not real prayers. They’re not directed at God. They’re compulsive chants. They make me anxious, restless. They’re meaningless, but necessary to quell . . . what?
I wanted to think. I wanted to answer the question. Why did I feel like I had to pray like this?
I’m beginning to understand that it’s because somehow I don’t believe that I will live a good life, in the care of the grace of God, that my loved ones will be safe and well, unless I think these meaningless chants.
It’s not for my salvation from an eternal hell. It’s to build some kind of shield against all that might hurt my family and me.
Somehow, I don’t believe God can take care of it all, that nature will run its course, that life will happen. Somehow, I believe I can control it all with my compulsive thoughts in the form of prayers.
I’ve been working on that shield for most of my life, and it hasn’t done anyone any good.
I feel like I had a brief moment of insight last night. Perhaps it came because of the stillness and quiet that I experienced during meditation.
It’s time for me to work on refocusing, on letting go of the imaginary shield. Do you have any ideas on how to do this? How do you deal with OCD when it’s all happening in your thoughts?