My Heart Thaws

My Heart Thaws by Valerie Parente

“You know that mysterious feeling when you smell a certain scent and that scent elicits specific memories?”

“Yes…”

“I’m feeling overwhelmed by a sort of time warp… a time warp beseeched by what I can best describe as an ethereal scent. I’m not talking an autumn aroma that invokes nostalgic memories or a specific stench that reminds you of traumatic experiences. I’m not talking a succession of frames streaming like fluid through your memory banks or distinguishable snippets flickering like consecutive flashbacks rolling through a film reel. I’m not talking mechanical reminiscing as a product of some psychological disposition or resurfacing scars brought forth from intensive therapy. I’m not even talking about a scent that hones your mind! I’m talking about the most inexplicable, indescribable, kind of scent that hones your heart… this otherworldly kind of scent that leaves your present perceptions disconnectedly attending to the world but shifts your reactions into intensely reliving the past! I’m talking nine years ago! I’m talking feelings of innocent attraction and distinct anger and vivid hopes and crazy dreams that were all alive and kicking nine Goddamn years ago! Feelings right before the mental breakdowns that broke my mentality and froze my heart! Nine fucking years of letting the cruel and cold mental disorders numb out the feelings in my heart that hurt so bad! And I forgot how much it stung nine years ago before my reality became a shadow tagging behind a haze of obsessive compulsive disorder and eating disorders. But today that haze is clearing! Today the sun is warm and I can feel it shining down and thawing my heart! And my recovering heart is warping back to a time when crushing made me high and love was totally blind! When somebody made a choice that hurt and something better could have worked! And all this heart ache violently tugging at my core is making me realize that maybe, just maybe, I blessedly became mentally ill! I numbed out my feelings as a means of survival, because to become mentally ill was to stunt my emotional development! To stunt the instrument of my emotions was to freeze time on my heart! To put my heart on hold! And maybe icing out the world behind a distorted icy lens was my way of preserving my heart right before it had the chance to break in half! But I am feeling, and I am alive, and I am okay, and I am better than ever. I am feeling it all now.”

doll-heart

– Valerie Parente (9-28-16)

Quest

“You don’t want to get better.”
I was extremely offended.
“You don’t want to get better.”
I was extremely offended again.
“You don’t want to get better.”
…and again. It is difficult to get over an emotion when your glitching mind replays conversations… sentences… phrases… words… sounds… again, and again.
“You don’t want to get better.”
The sting of the comment was starting to subdue into a vapid memory, naturally losing its caustic power with every mental replay.
With a clearer mind I tried to understand why I was so offended by the comment.
“You don’t want to get better.”
That can’t be true. I know I want to get better. I know OCD is not my friend. But to entertain the idea that living with OCD is living carefree would be foolishly wrong. There is no serum to permanently reverse this mental illness in its totality, but even if there was, the idea of simply ousting obsessive compulsive disorder is not a matter of “getting better” to me. But why do I view “getting better” with such a cringe-worthy connotation?
It’s not that I want OCD… it’s that… I would feel lost without OCD.
At those critical ages when a kid becomes an adult, when virtues are established, and when identity is found, the development of my personality coincided with the development of my mental illness in a symbiotic relationship.
Obsessive, compulsive, and disordered have fused themselves with the evolution of my personality, so it makes perfect sense that I would feel lost without the anxiety disorder that has pervaded my growth into adulthood.
I do want to feel better. I do not want OCD to rule my life. But I understand that to embark on a life without this mental disorder (if I were somehow endowed with OCD’s cure) would be to face a whole new challenge in itself, a challenge of feeling totally lost and having to find myself. I would need to be ready to take on that challenge. But you know what? I don’t think I get to consciously choose when I’ll be ready for that challenge. And I know this to be true because I already unintentionally started to face that challenge of self-discovery. Because to realize there is a challenge that needs to be addressed is to already begin to address that challenge. I might be lost, but I will find my way.

"Rose Quest"

“Rose Quest” by Valerie Parente

– Valerie Parente (7-9-16)

You’ve Made An Author Out Of Me

You’ve Made An Author Out Of Me by Valerie Parente

She does not read for leisure. She reads to study. To learn. To quench a thirst for knowledge, knowledge that constructs her entire outlook of reality. So when she couldn’t find out anything about him… she was lost.
“I want to know who you are, what you are about, what you have been through. But you are way too hard to read. When I’m with you, you refrain your diction. When I’m not with you, there’s no context. I have to use my own imagination to explain the content of your character. You’re giving my mind way too much freedom to play around and cultivate false memories. This isn’t your story any more, it’s mine. Don’t you see what you have done?”
His disposition tightened and his jaw clenched. He was about to apologize when the sudden euphonious plot-twist of her voice took him by surprise.
“You’ve made an author out of me,” she smiled.
Her eyes were fixed onto his with a firm stillness, but the shimmering of her tears created an illusion of movement. Under the influence of emotion her pupils flickered… as if she were reading from left to right.

she reads to study

– Valerie Parente (6-22-16)

Matter: A Symbol of the Mind

Mind generates the fear.
Matter symbolizes the fear.

Obsessive compulsive disorder likes to customize itself according to whichever person it sinks its parasitic teeth into. My list of OCD anxieties is different from another person’s list of OCD anxieties. Though the content in each OCD list might vary between person to person, the layout remains quite uniform.

In the left column we have an intangible thought (a fear of something), and in the corresponding right column we have a more palpable experience or object (that actual something).

These obsessive thoughts, which forbid or demand certain compulsions, are exponentially more anxiety evoking than physically bringing one’s self to the point of defying said-thought.
To put this notion in perspective, take general anxiety into account. A common example is the fear of public speaking. When you have anxiety about going on stage and talking to a crowd the fear building up to delivering a speech is so much worse than actually delivering the speech.

a conscience full of nonsenseNow revert this idea back to OCD. When I say I am afraid of germs it is my fear of going into a bacteria-ridden public place that causes me more distress than physically walking into the actual setting and realizing, through exposure, that, “hey, I can deal with this”. This is not to say that I do not get anxious when I think I have been contaminated by germs- trust me, I do- but is it the physical germs that are causing the anxiety or a thought itself that causes the anxiety? It is the thought. That irrational frequently occurring thought. The physical germ is just a symbol of the fear having been generated from my mind.

Fear comes from the mind, not from matter. And as much as I want to believe that there is some reasonable connection between my thoughts and the material world I cannot deny the factual evidence that my obsessive compulsive fears are what stir up anxiety, not the actual events or objects which those fears are based on.

– Valerie Parente (6-13-16)