Saturday, things did not go as planned. It was the day of Sean’s Scout camp out, and the forecast was for fair skies a few days before. Naturally, it poured the whole time. But it was a lesson in making the best of a bad situation.
We had a great day despite the torrents of water falling down on us. Kids love getting wet and muddy — for a little while, at least. The scout leader cooked up a storm under the big tent using nothing but cast-iron pots and charcoal heated in the camp fire. That I considered it a good day shows just how much I’ve changed in recent years.
When all your awesome plans get washed out, it can be frustrating when your brain works the way it’s supposed to. But when the traffic in your skull doesn’t flow properly — which is usually the case when you have OCD — a day that suddenly changes shape will spark a serious case of crazy.
In my case, that means high anxiety, followed by multiple temper tantrums, followed by addictive behavior — binge eating in my case — and then a migraine with the urge to throw up. Not necessarily in that order, but usually in that order.
A flight gets delayed or canceled? Bad reaction. Car breaks down? Bad reaction. A carefully constructed schedule ripped apart by shifting winds? Catasrophic reaction.
But I’ve put a lot of effort into controlling the OCD behavior and changing my overall outlook on life.
Saturday I benefited from that. Instead of focusing on the bad things (the rain and mud, the cold) I was able to focus on the good stuff (watching the kids have a good time, sitting in my over-sized lounge chair under the big tent, drinking coffee and writing down a ton of ideas for future blog posts.
Despite the deluge we were able to keep the fire burning all day, and that fire was much appreciated for those of us who don’t like to be cold.
The gray and wet also couldn’t take away the spectacular view where we were, atop Seven Sisters Road in Haverhill, one of the highest elevations in the city. You could see the Merrimack River for miles around.
A few years ago, this kind of day would have sent my OCD into overdrive. I would have felt like a caged animal. The laughter from the kids would have sounded like gunshots, and I would have cowered from the rain as if it were falling lava laced with every deadly disease on Earth.
I would have panicked at the sight of any mosquitoes and, in the bigger picture, I would have sat there feeling every bit like a victim. In this case, a victim of nature.
Like I said, the fact that I could instead enjoy a day like that — even taking inspiration from it — was almost freaky.
Because of the ongoing rain, the Scout leaders decided to send Sean’s group home at 8 p.m. They know how kids get when they wake up drenched the next morning, and didn’t want their first big camp out to be a souring experience. I was a bit bummed out by this, and found myself surprised by that for all the reasons I mentioned above.
So we went home to our warm beds.
The next day, we paid for our day of fun. I opened my eyes Sunday morning to a headache that stuck with me for much of the day, and I was full of crankiness and snark.
I just wanted to stay under the covers, but life doesn’t work that way when you’re a responsible grown up.
It took me a long time to peel myself off the living room chair, and I was rude to pretty much everyone in church.
But as the day progressed, my mood improved. It always does.
It was good to be able to have a better attitude when things didn’t break my way. But next time, I’ll want my sunshine back.