OCD Christmas

Every year I look forward to Christmas and every year I become overwhelmed by the number of preparations involved, so naturally I was happy to see this card, painted by my grand-daughter, Rachel, who is 10. I love the simplicity of the tree and the bright colors.

Rachel's Tree large

If only decorating the tree was as easy as this simple painting. The first thing I do is assemble my large imitation tree. I help my husband as he places the color-coded branches in their respective spaces on the pole, which eventually becomes an evergreen-shaped plastic object. Once the branches are in place, I go around the tree spreading out the small boughs like lettuce leaves, so they are available to hang ornaments.

Next I go for the lights! This year I am using the larger colored bulbs for a more old-fashioned look. As I struggle unwinding the cords, my husband says:

“Do you want some help?”

“No,” I answer, “Then I’ll just have to change them.” What? Can’t I accept help with this humdrum job?

No, because I am OCD. (Doctors say this means Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, but I say it means Overly Concerned Dunce). I can’t accept help because I need to have all the lights spaced evenly around the tree with no two lights of the same color next to each other. No one else seems to have the patience or concern to do that. And if they do, they always make a mistake and I have to do it over. And if you are a mental health practitioner, yes I am in therapy!

Unfortunately, I am that way with the ornaments too, so the next day I drag out the old foot-locker that has held our Christmas decorations for the last 20 years. It is always fun to open it, because years ago I glued a giant picture of Santa’s face on the inside, and he greets me with a big smile. I can’t help it. I always smile back and giggle.

I begin routing around for ornaments, pulling out the larger glass balls first, then the medium and small. I put them on the tree carefully, according to color, spacing and size until I am satisfied that it looks perfect. Then I add the special ones, including angels of different sizes, a snowman, a glass elephant and a Madonna and child ornament.

At last the tree is beginning to look done. I fall exhausted onto the sofa, while my husband tries to revive me, patting me softly and saying “it looks beautiful.” But I don’t hear him, I’m asleep.

 

 

Child Abuse – Symptoms

Here is a list of some of the Symptoms of Child Abuse:

1. Dramatic change in behavior. If a child who is normally outgoing becomes withdrawn, or a quiet child becomes loud and aggressive, that child may be experiencing child abuse. A normally bright child may become unresponsive, or a calm child becomes frightened or jittery. It is the change that may signal that the child is being abused.

2. Observable injuries. These are easiest signs to spot: burns, bruises, broken bones, bite marks, swelling and discolorations of the skin. If you notice these on a child, ASK them about it. It is polite in our society to ask. Does the answer seem plausible? If not, further investigation may be needed.

3. Fear of their abuser. All abused children have one universal symptom. They will be AFRAID of their abuser. They may become fearful of a parent, relative, neighbor, teacher or caregiver. My abuser used a carving knife to scare me and keep me from telling my parents.

4. Defensive stance. An abused child may avoid physical contact with others. They may hold their arms or hands in front of their body, as though someone might suddenly hurt them. They may also shy away from being touched by anyone. They may flinch at sudden movements, appearing watchful and alert, as if waiting for something bad to happen

5. Return to earlier behaviors.  These include thumb sucking, demanding a pacifier, soiling themselves, wetting the bed, fear of the dark or strangers, loss of acquired language, stuttering or memory problems. Have a serious talk with your child if you notice these symptoms.

6. Lack of personal hygiene shows neglect. A child may look like their parents forgot to give them a bath or change their clothes. This may or may not be linked to abuse, but it is neglect. The other possibility is that the child is purposely trying to look unattractive to ward off an abuser.

7. Poor School Attendence. Children may come to school early or stay late, in order to avoid an abusive parent. They may seem preoccupied and their grades suddenly plummet.

8. Risk-taking behaviors. If a child no longer feels safe and his self esteem has been taken away, he or she may have no reason to be careful. The child may run across the street without looking or jump off the top of the jungle gym. This can be a silent cry for help.

SIGNS OF SEXUAL ABUSE MAY INCLUDE:  

1. Difficulty walking or sitting.

2. Torn clothing and/or bloody underwear. A child with this symptom should be examined by a doctor to verify injuries

3. Pain and itching in the genital area.

4. Inappropriate sexual behavior. An abused child may attempt to victimize a peer or a younger family member.

5. Explicit language. A young child who suddenly spouts sexual language may have heard it during abuse by an older person.

Signs courtesy of Dreamcatcherforabusedchildren.com, The Joyful Heart Foundation, Children’s Advocacy Centers, and childhelp.org.

Other Multiples

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