One night during winter break, we went to Zoo Lights. It was monstrously annoying to park and even get there, so if we hadn’t been meeting some friends, you can bet we would have given up and gone out to eat instead.

However, we made it. And a nice lady gave us three tickets for free, so it was less than $10 for the whole family to get into the zoo itself. So that was nice. Unfortunately, we were waiting for our friends for a long time (because they also were dealing with the monstrously annoying parking/driving situation). It was freezing, and my daughter was in denial about having to go to the bathroom. As a result of her high and false opinion of her bladder control abilities, she told us she had peed her pants.

The situation

Now, she often says this and it is either (a) not true or (b) a drip of pee. So I wasn’t overly concerned. Still, we hustled to a bathroom (which of course was somewhere obscure in the zoo) and found a family bathroom. Usually I’d just let my husband go in and deal with the situation, but it was COLD. We all huddled into the bathroom for warmth. My husband checked her underwear, feeling it for pee. There was a tiny bit, so he put some toilet paper in her pants or something and let her go to the bathroom.

While we waited for her, instead of washing his hands like a good, normal person would do after touching underwear, he gave me a hug. I was very unimpressed. Like severely unimpressed. I freaked out, in fact, and read him the riot act. How could he touch my new fluffy warm coat with pee underwear hands? (OCD makes you label things in very strange ways). I was really mad and didn’t want to talk to him for quite awhile. He was actually pretty lucky we had friends coming or else I would’ve stayed mad much longer.

Stay uncomfortable

But no, I was not happy. I held my bag instead of putting it over my shoulder for the entire Zoo lights trip. I couldn’t take off the coat immediately because it was way too cold for that nonsense, so in a way it was a forced exposure. However, once we got to the car, that thing came off and went in the trunk. I washed it when we got home.

So all in all, not a totally successful contamination exposure, but I did deal with the discomfort and stayed in it during the Zoo lights walk/excursion. I didn’t make us go home immediately. I also didn’t throw out the coat and washed it instead. So it could’ve been worse.


My husband tried to guilt me with the whole “what would a normal person do?” but I countered with my view that a normal person wouldn’t be hugging people in a tiny family bathroom after having touched a child’s underwear. A normal person would (hopefully) wash their hands immediately after doing that and then hug outside of the bathroom.

So we’re working on being normal, I guess. I wonder who will get there first.

Have you had any forced exposures lately? How did they go?


2 thoughts on “Sketches: Zoo Lights”

  1. I just wanted to throw out another perspective here. When you got angry at your husband for his spontaneous affection, i believe you were choosing the protection of your OCD over him. I’m not in any way scolding, because this used to happen to me as well. There are millions of widowed folks who would give anything to receive a hug from their dead spouses even if they were drenched in pee. Or other lonely folks who just would love to receive a hug from someone who cared about them. Pee is not dangerous, but by listening to your OCDand treating it as such, it appears that you were protecting, honoring and nurturing your OCD and elevating it above your family at that moment. I’m 20 years older than you and it saddened me recently to have my young adult daughter tell me that she remembers almost every family trip being affected by my OCD. I’m sharing this with you the hopes that you can learn from my experience. A beautiful evening out to celebrate Christ’s birth and family, and your children see you getting upset and angry with daddy for reasons they can’t understand. He didn’t abide by one of your OCD rules because he doesn’t have it and shouldn’t have to alter his behavior. Remember when Travis said we need to decide what we want our lives to be about? Searching for and trying to avoid potential pee or being with family? You could have stayed home alone and been pee free. This situation can become a choice in how we react. Sure, it was am unplanned exposure, and it was courageous to continue with zoo lights. But your anger and your washing the coat only reinforces the idea that your OCD is worthy of being paid attention to. In fact so worthy, that it was more important than your husbands feelings or the potential memories your children will have of the outing. I know because I was there myself and hearing what they remembered all these years later humbled me greatly and really made me cry with regret that I had allowed my OCD to take a higher place than my family because i was nurturing it and protecting it and defending it at the time.

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