Today, I got to thinking about the obsessive nature of my cleaning rituals after KR said to me, “You’re washing the dishes before you wash the dishes? No wonder it takes you so long.” I promptly allowed him to take over dish duty and went to do something else, without saying a word. It’s because of comments like this that I’ve pretty much given up cleaning on weekends or anytime KR is at home. When KR makes comments like these, I feel inadequate, even stupid, for feeling compelled to perform these cleaning rituals in a certain way. This has been a regular occurrence throughout 3 different relationships. In each relationship, my significant other felt the need to criticize my “mad” methods.
Every single day (at least, when KR is not home), I must clean the kitchen in a particular order, wash dishes in a particular order, sweep the floors in a particular direction, clean out the litter boxes in a particular order. Weekly and monthly tasks follow the same compulsory habits that I just can’t seem to break. Doing it any other way feels “wrong.” However, I couldn’t care less how KR does these tasks should he choose to do them. I have no control over how he does them and want no control over how he does them. I get that my methods of distraction are less than efficient, even somewhat irrational at times; but it would be nice to not feel criticized for something that I feel I have no control over.
And before anyone reaches out and makes the invalidating comment, “But you do have control over your behaviors,” let me just say, “NO! You are wrong!”
I have never really considered myself obsessive-compulsive to a fault; but that is how I feel when KR or anyone else, for that matter, makes a comment that seemingly attacks something that I can only call self-soothing. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely hate cleaning, with a passion; but it’s mind-numbingly boring tasks like cleaning that help me feel in control of my environment when nothing else feels within my control. And obsessively cleaning is better than obsessively thinking about suicide or other self-harming behaviors that are, quite frankly, frightening. Cleaning is a more productive use of time regardless of how long it takes.
Stress and anxiety certainly increase these thoughts and make the rituals non-negotiable. Should I not be able to perform them exactly the way I intend to, I won’t do them at all (until I am alone, which seems to be the only negotiable aspect since the anxiety of being criticized outweighs the anxiety of not performing the cleaning tasks). Maybe, that just makes me stubborn; but undoubtedly, it feels more like an anxiety issue than a character flaw. And stubbornness is not always a bad thing.
This isn’t even about finding perfection or doing something perfectly (though, I’ll admit to being a perfectionist in many respects). It’s more about finding order out of chaos. And right now, life is feeling a little chaotic due to circumstances beyond my control with the neighbors (by the way, the neighbors have already bought their kids a new BB gun <sigh>).
Thinking about all of this makes me wonder why I have to be the one who is always expected to change her behavior? Why can’t other people just be nice? Show kindness and understanding? Show a little freakin’ compassion and respect?
My thoughts return to my neighbors and their odd behavior. It’s not “right” for me to judge them or to be critical of them, no matter how badly they get on my nerves. In my heart, I truly believe that everyone deserves kindness, understanding, compassion, and respect, regardless of my perception of that person because no one knows the struggles of another. And perhaps, that is where the conflict with my neighbors is coming from. Of course, KR’s negativity in this situation surely isn’t helping matters any. After the ball hit the side of the house for the umpteen-billionth time yesterday, KR went outside and confiscated the ball from the kids. Not sure if he had the right to do that, but none of the adults came over complaining….
Stick a fork in me… I’m done.