I was chatting with a friend about insomnia and my tools to combat it. I never used to have this problem until the last several months. I think stress is a key trigger for me. I was heading to bed and there was a mountain of dishes in the kitchen. And it was a mess. I’ve not been diagnosed OCD, but that mess triggered me. Suddenly I had to clean it. I was already in cleaning mode and my thinking was “well, better to clean like a cocaine addict than actually do a line.” Coke was not my drug of choice but I have heard about other people who do it and clean their kitchens like freaks. Is it a niche thing? Let me know in the comments… haha or not. Keep it anonymous.
Anyway, there I did it one dish at a time. We don’t have a dishwasher, it is broken. I am the dishwasher. I feel like it is my penance for all the times my ex cleaned our dishes when we lived together for a year. He really cleaned the kitchen too. I am very grateful for that and I try to pay it forward to my mom’s kitchen. I wanted her to wake up and have a nice view (clean kitchen) because I know mess stresses her out too.
I think she gets really overwhelmed by it and maybe trapped by all or nothing thinking. She often chooses nothing, which means there are a lot of little and big messes and projects around the house. Which means I am constantly triggered all the time. But all I can do is what I can do.
Also, I want to say, despite that last paragraph, she has done an amazing job with this house. She is one of the few women I know who owns her house by herself, and takes care of it by herself. We’ve had awful contractors throughout the years, including one who propositioned me when I was 17 years old. I was very very uncomfortable and told mom. He did it to me in our house and I didn’t feel safe there for some time. All he did was use words, he did not try to make a move. But suddenly what I thought was a friendship between contractor and young person became inappropriate. I don’t think I had anyone to talk about it at the time. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it since.
But after he did that, we were left with a kitchen that didn’t work. So I had to get propane tanks from Walmart in order for us to eat outside, for 6 months. The guy at Walmart said, “Going camping?” He was nice with a good smile. I couldn’t lie. I said, “No, making dinner.” And his smile disappeared.
I suddenly transformed from this pretty young woman to a sad, hungry teenager just trying to survive.
I should mention I had shoulder length, red curly hair and men often thought I was older than I was. Even when I was 15. I was extremely uncomfortable about this. I did not know how to handle the unwanted attention, and I think that is in a way why I have short hair and my natural dirty blond color now.
Anyway, I digress. The kitchen. The kitchen has a lot of history. That man. No stove or oven. Mess. Maggots. Yes, if you don’t take out the trash, the maggots come. I’ve woken up many times to little white ones on the floor. Clorox bleach. Sweep them up. Paper towels. It is an awful way to wake up.
This is my life. It is not glamour shots or rainbow sex. It is bug guts and hands raw from cleaning them up. It is the sound of a rat clawing on wood and you (me) immediately thinking it is the man. No, not the Tax Man. But the man who
Who tried to kill your friend. And he is out on bail. And you’re so scared. That cleaning the kitchen with all the lights on, knowing all the entrances are locked, that all the neighbors have cameras helps me a little bit but—even still all it takes is for him to get a clue, get angry, and come find you (me).
I don’t think he will try to find me. I’m not important, he doesn’t know who I am (yet). But I am scared because I’ve already seen what he is capable of
(Have you ever held the hand of a woman shaking and crying after she has been beaten up so bad you don’t recognize her, and she talks about being held against her will? Held so he can kill her, and every time she tries to escape, he drags her back in…)
Clean the kitchen. Wipe it all up. Scrub, woman. If I can’t erase the past, I can damn well get these splatter stains off the white fridge.
And never before in her life had she seen a fridge so marvelously sparkling.