Showing posts with label OCD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label OCD. Show all posts

Monday, 29 October 2012

Love Letter to FlyLady

Image source. FlyLady's logo from her website. I hope she's OK with me putting it here! :)

It's no secret that I'm a big advocate for gentle parenting and conscious living. It hasn't always been the case, but what has always been the case is my love for personal growth and learning, and that's how I got there.

About six or seven years ago, in the course of discovery on the internet, several people on a forum I frequented raved about this FlyLady website that was, they said, all about how to keep your house clean. My house was pretty messy, not due to lack of ability, or lack of desire, and certainly I didn't feel as though I was a naturally messy person, but because of a niggly trait called perfectionism.

I lived under the shadow of "if you can't do it properly, don't do it at all" and so a lot of things were never done. Not because I was unable to do it well enough to suit me, but because everything became so huge! Sweeping the kitchen floor meant I needed to clean everything above the floor beforehand, because that's the order needed for cleaning - top to bottom. If I wanted to sweep the floor, I'd need a couple of hours to get it done.

I was far more than cynical when I went to check out her website, but I signed up and since, at that time, it was based in a Yahoo Group, I promptly forgot about it. Fast forward a few years and I decided to take another look. People were still raving about it and I hadn't given it much of a chance. And now she sends her emails to any address at all, so I could actually receive them. And read them...

Turns out FlyLady is out there gently re-parenting adults. Yes, she gives definite instructions to follow, which I wouldn't usually associate with gentle parenting, but there is no judgement or criticism involved and her ultimate goal is simply for you to Finally Love Yourself (FLY). There's nothing that takes the pressure off better than the line at the end of all of her emails:
You are not behind! I don't want you to try to catch up; I just want you to jump in where we are. O.K.?
which gives you permission to be at whatever place you are.

She believes in baby-steps and helps you change your mindset from the inner critic that says you're not good enough, to the logical knowledge that a little bit is better than nothing, and lots of little bits really do add up.

Also, it's all free, so that's pretty cool too.

This is just a public thank you, because these ideas have helped with all sorts of manifestations of my perfectionism, not just housework. I would not have even started this blog yet because I'm still learning how to make things work as it is, and I couldn't have started under those conditions otherwise.

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Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Terror Lies in the Clean Spot

Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about! You know what the clean spot is... Please tell me you know what the clean spot is and that it's not just all in my head? Maybe we call it by a different name? I'll explain then, just in case.

Imagine, say, that you have a little kid. And said little kid perhaps gets up from enthusiastic messy play, and runs to the bathroom to get clean (look, I said imagine, alright?). On their way into the bathroom, they pass through two partially closed doors and have to push them open. Now each door has a cute, muddy hand-print. Perfectly formed, miniature art.

There's a choice to be made now. You can leave the muddy hand print there. It'll dry. You'll look adoringly at it each time you pass, knowing that those little fingerprints are fleeting and maybe if you wipe these ones away, you might not get the chance to see the perfect little replicas in such an impromptu way again. But then your inner critic (and sometimes outer critic!) kicks in and exclaims about how lazy you are for not wiping it clean.

I have one of these spots on the glass of my back door.

The second choice is to wipe it and risk the clean spot. You thought the door was clean and white, and now there's a spot on it that's just a little more white than the rest. Worse, is when you squirt it with spray and a bit runs down the length of the door. Now you have a clean spot and clean drip-marks.

I have one of these spots on the door between my laundry room and hallway.

At this point, there's yet another choice to be made (kind of like a pick-a-path book, isn't it?) and it's not an easy one.

You can walk away. Basically, I only ever walk away for two reasons: to spite myself, or because I just can't be bothered. The second one is OK. It's clean, that's plainly obvious, and that's what you set out to do, and that's what got done, so shut up already. Perfectionism be buggered, leave the clean spot there; it's proof you do things at all. Yeah! If you clean the whole door, who's going to know it was dirty in the first place? Check out my cool rationalisations for "can't be bothered". I'm an expert.

If I walk away to spite myself, it's not because I can't be bothered. It's because I "know" the over thinking going on in my head is completely bonkers, so it's a punishment of sorts. Not the most gentle way to look after delicate little neural pathways.

Or you can clean the door. The whole, stinking door, for a six centimetre wide smudge, and you know that clean spot is going to stay ever so slightly cleaner than the rest. You'll be able to see it for years to come. I don't know what causes this phenomenon, and if anyone else does and knows how to fix it, PLEASE, I'M BEGGING YOU share your magic knowledge.

This may sound a little bit trivial, but the truth is, as convoluted as I made it, I chose an easy example. Doors don't take too much, even though it's completely true that I have a muddy hand print, a clean spot and several doors containing spots that are ever so slightly cleaner than the rest, and yes they do all mock me. But what if it was a wall? What if you got rash one day and decided to clean the baseboards, and accidentally made a clean spot on the wall? And it's glaringly obvious. Probably not to anyone else, but you'll keep looking back at it using the same compulsion that forces you to bite a mouth ulcer or poke a bruise, just to see if it still hurts.

It's too dangerous. It's OK to vacuum the baseboards, or dust them, but water can't be involved. Because terror lies in that clean spot that might occur. That fine line between perfectionism and things being "good enough". And accepting that good enough is better than nothing at all, or even, "not good enough but still better than it was" is better than nothing at all.

A drop in the bucket is worthwhile, because the bucket of water is made up of thousands of drops. One is not more important than the others. But add enough singular drops and it overflows. Each of those drops is one little clean spot, and, I guess, one more spot you don't need to clean.

I don't know. They're still pretty scary. Does anyone else have this problem with clean spots?

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Handprint photo source

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

A Fishy Toothbrush Update

I had this toothbrush a few days ago, that tasted a little fishy and since yesterday was shopping day, I bought myself another.

I'd been making do with mouthwash and floss, so was looking forward to a nice, fresh, new, clean, non-fishy toothbrush.

Something you don't know about me, is that I have this weird aversion to putting things in my mouth that don't belong. By "don't belong" I mean not meant for human consumption. Toothbrushes are included in that. I push through it and brush my own teeth, sure, but the sound of anyone else brushing their teeth actually makes me violently dry-retch.

Seeing anyone else put anything in their mouth that doesn't belong makes me violently dry-retch. I'm that sap who sees toddlers (including my own) mouthing things and calls for help while gagging and running away. I'd be no good in an emergency - it really is that bad!

I also can't put anything in my mouth that has been in another person's mouth. Yes, this includes having a bite of someone's sandwich. It has to be from the uneaten end. And it includes drinking out of a drink bottle someone else has used. If my toothbrush is wet when I pick it up, just the thought of what may have happened can make me gag.

With that in mind, you can likely understand why someone messing with my toothbrush is worse than you may have first thought.

So anyhow, yesterday I bought my new toothbrush. I considered buying two, nearly did, then decided I was being foolish. Toothbrush interference isn't a common occurrence in my house. Nor should it be.

I chose a colour I liked that was different to the other four in the house, and brought it home with the rest of my groceries. So far so good.

We had done the shopping late in the afternoon, so the grocery bags got dumped on the table with only the things that needed refrigeration being put away immediately. I started getting dinner ready with the knowledge the rest would be put away soon enough. And while I was cooking, I was distracted from what was happening over at the table.

Never trust a two-year-old, is all I can say.

Ten minutes later he wandered into the kitchen, looked at me all adorable-like and said: "Kiss my minty, Mum." Which, of course, is a direct translation of: "I just brushed my teeth; now I want a kiss." So I did (who wouldn't?). But I am, now, a more suspicious person. I knew he had been fossicking in the groceries earlier on.

"Which toothbrush did you use, sweetheart?" I asked nervously.

And he looked at me. And he giggled. And he giggled some more. And then he showed me...

So, today, I need a new toothbrush...

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Image by: digitalart

Friday, 5 October 2012

Shower Paranoia

I don't know who to credit for this picture; it's floating around facebook. I didn't make it, but I love it!

I love how apparently not alone I am.

Because preschool kids have ESP, don't they? They can be in the deepest stage of the deepest sleep, but the second your toe hits the bathwater, they're on full alert.

I recall doing it myself to a point. In the car, I could sleep through the majority of a road trip and magically open my eyes and be wide awake just as we were pulling into the destination. I still don't know how I did it; it's not as if we weren't turning sharp corners or coming to a stop at other points in the journey.

Now that I'm not a preschooler, I've lost the skill.

Now that my older two kids have reached double digited age, they have lost the skill of desperately needing my attention the second I think I have a safe moment to shower or visit the loo.

The preschooler I do have, only has that skill when it involves his Daddy. I'm off the hook there! (Be grateful you can't see the sly happy-dance.)

Nope, I'm sweet as. I can shower without hearing a child crying - almost any time I like! Unless you count the imaginary crying. The ghosts of ESP past. The post traumatic stress of about seven years of constant interruption. Of dripping down the hallway with a headful of apple-scented lather. Of sometimes keeping that headful of apple-scented lather for an hour and a half, before wading back through the lake of now cold water on the bathroom floor, because I didn't take the time to dry off before stepping out.

I expect to hear crying.

It confuses me when I don't.

So my brain invents it for me.

Either that, or some sneaky cat with ESP is wailing outside the bathroom window just to mess with me.

In any case, I'm not alone. At least one person was afflicted enough to make the picture. Hundreds of other people could identify with it enough that they shared it!

And now, I suddenly feel very normal.

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