Having OCD is a trap. And in my case, its a self-made trap. If you’re like me, obsessing over very specific, seemingly unnecessary details in your immediate environment, and getting compulsive about doing it all yourself, then things do begin to take on the color of a disorder, bordering on the serious kinds.
I like having things in order. Which is to say, things must be dust free, in neat rows, at right angles, just the way they should be. Our shoes and slippers must be in a straight line, the dining table must be clutter-free, the centre table must be aligned with edges running parallel to the mattresses on one side and the 2-seater on the other, the kitchen counter must be crumb-free, the drip tray by the sink cleared out as soon as the dishes are reasonably dry, the stove spotless and the shelves dust-free. The list goes on. Even in my sparsely furnished home, I manage to find enough to obsess over. And sometimes it means I spend all weekend ensuring that things are up to the mark. By my standards.
Its all great to have high standards of order and cleanliness. But when you’re not the only one in your home anymore, it begins to be a pain in the gluteus maxims. Literally and figuratively. Because it gets insanely exhausting just keeping up with yourself. My maid comes in, does her thing and leaves. And I sit and spend an additional 4 hours cleaning up after her. Don’t ask what or why. Ask the husband, and he’ll tell you I’m off my rocker. Almost every Saturday I take virtually my entire kitchen apart, clean it up and put everything back in order. Neatly aligning rows of boxes, making mugs point the same direction, and other such nonsensical things. I obsess over how the laundry ought to be, going through a pre-decided set of actions. Bring laundry bag to washing machine, sort clothes into 2 piles, unfold sleeves, check pockets, load machine, fill in soap, connect plug, set dials, push start.
I could go on but this you get the idea. I’m obsessive, and this is just the slightly sane side of things. Life gets dicey when I find that when I wake up at 2 am for a drink of water, trudge up to the fridge peering through slit eyes, I grab a few sips of water, and unfortunately catch a glimpse of the loaf of bread that is on the bottom shelf, as opposed to the side of the top shelf, I soon find myself kneeling down, forcing my eyes open, sorting the fridge out, making space on the top shelf by rearranging things in order of size and then feel like all is well in the universe again. After all, balance in the universe depends on the insides of my fridge, doesn’t it?
So you get my drift. The problem with suffering from OCD is that you dig yourself into a hole that you can’t get out of. You get so deep you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. You set high standards and you wish everyone around you would match them. When they try and help and pitch in, you follow them undoing and redoing whatever they do. You tend not to trust anyone to do as good a job as you would yourself. So you do the worst thing you possibly can: you supervise. You hover over shoulders, crane your neck to get a quick look, you micromanage, you clean and over clean, you sort, you dust, you arrange. You spend your weekend housework-ing and then wonder why you never have any time to chill. You fill your day with all the cleaning you cant otherwise do, constantly finding something to tidy up. And what is does eventually is leaves you feeling very, very exhausted.
So while I am anal about the way I keep my home, I have over the months grown to hate housework, simply because I have turned it into a tiring bloody job even for myself. So to make amends, I have decided that I seriously need to let go and chill out. And get a life. This past Saturday was a small beginning. I mean, there’s more to Saturdays than feeling blissed that the kitchen counter is spotless. Wish me luck, this is going to be as hard for me as it is for an alcoholic going into rehab. And until I make serious progress and change my behavior, this is going to be my mantra. Repeat after me: