Now that I am pretty much in total control of my own life again, I find it a lot easier to achieve satisfaction from whatever tasks I am doing. (Gawd, that makes me sound like a bossy bitch, doesn’t it?!).
I spent many years performing tasks to make JD happy (and if sometimes it made me happy too – BONUS!). If it sounds like I am more of a giver by nature and JD was a taker (or shall we say: JD’s OCD a taker), you’re probably right. After all, I wasn’t struggling with an anxiety disorder so why couldn’t I be the one to bend? It seemed easier for me to do this and make our life together more pleasant, more satisfying.
Always Usually what JD wanted done was a tremendous bit of overkill compared to what I thought was needed to get the job done. So certain things took forever or just didn’t get done.
Like changing the bed, as an example – for him it was such an ordeal so he wanted to do it as infrequently as possible. Every piece of bedding needed to be taken outside individually, and shaken thoroughly before it could make to the washer. Comforters had to be aired on the line for a set number of hours. Mattress had to be flipped, etc. etc.
I like to change bedding more frequently than he did, but he wouldn’t let me do it alone – how did he think I managed before he came into my life?? It became a source of frustration to get this done, instead of a pleasant, satisfying chore.
It often got so I couldn’t stand the thought of crawling between those sheets anymore. I used to wait till I was alone in the house for a few hours to strip the bed, wash and dry the bedding, and carefully make up the bed again with the same sheets before he returned. I didn’t use fabric softener and ruffled up the sheets a bit, figuring then he wouldn’t notice and somehow, even with his OCD-fueled hyper-awareness about EVERYTHING, he never did. So his need for all the rituals associated with bed-changing didn’t get tweaked, and my OCD about sleeping in clean sheets got satisfied. A guilt-inducing win-win, for sure.
When I look back on this now, it seems so silly for a strong, adult woman to have to sneak around her own place like this in order to do common household chores. Believe me though, it was better than fighting with JD’s illness night and day. The anxiety disorder always comes first, always wins – in my experience.
I think of these things every time I change the bed, pull out the vacuum, sweep a floor, place my grocery bags (or anything for that matter) on the floor to unpack…all things I used to take for granted and do without thought, and now can do again. All things that drove JD’s OCD crazy.
People usually think of a person with OCD being obsessed with cleaning, and doing it constantly. JD could be like that with hand washing, for certain very important (to him) activities only, such as paperwork. When it came to things like bed-changing, sweeping and vacuuming, he felt this released dust that contaminated everything so these chores were extremely difficult to get done.
These chores, these little things, are so, so satisfying now in their ease of execution. I wonder how long it will be before I take them for granted again.