Maybe you noticed some changes around here?
They say “a messy house is a sign of a life well-lived,” which is probably just a shade at neat freaks. Maybe the opposite is also true, “a clean house is a sign of a life in turmoil.”
The only time my childhood bedroom was clean was when I was upset. Like, pacing, muttering, crying, wailing upset. Of the blur that is my childhood, a few remarkable incidents stand out: among them is cleaning my room in a fit of anxiety.
Why? Does having a clean space feel like I’m regaining control? Maybe tidying up is the actual least I can do. The one thing I can’t mess up. Quite literally!
I used to hate washing dishes. Washing dishes for my family meant long hours spent with hands in cold, greasy water, scrubbing until my back ached and my hands cracked and bled.
Washing dishes now is my meditation. It’s the one thing I feel like I can do. The one time I’m not fretting or second-guessing or melting down, I’m washing dishes. It’s the one thing I know I can do anymore.
My therapist has suggested to me that I use some tactile distractions to disrupt negative thoughts. Taking a hot or cold shower, or holding some ice cubes. Not gonna lie, I spend a lot of time counting my inhales/exhales and holding ice cubes in both palms these days.
Maybe washing dishes counts — kind of like a hot shower for my silverware? At this point, my philosophy is, “whatever works.” Journaling? Okay. Ice cubes? Whatever. “Mental vacation”? I’ll do it! At some point, something’s gotta work…right?