I think I’ve begun to make a dent into my obsessive house cleaning. It started with a spot of spilled tea on the kitchen counter I chose not to wipe away. When I decided to do so, I asked myself, why would you do this? But I did not want to think about it really, so I just left the spot. John usually does not take up a sponge to clean up as our chores are precisely defined (his is his work), which made the spot stay for four full days. Whenever I saw it, I thought it was odd, because although it existed, my life did not tumble down. After four days I cleaned it up. Later I sat on the couch smiling and John asked me what amused me so much. When I told him, he had to laugh and admitted that he had not even realized the spot at all. But for me, it was a kind of turning point.
I have come to think about my obsessive house cleaning because I watched a TV show about hoarders vs. cleaners. When one man who was a cleaner was portrayed, he said that his childhood was full of abuse and that’s why he can’t stand any clutter or dirt around. That cut deep as I think it could have been me stating that. Tidying up the outside is a way to tidy up the inside I guess. The more dirt is in my house, the more nervous I get because I think I’m losing control over my life. So tidying up is the attempt to stay in charge of my life. When I’m confronted with bad memories, I usually start to clean over-efficient. It’s ridiculous, but it worked for many years. And I think this is connected to my years on the street where you can’t do any other than getting used to dirt and smelling. That’s why I’d rather take a shower twice a day than to risk that someone could smell me through my deodorant. It’s just like I still feel dirty. Actually I know I’m not dirty just because my father did what he did, but he made me dirty and made me feel dirty. And he initiated the thoughts of myself as a filthy person. I sometimes made a joke of it: it’s better to clean up that to be depressed. But that was stupid. I was depresssed. Perhaps I’m still. Perhaps it’s good to start up with a little spot of tea on the kitchen counter. I wouldn’t have done that a few weeks ago. Something has changed and I’m afraid of what will come.