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I have been sucked into a vicious cycle. I’m not sure how it even started, or why I continue to show up for it, or how to resolve it in a way that I am satisfied with.
I am a busy person, and end up with piles of (organized) clutter, because it’s something that’s in progress, or being worked on. That, to my way of thinking, is the stuff of life. It’s normal. It can be dusted, if it takes me too long to get back to it. It poses no health hazard, and though it may be an eyesore, it’s a temporary one.
On the other hand, I have a thing about wanting/needing a simple level of sanitary conditions around the house. I like the kitchen to be clean, the dishes done, the sink scrubbed, the counters washed. It grosses me out otherwise. I like the bathroom to be clean, the toilet scrubbed and wiped, the shower stall clean, the floor swept, the counters wiped. Otherwise, I am grossed out.
Apparently I have a much lower threshold for ‘gross out’ than Jeremy does. Enter vicious cycle. I express preferences. He verbally acknowledges said preferences. I assume that we’ve reached a certain level of understanding and that action will follow. I end up frustrated when the action that I assume will happen does not happen in the time frame that I find reasonable. I get angry, I express preferences to him angrily. He does what I asked.
I think that one of the most anger-inducing aspects of the entire circle is that I am not the one who’s causing the unsightly and upsetting unsanitary conditions to begin with. Jeremy eats more and more often than I do, and he fills the sink with “soaking” dishes frequently. Those are not my dishes, and not my messes – and how long does he think it takes to soak off macaroni and cheese, anyhow? I am not the one who leaves shorn beard hairs clinging all over the sink. I am not the one who stands up to go to the bathroom.
And yet, since my level of ‘gross out’ is lower, I see all this stuff, and I have to address it. When I see it, and I end up addressing it, after he’s said that he will address it, I understandably become angry and then I angrily express that to him. Then he, chagrined, goes to take care of it. Or, he sees that I am in the process of addressing it and attempts to take the dishrag from my hand and take over. Oh, no, no, my friend – your opportunity to take care of it has passed.
I made casual mention of this phenomenon to my boss the other day – a man who’s about my age or a bit older. He said, “Um. That never stops. You don’t grow out of it. That’s just how guys are.” He’s a jokester, so I was standing there, expectantly waiting for the punchline, when I could see he was all seriousness. Ugh. Dismay.
So, I’m on the ‘Path of Mastery,’ and I’m relatively enlightened (a good deal of the time) – so, I can see that I have a choice here: continue this ridiculous merry-go-round of anger and disappointment that’s getting us nowhere fast, or step off and make a new decision. That new decision has to take the shape of either me upping my threshold for ‘unsanitary messes’ (not likely), or just doing it when I see it, and shutting up about it (also doesn’t feel great).
I suppose, too, that the short answer is that I could become more tolerant of the people with whom I choose to live. But, that’s a two-way street – and my preferences for cleanliness should not always have to take a back seat and holler to be noticed.
So, until I figure out a way to jump off this carnival ride in a way that I can live with and that doesn’t involve me hollering every week of my life, I’m at an impasse. Though it is unfathomable to me, I can see that he truly doesn’t see it and truly isn’t bothered by it. Though it is unfathomable to me, I can see that he hasn’t gotten around to the mindset that I have: “If I look away from this mess now, I’ll just have to do it later, because there’s no one gonna come behind me and clean it up.” He probably hasn’t gotten to that mindset because I come along behind him and clean it up. There’ve been a few times where I was tempted to wait him out, but I just couldn’t do it – couldn’t stand the mess (cause I live here too).
So, long story short, this seems to be a phenomenon within the gender. I’ve gathered information from outside sources that confirm those suspicions. I am boggled by it. I am frustrated by it. I know that I cannot be the first chick who’s ever voiced these particular concerns about this particular set of circumstances. I also know that it’s not exclusive to the gender.
Knowing all that, though, doesn’t really help me in the now. He’s been making efforts over the past few months to address stuff before I see it and get tweaked. Usually, though, it starts with me prompting him – and that’s the step I want to eliminate. The same messes get made week after week. But what seems elementary to me may not be elementary to everyone.
Well, there are some dishes in the sink staring holes into the back of my head. And since I see it and it bothers me, I’m off to go clean it up.