Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shower Power

So, I'm lazing in a chair tonight, fantasizing about the shower I plan to take in the morning.  You see, now when I shower, I enjoy it again.  I might use some scented shower gel that makes me feel girly and pretty.  Luxuriate in the delicious feeling of the warm water flowing through my hair, the thick sudsy lather washing my hair clean clean clean, the sensual slipperiness of the conditioner, a quick tingle of the shower massage wand rinsing my "business" clean (since I'm in Cali, and we're in drought, my conscience won't allow more than a quick tingle with the shower wand.)

I realize, now, how crazy his never-ending rules were, but at the time, I wanted to please him - and many of his rules did have a certain logic.

Beginning bathroom rules:
We cannot install a shower massage, but use only (his) water saver shower head, even though the shower massage also has a shut-off feature.  (Which I use, at my new place.)
I get the entire shower caddy, he gets the entire tub ledge. We also cannot share drawers in the vanity - he gets two, I get two. Under the sink, I get half the available space, he gets half.  No co-mingling supplies; nothing can touch each other.  (Why?  Why?  Girl-cooties?)
Electric wall heater can never be turned on for any reason whatsoever. If it’s freezing cold in the bathroom,  and you're coming down with the flu, too bad.
No toilet tank sweaters or lid covers allowed, or bathroom rugs with rubbery backing.  Bathmats or rugs cannot be left on the floor to keep one’s feet warm while brushing teeth, etc., but must be hung on inside shower door when not in use.  (Now I have thick, soft, fuzzy rugs all over the bathroom, to the delight of my bare feet every time I shower or use the commode!   bwaaaahaaaahaaa!)

All shower fragrances must be pre-approved (and none are enjoyed by him, just - "I guess that's not as bad as those other ones you were using.")
Showers must be taken in the morning, so there is time for the bathroom to air dry before bed, with one bath per week allowable on Sunday evenings, provided it is taken early enough.  (I insist on taking a tub bath and shaving my legs once a week, whether they need it or not.) 
Taking a shower rules:
  • Window must be opened.
  • Fan must be turned on, low.
  • Bathroom door opened or closed depending on time of the year (and whether or not he’s in the living room.)  I never was able to decode the secret algorithm he used to figure this one out, and got tired of being snapped at for guessing wrong, so I just gave up and always asked him whether he wanted me to leave the door open or closed.  Half the time he didn't even know what he wanted!
  • If not rainy season, bucket must be used to capture "start-up" water while adjusting temperature, and used later to water garden plants.  (this one, I'm in total agreement with - it's a drought, wasting water is very, very naughty!)
  • When in shower, wet self, turn off water at water-saver knob, lather, rinse & repeat.  (ditto, I'm good with that)
  • If hair captured in drain, remove hairball during shower and place on tub ledge for later disposal. Do not open shower door for any reason during shower, even with water saver knob on.  (Sometimes I would leave the hair in the strainer, so the water backed up, & my feet would get a better soaking.  I'm such a rebel!)
  • Following completion of shower, shower door tracks must be dried with sponge kept on tub ledge for this purpose.
  • Hairballs may now be dropped into trash bin.
  • Fan shall now be turned up to highest speed.
  • Shower doors must be ajar to allow tub and inside tiles to dry.
  • Towels and Bathmat must be hung to dry after use.
  • Collected water in bucket taken outside and applied to plants.
Any steps missed, otherwise noticeably bungled, like not turning the fan speed up or leaving a bathmat on the floor, would meet with a mournful-faced reminder if he was in a good mood, a long, rambling lecture if he was in a bad mood, or an out-and-out tantrum if he was in an especially pissy mood.  Eventually, I managed to do most of them, most of the time, though sometimes I would still goof on something if I was tired or sick.  Not that that was any excuse!!

Are you stressed yet?  Have we managed to suck all the joy and sensual pleasure out of taking a shower, and replaced it with grim necessity and a knot in your stomach over what you might have skipped?  But wait, there's more...

New Rules  (unlike Bill Maher, nothing funny about New Rules with an OCPDr):
  • Pre-shower, spare towel must be placed under toilet tank to catch drips from sweating tank.
  • Shower doors, not just track, must be manually wiped down with sponge - and sponge must be wrung out afterwards "enough."
  • Empty shampoo bottles, etc, cannot be left in waste bin until weekend cleaning, but must be carried out  immediately to recycle bin.
  • Towel from under toilet must be left under tank until all danger of water drips has passed, and only then hung up to dry.  (But for gosh-sakes, don't forget to hang it up!!)
So, I'm working to perfect the new rules, while not omitting any old ones, and one day he calls me into the bathroom.

ME: <wearily> What now?
HIM: You really have an attitude, don't you?
ME: Yeah, I guess so.  So, what did I do this time?
HIM:  Do you have any idea how hard it is, going around all day, picking up after you?  I know you're a slob, but can't you at least try to keep this place together?  <Gesturing>  Look where you left the shower doors!  <he points, then adjusts them - I kid you not - about two inches further in on each side.>  I guess you don't care if this place falls apart.
ME: <laughing>  You realize, you're insane.
HIM:  I really don't appreciate your attitude.  I wish you cared about keeping the place up like I do.
ME: Honey, I will never, ever, care like you do about whether the shower doors are eight inches from the wall or ten.  Not ever.  I wish that was the biggest and most important thing I had to think about, but it's not, and never will be.

It was at that point, six months ago or so, I really "got" it.  Like the imaginary mildew in his mind, those bathroom rules were going to keep on growing, and growing, and growing...

That was really the beginning of the end.  Me realizing that I had put up with a lot of crazy, for a long time, and it wasn't getting better, just worse.  That I did not want to spend the rest of my life getting lectured about how far apart the shower doors "should" be.

So now... I'm back to enjoying showers again.  I'm conscientious about not wasting water, of course, because that's how we roll in Cali.  Sometimes I squeegee down the shower enclosure, and sometimes I don't, depending on my best judgment as to whether I think it'll dry or not - and whether I feel like it or not. 

So far, no Mildew Monster has eaten me during my middle-of-the-night pee trips.

Do you have crazy bathrooom or kitchen rules, too?  Did your Significant Other's list keeping growing and growing?  Comment on your "shower stories", below.