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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My Toothbrushing Ritual

I'm going to finish out my ritual posts here over the next couple of days, so that I can move on to some other things I want to talk about soon:  how I believe this all got started and how this affects my family, work, etc.  Right now my daughter and I share a bathroom.  OK, we've shared a bathroom for a REALLY long time.  In fact, a lightbulb just kind of went off in my head and I realized that I moved my stuff out our "husband and wife bathroom"  shortly after I noticed that he had used my eyeshadow compact as a mirror when working on his truck in the garage, which I discussed in a previous post.  Really looking back and thinking about that now, I believe that is true.  You see, this is why its so good to get this all out piece by piece, I can really sort out in my head when things started and trace them back to why.  I didn't want him touching ANY of my stuff after that, and started to lose trust in him.  (I have seen him do a number of disturbing things over the years, so I really don't trust his judgment in general anymore.  It's really hard).  So I wanted to keep my stuff "safe", so that he couldn't get to it.  Pretty much ever since then I've wanted to keep things safe from him, starting with my personal items, and progressing to food (which is a very long post to come in the future) and now even my clothes are hung in a different room.  For awhile when my daughter was a toddler I would store my makeup bag and personal items in her room.  I would even leave our toothbrushes in a cup in her bedroom when she was younger, because my housband still used our main bathroom at that time periodically and I didn't want to take any chances at all that he would open up the medicine closet and touch or contaminate our toothbrushes somehow.  Now we have moved to a different house and our master bath/master bedroom are on one side of the house, and 2 other bedrooms and a bathroom are at the opposite end.  He lives in the master side and I live in my daughters room and share the other bathroom with her.  Where am I going with all of this, you wonder?  Well, I feel "safer" now because he doesn't ever use this bathroom.  I still don't keep my makeup there, just in case, but I do put our toothbrushes in the medicine cabinet there.  Because I don't want to accidentally use my daughters toothbrush AND I don't want her to accidentally use mine, I have a ritual involving "checking the toothbrushes" in the morning and night after we brush our teeth.  I haven't always had this ritual.  I put our toothbrushes on a shelf in the medicine cabinet and they are in each in their own separate cup/holder.  For some reason I am always nervous, "what if we used the wrong toothbrush?  Mine is always on the left, hers is always on the right, but again, I question myself.  I'm able to brush my teeth normally, I don't have any ritualizing involving that alone.'s what I do afterward.  After we brush our teeth I have to check each toothbrush for "water spots" or "water bubbles" on the brush itself--the handle or the toothbrush head, to make sure that it really has been used.  I check each one three times, alternating between mine and hers, sometimes I have to do it even more that if I'm feeling uncomfortable for some reason.  Sometimes I even count how many water bubbles are on each brush or do something to help me remember that what I am seeing is really true.  It's so frustrating because I know AS I'm using it that I'm using mine, and I know that I hand her her's when its time, so why do I have to go back and "check" them.  Because I have OCD and my brain feeds me false messages that something is wrong and maybe I didn't really see things right.  OCD is such a bully....
There are some times though that I worry what if my husband was in the bathroom?  What if he used our toothpaste?  I would not want to share toothpaste with anyone.  My daughter has her kids toothpaste and I have my regular toothpaste.  I don't want to share personal items with anyone.  Recently I started putting a piece of kleenex or toilet paper in the doorway and then shutting the door.  Then if he went in there I would see the piece of toilet paper fallen to the gorund and would know he was in there.  So when I get up in the morning and see that still in the doorway, I feel relieved.  This has become another ritual in itself.  I change toothbrushes very frequently in our house for my daughter and I....probably every 2 weeks, sometimes even more frequently.  Even after I've checked the toothbrushes twice a day I still get freaked out that they could have been used by the opposite person and it just makes me feel better to replace them.  

** Side note--My husband and I had a horrible argument yesterday, just horrible.  Here is how it started.  I had my laundry going and had just started a cycle and he came  home for lunch.  He hardly ever comes home for lunch.  I heard him go into his bathroom and the toilet flush about 5 minutes later, so I was pretty sure he had a BM, and then my obsession about him flushing the toilet while my laundry was in the machine kicked into high gear.  CRAP......literally, crap!!!!
Of course then I have to come up with someway to fix the situation and make sure my laundry isn't contaminated.  So he could tell something was wrong with me, but of course we never go into specifics.  Basically I stopped the washing cycle, and rinsed the clothes out.  Then after he left, I removed the clothes from the machine, ran detergent through a cycle by itself to "clean out the washer".  Then I washed the load again twice.  Then I felt like it was as clean as it would get it.  I am starting to notice how I feel a lot of resentment towards my  husband for things that he probably doesn't understand.  My post this weekend is hopefully going to be about this, and it is going to be a LONG post, but one that I really need to write and analyze.  If anyone out there is reading my story, I would love to hear if you also have OCD, what kind you have, and a little bit of your story.  I know there are so many of us out there that struggle with this, it is really good to have the support of someone who knows what you're going through.    


  1. ive read your story and I can relate to it. I have different rituals around brushing my teeth but that is only 1 of 100s. anyway you need to confide in your husband so he understands what you need to do and how you feel

  2. Having a variant of OCD myself I thought it was interesting how you were trying to understand and get at the root of how the uncertainty of cleanliness started. I might offer up my own opinion that trying to rationalize or get to a "point source why" is partly irrelevant because the OCD at its core is a doubting illness. For myself the point source was my birth, it was there in my genetic expression, and although at times it may appear to me to have a logical course at its root, it is at best a neurological conundrum and hinders more than helps. Meds have helped me immensely, Luvox and off-label Seroquel for myself, though each person is different.

  3. Or in other words, I could explain using hydraulic engineering theory how your cross-contamination idea of potable water supplies is impossible, but that would only lead to other forms of study/checking. The bottom line is none of it permanently helps you feel more certain, the uncertainty is in the disease, not in the object of its thought.


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    Flossing your Teeth