Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Compulsive Behavior

February 10th, 2008
Prior to 1997, I was a rather messy person. I’ve never been one to spend an evening or weekend mopping, vacuuming or dusting. My bedroom was usually cluttered with mounds of unfolded laundry and shoes and purses and receipts and college memorabilia - well, you get the picture. But something happened. Well, 2 things happened.
First, my husband and I moved into our first real house. It was the cutest little brick cottage on an acre of wooded land in a wildlife preserve in a Baltimore suburb. We loved that house - therefore we took care of it and I kept it clean. But then the second thing happened…
I had no idea I was pregnant as I mountain climbed, played tennis, lifted weights like a body builder and danced like an Alvin Ailey wannabe. The realization hit us like a ton of bricks. What did we know about raising a child? But the baby came and we got the gist of what to do pretty quickly (we didn’t really have a choice).
I realized I had a compulsion in the last trimester of my pregnancy as I folded and refolded my coming child’s onesies and placed them lovingly in the cherry wood dresser we’d purchased just for him. My compulsion is folding laundry. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. In fact, I decided to write this blog because I just spent the last fifteen minutes carefully folding shirts from the dryer.
Compulsive behavior or a compulsion is defined as a psychological and usually irrational force that makes somebody do something, often unwillingly. I don’t just fold laundry - I make folded shirts look like a table in Abercrombie & Fitch. My folded towels look like a window display for Bed, Bath & Beyond. If I put the laundry away and find rumpled shirts in my sons’ drawer, I have to stop (no matter how late I am or what I’m doing) and refold everything and perfectly align them in the drawer before putting in the newly cleaned and folded shirts. It’s totally compulsive and irrational. My mother and brother tease me because they know I’m always doing laundry and folding clothes. I don’t even want anyone to help me because they never seem to get the crease right in the shirts. Or the the seams are not properly aligned on the washcloths when they’re stacked up. I know - crazy.
Now, I have no qualms about sharing this compulsion with you because I don’t think it’s a bad compulsion to have relative to some others I’ve observed and heard about. I do have others - music has to ALWAYS be playing around me, I MUST have popcorn at the movies, the kitchen HAS to be clean in order for me to cook in it - but they’re all pretty tame. And, I can survive for an hour or so without music playing, I can watch a movie without popcorn (if I’m chewing gum), and I can cook dinner without cleaning the dishes if I’m in a hurry or preoccupied. But the rumpled, wrinkled shirts or improperly folded pants and towels - naw. Can’t do it. I’ll start twitching or something. Seriously.
So now you know a secret about me. Don’t tell anyone.

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