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Categories – Part 2

About ten years ago I came to the realization that I was classifying Common and Clean items incorrectly.  Because I did not see anyone touching them, objects that one would pick up on a store shelf were categorized as Clean.  What was I thinking?!  Of course, they are not clean at all.  What prompted me to rethink this was a situation at my job.  When I was working as a receptionist and I went on my breaks, another person would have to come to my desk and fill in.  She was a smoker, and when I returned from my breaks, I could smell the smoke on my phone, the phone that I was holding to my face.  (Ugh!)  Later on I got a headset, and she would wear my headset when I was on a break.  I was so disgusted by this that once I got to work and put on the headset, I could not touch my face or hair the remainder of the day.  That was very inconvenient.  I was so happy when I got a promotion to another position where I did not have to answer phones and no one had to fill in at my desk during breaks.

Even after I had a more private desk, it got to the point where I would not touch my face, hair, shoulders, or my purse at work unless I had just washed my hands.  Once I started touching paperwork or files, my hands were placed squarely in the Dirty class, this, of course, being because I saw all of the non-washers (people who do not wash after using the restroom ) touching the same objects that I was.  I would wash my hands shortly before leaving work for the day, and then shut down my computer using a folded tissue.

All of this was before I had a Common class.  Before that things were basically clean or dirty with no in between.  Then I started thinking how much easier my life would be if I had a Common germ category.  I could put my purse in that category, and even my face (excluding lips) into that category, and then I could go shopping and handle money and touch paperwork at the office and still be able to touch my face as long as I used hand sanitizer, or later, spritzed with alcohol.  I debated for a few days before deciding to take the plunge.  I remember it well; it was in September.  And it lived up to my expectations.  It did make it possible to live a more normal life.  At times it is difficult to keep things in the Common category because of the way I see other people live, but I force myself to continue with my current system as I would otherwise end up as a recluse, and I do not want to live like Howard Hughes.

This leaves Clean and Super-clean.  What falls into Clean?  As it was with Dirty, I do not find many items to place in this class.  I want to put clean dishes and clean clothes into this category, but what happens is, when dishes come out of the dishwasher, the insides are Super-clean but the outsides are immediately Common as soon as I touch them with my Common hands.  Clothes coming out of the dryer are placed on Common hangers except for the clothes I sleep in, which are placed on isolated hangers that have been sanitized in the dishwasher.

So, what is left is this.  When I get out of the shower I feel Super-clean.  But feet can never be Super-clean because they are always on the floor.  I can then get into my Super-clean bed since my sheets and bedspread were sanitized in the high-heat dryer.  I have a few objects that I put on my designated Super-clean bookshelves, e.g., floss, cotton swabs, wrapped wet wipes for emergencies, and lip balm.  Little else can be Super-clean.  How do objects such as cotton swabs get into this class?  I count on heat to sanitize them.  Whenever I have seen products being manufactured on TV, at some point, high temperatures are part of the process.  If this is not the case for cotton swabs, I don’t want to know.  I need to believe that they are sanitary.  When I buy them, I open the package and dump them onto my Super-clean bookshelf.

It appears that I really have three main classes as little falls into the simple Dirty or Clean categories, but I know they exist for a reason.  And this is the system I have devised to survive.

About admin

I am a female in my early 40's who has been dealing with OCD since age 10 and a fear of germs since 14.
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