“Hey, I don’t want to be weird or anything, but I noticed your towel was hanging right where I left it.”
My highly grooming-oriented husband doesn’t point these things out to be hurtful, but he notices things like that.
“Shit. Did I take shower?,” I thought. He’s been gone all week. Let’s see … I raised the children. I fed them breakfast. I packed their lunch. I drove carpool to swim team. I watched them do homework. I made dinner. I went to the Boosterthon. I took out the garbage. I paid the bills. I worked at my day job. I emailed our tax guy. I finished a round of editing on the book I am writing. I did a proofreading job for another client. I grocery shopped. I booked myself for a comedy open mic. I sent flowers to his mom recovering from surgery, which is why he was out of town to begin with. I chatted with my brother about my dad. I returned a call from the PTA. I watched an episode of Queer Eye. I cleaned the kitchen.
I did not take a shower.
“I just wanted to see if you were … okay.”
We have kind of a running conversation about mental health going in my house. I’ve had a couple of years of really good therapy. I am feeling much better about a lot of things as a result. But as a support system for others, and as a mom who is momming, and a wife who is wifing, a worker who is workering, and a person who is personing and handling a bunch of other, more intense emotional things, I am feeling the strain. His mom’s surgery is just another wobble. I noticed, but, you know, I have other shit going on, so I didn’t sit with it for long.
But I didn’t take a shower. I mean, full disclosure, I work from home most of the time and don’t give a shit about my hair, so I shower three times a week at best, but I didn’t take a shower.
I started to think about the greasy feeling in my hair. And how much energy it would take to wash it out. I remembered a few other times when I felt that feeling, the feeling of really being beyond cultural norms in my hygiene and a bit medieval in my bathing schedule. I remember it from high school. I remember it from when I had newborns.I remember it, frankly, from the other times when I was getting my ass kicked by the world or my emotional balance was distinctly unhealthy.
Shit. I didn’t take a shower.
I have a friend from high school who writes a blog about depression. She recently quoted a blurb I’ve read before talking about “The Impossible Task.” The gist is, if you have anxiety or are depressed, there is often one thing you need to do that just feels impossible. It could be taking a phone call, going to the grocery store, or going to a party. It’s a thing most people would consider relatively menial, but it feels distinctly un-accomplishable when you aren’t in a good head space. For many people, it’s grooming related. Like, say, taking a shower.
I had that epiphany in the driveway, with my husband standing there. It’s seemed a little cliché, in fact. I didn’t even notice that I didn’t take a shower. It felt completely unintentional, but personal grooming was one of my impossible tasks. It just felt like too much damn energy, and I just don’t have a lot of extra emotional energy to spend.
One of my great frustrations in the world is embodying a cliché and not even freaking noticing.
But I didn’t take a shower. And he noticed. And I am glad.
NOTE: I have lots of help, friends, family, and resources in place, and I am very glad for that. I hope you guys do, too. <3
Hi. I'm Amanda. I like to write, eat, tell jokes, and correct commas (mostly in that order). I am also happy to do any of those things for you.