My psychologist gave me the challenge to wear my clothes more than once before washing them.
Now, my husband has no problem with this. Sometimes I do laundry and think, “I know he wore clothes this week, but I don’t know where they are now.” Well, actually I do know. Back hanging up in his closet or folded somewhere. Because he likes to wear and rewear and probably re-rewear his clothes. Especially pants.
The situation and problem
But not me. The OCD convinced me that clothing was dirty once worn for a day and required washing before it could be worn again. Even pajamas started having to live by this rule. It also mattered where certain clothes were worn. For example, in the bed? Dirty. If someone touched me who was considered “dirty” (ie naked, not washed their hands, etc.), my intrusive thoughts would come on strong and heavy: you have to change. Wash those clothes. You can’t wear them out of the house. I would change my outfit before church, make an excuse to switch pants, etc. etc. Laundry was getting a bit out of hand.
I began by fighting the urge to change clothes during the day. Again, why would I want to change clothes mid day? Well, sometimes I would just feel dirty. Sometimes I would be really “wet” and sweaty. Other times I thought I got urine on my clothes while wiping or going to the bathroom—toilet paper “flakes” were often a cause of great obsessions and clothes changing or sanitizing compulsions (for real, I would either spray or wipe clothes down with wipes—which then made things awkward because my clothes would be wet, uncomfortable, and fragrant). But I started by trying to keep on the same outfit the whole day. I wasn’t always successful, of course. Sometimes it was the shirt, sometimes it was the pants, I wasn’t perfect.
But now! Now I am tasked with wearing pants at least twice before washing them. My doctor even told me that sometimes people are challenged to go for a week without washing their pants (probably in an attempt to make me feel like I could easily accomplish two days).
And you know what? I’ve done it a few times. I haven’t been perfect with it, but so far nothing catastrophic has occurred as a result of my wearing the same pants two days in a row. I don’t know if anyone has even noticed, fashion-wise, I mean. So this is progress. This is good. And now I just need to keep it up. My laundry machine will probably thank me, at least.