When it came to bathing and showering, I took anywhere from one to as many as a dozen baths and/or showers each day. My skin was red and sore like it had constant sunburn. It was depleted of all moisture, and as a child I didn’t realize I should hydrate it. As an adult I used moisturizer by the gallon and sometimes that didn’t even work. After 10 or more showers a day, nothing helped.
I recall a time when our parish priest asked me why my neck was so red and I told him I just had dry skin. I wasn’t lying—I could never lie to a clergy person. It was dry, but I certainly wasn’t going to tell him it was dry because I bathe ten times a day.
There were so many times when I would finish my shower, begin stepping out of the tub or start drying off, and an uninvited thought would occur which made me feel dirty. I was forced to get back in the tub, rewash my body and hair, and condition it… again. It was not uncommon for this to happen several times before I could get out and get dressed. There were days when I would lay in the tub, covered with water and stay there for hours. I would turn on the hot water to warm the cooling water, but eventually the hot water ran out and I lay there shivering, covered with a towel, but it was worth it to stay in this clean, safe place. If I stayed patient long enough the hot water returned, allowing me to remain in this ideal spot for even longer. In the bathtub, with the door locked, became the safest place in the world for me. Nothing could get me there.
Getting dressed was another huge challenge. Every piece of clothing had to be ironed (absolutely no wrinkles) and everything must match. I even had to wear lotion that was the same color as my clothes. If I was getting dressed and a bad thought occurred, I would have to take off the item and throw it in the dirty laundry. I would put a sock on one foot and a “thought” popped in and I would have to put the sock on the other foot—back and forth until I felt comfortable.
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