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This is a post I never imagined I would write. Being a germaphobe is a miserable existence sometimes and it has the ability to impact everyday life in multiple ways. It can suck the fun out of anything and often elevates fears and anxieties to a whole new level.
I get poked fun at often and I am the butt of a lot of jokes. It doesn’t really bother me – I laugh too…because it really is ridiculous sometimes. When you embrace it – it only gets worse. Which brings me to my current situation that has slapped me right in the face.
I have a 7 year old who has sensory issues and a lot of quirky behaviors. When she was very little she was terrified to take a bath because there was a 1/2 inch hairline crack in the tub. If she saw a nail hole in a wall – she would act like it was a black hole that would suck her in and it terrified her to no end. Little fuzzies or a stray hair would send her into a frenzy. Bath times were dreaded by the both of us and left me weary and tired. To this day she is very afraid of so many things. Now she is afraid of GERMS.
She has observed me as the germaphobe her whole 7 years of existence. She used to jump on the “making fun of me bandwagon” with her sister, who is 15. Things are changing now – and for the past two months I have seen this fear manifest in her in ways I could never have imagined.
I did this. I set the tone for her to fear germs. I trained her to be fearful of touching things with her hands. The Lord has given me a huge wake-up call. I have obsessive compulsive tendencies, but my little one has take it to a whole new level.
Not only has she become fearful of infecting herself with germs, but she feels the need to tell me EVERY TIME she touches something. We have had to restrict her excessive handwashing because her hands were becoming like sandpaper, and we even make our own foaming handsoap that is all natural! So now she tells me when she is unsure if she should wash her hands because of something she touched.
- Mommy, I just touched my hip….
- Mommy, I touched the handle on the cabinet….
- Mommy, my hairbow touched my lip….
- Mommy, I itched my foot….
- Mommy, I picked a wedgie….
- Mommy, my hands touched under the faucet when I was washing….
- Mommy, the paper towel touched the table….can I still use it?
You can imagine my despair. I am smacked with the reality that my germaphobia craziness has affected her now. I am having to be very cautious with my actions and what I tell her because If I were to touch a handle on the garbage cabinet I would wash my hands, or if I itched my foot I would wash my hands, If my hands touched the faucet, I would wash them again…
As I am writing this she came in to ask if she needed to wash her hands after she touched her nose. I do not always wash my hands after I touch my nose, but sometimes probably.
I have to change my thought process to overlook some of the scary thoughts of invading germs.
I have tried to explain to her that ONLY GROSS things should cause her to wash her hands. OK, so what is gross? EVERYTHING. <–I am a germaphobe, remember?
At this point, I have to stop the obsession or I will have an even more fearful little girl on my hands. I need to get over my fears and perhaps the Lord is showing me this through her.
Things that terrify
- Bathrooms – every aspect of them: The door handles, paper towel handles, sinks, toilets, heck, even the AIR
- Running out of hand sanitizer
- Escalator rails
- Drinking fountains
- Potlucks or buffets
- Trash bins that have the “doors” that you have to touch. I use my feet…
- Taking out the trash
- Touching money
- Cross-contamination when cooking – it takes quadruple the amount of time because all of the intermittent hand-washing
- Carseats – other people’s carseats…oh.my.gosh
- Riding in non-germaphobes vehicles
- Wearing jeans that touch the ground when you have to leave the house
- Debit/credit card machines in stores (when you have to sign with the pen because surely germaphobes have ways of maneuvering it otherwise)
- Pens – any but your own. Filling out the forms in Doctor’s offices – you sign in and sanitize. Then they hand you more forms and you have to use the pen AGAIN…and then sanitize AGAIN.
- Sitting in seats that someone already warmed up
- Movie theaters – letting your head rest on the chair
- Indoor play places (think ball pit!)
- Grocery cart handles (OH.MY.GOODNESS – the fear when they run out of cart wipes!)
- Touching other people’s keyboards or mouse
- Restaurants: menus, salt and pepper shakers, condiments, the benches/chairs and tables….UNDER THE TABLES
- Greeting time at church
- Long nails
- Old food in the refigerator
- I could go on and on…
I have had some people ask me about dirt. I am not afraid of dirt. I think “clean” dirt is very healthy for you. By clean I mean no chemicals or fertilizers. Digging in dirt has benefits and I am not all germaphoby when it comes to this. Likewise, I think going barefoot in “clean” dirt is great for you too.
I am feeling the anxiety welling up just from thinking about all of the things that freak me out. Please pray for me friends as I try to overcome this for the sake of my daughter. Do you have germaphobia tendencies? How do you deal with it?
Have you overcome germaphobia? Please tell me how you did it!