when i’m stressed, i clean. | Teen Ink

when i’m stressed, i clean.

July 28, 2022
By mariacangro14 GOLD, Staten Island, New York
mariacangro14 GOLD, Staten Island, New York
10 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
“There are all kinds of love in the world, but never the same love twice.” - F. Scott Fitzgerald

I need a clean room like a baby needs to breathe.

I somberly stare

at the bags piled up on the bed,

the clothes askew on chairs,

the shoes scattered across the floor.

There is nothing I can do about it.

There has been a disruption

in the matrix of the pristine,

a rupture in the purity of routine.

It is not about the bags.

It is not about the clothes or shoes.

It is about all the times

someone promised to show up but didn’t,

or failed to return favors,

or redefined what you thought was letdown.

It is about what has been taken.

The unclean room is a visual

of what it feels like to be devastated

by the times that you expected, but never got.

The disruptions and the ruptures

are only the beginning of what becomes

a lifetime of unprecedented mess—

being perpetually undone

by slight shifts in the fabric of “order.”

You know this because you realize that

once you tuck

the bags, the clothes, and the shoes

neatly away in the closet,

you are flooded

with a hauntingly familiar feeling.


The author's comments:

For most of my life, I have struggled with OCD. One of the ways my OCD manifests itself is through rituals, such as the ritual of cleaning my room. If my room is not clean, I can feel like I’m suffocating and can’t breathe. On the other side of the coin, if I am having dark or intrusive thoughts, I clean my room as a way to distract myself. My relationship to cleaning is a double-edged sword, and both edges sharpen my worst OCD tendencies. This poem  dissects how cleaning has become intertwined with my OCD-intrusive thoughts. 

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This article has 1 comment.

on Jul. 30 at 9:31 pm
rightsrforeveryone, Sacromento, California
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
You get out from life what you put into life.

I have OCD too and like you I always need a clean room.