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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cleanliness is...

Impossible. It’s impossible to keep my house clean when I have so many unclean creatures living here.

When we first moved out here to the beautiful, peaceful, quiet countryside, I expected a few issues with things like insects, mice, snakes and other creatures in the natural order of life. I’m not one of those people who will just randomly kill anything that doesn’t look human – after all – I understand the usefulness of the snakes that eat the mice and the spiders that eat the bugs. I appreciate their place in my life.

But… I draw the line at roaches. I find there is NO useful aspect of them in ANY area of my life or home. I have no qualms about sending them to roach heaven. I just can’t squish them – I must spray them with insecticide until they OD and roll over on their little backs – fighting for that last breathe of clean air.

The bottom line is -- we have lots and lots of roaches. We are under contract with a local exterminator and I call him far more often than the regular visits. But it isn’t enough and I find that if I’m not anal about keeping things bug UNfriendly – they will get so comfortable that I expect to find them kicked back in the recliner watching the big screen TV in the middle of the night.

Last weekend, I realized that I had been negligent in my bug control duties. We have a giant pantry that’s combined with the laundry room. When I took out the uncovered plastic shoebox containing the unwrapped spaghetti, I found a several generations of little dark brown creatures teeming in the bottom of the plastic box and inside the spaghetti box. There were so many that I took the entire box outside and dumped the whole thing into the garbage can. I then spayed the inside of the can with my can of spray.

I kicked into gear – much like in the movie Hooch… where Tom Hanks spills something inside the fridge and ends up cleaning the entire kitchen. Or maybe when you wipe a spot off the wall and end up painting the entire room. I was disgusted and I was on a mission.

My stomach was churning as I removed everything from the shelves. Anything that was not tightly sealed got sent to the garbage. Anything I could put into sealed glass or plastic canisters – found a new home. I removed every bit of cardboard packaging – since that was where I found the most of the roaches. I took the sealed plastic bags of rice, etc and put them into a plastic shoebox that had a tight fitting lid. There is no longer anything in my pantry from which a roach could benefit.

So here I am… head over heals cleaning the pantry when Riley comes in and yells at me that I’m cleaning TOO much. He says that I know none of this is necessary. I looked up. I was shocked that he would think it was OK to live in a roach infested house. But, instead of trying to use reason and logic – I went back to my chore.

Mindless cleaning leaves room in the brain for thought. And I thought about Riley and his cleanliness standards. I thought about the odor that wafts from his bedroom and bathroom. I thought about the time I saw him flick a roach off some food that was left out and then proceed to eat it afterward. I thought about the brown streaks down the back of his legs from the diarrhea that never got wiped off. I thought about the layers of gunk on his scalp that have been there since his last haircut – two months ago. I thought about the trash can in his room that he uses as a vomit bowl and then never washes out. I thought about the New Year’s Eve I spent in the emergency room because I had managed to get Salmonella from cleaning his bathroom.

So now my stomach is really upset not just from the roaches but from the reality of living with an end-stage alcoholic.  This is the way it is.  My readers tell me all the time about the unsanitary conditions that never seems to be a bother to the end-stage. I’m not alone in this septic tank.

I don’t understand how things get so far from how they used to be. Oh… I know… I DO understand – it’s the alcohol saturation in the brain thing. But, I mean, REALLY…

When I met Riley he was obsessively clean. Every Saturday was cleaning day and everything – from windows to refrigerator – were cleaned. When you walked in you could smell the Pine-Sol. Even after we had children – Saturday was cleaning day – and everyone pitched in. I liked that. I thought how lucky I was to have a man who didn’t mind cleaning the toilet.

I know that the Riley of the past is gone. I know he doesn’t mind the roaches or the fleas or the smell of his room or body. For the most part, I accept that he is neither agreeable nor capable of helping me in the housekeeping. I’m on my own.

So… here I am… armed with my can of Hot Shot, pail of soapy bleach water, a roll of paper towels and a determination to end the roach procreation cycle inside my house.  I may not be able to win a battle with the booze brained Riley – but I sure as bloody hell will NOT let those roaches be victorious!


HyperCRYPTICal said...

Hi Linda

Luckily roaches are not a great problem in England – although they do exist – and I think I have only seen two in my entire lifetime. In view of this, I cannot appreciate how awful it must be to be if your house infected with roaches, yet think I would run away and hide if the problem occurred. You brave gal you!

Riley’s apathy towards ‘hygiene’ I do understand and see it in my workplace in those with end-stage and also see the orderliness and fastidious cleaning rituals of some with alcohol related dementia not having reached this point.

Sorry I don’t visit as often as I should – but the availability of time is a factor. Nevertheless you are often in my thoughts Linda and always admired.

Anna :o]

Syd said...

I don't like the "palmetto" bugs that occur here. They are really large roaches that live in the oak trees. Occasionally one will get in the house. But luckily the cats are on patrol and we spray for roaches too.

I don't have any solutions about Riley though.

jo said...

first, re roaches. this is from billy the exterminator. spray and then vacuum them up all you can. behind stove and frig, etc...cause they lay about a million eggs that will hatch and feed off the adult feces. . then set out bait...thats what i use...we live in the country kinda also. we get the big ones...coastal ones. they fly. ackkkk. yours are called german cockroaches.

second, the good old A's we have. mine is the same. you have no idea the fight i have every day when i say "wash your hands and use soap"! why? cause you just wiped your butt, and its disgusting! DUH. but its every day..the same thing. i am anal compulsive on clean and bleach and pine sol everything. he has accumulated 9 cats..and God have mercy. he would live with the poop in the floor. he would. he has. he will again. ickkk. then he lectured me on not putting a empty cat food bowl in the dish drainer. !

another of those things that keep us off the street corners and busy and a great way to work off nerves and cuss a lot.

i hear ya!

Sober 100 Days said...

I remember being drunk in the afternoon and my mother coming up the steps with buckets and mops and cleaning products and knocking on the door.
I yelled at her and told her to fuck off.
She says I actually spat at here through the screen door. Nevertheless, the house stayed dirty-messy and I continued drinking for another fifteen years...

Karen E. said...

Cleanliness is a problem here too. We keep our leftovers and food eaten by hand (grapes,etc) in the fridge in the garage...we also buy our own bag of ice to keep in freezer in garage.. our A never washes her hands and spills her drink in the ice maker (bottom freezer door)..since she has her days and nights mixed up..if she is upright she sometimes pillages thru the fridge at night..her leftovers are right there for her! You must take extra steps to keep yourself safe from diseases !!!

Alcoholic Daze (ADDY) said...

Riley's failure to clean sounds just like Greg was. Reading your posts brings it all back to me how bad it got here. It's a symptom of the illness It's scary just how similar alcoholics get, despite all being individuals.

Jenny Woolf said...

Roaches are horrid. I think that HyperCRITICAL is lucky not to have lived in the sort of flats where the little bastards breed in the hot water system. We once rented a flat (for a year and a half) when we had to turn on the lights before getting out of bed, because otherwise you'd tread on the roaches in the dark. or if you went into a room, you'd turn on the light, wait a bit and THEN look.
Makes me think of the "spirits" in Miyazaki movies, actually!
I read your blog and wonder how you can be so stoical - you must be incredibly strong.