So promise me that if I’ve already written about something, you’ll comment and say so? Because sometimes I forget what I have or haven’t blogged about before. Case in point: today’s topic of cooking for other people. Have I done a sketch about this previously? Maybe I’ve mentioned it in passing? Who knows. Oh well. We’re going to go for it anyway.
I have had a bad fear of cooking for other people. I worry that somehow I will pass germs or illness from my kitchen/myself to the people who eat the food. I do not worry about this with my own family, and even my own extended family to some extent. I cook dinner for my family, no problem (though I do wear disposable gloves to handle raw meat). I don’t worry about that. It’s only when cooking for non family members that I have my obsessive thoughts.
Compulsions that come from these thoughts include:
- Wearing disposable gloves to prepare, cut vegetables, knead bread dough, and otherwise get the dinner ready.
- Washing hands over and over again
- Throwing away potential contaminated or “dirty” food
- Using extreme caution when setting the table to avoid touching forks/knives/spoons/glasses where mouths might come in contact with the dish/utensil
- Being super careful about breathing/coughing/sneezing on any food or dish
These worries made it difficult for me to have people over, obviously. I would stress out about any dinner parties well in advance of the actual event. I would hesitate to make dinner for people in the ward in need. I didn’t like bringing homemade goods or treats to parties or events. We didn’t often have people over for dinner and rarely had the missionaries over. If we did sign up for the missionary dinner, we usually went out to dinner or ordered in pizza or something.
It’s mostly just been since our move here and my seeing the doctor and doing exposures in earnest that we’ve started socializing and having people over for food related gatherings at our home. Doing waffle nights, having the missionaries over, and otherwise inviting people for dinner are still exposures for me. They are experiments in how far I can push myself and my OCD. Can I touch actual food with my bare hands without immediately washing my hands before doing so? Will I allow people to eat our food, even if we aren’t perfectly 100% healthy? What will happen? Will everything turn out okay?
So far, so good! I’m still not perfect. I still worry sometimes. But my anxiety and fears are not as bad. I don’t have intense stress leading up to the event or dinner. The more we push ourselves, the more our habits start to change for the better. Sure, for Thanksgiving I still ordered the rolls rather than making them… but that’s mostly to save time and energy, not because I’m worried about contamination. So that’s okay, right?
Do you have a cooking for other people OCD? What is it like?