I can see myself biting off a baby’s fingertips one day. I don’t mean that’s my dream retirement plan, I mean I can really clearly see it. Sometimes I don’t even have to close my eyes, it’s just there, transposed over whatever I happen to be looking at in that moment. My teeth. Baby’s fingertips. This recurring intrusive image started popping into my mind when I was about eight years old, after a friend told me that her mother had to bite the fingernails of her new baby brother. I immediately pictured myself tasked with trimming a baby’s fingernails with my teeth, and accidentally trimming the finger instead.
After six weeks of trying to write this blog post, I came to the conclusion that I simply could not identify with a fear of contamination. I couldn’t imagine experiencing a deep feeling of being unclean, an unshakeable physical and emotional belief that something unseen will make me sick and that there are no cleaning products available that can adequately wash away the grime. There was no way I could relate to having to stay away from anything potentially dirty so as to avoid a two-hour shower ritual, or to reducing my water consumption because every toilet seems like a biological landmine. And then last week I spent three days camping at a music festival. Now I get it. Continue reading →