WARNING: MATURE CONTENT: DESCRIPTIONS OF NUDITY.
What up guys, Growth Monkey here.
Before I start, I want to preface this by saying that in addition to getting help, I'm also using this blog as an opportunity to work on my blogging skills for when I eventually start my own blog as a way to build a following for my own eventual online business. So feel free to react, follow, & leave feedback.
Hygiene, Manscaping, & Defense Mode
First of all, let me preface this by saying that I'm a man. So this pertains to male anatomy. Females may have different issues than I do, but I'm hoping that people of both sexes can understand what I'm going through here.
So, I was shaving my pubes this evening. Which is actually the inspiration for this post.
Let me tell you why: IT TOOK ME 4 HOURS TO DO, after all the breaks I had to (and chose to take). And I have something that I want to get off my chest after this shaving session:
SHAVING MY PUBES PUTS ME IN DEFENSE MODE.
Allow me to explain: Imagine having to do basically the splits, naked, bent over at the waist, for an hour, while trimming the hair off the area of the body that's the most sensitive to you (in my case, my penis, testicles, & groin area). And on top of that, you have to go super gentle, because the blades are so sharp that every time they even make contact with your groin area, you run a 1% risk of cutting yourself to the point where you bleed (I've done this an innumerable amount of times before). And imagine this too: you've done sex ed, so you know that STI's can pass through these small open wounds even if you're wearing a condom. Not to say that this should be an issue for me because I don't have a girlfriend or any romantic prospects (and probably won't be having them any time soon due to the current state of my life), but the idea of being vulnerable to STI's because you had a shaving accident is scary. Oh yeah, and if you don't cut yourself, you also have to deal with the fact that your voice can sound like it has an "echo" after the shave for 5-10 minutes afterwards because you were in that awkward position for so long.
Regardless, I still do it. Every Friday night (Saturday or Sunday if that's not possible). This is because it puts me more in Defense Mode to be dirty than to be clean.
Let me explain: in my 23 years of life, I've crashed on beds without showering or brushing my teeth or making my bed more times than I can remember because of the sheer amount of schoolwork I had to do during the previous day, or just because I'm plain exhausted. And when that happened, I always ended up waking up about 2-3 hours later (4 if i'm lucky) & never really being able to get back to sleep after that because my own rank smells bother me so much. Unless of course, I shower, brush my teeth, & just take away the smell. I've also noticed that lately, I start to feel this way whenever I crash on an unmade bed. And that's not counting the numerous days I've felt overwhelmed & just lied in bed sulking all day because I have untrimmed toenails & fingernails, or in rare cases, when I look like I have a homeless beard because I haven't shaved in weeks due to overwhelming workloads. Or when my armpits & pubes turn into jungles for the same reasons... it just feels a little uncomfortable looking at it after a while.
So, in order to ensure optimal sleep quality for myself, I make sure that my the hair on my face, armpits, & pubes is trimmed every Friday night, that my nails remain short & trim, & that I've showered, made my bed, & brushed my teeth before bed. Because I can't stand the smell or look of myself otherwise, which causes me to not get into a productive rhythm with the other tasks I need to get done in my life.
I know this sounds contradictory to all the stories I've heard from AE's YouTube videos on kids not showering or brushing their teeth in a week, etc. But I also believe two other things:
- If you've met one person with Asperger's, you've met one person with Asperger's.
- To feel good, you gotta look & smell good.
And this Aspie, frankly, loves cleanliness, neatness, and tidiness on his body. I love being well-groomed & hate being unkempt. It's always been a thing with me: I can't stand being dirty. Maybe it's my mom's "hygiene freak" nature, or maybe it's just some sensory stuff left over from my early childhood that I just began processing once I understood what Defense Mode was & began to try to work to get out of it. But being dirty puts me in a horribly depressed mindset, while feeling clean, looking good, & smelling good makes me feel like I can conquer the world.
But I digress: back to shaving my pubic hair. Because of the risks of cutting myself, I become squeamish whenever I know I have to cut my pubic hair. I can do it as part of my weekly routine, but with all the breaks I have to take, it basically takes up a full day for me; half a day if I'm lucky. During that day, my parents get super pissed off that one bathroom is closed to them & I'm using alternative bathrooms (hello, we have 4 bathrooms & there are 4 of us; chill!), but then again, if I were to use my regular bathroom, I would get water everywhere, making my pubes even harder to clean. Which brings me to another point: cleaning up my hairs is hell because with how much I'm expected to be hygienic, I believe that I'm basically expected to make the bathroom look spotless every time I use it, especially because my pubic hairs supposedly carry "venereal disease" (according to my mom), even though I'm a virgin. Sure, I use a vacuum cleaner for this, but my parents are old people who sleep & wake up ridiculously early, and I've been yelled at numerous times for trying to clean up after myself while they're asleep. Yet, if they walk into that bathroom and see the mess my pubic hair has made, they snap at me & demand I clean it up. Basically, my parents demand that they have their cake & eat it too, which probably contributes a lot to my Defense Mode. Closing my bathroom door doesn't help as the sound of my vacuum cleaner just seems to travel through their walls, despite the fact that their room is on the other side of the house from my bedroom & bathroom. So basically, cleaning myself up turns into a walking through a minefield in high heels... in every way you can imagine. I've considered shaving during the day, but most of the time, I'm busy with other things: the only time I get a significant chunk of time to shave at all is at night.
Anyway... a full shave & trimming just the way I want it, from when I set up my equipment to when I'm done, takes about 1 and a half to 2 hours if I do it straight through. The vast majority of that time is spent on my pubic hair. Partially because I trim my nose hair, facial hair, armpit hair, & pubic hair at every session, & I try to keep my equipment as clean as possible to prevent debris from accumulating & make my equipment last longer (which is much harder than you think). However, more often than not, shaving & breaks in between the shaving sessions where I go off & do other things basically take up my whole day. And it really gets to me because that's 1 day that could have been productive completely lost to self-maintenance.
Basically, in terms of my hygiene & grooming, I'm in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. But I do it anyway, because I know that the benefits of staying clean (and the happiness & sense of freedom & sleekness that I get from it) far outweighs its costs. When clean, I feel like a lean, sleek machine. When "dirty" or unkempt, I feel like those homeless people I used to pass by every day while going to university in downtown Toronto.
That said, my main coping strategy, at least at this point, is to just try to rush through my shaving as quickly as possible before my subconscious mind realizes what's going on & tries to stop my momentum by bringing back the fears of cutting myself while shaving my pubes. So far, it seems to be working: after breaks & clean-up, I seem to have kept my weekly shaving time down to about half a day. And I also do it much earlier than usual thanks to being unemployed: when I worked my accounting job, I would shave from 10PM-1 AM or so every Friday night/Saturday morning. Now, I start shaving at about 1 or 2 PM, and after eating lunch & dinner, and doing various other productive tasks while taking breaks to go to the toilet, among other things, I can finish at around 8 or 9 PM (like I did tonight). That's progress, but I still want more. I want to be able to be in & out of my bathroom, completely done shaving, straight through, within an hour and a half.
It also helps me to listen to podcasts of guys that I really like to listen to because of their content, as well as old, familiar movies: I've gotten so familiar with these guys' voices that they honestly soothe me & help me to focus whenever I'm concerned with pricking my balls so hard I give them open wounds. Deep, slow, nasal breathing also helps... there are meditation exercises to help you cultivate this.
Looking at it now, achieving my goal of shaving (or really doing any hygienic task) quickly, like a normal human being, comes down to changing the stories that I tell myself. Historically, the stories that I tell myself have been ones of discouragement: "how is it that EVERYONE can do (x thing that's supposed to be quick/easy, but is long/hard for me) but me?" "Why do basic tasks take you so long?" "Why does it hurt me so much when it doesn't hurt others?" But I can also tell myself encouraging stories: "When this is done, I will be the sharpest, cleanest-looking, best-groomed guy in the room, and people will be attracted to me for that, as well as the confidence I exude when I feel like that." "The only way out is through." "I take long on basic tasks because I like being clean & looking after myself & I pride myself on my hygiene."
Through my adventures with cutting my shaving time, I've also learned that sometimes, the best approach to cure anxiety & deal with problems is to make like Nike and "Just Do It." Just execute on it as fast as possible, as soon as you become aware of the first synapse firing in your mind telling you, "I want to do it.". Because if you don't, your mind will rationalize all sorts of excuses as to why you can't do it, & you'll essentially think yourself scared. Trust me, as someone who has frozen up & missed literally thousands of opportunities to approach cute girls I liked because I was overthinking, I have a lot of experience with this. It's something I'm working on in every aspect of my life. But that's a story for another day.
I hope this post helped some of you considering taking that next step in your life, but feeling scared to do so.
- Sometimes, you just have to execute as fast as possible. If you're too scared to do that, just breathe deeply as a way to regulate your vagus nerve until you feel calm enough to logically do it.
- Some Aspies love being clean, well-dressed, & well-groomed. I'm one of them.
- Don't worry if a task is taking you longer than it should. Take pride in the work that you do; chances are it's of much higher quality & care than that of your neurotypical counterparts.
- If a task physically hurts you or makes you feel overwhelmed, keep experimenting with its elements & tweaking it until it no longer does so. I now use shaving equipment & techniques that don't really cut me, so that's helped cut down my shaving anxiety by a lot.
Anyway, thanks for reading. Again, feel free to react, follow, & comment.