How to live with other people and still stay sane


Every day I suffer silently through a ton of tiny insults:

my special cleaning tool left out instead of put in its place,
ice cubes used and not replaced,
a mess in the sink,
a surface which I cleared and cleaned mysteriously being full of ‘stuff’ again,

The list is endless. I wouldn’t, I don’t do those things to other people, and yet they do them to me.

And, like my Mother, who one day realized – and told me – that my Father leaving the cap off the toothpaste yet once more meant that he was still alive and with her, I know, and savor, this as the very small price of having other people in my life.

And I’m tearfully grateful.

The upstairs bathroom is once again clean all the time, and the carpeting vacuumed in the attic bedroom, and the bed made – and I miss our last chick every day, because it can only be that way when there is no one living in that space.

When I am no longer cleaning bits of hay out of random places in the house where our chinchilla Gizzy is allowed to roam for a bit of time in the evenings (she likes to run, and loves stairs), for whatever reason she won’t be with me any more.

I don’t know what it is they find especially annoying about me. The husband is a saint and actually looks confused when I ask him. The children have learned mom is opinionated and has relatively little trouble expressing herself, nicely, of course. The chinchilla, well, I provide food and special treats, and she consents to occasionally giving me her paw on command.

Those tiny insults? Bring them on. Writing them down? It’s one of the ways I store the memories.

And the ice cubes? At least there are still ways I can serve.

Thanks for the ability to make images, Stencil!

12 thoughts on “How to live with other people and still stay sane

  1. Alice Audrey

    Yep. All totally normal. the little annoyances are worth the company.

    What gets to me is when I am actively working hard to clear the kitchen table for something and while I and in the process not just one, but three people wander through the kitchen and set something that never once belonged there on the table. I’ll turn around with a damp washcloth in my hand as it’s done.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      The unthinking gall of other people makes me rethink the mothering thing.

      I have CFS. The energy to clean things comes directly from my tiny pool every day, and is subtracted from any energy I might be able to use to write.

      I wish I could surround certain pieces – TINY pieces of the table, the refrigerator, the workbench in the basement – with a spell which would have fire if anyone got into my space!

      I have about a square foot of kitchen table space that is what I consider mine – so I can put a plate down, make a sandwich, whatever I need. I NEVER invade other people’s space.

      Guess where someone who shall remain nameless puts the plate brought from the living room. In the dishwasher? No. On the counter? No. In the middle of my ONE square foot of cleared space? What do you think?

      If I had your energy, I’d pick up the thing deposited, walk outside, and throw it in the garbage can.

      Am I sounding a bit grumpy? It’s been a day of pointless phone calls, and I STILL have to go to the doctor tomorrow.


        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          I have my room – and keep it fairly tidy and organized, despite my lack of energy.

          But, having encouraged my family to talk, I can’t kick them out when they come in to chat. I try to keep it just me in the mornings when I write, but it doesn’t always work.

          It’s the price of living en famille – I still wonder sometimes if I should try living alone for a while to see if I appreciate people more afterward.

          Maybe some day.


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