Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Misplaced Sympathy

You are all very sweet with your concern and such but I feel pretty guilty.

It's time to stop the denial and confront my personal demons/addictions head on. Once again, I'm hoping by making myself accountable to the whole Internet, I will be more accountable for my actions.

"My Name is Lil' Nana and I am an Ear Abuser". *sob*

It all began when I was a kid and my mom brought home a new grooming aid. I remember it as if it was yesterday.
There it was in it's beautiful blue box. It was all new and intriguing with a little drawer that seductively slid open to reveal row upon row of sterile cotton swabs. They were lined up, like little soldiers, waiting to do battle with any errant wax in my ears. Oh sure, there was a disclaimer on the box. Some nonsense about not inserting the swab into your ear. Isn't there a disclaimer on cigarettes too? None of the many helpful uses listed for the swabs included ear wax removal but we all knew what we were there for.

As I moved into puberty, I would employ many, many cotton swabs along with cotton balls soaked with Seabreeze, Bonne Bell Ten-O-Six lotion, Maxon cream and other grooming items. My skin was glowing and zit free. My ears were shining clean chalices fit to absorb every nuance of sound from the BeeGees, Fleetwood Mac and Wings.

I didn't recognize I was getting sucked in deeper even though a large part of my allowance was spent feeding my grooming habits. Soon I was spiralling out of control. I even used a safety pin to seperate my freshly mascaraed eyelashes for a while but the needle was not for me. I was into soft core.

When I married and got a Costco membership, I could buy huge DOUBLE boxes of cotton swabs. I used them on my children, on our various pets over the years and got WD to join me in my madness as she used them to apply makeup and remove nail polish from the skin on the sides of her hairy, Hobbit toes.

(Sorry WD for outing you but I feel I must purge this vileness in one go!)

With an unlimited supply of cotton swabs, I began cleaning my ears several times a day. After all, there were so many of them, 100's in each box. And I had 2 boxes! I got in deeper and deeper, trying to get to the imagined wax without actually puncturing my eardrum or touching my brain. If I couldn't have clean ears at all times, I felt I was nothing, a nobody. Self doubt and loathing consumed me.

Then, I started hiding a baggie of swabs in various spots so I could access them more easily. I had them in the silverware drawer, in my glove compartment, in my night table, in my desk at work, I even purchased a special travel size container to carry in my purse.

If I had stopped at abusing cotton swabs, I probably wouldn't be here before you, confessing today. I would still be coping with and managing my addiction. There were many years when I was a functional abuser. To the outside world I looked groomed and dare I say, somewhat normal, but inside I knew the awful truth. I needed one more swab, one more circle around the outer ear before sucumbing to my most base desires. There would be the oh, so satisfying, inner ear massage.
Oh, I lied to myself plenty, telling myself it would be the last time but then, inevitably, especially if it had been a while since the last time I used there would be a pay off. Yes, I said it. I loved getting a nice bit out of my ear and examining it. It was like a yellow, waxy reward. I would escalate to the point where I would run one end of the swab under the warm water while reserving the other end for drying just to experience the feeling one more time.

But soon, sadly, swabs, even wet swabs weren't enough. I began to stick random objects in my ears. Pens, pencils, tweezers, and yes, even at my lowest point my own car keys. I stopped swabbing in the privacy of my bathroom (and car with the invisible windows)...

I must digress. What is it with those people who pick their nose in their car? I mean, seriously. You are behind glass. We can see you! I hope you didn't pay extra for the NPP (nose picking in privacy) option because they seem to have mistakenly installed two-way glass. See your dealer for details.

I tried to talk about my problem with a couple of close friends. Janey was also an abuser although on an amateur scale. Penelope could not relate to me since when she was a child in Britain her doctor told her to never put "anything larger than an elephant" into her ear canal. Smarmy British Know It All. The doctor, not Penelope.

Nameless Man had resisted my attempts to ensnare him in my madness and went to his doctor for a wax flush from time to time. WD was horrified I would stick these filthy things into my ears. She was also perplexed I seemed to have hooked her youngest child on cotton swabs. His eyelashes would flutter in delight when I cleaned his ears. Oh, I recall that sweet innocence.

I felt alone, unworthy and dejected but I did have clean ears.

After a few minor earaches and then one bad trip where both ears ended up infected at the same time, WD staged an intervention which consisted of her booking me a doctor's appointment and telling me according to the 'net there is so a thing called cotton swab abuse. She told me so. And I bring this on myself. Oh, and to KNOCK IT OFF with the car keys. Especially when driving her car.

The doctor seemed less than surprised, diagnosed eczema in my ears and gave me drops. I tried to stay clean (without actually feeling clean) but I still have relapses from time to time. We don't bring cotton swabs into the house at all anymore. I was about 38 days clean and sometimes sober when I succumbed. Again.

This last relapse has been because I am cat sitting for a client and after being there I feel squwicky. He is a busy lawyer, living alone and he got custody of the two Persian cats in the divorce. He works long crazy hours and the kitties sit around his condo, growing out and then shedding mounds of fine Persian cat hair. I went and groomed them Sunday and hung out with them for an hour and then... when I got home....I rooted around in the bottom of my bathroom vanity drawers....until I found.... a old... overlooked....dirty...non sterile cotton swab.

You know the rest.

I am so ashamed.


  1. You're too funny. Here I sit sticking my pinkie in my ear now because of you, see you've corrupted me lol.

  2. Eep...not to freak you out, but I work with someone who has a permenant hearing problem from putting something too deeply in her ears to clean them (it was a key or a pin, can't remember which). Scared me a bit. Not enough to stop cleaning my ears tho...

    "don't put them in your ears". Does it really say that? I thought that was what are qtips were for.
    How odd...

  3. This post cracked me up. We must start a support group.
    (My computer didn't think my first comment was amusing, though, so it crashed. And lost my comment. Sigh.)

    I confess, I use the odd q-tip, too, and I use the "wet one end, keep other for drying" sequence, too! I can't stand the squeak of the dry cotton in my ear.... *full body shiver*