Run the Dishwasher Twice
A lesson on throwing out the rule book and saving yourself
When I was at one of my lowest points in life, I couldn’t get out of bed on some days. I had no energy or motivation and was barely getting by.
Even therapy seemed like too much effort. I had been going every week, and on one particular day, I didn’t have much to “bring” to the session. My therapist asked how my week was going, and I really had nothing to say.
“What are you struggling with?” he asked.
I gestured around me and said, “I dunno, man. Life.”
Not satisfied with my answer, he said, “No, what exactly are you worried about right now? What feels overwhelming? When you go home today, what issue will be staring at you?”
I wanted to give him an answer that was substantial, something that seemed worthy of struggle. But instead, I told him the truth.
“Honestly?” I said. “The dishes. It’s stupid, I know, but the more I look at them, the more I can’t do them because I’ll have to scrub them before I put them in the dishwasher, because my dishwasher sucks, and I just can’t stand to scrub the dishes.”
I felt like an idiot just saying it out loud. What kind of grown-ass adult is undone by a stack of dishes? There are people out there with actual problems, and I’m whining to my therapist about a basic household chore?
And yet my therapist nodded in understanding. And then he shared his advice:
“Run the dishwasher twice.”
Huh? I began to tell him you’re not supposed to do that, but he immediately stopped me.
“Why the hell aren’t you supposed to? If you don’t want to scrub the dishes and your dishwasher sucks, run it twice. Run it three times, who cares?! Rules do not exist.”
His words blew my mind in a way that I don’t think I can properly express.
That day, I went home and tossed my smelly dishes haphazardly into the dishwasher and ran it three times. I felt like I had conquered a dragon.
The next day, I took a shower lying down.
A few days later, I folded my laundry and put my clothes wherever the fuck they fit. As I reveled in my newfound freedom, I stopped seeing each day as a series of arbitrary rules to follow. Eventually, I felt free enough to set goals again, on my own terms.
Now that I’m in a much healthier place, I rinse off my dishes and place them in the dishwasher properly. I shower standing up. I sort my laundry.
But at a time when living was a struggle instead of a blessing, I learned an incredibly important lesson:
There are no rules.
Run the dishwasher twice.