I Guess I’m Only Tough On Stains Because My Dad Was So Tough On Me

By A Bottle Of Ajax
A Bottle Of Ajax

I know at times I can come off a bit caustic and abrasive. For years, I had no idea where these destructive feelings and behaviors came from, but as I get older, I’m starting to realize it all stems from my youth. You see, when I was growing up, still an innocent and impressible bottle of laundry detergent, my dad could be one mean son of a bitch. Looking back, I begin to see the reason I’m so tough on stains is that my father was tough on me.

Sure, it’s no excuse, but we’re all to some extent a product of our upbringing, and my childhood was pretty rough. It wasn’t unusual for Dad to come home in a bad mood, shoot a furious look in my direction, and then throw me in the washer—and believe me, he didn’t bother with the fabric softener, either. He would fly off the handle about the most inconsequential stuff, and that’s why, decades later, I lose my shit every time I see a coffee splatter on a pair of slacks.

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It’s clear to me now that the way I use my super-concentrated stain-fighting formula to treat soiled garments is far too harsh. For that, I apologize.

Deep down, it’s not the stains I’m angry with; it’s everything I went through with my old man.

I come down hard on stains because there’s still a part of me that’s trying to prove my dad was wrong when he told me I’d never be able to cut through dirt the way the leading brands do. As a result, I will relentlessly attack grease and mud with the power of three advanced stain removers, even in situations that really only call for one.

I feel absolutely terrible about the times I’ve taken things too far, completely snapping and going off on a simple grass stain with the full strength of my oxy-boosted scrubbing action. Only when it’s too late do I come to my senses and see I’ve left a faded discoloration on a pant leg. Well, that’s on me, friends. My dad may have taken out his frustrations on me, but that doesn’t give me the right to take out mine on ground-in chocolate sauce, hitting it so hard that by the time I’m finished, there’s nothing left but a fresh, long-lasting scent.

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I’m really lashing out at my father, of course. It’s a wash cycle of abuse.

I’ve tried letting little smudges go here and there, but it’s still very hard for me. About a year ago, I caught myself completely flipping out over a drop of marinara on an old sweatshirt and thought, “Oh God, what am I doing? This is exactly what Dad did to me.” I need to recognize that sometimes accidents happen. People are going to knock over a glass of orange juice here and there, and it’s not the end of the world. But as much as I try to escape my upbringing, I can’t help but keep whites looking their whitest and colors looking their brightest.

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It’s the only life I’ve known, after all. When I was young, no ever talked about being hypoallergenic and not leaving behind residues that can irritate sensitive skin. I have to accept that no matter how much I work on myself, I’ll probably never be 100 percent free and clear of all perfumes, dyes, and brighteners.

I have to try, though. I have to set an example. Because in the end, I’m not sure what I’d do with myself if I passed my dysfunctional behaviors down to my own pods.

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