Last week we introduced our new advice column, Dear Dot. And you responded with some great questions. Here’s our first round of life-changing advice:
Stressed, I grew afraid of dealing with the problem. Now it’s been many months I’ve spent sans fridge, afraid and unwilling to open the door unsure what I’ll find. Ideally I’d like to just replace it but I’m not sure how to get the one that’s there out of my apartment in a way where the door won’t open and who I could possibly hire for such a thing and finally how to do it without my landlord noticing. What do I do? Help!
Let’s take a step back for a minute. You had the understandably stressful experience of being unable to pay your bills (no fun, for sure, but also not uncommon in this economy). As a result, you lost power and a fridge full of perishables languished for a few weeks (again, not exactly a cardinal sin). Instead of cutting yourself some slack and grabbing a trash bag and some rubber gloves, you slipped into an avoidance spiral, compounding your stress and turning a relatively minor affair into a source of fear and shame that is now compromising your ability to make healthy decisions for yourself.
Are you really considering laying out the scratch for a new fridge in a rental unit owned by a landlord you hate? What have you been eating all this time? I promise you that whatever is behind that door is not terrifying enough to justify pouring any more of your money into needless appliances and takeout, and if you do that you will just be ratcheting up the avoidance that got you here in the first place.
If you really can’t bring yourself to tackle the monster alone, consider spilling the beans to a trusted friend and asking them to help. It could be interesting! My college roommate and I still wonder about the cup we found on move-out day freshman year that was full of something that looked like the lunar surface. If all else fails, hire a pro who has experience with extreme cleanup situations. A quick Google search for “Brooklyn heavy duty cleaning” turned up several local services that can take care of your problem in no time, and for much less than you were prepared to fork over for a new fridge. Take some of the cash you save and treat yourself to a trip to the farmer’s market and a healthy, home-cooked meal in your newly-spotless digs. You must be dying for one!
Finally, you should think about exploring the reasons that you feel so powerless when confronted with stressful situations. Perhaps some short-term therapy might give you a new perspective on how to cope with life’s unpleasantries–whether they be nightmare landlords, financial hiccups, or gnarly science experiments lurking in your refrigerator–in a more confident, less emotionally taxing way. All of us are tempted to ignore things that make us uncomfortable and hope that they go away, but that approach is rarely effective, as you learned, and it always comes at a cost.
Best of luck,
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