Sunday, July 14, 2013

Happy and Messy

Not my house. Because you knew I wasn't posting that on here, right? 

“So what do Mom and Dad say about us, then? Our family?” I ask my sister. We’re talking about our parents and their opinions about everybody in the family again, and I start to wonder what they’ve said about me. “Oh, you? They don’t have to worry about you.  They say you’re happy. Happy and messy.” I guess that’s about right. We are happy. And no denying it. We’re messy.

And I guess I wouldn’t prefer sad and neat. Cold and efficient. No, that’s not how I want my life to be.
But I wish I wasn’t so messy. I wish I could transform my space into the pictures I see in magazines, the spaces that so many of my friends have, the ones you, readers, probably have…where there are not toys all over the place, big plastic boxes in the hallway because I need to readjust my storage space in the garage to make room, cluttered mountains wherever there used to be surfaces, miles of laundry piled everywhere. I think I remember, when we moved into this house, that there used to be some counter space.  I wish I didn’t run out of room in my drawers, then start storing clean, folded clothes on top of the dresser, that every flat surface didn’t become a clutter magnet, that any spot in any drawer wouldn’t end up full of something, bulging, stretched until I need a bigger space. I wish I automatically cleaned things up—the kitchen, the laundry—without getting sidetracked and getting behind on everything.

I wish that when somebody called to say they were dropping something off at my house, I didn’t immediately respond with heart palpitations, anxiety, and self-loathing. Seriously—if you want to drop by, you really need to give me a week’s notice, or just pretend you’re in a hurry and have to leave it at the end of my driveway. Because no matter what, I’m going to be totally mortified that you’ve seen our mess and my inability to take control of it.

My house needs to go on a diet. I’ve never watched the show Hoarders because I’m afraid it will hurt my feelings, so please…in the comments…please, please don’t mention Hoarders. I don’t watch it because I am hoping that my space doesn’t belong on it. And if it does, I certainly don’t want to know about it. And know that there aren’t gross things in my house like I hear about on that show...Rat feces, bugs, that sort of thing. There may be more dirt than I'd like, but there are no infestations of anything, although people do keep holding the door open and letting flies in lately. It’s just that that sitting in a room in my house might give you a headache because we have too much stuff for the amount of room allotted to us in our little house.

Right now, while typing this, I’m worrying about the comments. And about what you’re thinking about me. I so want to hide my mess. If you are judging me for this description of my mess, please don’t post it here. Just lie to me and tell me your house is messy, too. Because it’s an emotional issue for me, and sending me to a personal organizer is not enough to fix it. And I’m already a Fly Lady failure. I mean, my sink isn’t even shiny now. And today’s Saturday. I have absolutely no excuse. A shrink? More likely to help, but only after years of sessions.  

My dad’s solution was to build extra storage buildings for his excessive stuff. He went so far as to measure the plastic boxes and build shelves tailor-made to fit those plastic boxes. Somehow, if you organize the ridiculous things you choose to keep forever, it makes things seem better, I guess.

But I don’t want to build new buildings to store more plastic boxes. Not ever.

I look through my girls’ books on their bookshelf. Get rid of some of these, I say. Then they pull out a book and toss it carelessly to the side, and my heart breaks. I remember holding Rosemary, pudgy, big-cheeked, squeezable, lovable, big-eyed, curious, golden-haired Rosemary, while we flipped those pages. We flipped those same pages hundreds of times. I can’t let go of that book. She’s tossing it to the side, ready to let go—and I want to hold on. Forever.  Not that one! Oh, and not the other one over there, either. I remember that one, too…But there’s no more room on our bookshelves, Mama, she says. 

I want to make room. There has to be room. So I stack it horizontally, across the other books. There’s space up there. I can fit this book if I put it that way.

Once, I let her fill a box and I gave those books away. I didn’t let myself look in the box. And I still worry about those books, and if any of them were ones that were really special.

So I’m happy and messy. But not really happy about the mess. And not ready to give up the mess, either.

How do you manage your emotional ties to things?

photo credit: sindesign via photopin cc