…and I am freaking out.
Now, it is important to say that my current stress is NOT Gloria’s fault in any way. She is probably the least non-judgmental person I have in my life. And I am confident she would not say anything to me, or anyone, simply to be hateful or self-righteous. I really admire her for that. I know I would be this anxious regardless of who the visitor was.
I am freaking out about my house, and the state it is currently in. One of the things people do not seem to realize about certain mental illnesses is that it affects more than just your mood. Other manifestations occur such as feeling so overwhelmed by daily tasks that you are simply unable to even start something. So it has been with me and housework over the past year or so.
I have never been the Queen of Housework. I am not the woman who scrubs and waxes her kitchen floor every Saturday morning. I rarely wash out my garbage cans, I thank the universe for frost-free freezers and I have been known to sleep on the other side of the bed to postpone changing the sheets. Something I can as I live alone.
On the other hand I am not a candidate for Hoarders and the Health Department would not shut me down or ban me from making anyone a sandwich (*fingers crossed*). The refrigerator is cleaned out often and the garbage makes it out for pickup. And I do have my super intense anal moments when the first thing I do on a Saturday morning is to dismantle the stove top and exhaust hood so I can wash every crevice. Once a year I take down the drapes and shake them out and wash the sheers as well as empty the china closets to dust everything.
After Mom died last June and I came home, washing windows or vacuuming did not feel like priorities. In fact things got to a point that just before Thanksgiving I hired a cleaning service to make my townhouse presentable for the guests that were coming. Something I had never done before – pay someone else to clean my home. And I felt bad about doing it, and needing to do it. As if I had failed in some fundamental way in the game of taking care of myself and being an adult.
When I had exchange students there was an unspoken social pressure to keep things up better, as well as the expectation to not gross out the kids. Since I now share my space with four cats and no other bi-pods I place “keeping up” lower and lower on my list of things I feel I must do.
As a result my home does not feel much like the refuge I want, and need, it to be. Each week seems to just add to the pressure and feeling of being overwhelmed by where to start. So I struggle to even take baby steps, after all as long as the food comes on time and the water is changed regularly the cats have no interest in whether there is dust on the Dining Room table.
But now I have a guest arriving for the weekend. Which I am actually very happy about and anticipate we will have a good two days. Yet I feel that the latter will not happen unless my living space is pristine and perfect. That if it is less than that it will mean I am somehow lacking as a person, homeowner, or friend. A part of this may be ego for sure – that I am looking for validation because my home sparkles and smells like a field of wildflowers. Part may be my buying into media images of living spaces that never have clutter. The floors gleam, never is the sink filled with dishes, laundry is not piled up nor is there a ring in the tub. However if I was attacked in my home today and the forensics team hoped to find a stray fiber or hair to lead them to the assailant they would fail miserably.
When I am brutally honest with myself I know that most of my inertia and lack of action are based in anxiety and feelings of being adrift in life and society, while a small part of me still struggles to find purpose and relevance and relationships that are reciprocal. Intellectually I know that if my home was tidier I would most likely feel calmer. More grounded. But at the same time it all seems too overwhelming to even begin. And there is the cycle I am in at the moment.
I also have these old “tapes” playing in my head filled with comments from people who I should stop lending real estate in my consciousness. But for whatever reason their words found a bull’s eye in my insecurities and will not be dislodged. And the negatives that are flung at most of us through our life always seem to become permanent while the positives for me just slide off ass if I was Teflon coated. It is a real mystery to me how people live with these things reversed.
While I ponder whether I am the only person I know who goes through this, at the same time fearing I am, I should start by clearing off the extra linens that got piled onto the guest room bed.