Friday, January 16, 2009

It's a State of Mind...and Body

The state of my house is reflection on my state of mind--and if that doesn't frighten people, there's no hope.

I grew up with the neatfreaks of all neatfreaks. My parents have white carpeting. My mother used to clean the kitchen sink and then not let us--my father and me--use it the rest of the day. You could safely lick the linoleum in their house--in any corner--without fear. Everything was gleaming, dust-free, folded, put away, stacked, and smelling of Clorox and dryer sheets.

I hated it. guessed it...I got out on my own. After spending years driving my mother crazy, I, myself, became the neatfreak in college, terrorizing my own roommates. I cleaned for fun--and no, I'm not kidding. I enjoyed it. I'd clean my friends' apartments given half a chance (and I could find that half a chance anywhere).

It my way of controlling my life without actually dealing with the important things. I was a complete basket case, but apartment? Spotless.

Roll ahead a few years, and things I was much more mentally healthy. Happy, even, and busy (so had my parents been, by the way--they were both professionals who worked a lot and still managed a spotless home). My life began to move; my junk began to stay put.

But, I managed, for most of those years, to find a happy medium between cheery clutter and cleanliness that worked. By the end of my first marriage, however--to a packrat who, paradoxically, had a pathological need for symmetrical order--things were...messy. In every possible way.

Cleaning out from that marriage was emotional and physical. Between the divorce and the selling of the house to move across the state, I can't remember how many dumpsters I filled with...stuff. My father, bless his heart, would drive to my house while I was gone during the day and just absolutely raze everything. I joked that if the cats were still for more than fourteen seconds, they'd be gone, too.

(My father is the exception to the norm for Depression-era children; he doesn't horde anything and he doesn't believe in keeping anything old (except photographs). You should see his garage. Monk could live in it.) life, new marriage, new career, new town, new house in Marshall, seven years ago. Things started out well. It was clean, and it was cluttered only because it was about a fifth of the size of my house in St. Cloud before, but I'd gotten rid of much extraneous stuff. I felt great! My house looked great!

Despite my working a gazillion hours a week during the school year, it stayed that way. Despite my new husband, who's a self-avowed slob (which he is, but I will not complain because the man does all the shopping, all the cooking, all the taking-care-of-me-because-I'm-incapable, and that's a difficult job), it stayed that way.

Until about three years ago.

I got sick. A lot. In the last three years or so I've been diagnosed with three chronic, life-altering (to a degree), incurable diseases that affect my daily life to varying levels. I've been hospitalized several times. I've had two miscarriages. I've had eight surgeries. I've had two separate biopsies (fine). I've spent more money, miles, and minutes in doctors' offices and various clinics and such than I could even follow.

Things got...messy.

And I've not been able to keep up. And then it got worse, and I really wasn't able to keep up.

For nearly two years now, my house has been mostly unlivable (for me). I hate this. And I don't know where to start, and even when I have time (summer, Christmas vacation), I don't have the physical energy.

We are overwhelmed. I hate going home.

My classroom? Orderly, for the most part. I like things in their place. I dislike clutter. I used to deliver mail, and my sorting case was immaculate. My supervisors used to show mine to newbies as an example, and I was, more than once, enlisted to physically organize other routes when they changed and needed upkeep.

My house? Two adults and four cats--and no children to blame it on--is a disaster. We occasionally make little dents of happiness (I get the kitchen and bathroom cleaned, for example, or there's a path to the couch and only a few books and newspaper on it to clear off if you don't mind walking around the back side of the coffee table), but I long for having the whole house clean and organized once again.

So, that's my story. Can I be one of you?!?

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