As you saw from Monday’s epic post, last week was a big one. I packed up and moved out of my apartment. There was a lot of sweat, and a lot of mess.
Throughout the week – and which came as a pleasant surprise – I came to embrace this mess more and more each day.
I have no idea where you stand on the “clean obsession” scale, so you may not relate to some of this. When I was young and all through my adolescence, I was NOT clean. My bedroom was piled with clothes and unnecessary knick knacks and I drove my mother crazy by leaving my stuff around the house. I wasn’t a slob by any means, but I definitely embraced my own “organized chaos.” When I moved out on my own, I slowly began to become more and more…involved…with cleaning.
Now I would say, and hope, that as we grow older and once we move out of our parents’ care, we naturally begin to appreciate cleanliness more. We are finally living in our own space and there ain’t nobody else around to clean up after you. You soon learn you can’t keep dirty dishes in the sink forever…. hopefully.
But for me, I started to see myself getting more and more obsessed with cleaning as the years went on.
I know for a fact a lot of this was connected to my struggles with anxiety and my eating disorder. Somehow, I got to the point where I was cleaning my apartment nearly every morning. This, by in large, worked to take the place of the workouts that always used to happen at this time. It gave me something to do to distract myself before having breakfast. Cleaning has also been my go to when I have feared being alone without anything to do. It has taken the edge off of boredom, loneliness and being in my own head. Therefore as you can guess, my apartments lately have been pretty sickingly spick and span.
But man. This really isn’t me. Over the past few years I have often asked myself, “how did I turn into such a (for lack of a better term) clean freak? I NEVER used to be like this”.
This week as I was taking down, putting away and shuffling through all my stuff, I threw all sense of organization and tidiness to the wind. I could hardly see my table, I had to go through a maze to get to my kitchen sink, and washing dishes took on a two day wait period. And you know what? IT FELT SO GOOD. Honestly – my place has never felt more cozy. And, ironically, I felt way more relaxed. Here I was thinking cleaning helped me to be less anxious – which, yes, it definitely does serve this purpose – but the mere feeling like I need to clean is what causes me much anxiety in the first place. Last week, I suddenly loved sitting on my couch in the evenings – boxes surrounding me, dinner bowl in my lap – way more than I ever have. My apartment finally felt like….”home.”
As I type this I realize how silly this all sounds. I am by no means advertising becoming a slob and telling you all to start living amidst week old dishes and covering your floors in empty cereal boxes. But I just think this is a small example of “returning to myself.” If I felt so cozy and comfortable in this state, then obviously I have been fighting against some part of me all these years as I made sure the counters were pristine and bed was made every day. There have been many different ways I have ran away from who I am over these last five or so years, and unfortunately, the thought of the loss of these parts of me make me quite sad. But slowly I am remembering and collecting these forgotten parts and all the things I used to love or used to love do. I am remembering how much I love to dance like nobody’s watching (which Suz reminded me of last week), how much I love to make really reeeeally corny jokes (sorry ya’ll), how much I love french fries and chicken wings, and how I actually do not like cleaning and love when I have crap all over my floor.
I think by just growing up, a lot of us tend to lose parts of ourselves we once loved. We lose a part of that care free child or teenager we once were. We get engulfed in the realities of life – of finding employment, financial concerns, buying a house, family illness – and suddenly all of these things have taken up all of our energy. We no longer have “time” for any of the frivolities we once found a natural part of our daily lives. Mental illness has the ability to rob us of these things even more. One day we wake up and realize we don’t even recognize the person we were a mere five years before. And we wonder where she/he went and why she/he ever left.
Life IS messy. No matter how hard we try to clean it up and make it all perfect, there is ALWAYS going to be some dust, or another dish to clean, and as hard as you scrub you just will never get that rust stain off the base of your shower head. So I say… EMBRACE IT. Embrace the mess. If you are in a phase where time is short and you have trouble getting to the grocery store or to that rack of dishes … embrace it. Laugh at it. What would 14 year old ‘you’ ‘do? 12 year old you do? Probably pump up some spice girls and make a bowl of popcorn. Just me? That’s cool too.
Because you know what, I have a pretty good feeling it will all work out as it is supposed to.
Thank you, Amanda, for giving me a place to think all this mess out loud.How Packing Reminded Me to Embrace the Mess. How can you get back a piece of your inner child?… Click To Tweet
Are you more comfortable with cleanliness, or a bit of mess?
Is there a part of who you were as a child or teenager that you feel you have lost? Is there anything you used to do or love that you miss? Are you repressing any part of your younger self? I encourage you to bring back one little element of this part of your childhood this week – listen to your old favorite CD, buy your old favorite cereal, or hell, don’t make your bed for a week.
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