Archive for February, 2013


The Fear of the Landlord

Guest post day! This post is from my oldest sister, the uber-organized one who sadly lives too far away  for me to spend as much time with as I’d like. Though her perspective of this and mine vary greatly–at least, the landlord wasn’t as fearsome to me while growing up, probably because my sister saw more of that and felt more responsibility about that than I, younger than she, ever saw or felt–I still have great fear when the landlord comes by here. When that car pulls into the driveway, especially unexpectedly, my heart jumps into my throat and I look frantically around my house to find out what’s wrong.

I have that cold fear. The one that feels like someone froze a cantaloupe and shoved it down into the pit of your stomach. I am nervous, I can’t focus. I can’t eat breakfast and I’ve already had two too many cups of coffee. One of the things I fear most is about to happen. The landlord will knock on my door.

I just spent two days cleaning my house top to bottom in preparation for my landlord to come over. I skipped class yesterday so that I could wash every bit of laundry in the house. Changed the bedding. Vacuumed. Mopped the kitchen. Organized art supplies and books. All in preparation for the landlord accompanied by a window guy.

The landlord is going to replace all of our windows with ones that can withstand the high winds in the area I live in. I am sitting here waiting for them to arrive to measure the windows and I am so nervous I can’t focus on the book I’m reading or the homework due tomorrow. And they’ll be back in a few weeks to actually replace the windows. I have to go through this all over again.

I remember being a young child–in my memory I was nine or so but our parents insist I didn’t babysit when I was that young. Hard to say. Either way I was left home alone with my younger siblings and I was told, “If you see the landlord pull up the rent is on top of the pantry. Meet him in the driveway so he doesn’t come into the house.”

The landlord coming over was always something to fear. He had the power. He had the power to evict us, which happened more than once. He controlled whether or not I had a home and, in my mind, he had way more control over this than my parents did. He was my childhood boogeyman.

As an adult I still fear landlords. Even though I’m a great tenant, my rent is already paid up through next July, and my landlord is a really wonderful guy. In fact, in a different scenario he and I would probably be good friends. Yet I am terrified of his arrival, I avoid him as much as possible, and I ignore his phone calls. Landlords are to be feared, not friended.

It’s not uncommon for hoarders to have appliances that break down and don’t get replaced because they fear the landlord coming into their home. Just before Christmas my oven started acting weird. The coils on the bottom won’t heat up so my banana bread was burnt on top, soup on bottom. Cooking is my refuge. In fact, if I wasn’t writing this I would be cooking to relieve stress right now. Yet for three months I’ve lived with a barely functional oven rather than call the landlord.

On that note, this is my first guest post. It’s disorganized and stress-filled, and not at all indicative of my actual writing skill but thanks for reading! I have to go pick up cat toys.

~

Post-Landlord-Visit:

Somehow I am more nervous than I was before the visit. Apparently I had forgotten to tell the landlord about a pet I have. It is of the small-furry-caged-variety and we paid a pet deposit for the dog and cats but still… it was a bit scary to have the landlord find a pet he apparently didn’t know we had.

On top of that… he said the words every COH dreads. He said, “Maybe we should have given you a three bedroom place. You guys have a lot of stuff.”

Ouch. Can I puke now?

We are both artists and writers. It is true, we own a lot of stuff. Art supplies, mostly. And books. But I have worked really hard to eliminate all the unnecessary. I throw things out constantly. We don’t shop for new stuff. We aren’t adding to the amount of stuff, just unable to get rid of the amount of art supplies.

Aside from that we moved here with furniture that was purchased when we lived in a four bedroom house. It’s not furniture for a small apartment and it takes up a lot of space. We didn’t anticipate cutting our living space in half when we moved here.

Regardless after that comment I want to throw out everything. I feel ill. And now I am more afraid of my landlord than I was to begin with.

—–

Please note: I do not approve of swearing, and will not approve comments with excessive swears, including using the name of God as an expletive, but if I receive a comment with a swear or two in an otherwise acceptable comment, I will still approve it. The views expressed in the comments are the views of the person sharing them, not my own, and will be approved based on respect and readability [if I can’t figure out what you’re trying to type, it’s not getting approved] rather than agreement.

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Sick . . . again . . . .

Sorry I’ve been incommunicado for a while. I’ve been sick.

Again.

Seriously, I’m pretty sure the germs this year wear capes and have evil laughs. Where’s their super-hero arch nemesis when we need him?

My husband expressed a fear to me the other day. Or maybe “concern” is a more accurate word. He wondered if we’re getting sick so often because of how our house is. I assured him this wasn’t the case.

For one thing, we didn’t get sick much in the past two years – hardly at all, even less than either of us used to – and our house was worse than it is now. Believe it or not, however much I feel like I’m not, I am improving!

For another thing, the house has been cleaner lately than it’s been in quite a while. It’s when we’re almost caught up with everything that we end up sick and it gets bad again.

For a third thing, EVERYONE has been sick this year! Seriously, SUPER VILLAIN GERMS are out to destroy us all!

.

.

.

Okay, moving on.

His question got me thinking about something, though. It got me thinking about how often I was sick growing up . . . and how often I wasn’t.

Maybe that didn’t make sense. Let me explain.

Obviously, if you haven’t gotten this by now, my parents’ house was not a clean place. My husband says he knew that before, but he never understood it until he saw it. And the time in which he’s known me, the house has by far not been in its worst condition. But it’s really bad.

Growing up, I was sick a lot. But I would do this weird, convoluted, backwards sort of a thing. I would psych myself into believing I was sick when I wasn’t, because I didn’t want to go to school. I wasn’t trying to fake sick, but even then I would think, “Wow, last night I thought it would be nice if I was sick today, and today I am.” I would sit around and eat popcorn and soup (if those were available), drink soda (which were more likely to be available) and watch movies. Sometimes one movie several times. Which is how I ended up memorizing one entire movie.

But when I was legitimately sick, often I would force myself to go to school. Why? Because I knew that it would be healthier for me there than it would be at home.

Now, this was mostly before I realized–or at least before I admitted–just how bad things were at home. Before I knew it was my parents’ fault, not the fault of us children. Before I knew it was nothing I needed to be ashamed of myself. Yet I knew that the house was not a place that I would get better from sickness. So unless I actually was sick enough to go to the doctor, or just too sick to push myself, I would just go anyway.

But what really strikes me is this: those times of really being very sick, other than a long sequence of various forms of strep throat in middle school, were relatively few. I got the flu once. I would get a cold about once a year. On an overall rating, I think I spent more time miserable from allergies (which were rampant) than from actual illnesses.

Ever since I left my parents’ house, my overall health has been much better. Physical pain has decreased. Asthma has been better. Sleep has been more sound. And I know that being out of the environment, out of the stress, and in a place where I eat regularly and (relatively) healthy meals all make a HUGE difference. But ever since I moved out, other than this year and it’s mega-super-villain germs, I have hardly ever been sick. Worn out when I was trying to do too much at once, run down and needing to recuperate, sure. Allergies getting me down at certain times of year, absolutely. But I went from emptying an inhaler every few months, to emptying an inhaler in time for it to expire. And I’ve been around some pretty sick people, and not caught it.

So, though I would never subject my own children to it, I suppose I at least have this to thank my parents for: my immune system is pretty amazing. It had to be, to fight off everything growing in the piles of their house.

—–

Please note: I do not approve of swearing, and will not approve comments with excessive swears, including using the name of God as an expletive, but if I receive a comment with a swear or two in an otherwise acceptable comment, I will still approve it. The views expressed in the comments are the views of the person sharing them, not my own, and will be approved based on respect and readability [if I can’t figure out what you’re trying to type, it’s not getting approved] rather than agreement.

OCD, PTSD, and Hoarding

I haven’t talked a lot about OCD, but since it’s OCD week, I thought I would.

What? It’s OCD week?

Yeah. In the UK. I’m not in the UK, but I follow several pages on Twitter that are. One of them is for OCD Action, which has lately been talking about OCD week.

So I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk about the relationship between OCD, PTSD, and hoarding.

Disclaimer: This post is for awareness purposes only. I am not a medical professional, and I’m not always good at citing all my sources. Some parts of what I’m saying here are based on research, others are based on information from my counselor. If you want specific, official information, please check one of the sites I link to or another official medical resource.

If you’ve ever watched the television show Monk, you’re probably aware of the link between trauma and obsessive compulsive disorder. Though many things in the show are, of course, highly “Hollywoodized,” there’s a lot of accuracy in the fact that trauma can trigger OCD, although there’s still a lot of research to do on it and there is some disagreement in the medical community about precise causes. I seem to recall having read or been told, somewhere along the way, that there is also probably a mental predisposition to OCD, but there is so much more research to be done that nearly everything about OCD–causes, predispositions, even knowing for sure what part of the brain is affected–is still uncertain at this point.

But a lot of people don’t know the correlation between OCD and hoarding. I have talked to so many people who think that “obsessive compulsive” just means that you are particular about something, but that’s not it at all. The word obsessive, as related to OCD, refers specifically to obsessive thoughts. These could be obsessive fears of uncontrollable tragedy, such as that of dying in a car accident, the house burning down, or losing a loved one. Similarly, they could be obsessive fears of being the cause of a tragedy, such as the house burning down because you forgot to turn the stove off. The person with OCD might even fear doing something in a sudden and uncontrollable urge, such as fearing the Grand Canyon, not because they might fall, but because they might push a friend in.

Or these obsessive thoughts could go a completely different way, being obsessive thoughts of something the person considers immoral, such as obsessive thoughts of explicit sexual acts that the person neither desires nor wishes to think about.

The word compulsive is the part that refers to actions. Because the person has trouble controlling the thoughts, the person does something compulsive because it’s something they can control. However, like a drug, the person instead ends up being controlled by it. Somehow, they have a compulsion to wash their hands three times every time, because somehow that magic number is going to make the germs suddenly disappear and they won’t cause a terrible infection that will kill someone. They have a compulsion to shut the cupboard door five times because that will somehow restore balance in the world and their loved one will arrive home safely. The idea that the compulsion could actually cause these things is, of course, ridiculous, but it’s also not always thought out. They simply have these obsessive thoughts and deal with them by submitting to compulsions.

And contrary to popular belief, these compulsions are not always related to cleanliness. They can also be compulsions to hoard, among other less-pleasant compulsions.

The Mayo Clinic says that, because many compulsive hoarders do not exhibit any other symptoms of OCD, there is some debate about whether it is actually a form of OCD or not. I suspect that the medical/mental health community will not agree on this until there is solid scientific proof of the precise mental affects of each. Perhaps not even then.

So basically, the correlation between any two of these is not guaranteed. But there is some connection between all three of them, and though I don’t know precise numbers or statistics, I do know that many people who have one of these have at least one more as well.

A fictional/metaphorical sketch to illustrate how I feel about being a COH, because it’s the best way I know to express it right now.

She climbs.

The ladder is completely vertical. Perpendicular to the ground. And her muscles have never been taught how to climb like this.

It’s funny, she thinks as she puts hand over hand, foot over foot. It seems like those people milling about at the top all have muscles strong enough to pull out of this, even though most of them have never had to. It’s those down here, in this illogically gargantuan pit, that people need muscles to climb, and yet don’t have those well-developed muscles.

Occasionally, she glances around at the rest of the climbers. Occasionally, they glance around at her. They call out encouragement to each other, commiserate over the pain and hardship, sometimes call out their anger and frustration at those who left them in this pit. But ultimately, each ladder has one climber and they cannot go over to help each other. They can offer encouragement and advice, but not a helping hand.

Occasionally, some of those strong-muscled people at the top look down. Some of them call out encouragement too, but they’ve never done it so they don’t really know what they’re saying. They suggest climbing a certain way that is physically impossible on that person’s ladder. They shout that the climbers can do it. It means less, since they’ve never done it themselves, but it means something that they at least try.

Others who look down don’t bother to try. Instead, they look down in scorn. Come on, it isn’t really that hard, is it? You just have to do it. Look at my strong muscles, I could do it. Why can’t you? Their words should also mean little, but like barbed darts, they pierce and tear.

But most of the people at the top don’t look down. Some of them don’t even realize there’s a pit, or if they realize it, they don’t realize that the people in it were put there. They think they put themselves there.

Still, she climbs on. She tries to put out of mind how much further she has to go. She tries to see how far she’s come, but everything below her is a blur, making it appear that she has traveled much less distance than she actually has.

And then it happens.

Her hand slips.

Past experience dictates that any slip is almost always impossible to recover from at the spot. She inevitably continues to slip and finds herself having to start again. She tells herself this time will be different. She will make it.

To no avail. A foot slips, then the other, and her one remaining hand cannot hold her full weight, burdened as it is with the heavy packs, packs that, try though she might, she cannot shed.

She falls.

Her last hand still above her head, trying desperately to grasp something, she whooshes down past rung after rung of the ladder. She falls and falls, losing so much precious, valuable ground.

At the last second, she swings her body over to a cliff just to the side of her ladder. She didn’t fall all the way down, not this time.

Still, she lays on the cliff in a fetal position for several minutes. She doesn’t move. She doesn’t blink. She tries not to even let herself feel. She just lays there in despair.

Then the tears start, large tears rolling down her face before she even knows they’re coming. She starts feeling again and sobs in self pity.

Anger wells up inside her. She pounds her fists on the ground in frustration. Why, why, WHY can she never make it? So many people get to enjoy blissful life on solid ground, and she is stuck in this pit, always falling, never making it completely out!

Her own personal cheering section, a few people at the top who really care about her, look down in pity and in sorrow for her. They have reached their hands down so many times, wanting to pull her the rest of the way, but they cannot. She can’t let go long enough to reach, or she might fall again. And she fears to try, lest she pull them down into the pit too.

Fear. Yes, that’s the word. That’s the overwhelming feeling. She fears climbing, lest she fall yet again, maybe even further than she did this time. She fears that one of these times, a fall will shatter every bone in her body and she will be unable ever to try again. She fears the climb itself, for all the pain and sorrow involved. She fears not being able to climb quickly enough, and spending her entire life on that stupid ladder.

And she fears the top. Yes, much as she hates to admit it, she fears the top. She fears arriving and finding that it wasn’t worth the climb, that she might as well have set up camp on a cliff and just stayed there.

She lays on the cliff for a long time, not wanting to move, not wanting to experience the pain yet again, not wanting to try anymore. Not wanting to face her fears.

Finally, she stands up. Her life will not be dictated by those who put her down here. Her life will not be dictated by fear.

She will try again.

—–

Please note: I do not approve of swearing, and will not approve comments with excessive swears, including using the name of God as an expletive, but if I receive a comment with a swear or two in an otherwise acceptable comment, I will still approve it. The views expressed in the comments are the views of the person sharing them, not my own, and will be approved based on respect and readability [if I can’t figure out what you’re trying to type, it’s not getting approved] rather than agreement.

Paralyzed

I’m stuck. Paralyzed. Completely at a loss.

Really, I’ve been mulling it over for over a week. I’ve been actively trying to decide with in-depth analysis for just shy of a week. And I absolutely do not know what to do. So, of course, not knowing what to do, I am staying put and not doing anything. Though inaction is of course an action. But it’s not that I’m never going to do anything, just . . . not yet. Not until I can get myself, um, unparalyzed. Or whatever.

So what is this terrible, horrible, paralyzing event?

We got our tax return.

We got our tax return, and most of it has to go to general living expenses because things are rather tight. (Who aren’t they tight for?) But my dear, sweet, amazing husband (and I say that with no sarcasm whatsoever, so if you read any in there, go back and read it again!) said that I could have $100 to do with as I will. Well, that’s not entirely true. I mean, it’s not just spending money for whatever I want. I’m supposed to spend it on specific things that I really need, or that would just make my life easier.

The trouble is, even with those defining parameters, I still have more than $100 worth of things to get. A lot more. And we absolutely can’t afford more than $100 worth right now.

Some of them could be purchased through my company, with which I have a slight credit right now and with which I get a discount. All elements taken into account, I could spend closer to $180 if I only got things from my company. But there are other things that I also need that I can’t purchase through my company.

So I could get one thing purchasable through my company, then spend the rest of the money on other things that I need. But I don’t know which thing to get from my company. It’s a toss-up between . . . a lot. And I still don’t know which of the rest of the items take precedence.

Part of me says that at least one thing (new shoes) will be a requirement whether I do it from this $100 or not, so if I wait I’ll still get it. But another part of me says, “Don’t be dumb, that’s just sneaky and irresponsible and will deprive you of more money that you can’t afford later.”

So basically . . . this is just one more thing that I never learned. How to make a decision rather than let it paralyze you. And, if I remember correctly, I think it corresponds with the PTSD too.

And no, listing pros and cons doesn’t help. I’ve tried that. Too many of them are still tied.

One of these days I’ll figure out what to spend the money on. In the meantime, though . . . I don’t have any of them. Awesome.

—–

Please note: I do not approve of swearing, and will not approve comments with excessive swears, including using the name of God as an expletive, but if I receive a comment with a swear or two in an otherwise acceptable comment, I will still approve it. The views expressed in the comments are the views of the person sharing them, not my own, and will be approved based on respect and readability [if I can’t figure out what you’re trying to type, it’s not getting approved] rather than agreement.

Unwanted

All my life–at least as long as I can remember having specific feelings about it–I have struggled to believe that people actually wanted me around.

I was sort of the outcast at school. There was a boy in my class in elementary school who was from a family that didn’t have much money, and . . . well, at least from my perspective, they weren’t particularly intelligent. And I don’t mean that as an insult. I mean literally, every member of that family had barely average or slightly below average intelligence. There was such a distinct ladder of cool-to-uncool in my class that I could probably have made a full list, with no more than two or three people on each rung. He was at the bottom of it.

I was the next rung up.

I hated being associated with him. That’s to my shame, I suppose. To my credit (I suppose) I also hated when they made fun of him. I hated hearing anyone made fun of or seeing anyone embarrassed. I empathized so deeply with them each.

That memory from elementary school typified my growing-up years. Later in elementary school (after we moved and changed school districts) I had two friends. One of them stopped being my friend later that year. The other one ditched me and started making fun of me in middle school. When I tried to spend time with her, she would say, “Why are you here? You’re so annoying! Stop following me!”

I avoided an extra-curricular activity that I really wanted to do because she was in it and I didn’t want her to think that I was following her.

Two years later, I finally decided I didn’t care what she thought and joined the activity anyway. It was an activity that spanned middle and high school. I continued through graduation and went back to visit while I was in college. She and a couple of her friends basically quit without even telling anyone they were quitting when we got to high school.

The same year I joined the group anyway (the year before, I had a sister doing it and was visiting while while for her after school, so what was the difference between that and actually joining?) I also got up the courage to ask her why she had ditched me two years earlier. (In writing, mind you. I wouldn’t have possibly said this out loud.) She replied, “I wanted to be cool and didn’t think that it would happen if I was friends with you. Not that it mattered, because I never became one of the cool kids anyway.”

Yeah. Ouch.

I always thought that the kids made fun of me, but looking back, I don’t know how often they were making fun of me, and how often they were trying to include me in their general teasing of each other. I’m sure if I had responded better, something would have been different.

I also know that my oldest sister protected me a lot. I had several things happen with kids making fun of me, but almost never anything physical. The most physical thing was when a student took my Bible (which I always carried around school with me and read when I had a chance to) and threw it away while I was in the bathroom. I found it in the trash can on the way out the door. And I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen because it was a Bible, but because they didn’t like me in general.

But in high school, I didn’t know that seniors hazed freshman until I was a senior. One of my sisters, who was a senior, and her friends protected me and a few other freshman. That was a time when I really felt loved. When I realized that, three years earlier, I had been protected.

To this day, I struggle to believe that people want me around. It doesn’t help that, after a few years of thinking that I just might have broken through all of that, I was in a new place trying to make new friends. Long story short, someone who I thought I was really becoming friends with started seeming like she was avoiding me. I know I tend to think people just don’t want to be around me when they sometimes have other reasons, so I really wanted to talk to her and see if there was anything wrong or what. But she didn’t have time to talk. And didn’t have time to talk. Until her husband told my husband (they’re good friends) that she felt like I was draining her and putting too many demands on her time, and she wanted to be there to help me if I needed it but wasn’t looking for a friend.

Yup. Ouch. She and I are still friendly, but we don’t do much together anymore.

So . . . I don’t really know exactly why I’m writing this today. My goal is to learn something new with each of these blog posts, but I’m not really learning much new with this. It’s just something that’s been bothering me a lot lately as I’ve gotten the feeling that other friends also don’t want to be around me. And my husband and I have talked lately about my fear of becoming annoying to him because I am to so many other people.

So, I guess this post is less about learning and more about organizing my thoughts. So thanks for letting me use you all as a sounding board.

—–

Please note: I do not approve of swearing, and will not approve comments with excessive swears, including using the name of God as an expletive, but if I receive a comment with a swear or two in an otherwise acceptable comment, I will still approve it. The views expressed in the comments are the views of the person sharing them, not my own, and will be approved based on respect and readability [if I can’t figure out what you’re trying to type, it’s not getting approved] rather than agreement.

My Father, my Lord, my Savior, God of the universe Who loves me despite all that I am . . . and all that I’m not.

I come to You in Jesus name, my Advocate, my interposer, through Whom I am made your daughter. You adopted me, and by Your rules, adoption is forever. Thank You for that. Because I know I didn’t deserve it.

God, I cry out to You tonight, not just as your daughter coming for a Father-daughter chat, but as a supplicant seeking your help. Because God, I am not right. I am never quite right, but you love me anyway. Thank You for that, too. And for continuing to work on me and with me and help me to grow.

But that’s not what I mean. I mean that my heart beats. My throat constricts. My stomach tightens.

I haven’t felt anxiety quite like this in a while. I don’t know why it’s back.

Maybe I do. I’ve been keeping the house cleaner. I’ve been keeping up with dishes. And yet there is so much more to do. There are boxes that need to be sorted through. There are always more dishes to do. The laundry isn’t caught up yet. And I have to get ready for tomorrow’s business presentation.

I’ve done all of these things, though. So why is it suddenly so overwhelming tonight?

God, I know You gave me the parents you did for a reason. I can only see a glimpse of that–no matter how painful it might be, the parents You gave me have formed a great part of who I am. For better and for worse. I talk so often about the worse, but there are good things too.

I’m shy largely because I was always so ashamed growing up, but that meant I had to work and learn to push through that shyness. Looking back on that years-long experience shows me how capable of growth I am.

I’m terrible at organizing things, but that’s partly my personality, not just my upbringing. If it was upbringing alone, my siblings and I wouldn’t have gone all different ways with that. So if my parents had taught me to clean, maybe I would have learned better. But then again, my parents may have just cleaned around me, and what would I have learned then? Not much.

I can’t really think of the other things right now because I need to go back to my original point: I have this anxiety tonight and I don’t entirely know why. Maybe it’s the realization of everything to do all at once. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been as productive the past couple of days, although I haven’t been entirely unproductive.

But what I know is this: You are not the author of confusion. You have not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. And I know that You love me. I can’t even link put a passage to go with that because it’s written from Genesis 1:1-Revelation 22:21. And I love You, but never perfectly enough.

God, this is my plea tonight: help me get past this anxiety, whatever the cause. Despite this disorganized prayer from my disorganized mind, I know You understand, so please help me to be calmed, to focus on You, and to focus on what needs to be done this evening without my past getting in the way. How I was raised is not important. I was adopted into Your family, and am not a slave to my past.

You broke the bonds of sin for my soul, but my flesh is still bound therein. And likewise, though You break the bonds of my childhood, I am still bound to it mentally and emotionally. Please keep reminding me that I am not a slave to it and that You are my Father.

I love You, Father, Abba, Daddy. I may have been raised a hoarding child, but in You I am made clean.

In love,
Your daughter

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.
~Romans 8:14-17

God never moves without purpose or plan
When trying His servant or molding a man
Give thanks to the Lord, though your testing seems long
In darkness He giveth a song

O rejoice in the Lord
He makes no mistakes
He knoweth the end of each path that I take
For when I am tried
And purified
I shall come forth as gold
~Ron Hamilton

—–

Please note: I do not approve of swearing, and will not approve comments with excessive swears, including using the name of God as an expletive, but if I receive a comment with a swear or two in an otherwise acceptable comment, I will still approve it. The views expressed in the comments are the views of the person sharing them, not my own, and will be approved based on respect and readability [if I can’t figure out what you’re trying to type, it’s not getting approved] rather than agreement.

 

True or False?

True or False? All things in moderation.

Well, my first inclination is to true. In two different ways. For instance, if you eat healthful foods most of the time, a little dessert once in a while isn’t going to kill you. In that sense, even unhealthful things can be enjoyed in moderation.

Or, conversely, inhaling too much oxygen can kill a person. Drinking too much water can cause poisoning. Even things that are good for you should be moderated to a logical amount.

But then my brain says: what about moral issues? Murder in moderation? Uh, no.

So: all things in moderation where it’s not a moral issue.

But then the age-old question of what a moral issue surfaces. Moral according to religious beliefs? Moral according to societal mores? What is “moral”?

For instance, in the case of hoarding, things are not kept in moderation. In fact, they’re amassed far beyond what could possibly be considered “moderate.” Since a child of a hoarder can deal with life-long repercussions, including PTSD, depression, and a form of OCD that can cause either hoarding tendencies or going to the other extreme with obsessive minimalist tendencies, it becomes a moral issue. At least, in my opinion it does.

And further, hoarding is often only one symptom of a greater problem–PTSD, OCD, depression. (Notice a theme here?) Those things also can cause other symptoms, including things that can boarder on or actually become physical or emotional abuse.

Okay, did the last two paragraphs sound as convoluted as I’m afraid they did? Anyway, if you actually followed all of that, then you probably already know that where I’m going is this:

If hoarding is a moral issue, where’s the line? According to the Clutter-Hoarding Scale, the line between “clutter” and “hoarding” is between having a level two house and a level three house.

But is moderation okay? Is it okay to keep moderate and well-organized collections? Is it okay to have more than one of something if they both essentially serve the same purpose? Does whether you use them both or not make a difference–or does whether you could get along without one make a difference? Is there a moral issue involved? For the hoarder or COH, is it like an alcoholic–you’re never really recovered and should never be allowed even one “drink,” so to speak?

Personally, I think moderation is okay. I think having more than one of something is okay as long as they’re both being used and not causing more problems than they’re solving. I even think collections are okay as long as they never become more important than taking care of the essentials of and people in your life.

But I want to know: what do you think?

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Please note: I do not approve of swearing, and will not approve comments with excessive swears, including using the name of God as an expletive, but if I receive a comment with a swear or two in an otherwise acceptable comment, I will still approve it. The views expressed in the comments are the views of the person sharing them, not my own, and will be approved based on respect and readability [if I can’t figure out what you’re trying to type, it’s not getting approved] rather than agreement.

Dreams

I like to dream.

I like to dream big.

And I do things toward those dreams, too.

So what’s stopping me from realizing my dreams?

I was thinking about this earlier today, and I’ve concluded something: I think I’m afraid of my dreams. Not afraid of failing, but afraid of succeeding.

Someone recently told me that if I want to really succeed in my home-based business, I need my fear of not working my business to be greater than my fear of working my business. I keep saying that all growing up, even though I was surrounded by stuff, I never really had much of substance or value, we often couldn’t afford things that we needed (granted, largely because too much was spent on wants, but that’s irrelevant) and therefore, even though I don’t like that life, I’m just not afraid of it. I need to be afraid of it.

And the other day, I used the same concept to draw a comparison about why I struggle so much with keeping my house clean. I’m used to clutter and mess and stuff, and even though I don’t like living that way, I’m just not afraid of it.

But tonight I realized that . . . I think it goes the opposite way for me too. I think I am afraid of realizing my dreams. No matter how much one may not like the familiar, the unknown is still scary. No matter how many times I may design my “future house,” no matter how much I plan how I want to raise my family, no matter how much I dream, the fact is, it’s still unknown. It’s a lot less frightening to live vicariously through designs on paper and on the computer, plans talked about and researched and written out, than it is to actually achieve those dreams.

I don’t want to be scared anymore. I want to live my dreams. If I will not be prisoner to my childhood, certainly I will not be prisoner to myself.

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Please note: I do not approve of swearing, and will not approve comments with excessive swears, including using the name of God as an expletive, but if I receive a comment with a swear or two in an otherwise acceptable comment, I will still approve it. The views expressed in the comments are the views of the person sharing them, not my own, and will be approved based on respect and readability [if I can’t figure out what you’re trying to type, it’s not getting approved] rather than agreement.

I mentioned before that I’m a Christian, but I haven’t said much about this. And, as I’ve gotten going in all of this blogging and all, I’ve been following some people on Twitter who I might otherwise not follow. One of them has a blog post called Escaped the Hoard. She and I are kindred spirits in many ways, but there is a distinct difference: we believe very different things. I don’t say this against her–I have a great deal of respect for her. But as long as she was recently posting about what she believes, I thought I would share about why I believe.

First, of course, it’s best if you know something about what I believe. I am a Christian. I’m reluctant to identify myself by any denomination, but my beliefs adhere most closely to what’s taught in most Baptist churches. This includes there being one God, and a literal 6-day creation (plus one day of rest, not because God needed to rest, but as an example for us); Adam and Eve sinning in the Garden, and ushering in sin for all men; Jesus (100% God, 100% man) coming to earth and dying for our sins as the perfect sacrifice because “without the shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22), which is a free gift that we do not work to earn but simply must receive; that because of this amazing gift we ought to do good works but they do not save us; and that Jesus will one day take call His children home and reign on earth for 1000 years, fight a final battle to defeat Satan, then reign forever. I could expound on this for a very long time, but since that isn’t the point of this blog, I won’t. If you have questions about any specifics of my belief, please feel free to contact me and I will happily tell you more.

Now for why I believe.

I was raised in a Christian home. And that is precisely what almost drove me away from Christianity. In fact, of my siblings and me, I am the only one who still believes in God and practices Christianity. I can’t say for sure exactly what they each believe (I can for some, but not all), but it is most definitely different from what I believe and from how we were raised.

And I didn’t always believe this either. When your parents are very involved in church but living a completely different life at home–talking about the love of God but screaming at their kids; talking about forgiveness but constantly blaming and rarely apologizing; talking about a new life in Christ, but living in a mess and putting on a mask for the world; talking about prayer but not praying in front of or with their children except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter–then yes, it is very difficult to believe what they believe.

So I tried Wicca for a while in high school. But here’s the thing: I still believed in God. I look at this world, and no matter how much chaos man creates, I just see too much order to believe it could possibly be random. So I tried Wicca–well, a based-on-but-not-really version of Wicca, coupled with Christianity and adding several dozen other things just for kicks. It was what a friend of mine believed, and I went with her on it.

But when it came down to it, I couldn’t get away from Christianity. I don’t mean that it was like some cult or something, I mean that I believed, and so thoroughly that my parents’ hypocrisy was not enough to turn me away completely. It was enough to push me far enough that I absolutely could not believe because my parents did. I had to believe on my own.

Now, there is one thing that almost anyone who doesn’t believe in God questions (and some who do, for that matter) and that is: how could a loving God let “things like this” happen?

The answer is very simple: God made Adam and Eve in perfection, but He did not require them to remain perfect. It had to be their choice. They chose to sin. Yes, He knew that they would choose that because He is God and is outside of time. But if they and all their descendants obeyed because they were programmed to do that, what would that mean? That they had to, nothing more. Instead, everyone chooses. And since Adam and Eve chose sin, thereby ushering it in for all of mankind and causing all of creation (not just mankind itself) to be cursed, there is bad in the world. So yes, bad things happen. But there is a Redeemer. Every single person has the choice of being redeemed. That is the beautiful part.

So, like I said, there is so much to what I believe and why, and if anyone has any questions about the Bible, I would be happy to talk to you about it, just shoot me an email. But I just wanted to write this to let you all know that even though I was raised by church-going people, I do not believe because of how I was raised.

I believe despite it.

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Please note: I do not approve of swearing, and will not approve comments with excessive swears, including using the name of God as an expletive, but if I receive a comment with a swear or two in an otherwise acceptable comment, I will still approve it. The views expressed in the comments are the views of the person sharing them, not my own, and will be approved based on respect and readability [if I can’t figure out what you’re trying to type, it’s not getting approved] rather than agreement.