Archive for March, 2013


I recently talked about how my counselor asked me to discuss why I fear becoming better than I am. I still don’t entirely know what I fear, and I need to continue to explore that. One of the biggest issues I run into is that I easily start looking at it from an analytical outside perspective.  I can name all sorts of “logical” and “probable” reasons, but when I stop stepping back and analyzing, when I just think about what actually drives me, the analytical psychobabble no longer sounds reasonable.

But my counselor also asked me to do something else. She asked me to think about what I consider ideal, how I want my house to be kept, and then make a cost/benefit analysis exploring the costs and benefits of succeeding at keeping my house the way I want it.

So today I’ll explore the ideal house, and tomorrow I’ll write my actual cost/benefit analysis. So here it is:

My ideal house, believe it or not, would NOT be immaculate. As I’ve said several times before, I strive for balance. I’m terrible at balance, I have no idea how to actually achieve balance, I don’t even always know what is too far one way or the other much less what to do about it. But I do strive for balance.

So no, my ideal house would not be immaculate. It would be a place where you can be comfortable walking in and just plopping. A place welcoming to everyone. Not a place where no extra item can ever be collected. Not a place where things are wasted because recycling (in-home recycling, I mean) could eventually lead to hoarding. Not a place of fear. I don’t want to fear becoming my parents, nor do I want to fear becoming a neurotic minimalist who will freak out to realize she has two items in her house that haven’t been used in at least a month and therefore must be completely useless.

My ideal house would have clean dishes and clean floors and clean laundry that’s folded and put away where it belongs. It would have no more than one load of dishes or laundry backed up, but that doesn’t mean that every dish needs to be washed the second it’s dirty, or that every article of dirty clothing should be put right into the washer so that it can be washed.

My ideal house would not be a stressful place of must-keep-everything-clean-at-all-times. There can be children’s toys on the floor, but they should be picked up before bed. There can be messes made while cooking, but they should be cleaned up when the cooking is done. Or when the eating is done. Or at least by the next day, but only for special occasions.

My ideal house would be sanitary. But it would not be a show house. It would be lived-in. It would be a place people could come and not worry about the dishes they’re eating off of, or even they’re sitting in. But they also wouldn’t worry about the food that dripped on the table while they were eating, or about a throw getting rumpled when they sat on the couch.

A worry-free, stress-free place–that would be my ideal house.

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Facing Fears

I’m sorry for my long absence between posts. I have been . . . well, avoiding this. Not because I don’t want to write. Certainly not because I don’t have anything to write.

But because I have a specific assignment to write. My counselor wants me to write about why I’m afraid. And I don’t want to.

Again, not because I don’t want to write about it. But because I’ve been mulling it over and over, and I just can’t seem to figure it out.

This isn’t just about any fear. This is specifically about my struggles with improving, with getting past things, with keeping a house the way I want a house and not falling into old patterns. This is specifically about why trying to be better than I am causes anxiety, and about the fear that drives that.

So now it’s time to face my fear. To discover my fear. To seek the knowledge I need.

I know this: I fear failing, and I fear succeeding. I tend to go to extremes. I often feel like I can only go two ways–I can be fighting a downward spiral, or I can be in a sort of neurosis. I can be worse than I want to be, or I can be . . . well, worse than I want to be. I can dwell in a mess–yes, better than the one I grew up in, but not actually the environment I want–or I can become obsessed with keeping everything clean all the time.

Because of all the things that I never learned growing up, the one that I have most entirely never learned is balance. I don’t want to trade one dictator for another, so to speak. That’s what I fear. I fear not striking a healthy balance.

Over the next few days, I fully intend to write more on this subject. We’ll see if it actually happens. Facing fears is hard.

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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.

Worms in the Light

I recently learned an interesting fact about worms. Apparently, they’re afraid of the light because if they spend an hour in direct light, they become paralyzed.

Now, this was just a fun fact in a book of “would you rather . . . ?” type questions. I haven’t checked it anywhere else. I don’t know the reasoning behind it. I don’t know if it applies only to certain types of worms. For all I know, that could be a myth. Maybe they actually become dehydrated and can’t move, rather than simply becoming paralyzed.

What I do know is this: it sounds a lot like me.

No, not literally. But I have this constant fear of being who I believe I’m able to be. I have this sense of not belonging in a house that’s well-kept. And I feel paralyzed when it comes to certain decisions, or even just to pushing myself to do what I know I need to.

I would like to take a moment to just specify: most people reading this already know I’m a Christian. But I am not using the word “light” here in the Christian sense of talking about being the light of the world, dwelling in the light of God, etc. I’m just using it as a metaphor for for keeping a clean house, making wise decisions with finances, and just generally living well.

My counselor was here this morning helping me with my house and talking to me about how I can learn to be more consistent. How to do what I know I need to, what I want to, but what I never seem able to do. Question after question about why I struggle, what I think I need in order to succeed, what my belief system is about keeping a clean house–not the belief I claim or the belief I want, but the belief I live out.

I was about a hair’s breadth from bawling. I was feeling anxiety rise up inside me. Partly from the questions, and partly as I saw that we were nearing the end of a task. When it comes to household tasks like dishes and laundry, I have a very hard time finishing them. I feel out of place, almost anxious, if there isn’t a single dirty dish, if the laundry basket is completely empty, if everything is actually in its place. I’m a worm, afraid of the light. Afraid of becoming paralyzed in it. Logical? Not at all. But I am.

I wanted to scream, “STOP! I can’t do this anymore! That’s enough for today–nay, too much! I can’t keep going!” But I didn’t. Because [warning: new simile coming, entirely unrelated to worms and light] I know that I can’t stop when I get close. It’s like exercising. You can’t stop right when you start to feel the burn, or you’ll never do any more than what you start out able to do.

You know the funny thing? And I use the word “funny” to mean “weird,” “illogical,” “irrational,” “ridiculous,” and possibly even downright “stupid.” The funny thing is, I don’t think I was born to be a worm afraid of the light. I think I was born to be something more–something that thrives in light. But I was raised to believe that the light is bad, or at the very least, that the light is unattainable. That no matter how much I want the light, I can never go into the light for any length of time. So now, even though I know that the light is really good for me, I have a deep-seated phobia of ever dwelling in it.

So even though it hurts, even though every little extra ray of light makes me want to cry, “STOP! I can’t take it anymore!” I will keep going. Because I know–I may not feel, but I know–that the light really is good. It really is the place I want to live the rest of my life. And it really is possible.

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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.