2.14.2011

1.5


Skeletons in the Closet #1.5

…the closed door. The room. The closet. 
So my fairy godmother did not nor will make a showing. 
I know, you are shocked.  But I’ve come to peace with this fact.  Well, I wouldn’t say peace.  Simply on the basis that cleaning to me doesn’t equal peace so much, but I suppose that’s not the point of cleaning.  OR perhaps it is, and I’m just slow seeing the light.
As the prologue suggests, behind the closed bedroom door has been a sight for sore eyes.  But as I finally bust into cleaning mode to my side, my own closet, my ‘stuff’; it became immediately clear to me… I have to learn to keep my side, my closet, my stuff clean first before wrapping constantly around anxieties of H or N or L not keeping their stuff clean.  Easier said than done.  But nonetheless true.  OH so true. 
I’ve known this theory from treatment, “cleaning my side of the street clean” and it’s been just that.  A theory.  I’ve acted like I live the theory, when in reality I haven’t had the faintest clue how to really, really live it.
Until I stepped into the craziness of my space in my room and began the de-cluttering, the much overdo organizing, the hanging of some pictures that had been stashed in my closet because our bedroom has been a storage unit rather than a room.  This whole time, putting all this aside like a martyr (lazy martyr) spending a few years in a row anxiously wrapped around the inefficiencies of others, the need for order in other rooms belonging to them, meanwhile literally ignoring and hiding my own disheveled chaos (concrete or metaphorical implied- external or internal, take your pick). 
Needless to say, the last week has been awfully enlightening in the way of taking care of my own crap  excuse me, mess.  And there’s been a number of ‘skeletons’ I’ve found in my closet there in the chaos as I’ve been cleaning. In between hanging up clothes and finding the floor:
Uno: A lost journal from before treatment. Dos: some pictures of the boys as bambinos, a few of their baby socks and t-shirts mixed in somehow with the mess of whathaveyous… quatro, cinquo, etc…  (there were many things unearthed in the mess)…
                  (cue thought/memory clouds above head)…I’ve never been very apt at handling memories.  Whether forgetting them or re-living them to a fault or not letting go of them or being deathly afraid to face them… memories seem to have some strange, paralyzing power over me.  I’ve surrendered scared many times to this feeling.  Thus, cleaning and de-cluttering even in the most necessary of ongoing ways, has proved an unlivable task.  Emotionally I curl up in a ball and feel paralyzed.  Once upon a time before treatment, this feeling would come- at the sight of a toddler shoe too small or a packet of pictures hidden under piles only to emerge with such force of emotion, that I would waddle myself into the kitchen and deal with the wave of overwhelming ‘missing’ feelings, the memories, the moments I might have missed somehow, head on—with a re-fill of wine mixed with juice, stir and consume.  Ah, now I feel ok.  
These are the skeletons attached to my old ways of cleaning things out, dealing with clutter, organizing life and memories—I would drink in order to not feel reality, the reality that time moves along whether or not I’m ready, whether or not I’m scared or you name it.  The few times I was able to go through grown out baby and toddler clothes, my many-times-angel-Kathryn was there, helping take the edge off the letting go process, helping by being present in my weird but profound pain of releasing time, releasing memories, releasing my guilt of what I did or didn’t do right, releasing the cuteness of some of my favorite clothes I’d put on the boys and how tiny, and now how big, oh it was simply
Too much. To feel.  Even with the help of a dear friend.
Afterwards I would drink. And drink. And try not to think.
{The vicious cycle of compulsive brain and chemical reaction…}
Until I hit that end, that substructure of self that has no frame left to hide atop.  I lost my marbles, my mojo, my motivation- to live and be.  I didn’t know how to be me anymore without falling apart, or breaking something or someone, or blacking out, or passing out.  I couldn’t hide the pain anymore, couldn’t find sane on my own anymore, needed help, needed. 
Evidence of this tsunami of a cycle was found in the old journal unearthed through the closet clutter.  Waves of remembering, how did I get so far out?  How did I make it out of the last night, the last binge alive? (miracles do in fact exist I believe).  What kind of mother was I to do such things, be such and such way? the wave of assaults at my old inner self, guilt creeping back…
NO! skeletons, you have no power over me.  I’m thankful for my past, you skeletons have taught me what it means to finally BE ALIVE.  I crave life now, even on blue days… I want to LIVE.  I can smell life in the springtime blooms, but can also sense purpose in the whiting out with snow.  Before treatment, I couldn’t even muster a step forward, life seemed unlivable in my skin, living seemed unattainable without artificial means to ‘help’ get through...  I’m grateful that I’m not defined by that past, I don’t cringe or carry shame. Daily clearing of old thoughts by thinking new thoughts, being taught new ways to react, respond, re-new…
  This cleaning process… bring it on!  I fear you no more.
(cue coming out of thinking cloud above head) …So now you know.  Running into old things, old thoughts while seeing those old things, feelings I get about those old things—this is the madness that has traditionally been attached to the clearing out/cleaning process.  It’s been a monster I’ve been scared to face, thus many times over not faced… thus the interminable shut door policy. 
This is a new time, I’m not afraid to face the piles of memories, or clutter, or whatever else might be found in the process.  I’ll feel the feeling, but it won’t cripple me.  I’ll face it with courage, perhaps some tears, and then get myself to a meeting or sit down and write. 
Perhaps that’s the point of discomfort or pain or loss or remembrance—to feel something we need to feel anyway but deliberately push aside because we want to feel in control of the discomfort, we want to hold it far away as we can. 
But maybe the feeling it, and the taking care of ourselves in a healthy expressive way, is what frees us from the unlivable part of the pain.  And frees us to live in a connected, fresh, present moment sort of way with those around us who need us indeed- present. 
This cleaning dilemma I’ve had going for a long time—it’s not about Peter Pan and the 2 lost boys living in my house (j/k HP) and them changing and miraculously bippety-bobbity-boo! cleaning their rooms on a regular basis {one thing at a time}  
No, it’s about me learning how to keep myself free- from the old stuff that creeps in, or the clutter that can start forming mounds over the ground, or the thoughts that become too overwhelming to face, or the frustration over what someone else isn’t doing that becomes my ill-fated-focus.  It’s about learning how to keep my side clean to the best of my ability and then the rest…
Let it be.
Until
Well, until, we’ll see. I just need to focus on keeping my side clean.

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