Achievement. Abandonment.

I haven’t written anything on this blog in quite a while.  I have been in counseling, for grief, my hoarding, and some other things, and instead of pouring my soul on paper for the world to see, I have been pouring my soul into my counselor’s ears.

But something happened to me tonight.  Something that is puzzling to me.

Here is my story.

A couple of weeks ago, I was put on bed rest by my Dr.  I have  circulation problems in my leg, and it was swelling quite a bit.  I also had injured my knee earlier this summer, and have not recovered from it.

So, there were some things that needed to be done, and I hired a family member to come do them for me. I didn’t have much money to give her, but I gave her what I had, she came over, spent an hour or so doing the immediate tasks that I needed done, and left.  When she left, she told me that if I needed her again, to let her know.

Well, I did need her again.  My van is persnickety, and the hatchback is currently not opening from the outside.  There is a rope attached to the latch, but you can only pull it straight up, so you have to get into the van and close to the back to open it.  I had pulled out as much from the back as I could, through the side door, but I had things that I needed to get out, and put in.

I wasn’t sure, between my leg, my knee, and the pain that I have also been having in my lower back, if I could crawl into the back and open the door.  But I knew this family member could do so.  So I called. And texted.  She asked me what I needed, I told her, she told me she wasn’t at home but would come by when she got back.  So I waited.  and waited.  And she never came by.

A few days later, I asked again.  I had a school program that I needed to unpack my van, and pack for.  No response.

Today was the last day that I had available to do this.  I contacted her once more.  She responded enough to tell me she was at home – which is just down the road from my house – in fact, her family are my next door neighbors – country next door neighbors, but less than half a mile.  I told her what I truly needed – my van to get opened, and that I had more work that I would pay her to do, if she wanted.  Opening my van would take her less than five minutes.  I was in town, but would be home in about 15 minutes.  I got home. And sat in my car.  And waited.  And waited.  I actually dozed a little bit – in between texting her.  And calling her.  With no response.

I finally texted her brother – no response from him, either.

By now, it was getting dusky, I have to leave tomorrow.  I knew it would hurt for me to crawl in and open that door.  But I had no choice.  So I crawled in.  It hurt.  It hurt a lot.  I cried.  And cried.

I finally got the door open.  And then I sat in the back of the van and sobbed.

And while I was crying, I was asking myself why?  Why was I crying.  Part of was physical pain.  Part of it was emotional pain.

I had accomplished something that I truly wasn’t sure I would be able to do by myself.  But I did it.

I DID IT!

With pain.  But with grit and determination, I did it.

And yet, I was crying my eyes out.  I felt so alone.  So lost.  A person whom I love, who had said they would help me – just give a call – had ignored me.  Had left me to my own devices.

I had accomplished something that was difficult.  Yet instead of feeling triumphant, I felt desolate.

But why should this be so?  And while I sobbed, and cried, I wondered about that – why would I feel so sad when I had just successfully done something that I had both dreaded and that I knew would be hard.

I cried even harder.  I realized that I was feeling so bad for two main reasons – first,  the fact that I ended up being the person to do this difficult and painful task was evidence that I was alone in life.  I had asked for help.  Even begged.  And the person who had said they would help me if I needed it ignored my plea.  I felt a loss of relationship with my own family  – it is always hard for me to ask for help, and when I did, my pleas had gone unanswered – not once, not twice, but three times.

But the second reason that I was crying so hard was this – I had no one to celebrate my success with.  I had no partner to rejoice with me, to cheer me on, to tell me I could do it.

I felt totally abandoned, and totally alone, and those feelings overwhelmed my success.

And while I thought about that, I realized some things.  Often – I discount my successes.  I have often allowed things that I have accomplished on my own to bring me down – if for no other reason, it reminds me of how alone I often feel.

And my feelings of abandonment, of loss, might not even be legitimate.

This person that I had hoped would help me – well, she is young.  A teenager.  Her phone might be turned off, on a charger.  She might never have gotten my messages, she might be doing something with her parents – there are all kinds of legitimate reasons why she might not have responded to my plea for help.  I truly hope that is what it was, rather than that she was unwilling to take five minutes from her day to do something that was so difficult for me, but would have been so much easier for her.

I’m not crying anymore, and even tho the light was gone, I was able to get some of the things done that I had to do.  Despite my feelings of loss, of abandonment – I am learning more about myself, and how I react to things.  Hopefully, next time this happens, I will be more aware, more able to rejoice in my success, and not feel so alone.  I need to learn to allow my successes to lift me up, not bring me down.

 

It is Okay to celebrate my successes.  I can let success build me up, not tear me down.

 

 

 

Is it being thrifty? Is it Hoarding? Or is it guilt?

So, it is Monday.  And I have been home all day, spending some time polishing up a story, some time playing video games and on Facebook.  And some time cleaning and decluttering.  I worked on unloading some stuff from my non-functioning van that has been in it for months.  And I worked on unloading stuff from my loaner car that has been in there since my last presentation three weeks ago.  And in the process of trying to figure out how to fit the stuff from my car and my van, I moved around, cleaned up some stuff, and threw some stuff away in my house.

And it has been hot.  Which means my energy for doing what I need to be doing is limited – it is so much easier to sit in front of my computer with the fan blowing directly on me, than it is to work outside or in my house, with its little one room air conditioner for the entire downstairs.

None-the-less, I am trying to get my house into better shape.  My dad is not in good health – as he puts it, he could die this week, or he could last another 6 months or so.  I really really would like for him to see my entire downstairs in a respectable condition before he dies.

So, that was the prelude. Now what I really want to talk about…

While  I was decluttering, moving things around, and cleaning in my house, I came across a small plastic tubby – the disposable food store variety, with something in it.  When I opened it up, I found polymer crystals that I had turned into a room deodorizer – years and years before. If you take liquid potpourri, mix it half and half with water, and pour it over the polymer crystals, they will swell up and smell nice.  You can also do this with essential or fragrance oils and water.  Just a few drops of oil, a quarter teaspoon of crystals, water – preferably sterile water – and you have enough to fill a jelly jar.  Add a few drops of food coloring, put it in a clear jar – pretty, and smells nice.  As they dehydrate, just add more water and fragrance.  I used to make these and sell them at craft fairs.

So, here is a box of some leftovers.  I opened it up – it had been mostly airtight, so the crystals had not evaporated and shrunk.  I cautiously took a sniff – well, it didn’t smell good like it had years ago, but it didn’t smell nasty.  But it didn’t smell good.  So, I should throw it away, right?

OH NO!!!!  I can’t throw that away – it would be wasteful!!!!   I should wash them out, let them dehydrate, and reuse them!!!

Seriously.  That was what I was thinking.  I can’t waste these polymer crystals by throwing them away.  I need to find a way to reuse them, somehow.  I was on my way to the kitchen, to start the rinsing process when I realized what I was doing.

Now, if I had no more polymer crystals, that might be one thing.  They are very useful things – put them in your potting soil and they will absorb water, then slowly release it into the dirt.  They can be used in vases with cut flower arrangements.  They can add interesting decor.  But these?  It had been at least FOUR YEARS – and I think actually closer to five, since I had made those.  And I have a couple of pounds (and one tablespoon goes a LOOOONG way) of unused polymer crystals in a box.  So why was I looking for a way to try to save these?  To keep them?  To reuse them?

Because I had an inner voice telling me – Don’t waste it.

I had an inner voice telling me – You might need it someday.

I had an inner voice telling me – Throwing that away is like throwing money away.

I had an inner feeling of GUILT for even contemplating wasting that good stuff.

And I realized that I live everyday with a feeling of guilt.  I feel guilty that my house is the way it is.  I feel guilty that my father has “enabled” me by letting me live in an unfinished house rent free.  I feel guilty that my arms were not long enough to cut panels to finish the house, or strong enough to lift things to the ceiling.  I feel guilty that I do not have the tools or the skills to repair my leaking roof.  I feel guilty that despite not having to pay rent, I don’t have the money to hire someone with the tools and the skills to fix my house.

And more than that – I feel guilty for my dreams, my dreams of artistic creation, of writing – because I keep getting told “you can’t do just anything that you want – grow up!” by all those inner voices.  I feel guilty that I don’t have a 9-5 job, despite the fact that the specialty work that I do with students is very important, and if I had a 9-5, I wouldn’t be able to do that.  I feel guilty that right now, at this minute, I have about $16 in the bank, and although some of my August bills are already paid, I have no idea how I will pay the rest, or how I will pay September’s bills – because the work that I love, and that I am so good at, and so important – won’t start until the end of September.

Guilt for this, guilt for that, guilt for everything.

Everyday, when I wake up, I look at my house, and I feel guilty, unworthy, inadequate, subhuman…

Every single day.

And all those inner voices were yammering at me as I headed towards the kitchen to rinse out those old polymer crystals.

But today…today I realized what I was doing.  Today I realized that I was listening to too many voices from my past and present.

And I told them to shut up.

And I turned around, and threw the box in the trash.

And started crying.  Because one baby step at a time, I will make it.

Sometimes keeping something is more wasteful to your life than throwing it away.

Why do I carry my clutter with me?

I realized something this month.

I carry my clutter with me.  There is something about having lots of stuff that is, in some obscure way, comforting to me.

I realized this when I was staying with my son this past month.  I was at his house for almost a week, attending a conference in the town he lives in.  It took four trips (or maybe five) to get everything in to the room that I was staying in.  And I was sly about it – because I didn’t want them to know how much stuff I was bringing in with me – some of it stayed in my car, and didn’t come in till the next day.

Now, in my defense – I did actually get into and use something from all but one of the assorted bags and cases that I brought in.  My prescription pillow goes with me everywhere.  I needed my computer and printer for the conference I was observing.  but my toiletry bag?  I only used three items from it.  Why couldn’t I have put those three items in a small bag in my suitcase?  When did I need to bring a big bag full of items that I knew I would not need or use?  Yes, I did do some crochet while I was there – but half of that bag could easily have stayed home.  Why did I think I would need everything?

My car is not much better.  Here it is, two full weeks after the conference is over, and it is still full of the stuff that I used for my presentation.  I haven’t unpacked it yet.  Why?

Why do I feel as tho I need to carry all this extra stuff around with me?  Yes, it is good stuff.  Yes I use it, and I use it on a regular basis.  But why do I think I need to carry it with me?

And this was something that I realized for the first time ever – whenever I have gone someplace, I always have something extra with me.  My car is always full of stuff that I don’t need, probably won’t use.  Always.  Now that I have realized this, I have new questions.

“Why do I feel like I need so much stuff with me?”  and “How can I change?”

What stops me???

Well, I’ve gotten several things into the trash. A couple of things out of the house.
A few things out of the room they were in, and into the room they belong
If I would only do this every single day, My house would start looking so much better, I could get so much more done, and my life would be so much more wonderful. So, why don’t I?  What is it that prevents me from doing the things that I know I need to do, in order to make my life better?

This question doesn’t just apply to my hoarding issues.  I have so many ideas that I want to write about.  Something will flash in my mind, and I will think – ooh, that would make a great blog post.  I should write about that.  Then I…just don’t.  I resume playing the computer game, reading the book, and later, when I’m actually wanting to write, I don’t remember that great topic.  Once in a while, I will jot a few notes, so I won’t forget – and then can’t find where I put them.

It is not just writing, either.  I have so many projects that I have started, and never finished.  I have tasks – simple tasks, relatively speaking, that I know I am capable of doing, that I simply…don’t.

Why?

What is it that prevents me from starting, doing, or completing a task, a project, an objective, an article?

In my book, Meditations of a Hoarder (possibly coming out at the end of this month!!!) I speculate that it is partially because I don’t believe I deserve success.  That somehow, deep down inside, where I don’t really consciously know it, I have decided that I am a “BAD PERSON”, and thus I do not deserve success, love, a nice place to live in…I also wonder if I am so afraid of failing that I never finish anything – because that way, I can’t be judged on the whole thing – my project never reaches the point where I can truly decide if it was a success or a failure.

I don’t know.  All I know right now is this – I am not consistent.  If I were consistent with my decluttering efforts – even if I only did 15 minutes a day, but I did those 15 minutes EVERY SINGLE DAY, my chaos would eventually become a haven.

So…What stops me?