Since I ceased contact with my mother 17 months ago, one of my greatest joys has been the sense that I can now make decisions about the house.
The home upkeep is largely my responsibility; in an overall sense. D & A do housework along with me, but the general organisation of the house is my domain. This makes sense, as I’m here every day and it’s something I can work on to contribute to the family. I enjoy housekeeping.
A little over 6 years ago when I became very unwell, my mother took over this job. For the first 12 – 18 months after becoming seriously sick, I could barely sit propped up and was often in a kind of semi-conscious state. I lost 30kgs and remember at the end of that period I had to retrain my neck muscles to be able to hold up my head for more than a few seconds.
Due to the situation, my mother’s Tuesday visits changed from us going out, running errands and having lunch together before picking A up from school – to my mother coming into our home and doing housework all day whilst I was out-of-it in bed.
Nothing left the house for quite a few years after that. Well, it seems that way. I’m sure stuff did leave, and obviously garbage & recycling was disposed of; but a lot of stuff (crap) accumulated.
On a Tuesday morning my mother would regularly come in with something she’d ‘scored’ for us. She never consulted D or I about it beforehand. Often the items were storage related – shelving units or giant plastic containers. Everything filled up then overflowed.
Our home has not been like a hoarders home – except for the study, which was waist deep in junk. We couldn’t get in the door. There was no filthy stuff, just junk. Prior to Christmas last year I decided to sort out the study once and for all (I’d done it many times before during better periods of health – it would soon revert to a tip). D went out and bought a couple of tall storage racks that we truly did need for in there. A & I worked hard and emptied out the entire room, sorted, and put stuff back properly. So much recycling and junk went out. Saleable items were taken to the charity shop. One of the wonderful things was that not only did we make a big space in the room; we even took items that were cluttering up the rest of the house and were able to tuck them away tidily in there.
At the end of our efforts, A asked if we could put a rug on the floor of the study (renamed the ‘den’). She loved picking out the rug – chose a rich red one. It’s still on the floor, entirely visible. That room being cleared and now usable, feels like a big change to all three of us living in the house. D goes in there every day to admire his comics; happy. A & I spend time in there sitting on the floor playing games.
Occassionally I enter that room, and wonder what was keeping it from being tidy all those years. I take a deep breath, and inhale freedom.
The past couple of days I’ve had stomach problems with a lot of pain. So I’m not in such a good way, physically. During this time I’ve been considering what to do next to further organise the home. I’ve racked up a list in my mind now, and I figured this morning that I could tick one of the items off my list.
There has been a set of plastic drawers in the hallway, unopened for some time. About 4ft tall. If nobody touches the stuff inside those drawers, could it really be so important? Was it worth keeping?
Wow. I sorted the drawers on the floor of the lounge here, and have kept what can fit in a small box. A fair bit of that is not needed and will be given to the charity store. I filled one rubbish bag and two smaller bags for recycling. The drawers are empty! They will be put outside with a ‘free’ sign on. In this neighbourhood items are taken away within the hour usually. The reason why I want to get rid of the drawers is so they don’t ever have the opportunity to be filled up again.
It’s a strange thing, this sorting of my home. I see with different eyes since cutting contact with my family of origin. Even D is used to giving away, and disposing of things now; previously he was very resistant.
I think the clearer the house becomes the happier each of us feel – and so the process gets easier. It’s a joyful process really.
These days the house usually looks quite tidy – especially when I’m in a good patch. One by one, surfaces and areas are being cleared. The main issue is the ‘junk drawers’ and stuff hidden away that needs to go still. Plus, I can do work on something and a couple of months later realise I’m ready to let go of some of the stuff I kept in the first instance. It can actually be quite quizzical, wondering why I felt the need to keep certain items the first time around.
I can’t really explain why the clutter exists. All I know is that the process of emptying our home of unnecessary things is underway. It is such a joy – and is noticeably improving the mood of everybody in the household. Even the cats love the new spaces opening up!
I’m going to continue on my mission.
Sometimes I look at a new clear space and smile –
would my mother be pleased for me?
I can do it. I can manage my own life.
I’m learning about what is important.