Neat and Tidy

Our apartment will never be featured in Better Homes & Gardens.  Maurice works long hours and I am terrible at housework.  It’s all or nothing for me.  I try to keep the place tidy, but, once it gets a little messy, I start to feel overwhelmed and let it go.  This goes on and on until it’s a total disaster.  That’s when I throw in the towel and say, “To hell with it.”  But, what is it about housework that makes me completely lose it?

It’d be easy for me to say I’m lazy.   I wish that were true.  My guess is, if I am lazy, that it would be relatively easy to kick myself in the ass and get to work.   I do feel lethargic, but I also feel my heart racing, I have a hard time breathing, I get that sense of impending doom and feel my life is out of control.  Okay, let’s all say it together……..”Panic attack.”  Now, why the hell would I have panic attacks just trying to do housework?  I think it comes down to how I try to eat the elephant.

dinnerYou’ve probably heard it before.  ”How do you eat an elephant?”  Answer: “One bite at a time.”  Well, I have a very difficult time with that.  I want a big jar of BBQ sauce, a napkin and a bib and just plop that big pachyderm smack dab in the middle of the table.   The second it comes over me that I can’t have it all in one bite, that’s when I panic.  As I type this, my mind is racing over the absurdity of it all.

When I was in a recovery house, for my alcoholism, we were required to clean the house twice a day.  I’m pretty sure the reasons were to teach us to be humble and obedient.  I also believe it was to teach us how to keep things under control and not get overwhelmed.  Take a small bite of the elephant a little each day and things won’t get out of hand.

Maybe I am just lazy.  Maybe the panic attacks are symptoms of laziness.   I don’t know what to think.  All I know is want to get over it.

Anyone else struggling with this?

  15 comments for “Neat and Tidy

  1. September 29, 2013 at 15:36

    I too struggle with feeling overwhelmed when I insist on thinking about everything that I need to do way to far in advance. The problem with me is I’m a neat freak and if something isn’t done right away, I feel I’ve failed. Due to my fatigue, it takes me way longer to accomplish basic household tasks which just adds to the feeling of being overwhelmed and a failure. One step at a time…if only I could take my own advice.

    • Bradley
      September 29, 2013 at 19:09

      Yeah, I think we all know the best advice, it’s the implementation that is difficult

  2. September 24, 2013 at 15:45

    Yes, and it doesn’t help when you have to mess the place up more to get it clean. Can’t put the cook book away, the shelf is a mess, where do I put all the stuff that’s not supposed to be on the shelf just so I can put the cookbook away? It can definitely be overwhelming.

    • Bradley
      September 24, 2013 at 16:02

      I use to dump a pile of stuff to be put away on to my bed thinking it would force me to finish the project before bedtime. It usually resulted in me spending the night on the couch.

  3. Lora
    September 24, 2013 at 09:35

    I think it’s partly genetic. I come from a messy tribe.

    I read a book on organization once and it said that many, if not most, people with difficulty in the “stuff out of place” camp are actually perfectionists. They want everything to be perfect and the standard they set for themselves for success is so high, and in fact unreasonable, that they give up trying. Perhaps that’s part of your elephant – he’s demanding perfection? I know it’s part of mine.

    • Bradley
      September 24, 2013 at 10:16

      Wow, Lora, a I think you may have hit the nail on the head. I am way too much of a perfectionist. I’ve left many opportunities slip through my fingers out of fear of failure…or, at least my perception of failure which is too high. I use to allow my employees the opportunity to fail, just as much as succeed. I think I need to allow myself to do the same.

  4. Catching Happy
    September 24, 2013 at 09:15

    I do struggle with this – and not only during housework. I struggle with this every time I try to walk out the door on an errand. I went to the library, after many many years, and left within 5 minutes of walking through the doors because I was overwhelmed by how different it all was.

    My suggestion? Do these things before you start thinking about them too much. If you’re in the kitchen making coffee, turn the water on in the sink and start doing some dishes. By the time the coffee is done, you’ll be done with dishes and now you can “take a break” and enjoy your coffee. Something like that…

    It’s like eating the elephant one bite at a time, without telling it that’s what you’re doing. 😉

    • Bradley
      September 24, 2013 at 10:27

      Good plan, CH. It is once I start thinking about them that I start getting freaked out. Casually doing them as I’m doing other things is a good idea.

  5. Joonie Jatho
    September 24, 2013 at 09:14

    OMG I feel the same way when it comes to housework. I’ve never understood it and I still don’t. It’s so weird. I just thought I was lazy but it doesn’t really feel like that… it feels more like I can’t breathe! I know it’s there and I know i need to do it but I feel really immobilized. Thanks so much for sharing this, Bradley. At least I know I’m not the only one and I, too, wonder if others feel this way. *hugs*

    • Bradley
      September 24, 2013 at 10:21

      Thank you, Joanie. It is nice to know I’m not the only one.

  6. Rose
    September 24, 2013 at 07:25

    I totally could have written this post. Housework and I do battle daily, mostly with me ignoring it until it grows into something ugly. Then I panic about it. This cycle happens over and over and over. It’s just so overwhelming to me and my boyfriend totally does not get it. Come to think of it, NO ONE gets it. Except maybe you. Haha! Great post, my friend. I think I’m going to tackle the kitchen.

    • Bradley
      September 24, 2013 at 08:25

      Oh, trust me. I get it. Good luck on the kitchen, Rose

  7. September 24, 2013 at 07:04

    I get to blame chronic fatigue. But really, I just don’t care as long as it’s not sticky, slimy, or smelly.

    • Bradley
      September 24, 2013 at 08:27

      Glad to see you have standards. LOL. I do get to blame SAD sometimes, but being in Southern California makes it difficult to use very often.

      • September 24, 2013 at 16:31

        California was hella depressing for me. I was stationed in Monterey for a year, and let me tell you — being near a portion of ocean that isn’t good for swimming is the utter pits. I also think that any SAD I might have is reverse SAD, so the year-round same temp of Monterey isn’t any good (plus, with humidity, it was just too freaking cold for me).

        I like the comment I saw in this thread about perfectionism and cleaning, and I absolutely can agree with the concept. When I do get a cleaning yen, it’s pretty scary how thorough it ends up. But I think, for the most part, my standard was set up to help me stay sane, hee hee. There’s also history and speculation I could add that goes back through childhood, but I’m not awake yet. xD

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