Sunday, April 22, 2012

Brutally honest

Here is something that only my ex-lovers, old roommates, and close friends know about me.

I am messy.

My brain isn't wired to be clean. Something in me makes me a very organized--yet very cluttered--person, meaning I know where everything is in my mess. In the last few years I've come to realize that this problem is beyond my control and that I probably have some form of attention deficit disorder.  No matter how hard I try to keep a tidy house, I fail, and I fail because something in me makes cleaning as impossible as running a marathon is for Stephen Hawking.  I joke because I'm being serious and we all revert to humor when our panties are being displayed for the whole neighborhood to see, don't we?  

I confided in my mother a few months ago that something felt wrong when it came time for me to do chores around the house.  I told her that something stops me from getting everything done, that even the simple tasks like folding laundry seem like roadblocks.  I just can't do it.

If I see clutter, I don't look at the whole mess.  Instead I look at it piece by piece and say to myself, If I just put away this one thing.  And then the next.  And then this one.  And this...  But after a few minutes of one-by-oneing myself I am completely overwhelmed.  And then the sadness sets in, the disappointment in myself.  I know that no one likes to clean the house, I totally know that, but for me it's more than that.   

Anyway, my mother smiled when I opened up to her and nodded her head.  "You have always been that way," she told me, "when you were little I would have to put your toys into a big pile in the middle of the room and then help you through them one by one.  I always knew you were a little ADD."

What?  Why didn't you tell me?!  Why didn't you help me?  I wanted to scream at her.  I wondered why it took me nearly thirty years to figure out that something might be psychologically wrong with me and yet she knew all along.

I've cried about this often to my husband.  Many times he is left doing the cleaning for us--something that I feel infinitely guilty for--and although I'm pretty sure he understands the extent of this inner battle I can't make it up to him.  If the environment around me is quiet, if the dogs are not following me and the baby is not begging to be picked up, I can get into my zone and clean.  And if the distractions are limited I can clean happily for hours.  Tonight we dropped Dylan off at my mother's house, occupied the dogs with some chews, and I then scrubbed and organized the bathroom for three hours.  I would've kept cleaning that bathroom if Sean hadn't told me it was time to go pick up our Muggy.

I did some research on ADD after that conversation with my mother.  Mainly here. And a light bulb went off.  This article could've been written about me.  If I enjoy doing something--photos or blogging, for example--I will happily sit in front of a computer for twenty hours if life allowed it yet I become paralyzed if the task in front of me is daunting.

Two days ago I was startled awake from a dream wherein everyone close to me had disowned me because I was too messy.  I found myself running barefoot through the streets to a close friend's house as obstacle after obstacle jumped in front of me as I ran.  I woke up and reached for my feet, convinced they would be bloodied as they were in my dream.

When I told my friend about the dream he immediately made me laugh.  "Well, you have to take the whole package...the beautiful girl and the mess!" he replied.

Making lists works.  Being a great wife and mom is a priority.  And I'm fine with not having a spotless house because we're a happy house.  And that's all that matters.