Last year, I wrote about having dinner at my mom's house with my brother and sister. Out of my four siblings, these are the only two with whom I share the same mother and father.
We three get along really well somehow despite being so different. Not only from each other but maybe more so from the rest of the "normal" world. Something I think we have all learned to embrace over time.
Personally, I've gotten a lot of criticism throughout my life for being "too put together." In Junior High School a girl caught me outside Science class and yelled, "OH, YOU THINK YOU ARE MISS PERFECT, DON'T YOU?!" Then she punched me in the head.
I consoled myself with the thought that it must have been my new hairdo which sent her over the edge. My "I'm Farrah Fawcett-Majors and I'm Worth It!" coiffure was simply too much.
Even within my own (step) family, I've endured the same judgement. Ironic really.
If you know me personally or had read some of my more candid early posts (many of which I've since taken down as my my blog became more "public"), you know that my childhood and life through my first marriage was anything but perfect.
All that said, back to that dinner I was talking about...
Myself, my brother and my sister each had our respective partners with us; married (me), engaged (my brother) and "it's complicated" (my sister). As I reflect on the conversations we all shared that night, I find myself creating possibilities of what each of our guests might have been thinking.
"Wow, and I thought my family was screwed up."
"I can probably make it to the border if I start running now."
"This is why people drink."
Poor souls. Obviously, they really love us. Or something.
Naturally we spent some time reviewing childhood memories. One topic which always seems to come up during these mini-therapy sessions is TRASH.
At our childhood home with mom in Suburbia, USA, we had this cute little shed in the backyard. When we had a full bag of trash in the house, one of us would carry it out and throw it in the shed.
Eventually the shed would be completely filled with trash. Wall to wall; floor to ceiling. Our rotting trash became a critical link in the food chain for several types of living things.
You'd think that when one of us went to throw another Hefty on the pile and saw the other bags moving, it would trigger a red flag to say, "Take the trash to the curb."
For a variety of reasons, that just didn't happen.
By the time we thought there might be a problem, it already seemed too big to handle. We were too tired to deal with it right then or had something else which needed our attention more. It's already a mess so what's one more bag? Let someone else deal with it; I got enough going on.
This would continue until there was simply no possibility of ignoring it. The shed was more than full. New species of insects were crawling around and flying out of the cracks. The neighbors were complaining.
I have many vivid and horrible memories of emptying and cleaning that shed. It was a chore made even more difficult because of the tears which blurred my vision and made me shake so badly I almost couldn't hold the bags.
The silver lining came when the shed was finally clean. I remember once making little curtains and turning it into a playhouse/secret reading spot. I felt proud of the accomplishment and enjoyed the space more because of what went into creating it.
However, the same patterns of action and inaction persisted. We never created a process or a plan for keeping the shed empty. The cycle always started again. It was such a chronic issue over so many years; no wonder my siblings also had nightmares about the shed, the trash and the bugs.
Although the story is pretty embarrassing, I've had many people tell me about problems in their lives which clearly relate to my "Tale of the Trashy Shed."
The mile-high, maggot infested trash might be debt. It might be excess weight, depression, failing marriage or out of control kids. Issues in our community. It could be a lot of things.
Somewhere along the line, we had warning signs. Somehow we at least helped to create our circumstance through action or inaction. We lacked process. We were lazy in some regard. We felt overwhelmed and helpless. We thought by ignoring the situation, it might just go away on its own.
"I'm already so far in debt, what's one more charge on the credit card?"
"I'll start my diet on Monday. Might as well enjoy these Oreos now."
"I don't have time to deal with this right now."
Whatever that mountain of trash happens to be; it doesn't get there overnight and the longer you don't deal with it, the bigger it gets. Until it's just so big, you don't know what to do.
Until it's so out of control that you are forced to deal with it.
Like so many folks, Big D. and I have been going through a pretty trashy financial situation over the past couple of years. Exactly one of those situations I just described with a lot of help from a stinking real estate market.
Again, overshare. Yet I feel like maybe one of the reasons you keep coming back here is because I tell it like it is. Even when it's not pretty. Maybe you can relate? Dunno.
The great news is that this past week, we finally saw the first glimpses of a clean shed floor. Hope. Light at the end of the tunnel. New habits, hard work and following my own strategy (internal/external/support) is all finally paying off. Okay, so a little dumb luck doesn't hurt either.
Where are you at? Do you feel like you're in an episode of Hoarders, living in the light or somewhere in between?
Thanks for visiting,