I read an article a few days ago that became a slow-acting trigger for me. It was from desiringGod.org -- a site I've mentioned here at least once before. It was an article about socialism in today's politics, but there was one sentence that stuck with me.
The author was praising his grandmother's work ethic and credited it for raising the family out of poverty. He said, "the house was always spotless." It may well have been the only sentence repeated over and over, because eventually, it became all that meant anything to me. "The house was always spotless."
My house is not spotless and has never been. I don't expect that it will ever be so clean and neat. And I consider that fact a serious failure of mine.
"The house was always spotless" may well have been the only sentence in the entire article, repeated over and over indefinitely.
I thought the point didn't bother me so much after reading the whole piece entitled The Heart of Socialism. I actively considered the entire argument and how the Gospel applied to governmental systems. It was important to understand. Still, in the back of things, without facing it directly, a sense of anxiety and despair was building.
By the end of the week, two days after reading the article, I became unusually irritable. Suddenly, the laundry bothered me a lot. I felt buried, as though the laundry was never done -- which is true, it never is absolutely done, but that is always true. By Saturday, I had a hard time moving around the house. Every room was a "disaster." Every square inch needed picking up and a good wash.
Three times this weekend I tried to reinstall the children's carseats which my husband had removed the week before. I couldn't do it. I got so overwhelmed. I was unable to break down the tasks into doable parts -- I kept looking at every step all at once. It seemed impossible, and I had to stop trying.
I didn't go to church with my husband and the three older children for this reason Sunday. I went outside one last time Sunday morning to install the stupid car seats, but again, I couldn't do it. Instead, I came in and let myself fall asleep. There are worse ways of coping.
I grew up in a messy house. I often joke that I keep my house cleaner than our house was when I was a kid. It's not really a joke though; my house is relatively clean -- though arguably more disorganized.
At some point I started to think of my mother as lazy. Maybe the thought took root during my weird teenage years when my outlook on the world was not to be trusted, but in any case I carried that sense with me for quite some time. It wasn't something I resented, I don't think, but I found it embarrassing. I was embarrassed for her.
Of course, I was completely wrong. She is and was by no means lazy, beyond what is usual. We were lazy. My mother reared five children -- at times single-handedly. She always worked -- usually with at-risk children in a position that, although it was part-time on paper, in fact took a remarkable amount of preparation -- and bags. (She always carried things in multiple bags.) Even though she wasn't reimbursed or compensated for most of her efforts, she would stay up late at night making sure things were ready for the kids the next day. My mother didn't have time to clean.
I could barely see the trees for the forest. I could only see the forest.
Her health affected things also. Periods of serious depression, the early effects of uncontrolled diabetes, and what bears a striking resemblance to (hypo-)mania -- made consistency in things like cleaning hard at times. I think, too, she considered care of the house only partially her own responsibility -- because it was. Five able-bodied children lived in that house with her in addition to my dad. There was no reason for me or any of us to expect my mother to clean up after us all day.
That is to say I really am lazy, and I think my house should be kept spotless. Someone praising his mother for her success shatters my fragile, though comforting, belief that no one's house is kept well. I am forced to face the fact that, at least in part, my sin keeps my work undone.
At this point there are no steps I can take to directly address that shortcoming. I can pray, ask my Father's forgiveness, and trust that he will bring about his will in me. And that is where my work stops for now.
I was already hypomanic before getting caught up on the article. When the guilt, that I refused to acknowledge and deal with immediately, was added I eventually burned out. Everything was impossible. I could barely see the trees for the forest. I could only see the forest -- but blurry as if the eye was jumping from tree to tree so rapidly you couldn't distinguish any one.
I've been on the lookout for an online schedule maker or a similar app to help me with this problem. I picked up an app called Swipes from the Mac App Store yesterday. Hopefully, this'll be what I need. I'll let you know how it is after I've had more experience with it.