This morning, as I was cleaning furiously in anticipation of the cleaning ladies, I had to pat myself on the back on how I have changed in terms of my relationship with my living space.
Growing up, my mother spent most of her time in her darkened bedroom laying down, depressed. Our home was never very nicely appointed – no money or effort went into decorating or making it more comfortable and cozy. Nor did my mother spend a lot of time fussing or cleaning. We didn’t live in squalor by any means, it was just kinda depressing. My mother’s shame of where and how we lived meant I could never have friends over. Fortunately, I was free to spend time at my friends’ houses, which I did. A lot. It’s funny, when I have related my childhood to others – friends and mental health professionals – they tend to be somewhat amazed at the level of dysfunction. Me, as a kid, I thought it was pretty normal.
I guess because it seemed normal, it was easy for me to replicate as an adult. Again, not squalor, just a disregard for tidiness and a disinterest in decorating. But, like my mother, for most of my adult life, I’ve never had many people come to my house because I was ashamed of the clutter, and after a point, it just gets too overwhelming to sort through (though I take some small comfort that it has never reached the levels you see on some of those home organizing TV shows). That is, until you move, then you have to confront all the shit you’ve accumulated through the years. When I moved a few months back, I likened the endless stream of stuff coming out of the house to one of those tiny clown cars where an infinite number of clowns keep tumbling out. When will it ever end? Seriously, it’s not funny anymore. What is all this stuff, and is it all necessary?
When I moved into this cute little Craftsman cottage, I decided this time things will be different. No more pit of shame. No more clutter, no more hidden scary corners. And since I know I am not a good cleaner, I’ve decided to bring in a couple of cleaning ladies every month or so. But, even that is difficult to schedule because I feel like I need to clean up for the cleaning ladies. The residual shame is still there. It was almost like going to see the OB/GYN – you’re showing all your private bits to a virtual stranger – and all the fear and embarrassment of being completely exposed.
The first time they came it was very weird – they don’t speak much English, so there wasn’t much chit chat. “Everything?” they asked in their heavily accented English. Yes, please. And to work they went. The first time I stuck around and hid out in the office, while three complete strangers (one of them brought her daughter) touch and clean all my . . . stuff. But, despite my discomfort and the money spent, it was so worth it. Their level of clean is soooo beyond my skill or interest.
Today I’ve got about 9 people coming over for our first Sangha Salon – just Buddha buds who are either voluntarily or involuntarily without a regular sangha. So, there are two unheard of events here – people gathering outside the confine of a sanctioned NKT class or event, and me having company – and lots of it!