I never used to be messy. Sure, as a teenager there were some clothes strewn about my room, but it was usually pretty tidy. In college, my roommate and I kept our room so clean and adorable that it was shown on campus tours. As an adult, I’ve placed a lot of value on my own home being cozy, inviting, and cutely decorated. And unlike my sister’s car, which one would think she actually lives in, mine has traditionally been neat with little more than a stray umbrella on the floor.
But lately…things have changed. Clutter follows me. Amorphous masses that my boyfriend affectionately (?) calls “crap piles” materialize out of nowhere.
Now, my car rivals my sister’s (well, not really…hers should probably be condemned by the health department), laundry piles up in the bedroom, and assorted out-of-place objects pepper the surfaces in my apartment. I literally hear the music from Psycho playing in my head when I open one particularly disastrous cabinet in my kitchen, never knowing what might come tumbling out.
How I feel now (source)
You know that scene in 50/50 where JGL (swoon) insists that Anna Kendrick pull her car over so he can clean out the random trash? This is a scenario that now occurs in my relationship regularly.
I am not proud of this. And I try to combat it! Sometimes motivation strikes and I clean and organize various areas…but they fall into disarray again. Just to clarify: my apartment isn’t dirty. I do the requisite cleaning to maintain a sanitary home. It’s just cluttered. Disheveled. Kind of like me at the moment.
I may not be Susie Homemaker (when I was in first grade, I drew a picture of me, my mom, and the stove and wrote, “I like to help my mother make diner. But I don’t like helping her clen it up” – that still holds up), but I know this is about something more. For me, and I think for a lot of people, the more stressed out, anxious and scattered I feel – the more my space reflects that.
When my emotions are messy, so are my surroundings. And of course it’s a vicious cycle – being surrounded by clutter makes me more anxious, the more anxious I feel the more disorganized I become – and on and on.
I remember my mom trying to teach me this when I was as young as ten or eleven: “Clean your room, you’ll feel better.” And it’s so incredibly true. Even at that age, I remember the serenity I felt getting into a bed with freshly changed sheets in a room that had just been cleaned – floor vacuumed, shelves dusted, every little thing in its place.
And I feel the same overwhelming sense of peace now when I clean my apartment from top to bottom, light candles, buy flowers. I may not be able to control all the stress and emotional clutter going on in my mind right now, but I can take control of my spaces and thereby lighten it just a bit. Seems like a good lesson – focus on what you can change.
My mom finds going through the car wash so relaxing that she calls it “the mini-spa.” Maybe I’ll start there. Quick. Cleansing. And way cheaper than a facial.