I look around and all I see is clutter. Unlikely pairings: A glass with dried remnants of good red wine atop a crumby plate that also holds a cast-off case from a long disused (broken) cell phone. Plastic sacks of clean laundry, some of them from last winter, not yet put away.
Useful, that: the weather is already wintry here, so no need to hunt for the winter clothes. They’re already in reach.
A microwaveable hot pack draped over a still-unopened bedbug-proof pillow case. I am phobic about bedbugs, but I have yet to put the protective casings on my bedding, even though I travel frequently to places where there might be bugs. I’ve had the casings for three years and counting.
It oppresses me. Why do I let things get this way? Every time I move into a new place, which is often, I vow that I will turn over a new leaf and keep it clean and tidy.
But I never stay long. My disordered mind gets to feeling restless, or else some duty calls me away, and I start over…again.
After packing up to leave for new digs, I marvel at the expanse, however small, of clean, dust-free floor and counters. Why could I not just maintain this mind-soothing order? Such a balm to the senses, to be able to look around and distinguish individual objects rather than piles, piles, piles of things thrown down, left, tossed away, to be taken care of later, a “later” that never arrives.
I think I was born this way. My child-room was the same way. I guarded it fiercely from that hated intruder, my mother. If she got into my room she threw out my treasures indiscriminately. I might come home from school to find my room spotless, sterile, bereft of projects in progress that I might have abandoned months ago, but still….I might have finished them, someday, but now they are gone and the potential in my mind’s eye is also gone.
And she dumped out my socks drawer, along with the family of field mice that had taken up residence there. My pets.
There was never a time when I did not hate my mother.
Perhaps it has to do with the constant acid rain of her curses, name-calling, denigration falling on my infant head. Maybe the piles of junk started out as a bulwark against her obsession with neatness. Up your ass with a piece of glass, “Mom.”
I survey the utter chaos in my dwelling of today, every single surface piled with stuff that either needs to be put in some logical orderly place or simply thrown out. I am not a hoarder. I just feel paralyzed, looking at all the stuff, and it seems to be looking back at me imploring me to do something about it. Or at least just to take out the trash…start there.
Sometimes I get the urge to just go out and lock the door and buy a tent. You can’t stuff much in a tent, can you?
Then there is the mail. I am paralyzed by the sheer bulk of what appears in both my physical and my email boxes.
I have three or four email accounts that I never even look at. There is probably something of import, certainly, positively, and possibly some three or four items that might even have some significant impact on my life (license renewal notices, things like that). But I cannot face the task of cleaning out 999,000+ messages from my Yahoo account.
Then there is my mind. I have packed a lot of stuff into this finite space, within this bone box. Yes, of course I have heard the rhetoric about how we only use “x” tiny percentage of our available brain space….and I think that’s bullshit. The rest of our brain is hard at work backstage, doing stuff that keeps the rest of us running, more or less. Mine seems to be less, or maybe (more likely) too much.
Sometimes I think that if I could just break out of this 60+ year habit of surrounding myself with chaos, that my mind would work better, that my brain would feel more organized and content.
In fact, I am sure of it.
On the other hand, I think my
abnormal unusual mind might have built a fortress around itself, beginning as a very young person, with piles of junk, to protect itself from my mother’s compulsive cleaning and straightening of everything in her environment.
Not to say that my disorderly mind was caused by my mother’s OCD. No, I believe I was born with this mind, and to tell you the truth, when I am not suffering from the pain it causes me, I enjoy the lightness that allows my brain to fly to places where a more tethered mind could never go. It is an artist’s brain, and I like it, when it lets go of tormenting me.
I used to make some astonishing art. I recently saw a set of slides of my art from the ’70’s that must have been a portfolio for getting into one of the three art schools I attended. I was bowled over by the beauty and quality of my own work.
What happened to that? Where did it go? I can pick up a pen or some colored pencils, even now, and make a piece of art that would look good on any gallery wall. Yet I don’t have the urge, the drive, to do it. It’s lying in the pile of unused talents and vocations, over there in the middle of the floor, where I have to walk around it to avoid tripping.
My music has gone to hell because of the inflammation in my hands. I can still sing, but I am afraid to, because I might lose that too, and so I actually do lose it because I don’t use it. Or to tell you the truth, I forget to sing. How strange.
I forget to listen to music, except for Pandora, because I just, I just….forget. So except when I am finally doing the dishes and really need something to distract my mind so I can keep on task (oh God….how strange….), my environment is silent except for the background noises, the furnace, the honk and wail of the railroad trains (how I hate these shrieking interruptions in my silence), the mumbling roar of the river after a big rain.
My shrink is sure I have ADD. He pushes stimulants. I try them. They make me feel creepy, and they don’t help.
I know I don’t have ADD. I have something far deeper. I have a Disorganized, Dis-Ordered Mind. I don’t think there’s a cure for that.
Don’t tell me about DBT, CBT, LMNOP. I’ve done those. They are interesting, and they help me to understand that Joe Shmoe might just be having a bad day that I was not the cause of.
But they don’t fix my disordered, disorderly brain.