I keep my room clean these days because it feels like the only thing I can control.
Everything else, however, is a mess.
Life, a mess. My heart, a mess. Relationships, a mess. My hair, a mess.
I’ve micromanaged everything that I can possibly micromanage in my bedroom.
I rearrange the books on my shelf just to end up having them look the way they did to begin with; I rearrange the furniture in my room by centimeters only to move it back the few centimeters the next morning; I rearrange the markers in the pencil pouch, in the pencil holder, in the marker box, in the art box, in the why are there markers in the pencil pouch, they don’t belong here, I NEED TO REARRANGE THIS TO MAKE MORE SENSE.
I think I’m losing my mind, but then I calm down and realize that to lose my mind would be really messy and I can’t handle a mess in my bedroom right now, so I better take that emotional shit outside.
But then outside of my room isn’t safe. So I stay, hidden, inside, alone, isolated, in my hyper-tidy bedroom.
You know those dogs that are rescued from abusive homes, then adopted into better homes?
Take Clubby for instance.
He was neglected by his owners and not allowed to make common puppy mistakes as he grew up, so he was overly disciplined, and eventually, he was put in a puppy rescue shelter and adopted by a loving family.
It took months for Clubby to warm up to his new family.
Upon arrival at his new home, he got so scared that he peed on the floor, and unlike his previous owners, this new family didn’t discipline him… at all. They cleaned up the mess, and held Clubby and told him it was okay… only for Clubby to get scared again and go hide under the bed in the back room.
The family was patient with him and were so gentle with approaching him and loving him.
Eventually, Clubby became more playful with his family and would let them hold him and pet him and love him without fear that this closeness wasn’t an easy way to promote abuse.
But one day after the family had gone on vacation, Clubby got too excited at their return home that as soon as they walked in the door, he peed on the carpet.
Clubby’s family had been traveling all day and were too exhausted to love him through this mistake; plus, he was too old to be doing the same things he did upon arriving at his new home… I mean, come on, Clubby… Had they not loved you well enough that you couldn’t respect them better than this? Could you not control your bladder better than this? Seriously, you foolish dog, get it together. Yes, the urge to pee is common amongst all mammals, but you have been domesticated… you have no excuse anymore.
The family disciplined Clubby by spanking him, rubbing his nose in his pee, and telling him that he’s a bad dog.
Clubby retreated back to bed in the back bedroom under which he hid from fear of this family… not because they were awful and abusive owners, but because it was safer under the bed away from the family’s exhaustion.
That’s how I feel my life is right now.
I’m that skittish dog hiding under the bed in the back bedroom because everyone is exhausted; they’re dealing with the kind of exhaustion and busyness that breeds disappointment and judgment.
Last night, I was hanging out with friends and I’ll admit… I’m a bit of a pyromaniac, and I absolutely love building fires, but last night it was raining, so I built a fire in a glass dish on the front porch. It seemed harmless, and a few people shared concern that glass dishes can withstand the heat from an oven, but maybe not that of a small campfire.
I had built this type of fire on the front porch in this same dish in the past, so I didn’t really consider their concerns.
So here I am building one kick-ass fire, and everyone at this point is saying, “Wow, you are really good at this,” “I think you were born for this,” “This was a really great idea,” and “Can’t believe I never thought to do this,” and all the while I’m basically straddling this dish and watching the fire try to go out, only for me to add more wood or paper and hear more praise for my brilliant idea… then…
…the glass dish explodes.
Yep. It went everywhere, and there were at least ten people around this dish on my front porch… so naturally, I check to make sure everyone is okay… since this was my idea at my house on my front porch and my responsibility… everyone was fine. I swear, there was angelic protection.
Everyone began asking if I was okay, and I said I was fine, and went back to checking on everybody else. Nothing. No scratches, no burns, nothing. Everyone was fine.
We clean up the mess rather quickly, then I disappear.
I go to my room to examine my new wounds. Cuts all over my legs and burns and thoughts of, “wow, I can’t believe I’m not at the hospital right now….” I clean up the blood, alone. I talk myself through, “Nobody wants to hear about how much pain you’re in right now, so just pretend nothing happened… this is your fault, so you just have to suck it up.”
I found myself disappearing every time my burns began to hurt too much or every time I felt the shock of what had just happened wearing off.
Everyone else went about their business, hanging out, having fun at the gathering. More people showed up afterwards with no idea what had taken place. And the “party went on.”
That’s also how I feel my life is right now.
I’ve made stupid decisions and I’ve gotten burned, but it’s my own foolishness that caused me to get hurt, so I need to suck it up and get over it.
And my form of dealing with my life right now is isolation. A disappearing act. Hiding away from the rest of the world… the world that I believed in and trusted and thought was generally good… but actually, it’s not safe out there.
So I’m alone. I arrange and rearrange and organize and reorganize and create and recreate and clean and reclean.
I’m not happy, but I’m safe.
My closest friends right now are fictional characters in books and movies.
My relationships with others is at arm’s length.
I think I view myself as a fire in a glass dish, at all times.
At first, you wonder if it’s a good idea and you are cautious because you’ve seen situations where glass bottles have been thrown into a fire and then proceed to explode, so you don’t know if this will happen here. But you reason that there should be enough oxygen getting to the dish that surely it won’t explode like a closed container.
Then you start warming up to this idea. It’s a damn good idea. Wow, why hadn’t you done this sooner. This is really so safe. It’s contained and pretty and makes a lot of sense.
Then an explosion happens.
And you clean it up and move on and act like there never was a fire.
Things may explode. I may hurt someone. Everyone will likely regret their decision to trust in me. But after the explosion, nobody is going to give a shit because “they knew better,” and will go on enjoying the party and ignoring the stupid mistake they invested in earlier.
But I wonder if God mourns my explosion, like I’ve mourned the explosion of my casserole dish. My favorite casserole dish.
Except, when I explode, he is capable of putting me back together. Each piece. He notices.
He’s the little six year old girl in the family that comes to find me while I’m hiding under the bed just because he missed me and wants to hold me.
There’s part of me that fears that I’m going to mess up his extravagant party if he decides to use me.
Part of me fears that he’s coming to find me only to discipline me or make me feel guilty every time I pass by my pee spot on the floor.
But part of me trusts his love and his kindness and his gentleness and his vastness… that he’s not only big enough to handle explosions, but that he’s innocent enough to come hold me when I’m scared.
So I invite him into my mess.
And maybe that’s why I keep my room clean… so that when he comes to hang out with me, there’s room for me to unpack the mess that I am without having to step over physical messiness.