This is both a difficult subject to talk about and one that is just as hard to explain. You could describe it in many ways, as a default in my brain that keeps me from learning from the past doomed to always repeat it, a compulsion, or the opposite of compulsion, as something I just never learned to deal with as a child and therefore can’t do as an adult, or you could just say it’s because I’m lazy and don’t care. I’m really not sure what the correct answer is myself, but I am thinking more and more that it is not only a problem, but one that I need to be able to openly admit to and then be able to openly discuss to help find a solution to.
What is this issue that I might be having, I know how vague I was and in reading my first paragraph back to myself, it appears that I could be talking about a number of horrible habits or addictions, but I am not, in fact it sounding like that makes me feel a whole lot better already. The issue I am having is simply cleaning. Doesn’t sound like much, and everyone has to do it, but I don’t, at least I intend to, but things get out of hand. I am getting ahead of myself though. Lets start from the start.
When I was little I wasn’t a very clean child and I was constantly getting in more and more trouble for not picking up my room or doing my chores and in return, I found more and more creative ways to take a short cut here, or avoid cleaning there. It doesn’t seem to be a big deal, after all, all kids avoid doing their chores. As I have gotten older, I have heard my dad’s same old stories about how bad it really was. Stories about me putting a board across the stuff on my bedroom floor because my dad told me I had to make a path or he was going to get rid of a lot of my stuff. While the correct answer here is to pick toys up, put things away and do some cleaning, my solution was to bypass the more time-consuming work and “make” a completely new path that went over the mess. Now why stories like this one are funny things my dad says about my childhood now, I began to think about my own kids. While they have a lot of stuff in their room, and it does get out of control quite often, when it comes to cleaning their room, they still actually clean their room and don’t try to bypass the harder work for an easier solution that may or may not work.
This is when I realized that I really had a problem, but it had started at a really young age. You might think I am jumping to conclusions, but in thinking a lot about it, piecing stories of my life together, looking into how I conduct myself now, and really watching how I do some of my smallest tasks, I find that I do this not only for cleaning, but a lot of other things as well. I also not only do it today, but in a lot of how I did things as a kid. There is another popular story of my dad’s where in I found a copy of my third grade math book, teachers copy, being discarded as outdated material by the department of a university that my worked for and I know work for. I checked to make sure it was the right edition and took it, after all they were putting it into the trash. I used it to answer questions for a long period of time in that math class. I was only caught because of a mistake that was in the teacher’s book that the teacher of my class had caught several years ago, but wasn’t corrected in my book.
I didn’t think there was anything was wrong with what I was doing, and still remember today wondering why they were calling what I did cheating. The objective of the class was to find the correct answer to the problems I was being given, no one had ever set parameters to what I couldn’t do to get to those answers. I had simply found a way around the hard work, and was still participating in class and getting my work done. I know now why that would be wrong, but I think on it now and also wonder what took so long for me to get caught. I didn’t think what I was doing was wrong, so I wasn’t hiding the book I was using. I pulled it out in class while doing my work, as well as at home. The only thing I can ever contribute to this is that there is something about how someone doing something wrong acts or looks. Maybe if I thought what I was doing was wrong or cheating I would have acted different and been suspicious and would have been caught with the teachers manual a long time before.
So, you might be wondering what any of this has to do with cleaning. Well, nothing, but I think it is all connected. I also am not sure if this is an innate built-in part of my nature or a learned behavior. You could say both or neither, but both of my brothers are also, in their own way and to their own degree, pretty messy people as well. So, there you go, people who grow up messy are messy, right? There is a problem with that, my dad. My dad is not only clean, but he is compulsive. If you can clean too much, he is sometimes at that line. If you really want to get on his nerves, just walk in his house and lay your keys on an empty space on the counter, don’t take your shoes off, or mention a spot on the carpet or table. He might blow up about it, or he might brush it off like it’s nothing or that he knew about it, but then you can almost calculate when he will look at it as he walks past every time after you point it out. Oddly he is a horder too, but he hordes in true compulsive ways. Every thing is in a box in his shed. Every box with a spot, and a label and he can almost walk through and tell you exactly what is in every box. He knows where everything is and everything has a place.
I thought a lot about this and thought that I had found the answer, it’s my dads fault. You will notice a theme where I blame a lot of different people for this issue of mine. My dad compulsively cleaned, and he did it everyday of my life, so I never did the cleaning myself, so when I went out in the world I didn’t have to tools I needed to know how to take care of myself. While this theory works great on paper and sounds so fool-proof, it doesn’t really work. The problem here is that story about me building a path over the stuff on my bedroom floor. See, my dad didn’t clean my room on a daily basis, in fact he only cleaned it when it came down to really needing to be done, and you were almost assured to lose stuff in the process, so you never wanted that to happen, and he always gave warning. Kind of like when the landlord posts that he’s going to inspect your place on Friday and posted the flyer on your door on Monday. You, even with a clean well-kept apartment, will make sure everything is in order. There is no reason for this most of the time, but we always do it. In my dads case there was punishment beyond anything my landlords now can ever do, he would pick out toys and cloths I didn’t need, according to him, anymore to donate, and then pack some of the stuff making a lot of the mess to lock in the garage until I learned to keep my room cleaner. If he was not only setting an example of cleanliness, but putting me in a situation of responsibility to do the same as a child, which had a set of punishment and rewards, it couldn’t be him, and that is disappointing, because I really wanted to blame him.
If it wasn’t him, then what about my mom, surely I can blame this on her. While has had the habit to leave a dish, coke can, or odd piece of trash out on a night stand or table, which my dad would later bitch about when cleaning that room, I don’t see my mom as a very messy person either. She might be more prone to making the mess than my dad, but she does still practice good habits of cleaning after herself and others. She was even usually the one to initiate the room cleanings, usually because some friend was coming over and she didn’t want the possibility that they might accidentally see in my room and embarrass them.
Really the only person that can be blamed for my messy behavior is me. I might not be completely at fault on a concise level, but even if it is just due to a genetic trait, it is me that has it. I think that it stems from a lot of things. I do exactly what my mother does with coke cans where after I drink the drink I leave the can. I just forget its there, and I have this idea like some cleaning, even when living alone, isn’t something I need to do, which could be me always expecting my dad to already having that done, even though my dad doesn’t live with me and I am the only one that can be expected to do that chore. While there may be reason that both parents, as well as others in my life, may have played a part in my development to be the mess person I am now, but their parts were small and not intentional. If anything the tools to learn and be cleaner starting at a much younger age were given to me, and I didn’t learn how to use them.