House Cleaning

17 Oct

Awhile back in May, a dear family friend asked if for my birthday, I wanted her to pay someone to come in and clean my house. She meant this as a gesture of spoiling me, the way some women like to get their nails done (not me), yet I of course took this the wrong way. I thought she was subtly telling me my house was dirty and instead said I’d rather have a gift that went towards surfing gear. I was in the middle of finals and a thousand other things and the thought of having someone come in and tear up my space stressed me out.

Almost six months later, I called her for the number of the cleaning lady. It was more than time to have someone come in and clean my house. But I must confess I was dreading her coming – not only because it meant giving up time on a Saturday but because I sensed I had some inner house cleaning to do as well that the external would stimulate.

I was right.

The last time this house received a deep clean was when I moved in. It was a very stressful time because my mother was either in jail or the ER. I don’t remember exactly because my mother always seemed to get into crisis when I was in the middle of a move. I do recall experiencing symptoms of vertigo however, which I figured was symbolic of feeling off balance due to her chaos.

As the daughter of two addicts, I learned at a young age to be a clean freak, for this created an illusion of control over my environment. A perfectionist by nature, keeping a clean house was in line with my OCD tendencies and the expectations of my parents who raised me with a strong Puritan work ethic. But in this house where I live now and that I love, I have grown lax in my scrubbing and mopping and I’m not sure why. I’ve buried one parent since being here and lost the other parent shortly before. So maybe my focus has been on moving on. On living life instead of trying to control it and on surrendering (i.e. more surfing than scrubbing).

But finally, it was time to clean house. And I needed to be involved because I struggle with letting someone else assist me 100%. I’m still too much of a control freak and quite frankly, there was too much to do. But I liked having the cleaning lady here. I appreciated the help instead of always doing everything myself and I know I will have her come back. In fact, maybe next time I’ll leave a key and not even be around.

So, now that the house is ultra clean and smells severely of cleaning chemicals, I’m certain my OCD habits will creep back and I’ll soon be mopping and scrubbing neurotically. I don’t seem to do half way very well in my life. But in the scouring, something moved within me and I found myself in tears this morning. I thought of the little girl scrubbing and trying to keep a beautiful home in a three story structure where things looked “normal” on the outside but weren’t on the inside. I thought of aspects of my life that have been sterile and sanitary because I don’t want a “mess” and the price I’ve paid for such a condition.

Finally, I thought of my perfectionistic past and how glad I am that I no longer strive to be perfect. I’m thankful that in God’s eyes I’m perfect and that I don’t have to work so hard at things anymore or fight for control.

So, the house is clean. For now.

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