Friday, February 08, 2008

The Case For Being Giddy

So there are so many little streams that run into this one little cup of joy of mine that is now overflowing that I thought I would write out the long and the short of it in case you're interested. Because you know how I love a back story : ) It's fairly personal though, so don't feel like you have to wade through my psyche if you don't want to. If you are going to read this, I hope you read the post above, because it all starts with a waffle making dilemma, first mentioned in this post, and moves on to a trip to Goodwill, which this post is mostly about. I have already written it and am still not sure it makes sense to an innocent bystander like yourself, but here is my best attempt.

First of all, the clutter, you all sort of know about my battle with clutter and all of the thought processes that accompanied this because of this post. I have been in the midst of a major winter cleanathon since writing that post. I just love throwing things out! This is really bad for the environmentalist in me. I do my best to recycle, to give things away to charity, etc. but I figure things are still getting chucked in a landfill in the end. Even finishing up a box of cereal or a bottle of shampoo is such a delight to me. I have no idea why, but I just love knowing something has served its purpose and sending it on its way. The less stuff, the better. Other members of my family don't really subscribe to the idea though as shared in this post.

I saw Oprah yesterday. I know, we all know, I can't stand Oprah. I mean, I just think she offers all these answers and everyone listens to her and loves her and they are being fed false gospels. On the other hand, I suppose she is helping people who would not be otherwise helped. Common grace. I know. So anyway, there was this guy on there who wrote a book called Does This Clutter Make my Butt Look Fat? Isn't it usually "does this make my butt look big?" Well, anyway, he was going through some lady's house and getting rid of all her junk. I was ironing. But I was paying attention. I was inserting my junk where her junk was and thinking of my own issues that have me accumulate junk. I don't know what her issues were. But I know the reason I have stuff I don't need always goes back to not hurting people's feelings. It always goes back to me taking on some sort of responsibility for their well intended bad ideas. Because I know they were well intended. And I worry what their misconception of me will be if they know I gave away something they gave me.

I worry about being a snob a lot, partly because I am a little bit of a snob. I work against it, but when you grow up in snobbery, with parents who grew up in snobbery... it's a Hawkins generational sin, I guess. Anyway, I try really hard not to be snobby and so I often worry about it too much. Like when I send out gift lists to everyone at Christmas because I know they will call and ask anyway, I worry they are thinking I only want what I want because I am a snob. And that is true. It's only part of the big picture, but it is true. And I feel bad. So I keep the things they got that I don't like that weren't on the list because that will make me not a snob? No, it won't make me not a snob. Furthermore, it makes me feel bad about myself because every time I see that stuff I think about what a terrible snob I am and how everyone must think so or they would just stick to the list. And I think how ungrateful I am that I don't like what they got us. And I think how they spent their time and money on those things and I am just not honoring that. How do I be me and maintain the home I want to make (as a homemaker) without being snobby and ungrateful?

And second, there's the pizza. There was the issue of how often to be available, there was the issue of how much more I could commit to, there was the practical issue of how to make the system work. And again, it was not wanting to hurt people's feelings, trying to be responsible. If someone asks me if I can do something, I don't know what answer to give. I don't have a concrete barrier like a job that starts and ends at a certain time, but I do have things at home that need to be done. These aren't the types of things you write on a calendar, but they are nonetheless important things. So how many times can you just "run up to the school for a few minutes" before you have a whole lot at home not getting done? Because nothing is ever as easy as running up to the school for a few minutes. How can you be flexible without just bending over backwards for everyone?

I don't know how, but sometime this week I grew a backbone. Maybe it was all those conversations with George and Jessie and Jennie and my counselor all kicking in at once. But I just decided that I can't do everything. I can't be responsible for everyone else's feelings and trying to be is making me neglect my own feelings. Consequently I am angry. I am angry a lot. Because while I am busy considering everyone else's feelings, they are not all sitting around considering my feelings. Why? Because that would be absurd! I mean, to a point, we need to consider people's feelings, but I am just always getting mine hurt. And it's because I don't take care of them. I wait for other people to take care of them and get angry when they don't. All of this I actually realized while ironing and watching Oprah!

So I marched myself downstairs and just started packing stuff. I had a van full of giveaways in less than an hour. Yeah, it didn't take long because this is stuff I have wanted out for ages. This is stuff I have literally cried over. And why did I have so much emotion invested in it? Because I was all wrapped up in being responsible for what everyone else does and never hurting anyone's feelings, and yet I wanted my home to be a place I could move and breathe and function in, but it was like all these other people and their feelings were stifling me out. They weren't doing it though; my worrying about them was doing it. I was like this as a child. I used to lay awake for hours at night, often crying, and my mother would sometimes come in, if she was still awake, and ask me what was wrong. It was always something like I was worried that I didn't play with my doll house enough or that I was worried I neglected to thank someone appropriately for something. I don't know why. I mean, I could guess, but it doesn't matter for this post. Anyway, George was only slightly resistant to the carrying out of many of our possessions. I think his main concern was that the antique radio collection was among the castoffs. It didn't take him long to realize how serious I was and to recognize strength and firmness in me for one of the first times ever. So he emailed everyone in the neighborhood to see if any of them would take the radios! And I am not sure if he has found anyone, but guess who wouldn't take them? Goodwill! Well, I am certain the garbage truck will accept them if he doesn't find a sucker, er um grateful recipient, soon.

I felt a huge relief having all of that stuff out of my house. All day I have walked down the stairs and actually seen the rug at the bottom instead of pile of boxes! But more than that, I told myself that my feelings matter. I didn't argue it insecurely and hypothetically or even angrily out of desperation. I just believed it and did something about it. This is a breakthrough for me. Truly. And I guess it had been coming on because the day before I said no to a pizza meeting at school. I didn't have an immovable conflict, it just wasn't a good time. And I said, "can we do this via email?" And you know, that worked just as well. And we also got a chance to talk about the amount of work that I was doing and the frustration with that (not that it was anyone's fault I was doing so much, but we got a chance to figure out how to make it easier on me, something I never would've asked for before- I would have just expected it or hoped it and then been angry if I didn't get it). It was really exciting. I think the success of the first decision made it easier to think through what was going on (during Oprah) and go ahead and make the next decision. And I am so pleased with the results of the second decision that I am hoping I will remember it for the next decision.

Part of the other smaller proceeds of my journey are also causes for giddiness. I have been somewhat jolted into action and have tackled nearly my whole pile of mending and completely tackled my gigantic pile of ironing (for now). I feel unleashed, like I really can do something and be maybe even who I want to be. It's just so freeing to feel like I matter! It's so strange that what I have needed to hear all along was the reverse of what we are so often told, "Don't think about yourself so much, think of other people." Who knew what ways my mind would warp that message? I know that so many of you have tried to tell me before that that is indeed what I was doing, warping that message, but it is only now really making sense.

Anyway, I am hopeful. I am not sure why a new waffle iron and connecting with someone I really admire and giving away old junk has done that, not completely. But God is in all of it, working on me as He works on all of us. I think I have been going through a time of really feeling like I must be a disappointment to Him and certainly to myself, and am possibly now coming out of some of that with new courage and hope. Thanks to friends who have talked me through some of this, heaven knows I am a talker! Thanks to George especially for exponentially more talking, for signing me up for counseling and working out the insurance, for teaching me what you learn in school everyday, for sweeping up the glass I broke when I got so sad and angry I thought I would burst, for telling me the good you see in me and challenging the bad that I see, and for all the hugs I so don't appreciate like I should. Thanks to Jennifer for pointing out that the Food Network Grill was made by T-fal, I took strange comfort in that. Thanks to everyone who commented, Karma Wilson especially (man, I hope she doesn't read this, because "what kind of a weirdo is this girl?!"), for your help with the waffle maker decision. Thanks to Goodwill for existing and wanting our junk. Thanks to Blogger for a place to put this stuff out there. Heck, thanks to Oprah for having the clutter guy on your show! And of course, thanks be to God!


Jessie said...

Great post, Abby - I agree, huge breakthrough - your feelings are very important!

The Rays said...

Hooray for Abby!! I will have to go back and reread this afternoon for all the great details but I am so proud your strength in the giving away of unwanted stuff. What a great revelation!!

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