A reframe

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before but for the first two or three decades of my life I had severe, undiagnosed health issues that left me basically bedridden. I rarely ever tidied my room/apartment/wherever because I felt so drained all the time and being upright (or bending, as in picking things up off the floor) hurt my head and made me dizzy. And so I never developed a habit of cleaning up after myself, and I did develop a high, high tolerance for living in my own filth (because what other choice was there?).

By now I’ve figured out at least some of my shit and I’m in better health. I’m not gonna be running a marathon any time soon (or, let’s face it, ever) but I kick ass at a very strenuous job and when I get home I can usually even watch tv sitting up(!) and sometimes even do more than that(!!). But I still barely ever clean and I think it’s because it’s not a habit I ever got into. I have to consciously remind myself to do it. Often I forget.

Also, in cognitive behavioural therapy I learned that people have “core beliefs” about themselves/other people/the world and if these beliefs are inaccurate, they can skew all kinds of shit in your life. One of my core beliefs is that I’m powerless. And one of the ways that this core belief impacts my life is that, if I spill something on the kitchen counter or otherwise make a mess, I think “Oh mannnn, now it looks gross in here and I guess I’ll just have to live with it.” It doesn’t occur to me to clean the mess up, I guess because I’m so used to that being physically impossible for me. I mean I’ll do basic damage control – cleaning up broken glass on the floor so the cats and I don’t slice up our feet*, throwing a wad of paper towel over a liquid spill so it doesn’t spread – but that’s as far as it goes. I’ve always told myself that I “don’t see messes” but I’ve come to realize that I do notice and it bums me out but I still don’t do anything about the situation, usually. Messes are like blizzards. Sometimes they happen and of course it sucks but what’re you gonna do?

To unfuck a core belief, you’re supposed to seek out and notice evidence against it. So lately I’ve been trying to consciously remind myself that I can make my place look better, and to notice how satisfied I feel once I have. This, in theory, will show me that I have power over my environment, and also hopefully I’ll start associating cleaning with happy things instead of thinking of it as this series of dreary tasks that I’m just gonna have to do all over again eventually so why bother.

Mind you I still have low-energy days where I’m messed up after work and have to just lie here like a dead whale, and other times I wanna put whatever energy I have into something other than scrubbing the bathtub. So I’m not suddenly gonna become little Suzie homemaker. But still, it might be interesting to see what happens if I keep reframing housework as a thing I’m glad I did rather than a thing I dread having to do.


*Confession: when it was just me living here and no cats, I sometimes didn’t even do that. I mean if the broken glass wasn’t in too inconvenient of a place I’d just step around it.



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6 responses to “A reframe

  1. trillian

    Until I had the baby, I have to admit that I managed my cleanings with a glass of wine. Seriously, it’s so much easier. You drink a glass of wine and put on the loud music and it’s almost fun. Even if that makes me look like an alcoholic, it worked very well!

    • I don’t think alcohol works like that for me but perhaps I’ll try. Music definitely makes any chore go faster. 🙂

      • M

        I think any reward would be good, not necessarily wine. Sometimes I only let myself eat candied pineapple for washing dishes. Or I can only watch re runs of parks and rec while I tidy up (my bf and I are living 2 people in a studio apartment so if we don’t tidy up regularly enough things get bad)

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