I can do a lot of things, not to be boastful, but to be honest. I am pretty stubborn and when I put my mind to something, I am most likely going to be successful. Now, this can be used for good or evil. (Insert maniacal laugh). I was crazy successful at my career which included being an executive assistant as well as an account manager for large corporate customers covering large regions, until I had a mental breakdown and landed on medical leave for seven months hiding under blankets and pretending that the ground was lava and acting like if I touched it, I would burn my feet and die.
But, in the same light, I was quote on quote “successful” when I was suffering from anorexia and bulimia as a teenager as well. That bit of stubbornness landed me in the hospital, the place where much like the show Cheers, everyone knows your name. When I took my head out of my ass, and I used my stubborness for the good, I achieved success in achieving recovery, and stayed in recovery for extended periods of time for a number of years, with only a few relapses in my adult years. Most recently I had a relapse a month ago, but I had my wits about me, realized what I was doing made no rational sense, and pulled myself out of it before I did any long term damage.
But, the thing that is my Achilles heel and the thing that I am not successful at, is when I get to the point of feeling overwhelmed. Piles of papers on my desk… dozens of unread emails in my inbox, unopened envelopes piled on my dining room table, a sink full of dirty dishes, a pile of dirty clothes, even a pile of clean clothes that just need to be put away. The idea of cleaning my house makes me freeze, right in my steps, unable to move, barely able to breathe, immobile. I struggle with the ability to compartmentalize the idea of cleaning down into rooms and then into specific tasks for each room, I only can think of cleaning the entire house and I end up freezing, and I get so overwhelmed that I suffer from an anxiety attack (and at times a panic attack) and then I seek out my comfy, soft, reassuring blue robe and I sit on the couch with a cup of coffee and stare at the wall and try to calm myself down (knowing that the coffee will not help with the calming part, but it is reassuring to me in some way, and it warms me up, and that makes me feel better). I have had this problem, specifically with cleaning, for years and years, and therefore I have spent years being sadly, a messy person.
I have decided that I am going to work on my aversion to the feeling of being overwhelmed and use a technique that I heard an author use for writing, but I am going to use it for cleaning. I am going to take an index card and use one index card for each room of the house. I will write out the tasks that are needed to be completed in that room in order for the room to be cleaned. When it is time to clean, I will draw one (1) card and I will go through each task one at a time on the card. This should help with not being so overwhelmed and help me to keep focused on the task at hand and keep from getting distracted (another something that I struggle with).
I have not yet made my cards, but plan to work on it this coming weekend (we had an incredibly busy weekend this past weekend). Another tid-bit that my mother-in-law shared with me when she was over on Saturday, was to do a little as you go. As she was sharing this with me after our meal, she was showing me how by spending 5-10 minutes post meal tidying makes a big difference. And you know what, she was totally on point. Sunday morning, it was so incredibly refreshing to see a cleaner kitchen and this motivated me to do some additional picking up around the house during the limited amount of downtime that I had that afternoon.
Although I am tired, emotionally, mentally and physically tired, I am pushing myself to make small changes to further improve my life. Small modifications, especially ones that can declutter my living space, are bound to help with my stress level and overall happiness and contentment. I am learning that if I push myself just a little bit, what used to stop me in my tracks will no longer have the hold on me like it had in the past. And that the power that I had given items, will no longer have the power that it used to have in my life.