Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Waste Not, Freak Not

When I'm anxious, I clean and organize. It helps me feel some measure of control. I used to work in a high pressure environment; there was always something to stress out about, and there was always a mess to clean up. Don't get my husband started how many dead of the nights he awoke to find me still not home, and would call me at work to find me protesting, "I'm just clearing up a few things and I'll be home soon." Remember, I have the ability to be almost unnaturally focused when I want to. Bless him for not bailing on me then.

This kind of behavior would not work with kids. This is why I feel that I wasn't gifted with my children, until I learned on my own that it was time to relinquish such an unhealthy existence. And, I do not embellish when I say I got pregnant unknowingly, and unplanned I might add, the exact day I left that life.

But those feelings just don't go poof! (I wish) Making the transition to a stay at home mother these last few years has had many starts and stops. Mainly the control thing. I always worked up to that point. When I say "always," I mean virtually from birth. My parents have owned their own businesses all my life, and I just tagged along. I didn't go to preschool, I went to a playpen in their store, and developed a hell of a vocabulary my father claims virtually by osmosis. I was the mascot. As I aged, I was put to work in other capacities. Except for a brief month immediately following my completion of college (early), I was employed, and usually in a few jobs at once.

When I no longer had a "job" of my own outside the home, I felt dependent. I did, and don't like this feeling. Cue anxiety.

Lest you think I am now obsessively compulsively cleaning my house, don't worry I won't show up anytime soon on Oprah. I kind of wish I was more, but no, it manifests itself in different ways.

For example, I hate waste. I hold onto stuff. Again, don't look for me on one of those Oprah hoarder episodes. I'm really, really tidy about it actually. But I hold onto stuff nevertheless. Not surprisingly it's about control.

I wasn't deprived as a kid and I never felt "want," but things were certainly tight. I never was in the latest stare of fashion, or with the latest gadget. To this day, stuff like that still doesn't interest me. But, I did learn a certain degree of fear surrounding money from my father. My mother is a very pragmatic, if one angle doesn't work, go at the problem from another direction type of person; My dad, however, is more apt to freak out and run screaming that the sky is falling. I'm a perfect blending of the two: I'm freaking out on the inside, but on the outside I just try to muster up and find a way through it.

My father used to verbalize about his fears of not having enough, and consequently things got hung onto way past their original intended purposes. My parents are dedicated "repurposers." I get this impulse from them, but I'm just not as efficient. Things hang around my house, in their nice and neat (mostly) locations, and just sit. This I think gives me a sense of security, knowing I have these things around me that could be used for something.

That's why one of my goals this year is to "get rid of stuff." I'm trying to realize that I can't build a wall of things between myself and those things I fear.

Today I started small: I started to clean out my pantry. And the organizational fiend couldn't resist busting out the Excel spreadsheet to inventory what I have in an effort to control the waste issue. I buy things, don't end up using them, and forget that they are in there. And then I feel shame, because I hate to waste. It was really big for me to let go and throw out several things in there that I had stubbornly held onto because I didn't want to acknowledge that I had let them expire unused.

Today it's dealing with food that has expired, tomorrow perhaps some fears and aspirations.

Photo Courtesy of zenilorac

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