“What do you think?” I asked. She turned to me, and removed her reading glasses, “I like it. It’s really good. Singing ‘Amazing Grace’ to a brood of chickens...” she gave a thoughtful giggle. I wondered if I would age so well. My mother has always been beautiful, but with every fleck of grey and each line’s definition, she gets more and more beautiful. She looked at me, like, really looked at me, and said “It’s good, but there’s so much more. There’s so much deeper.” “Yeah, I know.”
We had just finished dinner and clean up. The kitchen had that warm clean glow that means home. Real home. My house never looked like this. This is real home. We sat in our respective chairs, mom in the wingback beside the wood stove, I in the rocking chair across from her. There’s a lot more there. Yeah, I know.
A few weeks ago I posted this status to my facebook; “operation "Empty The Townhouse" commences today! I feel as though I'm preparing to face many demons. All the disorder and misplaced is left lurking in the dark corners. Deep breaths.” I know it sounds like I was just being dramatic. Maybe I was. Maybe I am, but really, it’s true. Last month, my 2 hands literally touched every single thing that we own. Did you know I’m a bit of a hoarder? I have a hard time letting go of things. I’m sentimental. I place memories and great weight’s of meaning on each and every thing I choose to keep. Which makes getting rid of it a highly emotional experience. Even if the things I keep are tying me emotionally to a past relationship that never meant much to me, it’s so hard to release it. I see more and more of me with every item I pick up. Most of the time, I don’t like what I see. A few weeks ago I started writing about an epiphany I had about the word “abrasive.” I didn’t feel strong enough to finish the thoughts. I shook my head of the ideas, rolled up my sleeves and continued working, because even with the revelation of what is abrasive in my life- what’s being removed and what it’s revealing, was too much. One friend commented “Little steps. One thing at a time” but even that felt like too much. I can’t tell you how many times I threatened to set the house in flames and just walk away from it. I wanted to. Because then, I would never have to go into that room in my heart- my emotional hoard. My stock pile of random, sticky emotional moments. I would never have to deal with my stuff, I would be able to bolt the door to the useless things I hold onto and never. ever. deal with it. Another commented with “It could be cleansing” and it was. Only, not in a cool rain-shower after a hot day kind of way, but in the cold-sweat, detoxing, puking my guts out kind of way.
I’ve had the opportunity to help out a bit with a redecorating project. An old dirty farm house with far too much wall paper is being revamped. Before the paint could go up, the wall paper had to be ripped off. Each layer revealing a different era in the house. Most of the prints were hideous. Some were sort of charming. Some came off easily, others’ literally had to be chipped away. Some of it smelled really bad. “Oh God, this is me.” I can keep it together on the outside. If I forget what’s lying underneath and only deal with what’s on the surface, I’m happy. I can handle it. But something is always hanging over my head like a little thought bubble “don’t look too close, there’s a lot of gross layers under here. Each era reeking of it’s own unique stink. Sporting the trending print of the time.” We’re moving toward our dreams, that’s an amazing thing! But with every progress I find myself becoming more and more ugly. Peeling layer upon layer of crusty old wall paper off, revealing a horrendous, dented, crooked, chipped away wall with a thin layer of “is that paint or something else?”
“How are you?” I was asked multiple times yesterday. “Yeah” was about all I could muster. I think I settled on “delicately balancing between being really, really well- and on the verge of a panic attack.” I’ve had two now. Something I hoped I’d never have to experience. We emptied out the townhouse and it still didn’t feel like we were done. A few days later we heard from the new home owners that they wanted us to come get our compost out of the yard. “That’s what’s left. How on earth are we going to deal with it?” It felt hopeless. We moved everything out, and what was left was smelly, half rotted food scraps. “Oh God, this is me.”
My patience has grown increasingly thin. My responses have become less and less gracious. I’m looking past the exterior of what seemed okay, to an inward mess. It’s hard to see. It’s stressful to deal with. Every ugly thing within me that becomes unearthed is being dealt with. I’ve had to look at each thing we owned and ask “Throw away, give away, donate or keep? If I keep it, where will it take up space? Why do we even have this?” As I do this, I’m faced with similar questions of inward matter. I’m amazed by the things I’ve held onto. I picked up a note, scribbled onto a small piece of paper. From a dear friend. I remember where I was when I read it. I remember exactly the situation that the note referred to. I can remember in intimate detail my feelings as I read it for the first time. The unforgiveness surfaced. The embracement of the situation. The guilt of each circumstance. Tears sprang to my eyes and I remembered feelings of betrayal and aloneness. I never threw away this piece of paper because I didn’t want to throw away the pain of the situation. I wanted to hold onto it, in a sort of self-righteous, preserving. This insignificant wound must be protected, but never. ever. allowed to heal. And that was all under the surface. All connected to one little chicken scratch on a torn piece of line paper that had been sitting in a box for 9 years. Everything has surfaced, right down to our pile of rotting compost. This is going to take more time. What do I do with this...?
I’m thankful for things like; a God who loves me, who looks at me holistically and allows pain in my life. For a husband who chooses to hold me close and massage my shoulders instead of yelling back at me. For frequent oasis’s of contentment and peace in the midst of this move. For friends who love me enough to nod their heads in understanding, even if the words I’m saying aren’t making sense. For a mama who really sees me. For an urging in my soul to sit and write. For that heaviness on my chest that lets me know I’m about to deal with something else. For things like beautiful metaphors in my daily life, that help me see things more clearly. For frequent interruptions as I type, that let me know that this battle is not consuming my life, but rather, fought in small intervals between Cheerios and coffee. Between building blocks and Dinosaur Train. Between time outs and hard boiled eggs. And it lets me know- I’m loved, I’m cherished, I have something to contribute to the world and if I choose to carry on with this journey, the person I come out as, will be stronger than the person I went in as. I’m thankful for things like laughter and roughhousing and sweet moments after dinner.