Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Perfectionism and the Holidays

12:51 AM 3 Comments
One of the big topics of conversation around my house right now is finances. Honestly, it's a word that strikes fear in my heart. With the holidays coming up, it terrifies me even more. We're still struggling. In fact, with the increases in the heating and electricity bills, we're struggling even more than we were a year ago. We're making it but in some ways, we're just barely making it. Making it even worse, we're looking at moving right around Christmas/New Years and the added expenses for that freak me out.

Those of you who know me know that Christmas is a huge deal for me. I spend months coming up with the perfect gifts for people. I work hard to make sure my boys have a perfect Christmas with me. I spend time thinking and deciding what dish I should take to the family dinner because I want to make the perfect choice. Ut-oh...Does anyone else see a pattern here? Perfectionism has snuck in yet again.

Here's reality. Life isn't perfect. Holidays will never be perfect no matter how little or how much money I have. Some silly thing will go wrong or one cousin will pick a fight with another cousin. Perhaps this year one child will suddenly realize that another gets more spent on them at grandma's house. Yep, that's life. It's reality. Life isn't perfect.

So why do I try so hard to make it be? It all goes back to being abandoned by my own parents and my fears that my children will somehow think I love them less because I went to Buffalo for two years or because I don't live with them now. I want them to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are the most important pieces of my life so I try to create this perfect environment for them at the holidays.

I know, even on a good financial year, that I will never be able to buy them everything that they want. However, this year, it's killing me to know that I might not be able to buy them anything. I have nieces and nephews who expect me to give them something really great and personal because I do every year. This year, they might not get that. With the move coming, I've already told my boys that we won't be decorating this year. They're ok with that because they understand the work involved. My youngest, heaven love him, was concerned that without them there wouldn't be presents. He was worried that maybe Santa (I swear he plays along for mom's sake.) won't know we're still celebrating without them. I reassured him that there would be so now I have to find a way to make that happen.

Will Christmas be the perfect event that I always try to push for? No and that's ok. Perfection shouldn't have ever been my goal, even subconsciously. What it will be is ours. It will be us, together as a family. We will still read The Night Before Christmas together on Christmas Eve. We will still put out milk and cookies for Santa. They will still have something to open on Christmas morning, even if it's not the huge stack of presents that every kid dreams about. Who knows, maybe after opening their presents we'll go out and have a snowball fight before we go to see our family.

What's important is that Christmas is about love and family and I am so blessed to have both in my life. My boys may not remember what they got for Christmas 2010 but they will remember that their mom loved them enough to bake cookies with them and to cuddle with them to watch classic Christmas cartoons before tucking them into bed. They're going to remember that I loved them enough to give them me.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Reasons I Collect (Part II)

12:15 AM 2 Comments
Fear. It seems lately that every post I write somehow comes back to this one little word. Then, I looked at it closely and realized it's not just a little word. It's a four letter word that starts with the letter F. Perhaps this is the real F word that I should have grown up knowing it was a "bad word."  It's far more damaging than the other one, after all.

So, why am I so very familiar with it? Well, I'm going to let you in on some "secrets" that I'm sure others would prefer I kept all to myself. I'm not going to hoard those secrets though. I'm going to let them out and I'm going to be real about how they've made me into the person that I am today. After all, we've agreed that hoarding is bad and that this is my place to clear out the bad emotion along with all of the stuff I've spent my life collecting.

Growing up, I was raised by my grandparents. They were/are good people but it's not the same as being raised by your parents. I envied my friends who had two parents at home and grandparents to go visit. I didn't have that luxury. I had a father who took off on a trip across the country and who went on to father 2 more children who he treated as if they were gold, while my sister and I were worth less than a copper penny. I don't remember him being a part of my childhood except for two occasions.

On the other hand, my mother was around. She was around to tell me that she hated me and wished I'd never been born because I'd ruined her life. She was around to kick me out of her house and to tell me not to ever come back after my younger brother blatantly disobeyed me while I was babysitting and took off and called her at work with some story. The fact that I had adult witnesses didn't count for anything. She was around to make me promises of doll houses and Disney World that never happened. She knew they wouldn't happen but she told me them anyway. As a child, I believed her.

I learned the fear of abandonment at the age of perhaps 2 when I was left with my grandparents. I was taught that I couldn't trust my own parents by their actions. Do you know what happens when you learn you can't trust the very people who should be teaching you about trust and love? You have a hard time trusting anyone. I learned when I was young that people prefer little girls with long blonde hair from listening to them always comment on my sister's hair and ignoring how I looked. I never thought I was pretty.  I thought the boys in high school didn't want to date me because I wasn't as pretty as the other girls.

Remember how I said I surround myself with things because they can't abandon me? This is where it all started. It continued with me marrying the first man who I honestly thought loved me. Now, I'm not saying that he didn't, but I will say that when you're 19, you shouldn't marry the first man who you think loves you. The marriage wasn't meant to last and I don't regret it. However, I do regret that my low self-esteem and fears just continued to grow throughout that time. My collecting really kicked into gear about that time, as well.

After the divorce, I moved 8 hours away from my boys and everything got worse. I started collecting more items because I couldn't handle the pain of being away from them. Since they were born, they were my world. Heck, they still are. I would do anything for those two. My fears that they would think I was like my parents drove me to surround myself with even more items.

Now, I'm back living near them. Not near enough, but a heck of a lot closer. I'm making..yes, making myself go out from time to time to meet new people with similar interests. It's not easy. I know that when I go out, I come across as this confidant person but deep down, I am terrified that these people will reject me. It's so much easier to stay in my house surrounded by my things than to risk that. I need to risk it though. I need to get out there just like I need to continue purging items from this house.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Reasons I Collect (Part I)

12:49 AM 2 Comments
In realizing just how much I had accumulated, I was forced to stop and think about the reasons why I accumulate things. I realized quickly that there wasn't one solitary, single reason for it. Like a lot of things, my "need" to accumulate is caused by multiple things.

Tonight's focus is going to be on my icon over there to the left. I'm lonely. I currently live in the middle of nowhere and while I love it here, it only causes me to be that much more separated from the people who I could go out with. I live over an hour from my family and they make little to no effort to come see me. In fact, they recently gave me a hard time about the fact that I so rarely go over there. Well, I have my reasons for why that doesn't happen as much as even I would like. I'm not going to go into those here because those are private to them.

Now, I'm sure there are people who are saying, "Ok, but you could invite them over to see you." Of course, I could. However, the state of this house won't allow me to. My pride gets in the way of letting anyone come over here. It gets in the way of letting others know what it's like here. I know that part of it is the fact that my own mother has been known to make nasty comments about my "housekeeping abilities" behind my back. I don't want to give them fuel. I believe I said it before, but fear is another of the reasons and there's so much under that heading that it's going to need it's own post.

So, what about friends? Don't I have friends? For the first time in a very, very long time, I'm going to say yes. I do have friends. Have some of them already judged me? Perhaps, but I think that if they read this, they would maybe take back those judgments and see things through different eyes. So, why don't I go out with these friends? Well, the whole middle of nowhere thing and fears (See? There it is again.) thing keeps me from doing that. Most of my friends live nowhere near me. I haven't made any local friends because of the fear issue.

Ok, now that I've gone on and on about being lonely and being separated from everyone, what does this have to do with why I accumulate? I accumulate to surround myself. If a room is full, it doesn't feel empty and not feeling empty means I don't feel so alone. Not so alone means I don't feel so lonely...or actually, I give myself the illusion of not so alone and if I'm honest with myself, I'm very lonely a lot of the time.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Perfectionism

1:54 AM 1 Comments
As some people know, I'm a "collector." What do I collect? Well, a lot of things, I suppose. The honest truth is that up until the past year or so, I didn't realize just how much I had collected. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while got a look at some of it when I showed you "The Wall" photos as I was working on clearing pieces of it out.  What you didn't see what the boxes that got moved into the laundry room and stacked there. What you didn't see what the ongoing general state of my house.

Well, don't worry, I'm not going to terrify any of you with pictures of it now. However, I've decided that it's time that I got real, not only with myself but with all of you who have stuck by me. One of the steps in any recovery is admitting that there's a problem. I've done that. I've looked around this house and realized that part of my panic about moving is taking all of this with me and starting another disaster in another house.

Like I said yesterday, I'm not perfect. I never will be. What I've done up until now is let perfectionism get in the way of doing anything at all. I've looked around, become overwhelmed and said to myself, "You can't get this house perfect so why even try?" There are other reasons for why I have so many items. It's very likely that I'll be writing about that later this week. One thing seems to lead to another, doesn't it?

Last night, I laid in bed and I couldn't sleep. My mind went round and round and round about this upcoming move. I kept thinking about how I'd never be ready; how I would never have everything packed and organized and ready. Suddenly, I realized what I was doing to myself. I was setting myself up for failure. I was telling myself I was a failure at something before I'd even begun. I know how dangerous that can be. If I continue down that road, I'm going to sink into a debilitating depression and I'll be right, nothing will get done and I won't be ready. Perfectionism at its absolute worst.

I don't need to be perfect. I just need to be me. I just need to take it one day at a time and one project at a time. I need to remember that I may not be able to take on an entire room but I can take on a countertop or a desk and then look at it and feel good about what I've done. I need to remember that while not everyone will understand, there are those who will try and those who will want to help me. I am not alone in this problem or in this world.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

The Need to Write

10:32 PM 2 Comments
Another Monday and another post with me starting off by asking where have I been for weeks that I haven't posted. The truth is that I haven't been anywhere. I've been right here telling myself that I ought to post and yet making every excuse why not to. The other truth is that I'm not going to beat myself up over it. I'm not perfect and neither is this blog. In some ways, this blog is a reflection of who I am. In other ways, it's a reflection of who I want to be.

I know that I'm not perfect and that so many of the changes that I want/need to make rely on me making them. I can't wait around and assume that someone else is going to make them for me. No one will. No one can. If I want to change things, I have to change. I need to stop remembering when I juggled everything and then some and focus on the small changes that I can make now that can lead to bigger changes down the road.

I mailed out my graduate school recommendation packets the other day and that was huge for me. I actually stood at the mailbox and had to tell myself to do it. Once I did, I felt this huge burden lifted off of me. Those packets were now out of my hands and I had made that happen. I had made the phone calls and wrote the emails that led to people saying they would be happy to write me outstanding recommendations. Wow, go figure. People really do like me and notice the work that I do.

Letting go of fear isn't an easy thing to do. Letting go of the need to be in control isn't easy either. Yet, I'm slowly working on both of those. I'm letting go of the things I've surrounded myself with because I'm realizing that things don't matter. It's the people around you, it's the memories and the moments that matter. I started holding onto everything out of the fear that everyone had let go. It's a scary thing when you look back at your life and realize that almost every man in your life has turned and walked away as if you didn't matter. It's scarier to realize that you've filled a house full of items because items can't walk away.

My journey towards having the home I always dreamed of is starting now. I've purged over 400 pounds of items out of this house in the past year and I'm still going at it. I still have a lot of stuff to go through and a lot of stuff to find new homes for. I want the kind of home that my children can come into with their friends and nobody is tripping over anything. I don't want to tell my boys, "Not yet. Wait until we get the house cleaned up." It's going to be a long journey and sometimes I'm going to struggle, but I know I can do this and I know there are people who will hug me when I need a hug and push me when I need a push.

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