Housecleaning anticlimax

Living room 2011.01.17.0143AMI have more anxiety over the housekeeping service I’ll be getting tomorrow than I do about the surgery I’m having in three days to remove a major organ.

The two procedures are analogous in a couple of ways. Both represent dramatic attempts to deal with what have been weighty burdens for many years. Both sound like they could offer me improvements in my overall state of being. But neither actually accomplishes what they may seem to offer at face-value. The nephrectomy still leaves me with one gigantic, diseased kidney and will make me even more dependent on dialysis. The cleaning service will still leave me numerous messes, and I will still lack the ability and energy to to manage the day-to-day tasks of keeping a living space livable.

Maybe the analogy is a little shaky, and I don’t mean to write about my surgery right now, so I’ll focus on the housekeeping problem.

The housekeeping service is only going to clean surfaces where they’re already exposed. Anywhere where there’s stuff on the floor is likely to be ignored. So I have to pile stuff up. I’ve thrown plenty out, but I don’t have time and energy to go through everything.

I do not need a professional organizer who tells me to put things into three piles, or at least I am wary of the professional organizer given my past experience. In my one brief experience with such a person, I was left with the three piles–I didn’t know what to do with the “keep” stuff; the “giveaway” stuff was just transferred to another location within the house; the “throw-out” stuff was tossed out the back-door by the organizer, and I had no means to clean up the new outdoor junk-pile for several weeks. This organizer, who actually worked for a cleaning service and was there to consult as a precursor to having cleaning arranged, came right after I had had one of my arm surgeries. I think she was put-off that I was not a typical suburban female client who just happened to shop and hoard too much. Single guys are just supposed to stew in their bachelor filth, I guess. She never contacted me again after the initial consultation, and it was a huge letdown.

So I am anticipating a letdown tomorrow. In order for them to clean the whole house, I’d have to have organized the whole house first. And if I were able to do that, I think I’d actually be able to muster the energy to vacuum and mop the floors…or maybe not. I’m not quite sure that I’d care. When the housecleaning consultant spoke to me a couple of weeks ago and described the services that would be rendered, I found myself not dreaming about how wonderful it would be to have clean baseboards. There are 126 other things that are priorities before the baseboards are clean and the bookcases are dusted. But I’m going to get help with those latter two things, not the 126 other things.

In other words…as I realize this difficult to understand without better descriptions or actual visuals…the service I’m getting, that I’ve been looking forward to getting for quite a long time…is not actually what I most need.

It’s not all as bad as I make it seem. The living room is quite livable right now; it’s all ready for them. The “study” room had all the junk picked up off the floor. There’s stuff piled high in the corners and my desk, but the room is totally “cleanable”.

“Bedroom #3” aka “cat’s feeding room” aka “junk room” is problematic.

The kitchen is problematic.

The back-room is problematic.

The bedroom is problematic.

And yet, I spent most of the weekend on this problem, trying to clean the house in preparation for the housecleaners. It’s a catch-22. I need the cleaning service because I can’t clean my house. But I need to clean the house before they come. But if I could truly clean my house, I wouldn’t spend the money to have them come.

And then there’s looming judgement…no matter what I do and what the cleaning service does, this house will be a failure in the eyes of anyway who has traditional standards of how a home should be maintained. No one needs to say a word; I know what people are thinking. And this is so debilitating…the idea that I will fail no matter what I do.

THIS is what worries me right now. Back to my introduction, it is not that a surgeon will be cutting a hole in my stomach and pulling a 30-cm kidney through it, and I will be in great discomfort for several days. No…I’m upset because I am a failure as a caretaker of my living space. I always have been, and I don’t see myself improving.

Oh, and if I somehow cease to worry about the condition of my house…my mind is immediately going to latch on to something else, as there is so much that demands deep and unrelenting worry.


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