gwyn_bywyd: Photo of a yellow orchid. (Default)
A whole range of things have had me thinking in recent days of how strongly influenced by my upbringing I am. (As I suspect we all are.)

[personal profile] recessional  has written this wonderful meta-post about cleaning:

For me one of the fantastic parts of her thinking was distinguishing different types of cleaning from one another. She mentions particularly 'cleaning as performance of virtue.' Which rang so many bells it was like a carillon in here! One of the distressing things for me with cfs has been the inability to take adequate care of myself. Granted I have always been pretty messy. But I don't really recall it being so utterly overwhelming that I would cry about it. And then this article suggested that this is common in cfs sufferers. In fact it said:

'The clutter problem is almost universal with these patients, Lapp said. "They get so distracted that they start multiple projects, and the house ends up ... a mess. It's overwhelming."'

Which also made me cry.

So, I'm not alone. But I've also got this vexed relationship with tidiness. My mother has very definite psychological problems with mess. If as children we were untidy, we were BAD PEOPLE. As we grew up it took on another dimension, not only is mess inherently bad, we are also bad for making our mother so unhappy. (And frankly, on occasion, so mentally ill) Interestingly, it is more about tidiness than cleanliness for her, she is actually alarmingly laise-faire about food hygiene! It also didn't lead as much to a criteria on which to judge other people as it was a criteria on which to judge ourselves. Once I went to Uni I discovered that other people didn't live the way our family did. My mother will say "Will someone please go and clean up the appalling mess in the lounge-room?" You go into the lounge-room - and it is perfectly tidy, except there are some DVDs sitting on top of the television and the cushions on the seats look as if someone has sat in them.

Friends in Uni would have some fun trying to upset me with their lax hygiene, but mess seldom bothers me in other people's houses. But in my own house it has me deeply, profoundly distraught. Some of it is about functionality, it gets so I can't find the stuff I need for work, so the energy of finding it is added to the energy needed for the actual task, exhausting me further. But the post has crystalised for me that part of my problem is that I believe that part of what an adult woman* does is have a tidy home. For me to live otherwise is not being an adult. Also, there is the shame involved if someone else should happen see the mess.

The other way in which I am such a product of my parents is this idea that I am supposed to very strictly limit what I do in the evening. I have certainly heard the idea that one should not be looking at a screen in the evening before, although I have not implemented it. Apparently I am not supposed to be doing craft-work or reading either. Which doesn't answer the question of what I'm supposed to do if I am still working at 10.30 at night. This habit has come to me from my parents, both of whom spend the evening in front of the television working, all evening, every evening.

Again, according to my mother, watching television while not simultaneously doing something else makes you a BAD PERSON. It makes her very, very angry to see any of us doing this. And once again, you not only feel bad for doing this inherently bad thing, but you also feel bad for making her so unhappy.

So, a plan. I don't know if I'm really capable of reversing the thought-patterns of a life-time, but I'll try to stop working by 8.30pm, switch off screens - tv and computer - and use the extra time to do a little gentle tidying. However, the cfs-police can wrest my bed-time book from my cold, dead hands! Let call this a plan!

* And, yes, I am VERY aware of the messed-up gender stuff going on here. My mother frantically cleans the house before my father gets home from work despite the fact he would not notice her so-called mess. Every evening is like a very particular little time-warp to the 50s! Despite working (in mostly unpaid capacities) so many jobs that they add up to more than one 'normal' full-time 9-5 type job. Pointing out to my mother that this is a complete contradiction to - nay, betrayal of - her principles does not get a person very far.


gwyn_bywyd: Photo of a yellow orchid. (Default)

May 2010

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