There are certain phrases in the English language that give me instant panic attacks. They are “Nostradamus Was Right!!!!”, “Your Performance Review Is Today”, “First Date” and finally, “Spring Cleaning”.
Yes, Spring Cleaning terrifies me.
Growing up, Spring Cleaning meant that my mother would nag me for weeks to clean my room. I would organize my clothes, throw out the trash, dust my curtains and debate which stuffed animals would die and which would be spared (to this day, only my teddy bear, Gundy, has emerged from each fluffy death panel victorious). Then, I would fall to the floor in a heap of exhaustion and desolation, like some explorer who has been wandering around in the desert for weeks without food, water or an inspiring 80’s pop soundtrack. After feeling as though I’d reached rock bottom, my mom would enter and tsk. “You haven’t done anything! You just put your laundry in a pile!” I would cry and she would tell me to stop crying and start cleaning again. Then a day would go by, I still wouldn’t be done, and she would take over and finish organizing everything. Then, for the next 15 years of my life she would humiliate me by reminding me that I couldn’t finish cleaning my room because my SCMDD set in (that’s “Spring Cleaning Melodrama Depression Disorder” for those who aren’t afflicted with this debilitating disease), all while using her nursing credentials to assert that SCMDD did not exist and I was just lazy.
So you see, Spring Cleaning for me is a constant reminder of how I am a failure. I’m terrible at cleaning and I’m terrible at dealing with the fact that I’m terrible at cleaning. Usually it’s okay if you’re terrible at something, because there’s something to counterbalance it. However, no one cares that in lieu of being a tidy human being, that I’m great at watching America’s Next Top Model marathons. At the end of the day I’m an adult woman who needs to clean up her own mess.
Which is why…drumroll please!!…I’m exceedingly proud of myself for doing Spring Cleaning this past weekend. No one nagged me and I did not cry. I organized my bookcase, dusted every surface in my room, cleaned all of my laundry and basically made my room look habitable. It doesn’t sound like much, but last week my room resembled the lair of an evil lady child monster. Now it seems like a responsible young woman lives there. I could even have a guest over and I wouldn’t have to say, “Sorry it’s such a mess!” because it isn’t a mess!
Except…here’s the thing…I only had time to get about half of my Spring Cleaning done.
So, next weekend, I have to clean out my closet.
I am terrified of cleaning out my closet. I can’t remember what is in my closet. I think I have a hoop skirt, an old backpacking backpack (they’re good for when I go to Europe once every five years) and a pile of old shoes. But what if there’s something more in there? What if a kimono dragon somehow teleported into the bottom of my dirty laundry pile and is just waiting to snap at me? What if my cat has created a secret lair from where he’s planning on destroying the world one dead mouse carcass at a time? What if there’s a gift from my ex-boyfriend and I have to decide if I’m going to keep it or not?
I’m terrified of the unknown that needs to be conquered in my closet. That’s normal. They say what people fear the most is the unknown. However, what scares me even more than the mysterious stuff that’s lurking behind my sundresses is the idea that I have no clue what’s in my closet. I’m embarrassed and ashamed and completely destroyed knowing that I’ve been so lazy and unorganized that it’s very possible that my life is on the verge of spiraling out of control. Sure, I wear clothes from J. Crew and the roughest drug I do is caffeine, but right now my closet looks like it belongs to the reincarnation of Nancy Spungen.
Now, I could resort to my default. I could put an old Madonna album, open my closet, shuffle some hangers from one side to the other and then curl up in a fetal position defeated.
Or, I could remember that I’m not a little girl anymore. I can’t hide from my problems until my mother makes them go away. I have to face them head on. Anything that I see surrounding me that I don’t like I have the power, and ultimately the responsibility, to get rid of. There comes a moment when you have to look at what is yours and get rid of the trash so the good stuff shines through.
Spring Cleaning isn’t going to give me panic attacks anymore. Spring Cleaning isn’t a reminder I’ve kept trash in my life for too long by believing it was treasure. Spring Cleaning is now an opportunity to recognize that I have the power to fix things up the way I want them and I want things in my life to be bright, sparkling and altogether wonderful.
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