NotBlueAtAll

I'm just a fat gal with a blog and an opinion. Well, lots of opinions.

TMI Tuesday!!!

December13

This TMI Tuesday post is about life skills! This one is totally safe for work as there is no images or even explicit descriptions…but I may swear. If this doesn’t interest you, do come back tomorrow for your regularly scheduled random fatty talk right here on my blog-a-ma-thing. Thanks! <3

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Sometimes things from your childhood hit you from out of nowhere in adulthood. I don’t really like when this happens, but what can ya do? I do find that once I have addressed or acknowledged it that it can help me process/self-work and move on. Yes, our childhoods shape us in ways we can’t truly know the depth of, but I also think that acknowledging this can help us move ahead and develop better futures for ourselves. I can only speak of my own experiences, of course. It amazes me how people we know, even if they grew up similarly, how very different their experiences can be from my own.

I was having lunch with two good friends the other day when we started to talk about housekeeping. Some of us are neat freaks, others are tidy with a side of clutter and then there is me: clueless! Seriously! Talking to these ladies made me realize, though I’d had an inkling for awhile, that I grew up with few actual normal life skills. Specifically when it comes to cleaning one’s home. No one showed me or taught me how to do such things growing up and I have suffered from this ignorance.

You see, I grew up in a very messy house. Well, that’s not quite it. Hmm…I grew up in a disgusting and filthy home. We lived in the same duplex for ten years. We moved there a few months before my fourth birthday…or was it my fifth? Anyway, my dad worked retail and thus his hours were always in flux. My mom stayed home in bed, literally. She pretty much just sat in bed and read books all day. She would occasionally bake and almost always burn whatever it was she was baking. I see now that she was most likely suffering from severe depression if not undiagnosed bi-polar. But she wouldn’t clean the house or do dishes and only ever did laundry when it was an absolute necessity. Though the first couple of years we lived there we didn’t have a dryer and I do remember “helping” her hang the laundry on a line in our miniscule backyard.

It is difficult to describe the state of our home. Basically, there was a pathway to walk from room to room, but outside of that there was clothing, trash-mostly paper, random things like toys or shoes and all sorts of other nonsense. It’s still not quite what I remember, but you get the gist I hope. My room was a disaster, always. Laundry never went into drawers or closets and I don’t recall where clean stuff even went…just that I would often grab from whatever was on the top layer of the mass pile that was my room, basically. It is with some lingering shame that I admit to having to wear socks and even underwear more than once or twice in a row. I know that I was little and didn’t know any better and my parents weren’t exactly aware of it, but I learned very young to stop asking for things, so I probably just didn’t want a fuss. Boy how this way of thinking still fucks with me to this very day. I work on it constantly, but I have a very hard time asking for anything, especially help.

I think my dad cooked dinner more often than not, unless he was working late. Each parent, I think, did only the dishes required for that particular meal and it’s consumption. Our sink was always full of dirty dishes and our counters, well, I don’t know that I ever saw our counters as they, too were full and covered always. The few times we did a big cleaning bonanza it was always because of something bad. The landlord was coming over or a threat of eviction or whatever. Never a good reason, ever ! Because of this I struggle with bouts of high anxiety anytime my husband wants to spring clean or move furniture around…which is often. It is only recently that I figured out why that is. It helps to know, but the anxiety is still there and quite heavy.

Growing up I was never allowed to have friends over and honestly wouldn’t want to eventually as I soon saw how different everyone else’s houses were. My best friend from K-6th grade, Riana, never even saw the inside of my home all of those years. I spent nearly every day at her house a few blocks away. I would never say why, just that my mom didn’t want anyone over or a million other excuses. I see how sad that is now, how much shame I’ve carried with me all of these years. Ugh! When we did do a massive cleaning one time, due to an eviction threat no doubt, I did have my friend Summer over to spend the night once. This was shortly before we moved out of that house and I’d just gotten a kitten…well, found a kitten, long story. But I remember the house being pretty clean, though not to my current standards.

When we moved to a new house that my dad was trying to actually buy, we kept the place pretty nice. We had smaller stashes of clutter, but the floors were open and clean because the house was also being shown to possible buyers. That was a nightmare, actually. I finally had my own room though and I kept it pretty damned tidy. The only clutter was in my closet and we got rid of most of what would have been clutter during the move. I had friends over all of the time and I loved that. I actually felt a sense of pride in my room and home. It was a new feeling, but a good one! And I snuck boys in my room…but don’t tell my dad! Ha-ha!!!

So, you can imagine that when I moved out with my abusive boyfriend later that these life skills, such as cleaning/cooking/laundry, were basically non-existent. I was depressed most of the time and though working full time at 16, everything else sort of fell to the wayside. I did my own laundry…but not much else. That time of my life was sort of a limbo anyway. Living in one room and all, it wasn’t like there was much to clean anyhow. Work was a refuge from the abuse and depression and I spent a good chunk of my paycheck on clothes and accessories there anyway.

When my husband and I moved in together, well, I didn’t tell him about how I grew up. Or it never came up? I don’t really know. I know that we had next to nothing and I went to what is now Big Lots every week to buy more necessities. I learned to do dishes, though we still do them differently from one another. I still put all of my laundry, yes mixed, into a cold wash and a hot dryer. I don’t iron. I dusted for the first time in my life about two months ago when I discovered a Swiffer Duster unopened in our closet. It was like magic! We do vacuum at least once a week if not more due to the Puggyman and his double coat of fur love.

We’re neither neat-nicks nor slobs. I’m the queen of clutter, but it’s manageable. Right now my biggest issue is clothes as one of my dresser drawers in broken and thus a pile has been placed beside it. I am working on folding laundry rather than shoving it. It’s still a struggle. My childhood still haunts me when I least expect it. I know now that my parents should never have had children…in my opinion! They got married because of me and well, they should have sought the unpopular solution at the time. My dad worked and worked and had neither the time nor the energy for much more. Though his weekend-ish days off were fab as he would take us to parks. I don’t have a terrible childhood, just a different one than most. While my school chums would worry about their mom “killing them” for scuffed shoes or stained shirts, I never felt such pressures. For the most part my parents let me do as I want in some ways. I sought a life outside of my home out of necessity. I hardly regret that. But it is a different thing entirely when one was never shown or taught how to clean a bathroom or carpet.

These simple life skills we all take for granted I have struggled with my entire life to catch up in some way. It always seemed an unimportant thing when I’d rather be at a concert or kissing boys. I am far from a domestic goddess. I enjoy cooking and baking now, but I fought that for years, too. I almost wore my ignorance in these things as a badge of honor for awhile. No longer! With every new skill I toss out such old ways of thinking and press onward and hopefully upward and beyond the shame and guilt of old. It may be worth mentioning that my little brother and sister, now in their twenties, didn’t grow up quite the same way as I did. They had chores to tend to and were made to do homework. I was asked if I did my homework and my only chore was taking out the garbage. Though I suffered through catechism while they did not. It was just very different, though we lived together. I don’t know that I will ever know why.

But I know that I can’t be the only one. And it is because of this that I bare my soul here for you to read. Thank you.

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6 Comments to

“TMI Tuesday!!!”

  1. On December 14th, 2011 at 7:53 pm thirtiesgirl Says:

    Very interesting to hear your childhood experiences when it comes to housecleaning and organization. My childhood experiences with that were the absolute opposite. My mom was a neat and clean FREAK. No kidding. To the point that she was almost compulsive about it. I’ll even go so far as to take out the ‘almost’ in that statement.

    In addition to being a clean freak, my mom was also an animal rescuer (one of her good quirks), and I grew up with 6 dogs and 3 cats in our 3 bedroom house. Despite the fact that all the animals were inside most of the time, you could have eaten off our kitchen floor and not experienced one animal hair or germ. That’s because my mom mopped the kitchen floor 4 times a day. Yes, A DAY. …And actually, she wasn’t the one doing the mopping half the time. I had to do 2 of those daily moppings, once before school and once after school.

    My mom also used to go through my and my brother’s sock and underwear drawers on a regular basis to make sure the socks were rolled correctly and the underwear folded right. If not, she would pull the socks and underwear out, toss them on the floor, and make us redo the rolling and folding.

    My mom would sanitize the kitchen counters with Clorox bleach… daily. My mom washed all the blankets on the dog and cat beds twice… daily. My mom would sometimes go in my bedroom closet at night, when she thought I was sleeping, and sniff the crotch of my pants to check the smell. If she thought they smelled funky, she’d wash them (even if they’d just been washed) and berate me the next day for “not keeping clean enough.”

    Despite the fact that I had a “shining” (heh) example of how to keep a house clean; I was taught how to roll socks, fold underwear, and that leaving gritty cleanser behind in bathroom sinks and on counter tops was nearly a criminal offense, for the first 10 years that I lived on my own, I was a MAJOR slob. My mom’s incredibly repressive, obsessive cleaning regime resulted in a teen and young adult who chose to rebel by not following any of her crazy, compulsive rules for cleaning.

    My first apartment looked much like you described your parents’ duplex: piles of clothes and shoes on the floor; nothing folded, hung up or put away; no organization of jewelry and accessories; clean towels and bathroom stuff often stacked for weeks on top of the laundry hamper because I didn’t want to put them away or move them… so no dirty clothes got put in the hamper. It was awful.

    Over the years, I eventually found my own stride when it came to housecleaning, home organization, etc. I started putting clothes and towels away when I finally realized that my mom’s obsessive folding, rolling, cleaning, etc was not the only way to clean and organize. I found my own way to do it, which largely consists of just tossing things in drawers or hanging on hooks, with no folding. So I don’t have clothes all over the floor, jewelry all over the dresser, purses in a pile in the back of the closet. Now everything has its place, but that place is somewhere where I can easily toss it and get it out of sight as quickly as possible.

    I’ve heard stories similar to yours (although not quite as painful) from other friends – parents who were more on the messy side or more loosey-goosey with the cleaning, and my friends became neat freaks out of complete frustration with their families. Oddly enough, my brother took like a duck to water with my mom’s crazy cleaning and organizational standards. He still rolls his socks, folds his underwear, and keeps all his t-shirt neatly folded in his dresser drawers (mine are all in one big mass…but at least they’re in a drawer), and he’s done that since he first moved out on his own. It took me a lot longer to get there …well, not quite *there*… I’ll never be the neat freak he is… but it took me a while to work through my stuff about my past when it comes to keeping house, and it never was an issue for my brother.

  2. On December 15th, 2011 at 11:49 am Not Blue at All Says:

    thirtiesgirl: One of the friends I was having lunch with when this topic originally came up had a similar issue with her mom. And she was home schooled, so there was no reprieve. My heart went out to her and you, hun. It sounds to me like your mom was desperately trying to control her home in the only way she knew how. It sounds like it’s deeply rooted in fear or a compulsion to fight against what she saw as chaos. *Hugs* It is amazing to me to hear these things. Mostly because no one ever talks about them. Thank you so much for sharing your story here. <3

  3. On December 15th, 2011 at 4:03 pm Sarah Says:

    I too grew up in a messy home. I’m also a slob now, in my own home. But its not a simple thing. Part is growing up used to the mess, so I don’t see it as bad as it really is. Another part is that cleaning is just so damned boring. And finally, its a great excuse to keep people away. I’m very introverted and I don’t like having people in my home, not even family or close friends. When anyone is here other than me and my significant other, the house feels crowded.

    When I was growing up cleaning the house meant someone would be visiting – so like your “bad things” happening, for me cleaning is associated with people invading my home.

  4. On December 15th, 2011 at 4:11 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    Sarah: I think so long as it’s not negatively impacting your well being or health, no worries. I mean, if you’re comfortable, so be it. I am married to an introvert, so I get it. For me seeing someone else’s messy house can be triggering. I mean, not typical messy, but anything resembling how I grew up…bad times. I know what you mean about cleaning being boring. I certainly don’t enjoy it. But I have found that I will clean one thing and go on a full jag without really being entirely conscious of it. I crank up the tunes when it gets hard and just power through. But again, no fun. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here.

  5. On December 15th, 2011 at 5:01 pm Courtney Says:

    I grew up with a similar lack of learning how to clean. My house wasn’t like yours, but my room was; my mom’s philosophy was that she could always close the door to my room and if something got lost in the piles, she wouldn’t buy me another.

    But she never cleaned much, either. Now that I’m 26, almost 27, and have moved back home (bringing with me almost enough to fill the cottage I was renting), and the house is an absolute mess… I get yelled at to clean up, despite not being the only one not cleaning, and not really knowing HOW.

    /deep breath
    Okay, rant over. So, lately on Tumblr I’ve discovered “Unfuck Your Habitat” which is.. kinda awesome. The mod, Pile of Monkeys (PoM) posts orders (challenges?) every day, often gives advice or opens up questions to the community, commends people on their successes, cheers people on and motivates them to keep going, and – most important – reminds those of us following her to take it in small chunks. 20 minutes at a time, no more. And mandatory 10-minute breaks.

    Uh.. So, I didn’t mean to get preachy, but OMG I love UnFYH, and it’s starting to finally teach me what my mother (who raised me) didn’t: how to clean up, and not have a nasty living space.

  6. On December 15th, 2011 at 5:06 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    Courtney: That is interesting to me. Have you told your mother that she never showed you these things? I mean, I don’t have that option. But I wonder what she’d have to say. I wonder if she believes that she did show you or if she realizes that she didn’t? Getting someone else’s perception is always a learning experience, but I would understand if you didn’t even want to approach the subject with her. And “Unfuck Your Habitat”? Awesome! I will check it out…You’ve “recruited” another “UnFucker” I suppose. Heh-heh! Thank you so much for sharing your experience and thoughts on this.

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