Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013
If you are a regular reader of mine, you know the following:
a.) I am an obsessive clean freak.
b.) I had hypnotherapy 18 months ago to curb–not cure–the obsession.
c.) I want to be buried with my dust buster.
But because of hypnotherapy, I no longer meltdown when I see crumbs. I can walk past them and they no longer taunt me. Plus, now I have cleaning ladies once a week. If I didn’t I would never leave the house and my tots would not survive. I would be strapped to my vacuum all day while they played with knives.
However, since we sold our Brooklyn apartment and had all our stuff moved out here, the boxes, even though out of sight, have been driving me mad. Just knowing they are there and full of “stuff”–stuff we haven’t used in 18 months–is enough to send me back to hypnotherapy. Not only that, but we are in a rental house where in less than two years we have accumulated enough to warrant another moving van when our new house is ready.
The clutter is mentally draining. I get so cranky thinking about going through all the closets and the boxes and getting rid of stuff. It’s like the world’s worst term paper hanging over your head. And when I have little snippets of time (like when the kids nap) I think, “Well, what’s the point in starting, since they will wake up and then what?” It’s a procrastination tool I use frequently.
So a few weekends ago, I was in uber b-tch mood. I think it’s because the clutter was infiltrating my cells. Phil took the kids to the playground and told me to do something to snap out of my mood. I had 45 minutes. Not nearly enough time to clean out an entire house. But guess what? I started. And by the time he got home I had filled 3 garbage bags full of clothes to donate. What’s even better is the mood it put me in. I was downright giddy. Confirmation for Phil that he married a neurotic.
Since I’m a person of extremes I couldn’t stop. I got on a manic roll. Over the next week I cleaned out every closet. I even scrubbed all the shelves. I did it even when I had small snippets of time. I realized you can accomplish a lot more than you think when you just dive in and stop procrastinating. I went through at least 12 of the boxes, piling up more stuff for donations and garbage. It was better than any drug or drink I’ve ever had. Well, almost.
The high lasted well after I finished the projects. Like two weeks longer. I honestly think that getting rid of the clutter also got rid of clutter in my brain. I felt less scattered, and far less miserable and blah. It was a remarkable undertaking with extraordinary results.
Of course now I’m back down from the high. But in the back of my mind I know there are more boxes waiting. So as my clutter starts to build up in my head, I know if I just unpack a box or organize a shelf I will probably feel better than drinking that bottle of wine in its entirety.
It’s like the revelation I had when I wrote The Mom Mystique. I need that sense of accomplishment that goes beyond child-rearing. Cleaning isn’t intellectually stimulating but the results strangely felt the same.
Now when we move in and are perfectly unpacked and organized I may need another “project” to tackle. But that is months away. Plus, I found a new therapist so maybe she can help me get to a happy place without filling up 8 garbage bags.
One of my favorite expressions from the days when I hosted Simple Solutions reports still rings true:
“Get rid of the mess, get rid of the stress.” Amen.
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cleaning, cleaning obsession, clutter, counseling, crumbs, dust buster, hypnotherapy, junk, OCD, procrastination, scrubbing, sweeping, therapy, vacuum | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read
Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
I am seeing a hypnotherapist. I found him on Yelp. Really.
I know how “LA” I sound, but I must say; this guy–Peter Bedard– is extraordinary. I decided to go this route versus traditional therapy to help me deal with my obsessions. I figured getting hypnotized would be a quick fix. However, as Peter puts it: it’s not about cleaning up a corner in your room. It’s about cleaning the whole house. Apropos considering I have a major cleaning obsession.
Ever since Emmett was born I have become increasingly uptight about our house. I literally cannot walk past a crumb on the floor without stopping to pick it up. My mind never stops racing about all I have to do. Having our gaggle of guests week, after week, after week, only made matters worse. My anxiety level reached an all time high while my milk supply went low. In short, living in my brain became exhausting.
I went to Peter hoping for a miracle. In him, I found a healer.
While I like to keep a clean house, I knew my obsession was largely about control. He took it a step further by pointing out that our bad behaviors “benefit” us in some way. In my case, the “benefit” was my license to be angry, to be a martyr. I would storm around pissed off that Phil forgot to scoop the cat liter or take out the garbage (I have to do everything myself); I found myself angry at our friends who wanted to come visit (why are they here when I have a newborn? They should at least be getting up in the night); and ultimately angry with myself for not coping better (you suck at this).
I was reeling.
When I explained it all he said, “How’s it working out for you?” I nearly burst into tears. “Not so good,” I replied in misery. We talked at length. He threw out the old adage, “Would you rather be right or happy?” And more importantly: “Would you rather be right…or be a mom? Because your kids are going to f-ck up a lot, and if you are wound this tight, you’re going to have some f-cked up kids.”
Cue the sirens in my head: Time to avert disaster.
Through a series of visualizations, he had me fire my “critical self”–that voice inside that keeps you spinning. Then he had me “rehire” it, but as my personal assistant. After all, it is a part of me. But I was back in charge.
Rather than controlling my environment and the people in it, he told me to visualize governing–graciously. I pictured myself in a white flowing outfit, looking out onto our beautiful garden. My arms are outstretched and my children are playing. It is a picture of happiness. Of serenity. And ultimately, of surrender.
I have had 4 sessions thus far and each time I feel like I’m making great strides. We are now working on “pattern interrupts.” Like at this moment I am wearing a purple rubber band around my wrist. When I start to spin, I snap it–hard–to jolt my brain back. The goal is to keep that personal assistant in his place (I decided it was a man). The breath of fire is another technique. The other day I was playing with Fia when I found my mind racing. I immediately went into the breathing and boom–pattern interrupt. Fia’s giggling at her strange mama didn’t hurt either.
At the end of each session we do about 15 minutes of the hypnosis. It’s really just a deep meditation. If I had to think of it as hypnosis, then the whole time I’d be obsessing and my brain would go like this: “Am I hypnotized yet? I don’t know. How about now? Now? Not sure…” and so on. But a deep meditation I can relax into and absorb his words.
It all comes down to training your brain to stay positive. As an example, I asked him how I could go into something with positive intention if I dread it, like paying bills. Without skipping a beat he said, “Be grateful you have the money.” The next day I sat down with that intention and those old thoughts of– why am I always the one to do this?– stayed away.
It’s a simplistic example, but sometimes that’s what resonates most.
In my September 11th piece I said that parenthood is a privilege. So is life. I only get one. But I gave life to two. I don’t want to waste this time controlling them. Or the crumbs.
Meditation Picture via Shutterstock
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