About once a week my mom would come down stairs and find me sitting on our brown carpet basement floor, staring intently at the TV screen, N*64 controller in hand. “Did you clean your room?” was the usual question and a only half listening “mmhmm” would be the reply. I was not a very good liar, as all it took to prove my deceit would be for my mom to round the corner and stare through my open bedroom door and into my room. During the best of times it would only be slightly disheveled with some clothes on the floor. During the worst of times you could only see the carpet where I had blazed a trail to my bed and to my closet. The rest was a forest of clothes, books, and shoes.
“Kristin, clean your room now. I mean it.” She always meant it, but when she added the phrase to her verbal command I knew she was serious. I would scurry to save my Banjo-Kazooie game before my mom flicked off the light switch that controlled the outlet for the TV and N*64, a great design for a lamp, a terrible design when your a kid with a game that didn’t get saved in time.
After the game was properly saved I would trudge into my room and start cleaning. My parents were always impressed with how quickly I could actually get this done. With my clothes sorted, bed made, and shoes organized I could get back to saving Tootie from the evil witch.
After a while, I got pretty good at hiding my mess, and I got better at lying. I just did not have the energy to truly clean my room. I would take short cuts, shoving clothes into the drawers and throwing my shoes into the closet. My hiding, my lying, and my deceit went on for a while. Until one fateful day my mom came downstairs with a stack of folded clothes for me. “I was doing laundry, and I found these, like this, in your hamper.” My hiding was over. One of my most useful tricks, just throwing all of the clothes on the floor, dirty or not, into the hamper, had backfired. My mom did not appreciate me making her wash clothes that were just washed, but now smell like my dirty volleyball socks.
We try this tactic with a lot of things in our lives. We want the quick fix, the easy out. We do not want people to know how truly messy our lives get, but it is so hard to really clean them up. So we fake it, we hide it, we cram it into a corner of our lives that no one will see.
It can be hard to come clean and to share your spiritual messes. We are so worried that the neat freaks that we know will look into our closets and *tut tut* at us and our dirt.
In the TV show FRIENDS, there is Monica, a neat freak. She is crazy about cleaning and nuts about organization. One day, her husband Chandler, notices that their hallway closet is locked, and he has never seen in their before. Monica convinces him that she needs this just to be her closet, and that he cannot see in it. She needs that personal space. So of course Chandler agrees, for a while, and then he tries to break in. When he finally opens the door to the closet he sees a giant wall of mess. It is an unorganized, health hazard, packed from floor to ceiling. It is the one part of the house that is not clean, it is Monica’s dirty secret.
The funny thing is, we always think we are alone in our filth. We never want to tell anyone, “Yea, I struggle with this temptation.” We have a hard time telling our friends that, “Our marriage is hurting. We are having problems in this area.” I still have a hard time telling people, “I went to counseling in high school for depression, and even though I am better, I am not 100% okay. There are still mornings where I wake up and I feel that the world would be a better place without me. A small voice tells me that “It’s no use. No matter what you do you are a failure.”
That is why this blog is mainly a secret . My family and my close friends do not know that it exists. Unless they have stumbled upon it by accident. I wrote a post a while back because my mother-in-law has recently found my blogs through Googling me. Now, this post breaks that secret as I will be posting a link to this on my FB wall.
I am scared to show that my room is still messy. I have grown up, but I have carried a lot of my past hurts and bad habits with me. They will take a long time to break. What might help, both me and you, is confessing that I still have these problems. Maybe, just maybe, if we start opening up, we will realize that the perfectionists that we are scared of will also unlock a closet door and bare their mess and say, “Me too.”
What a world of healing and community that would be.