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Be Our Guest

[CW: description of thought processes that can trigger hoarding]

Fox and I spent pretty much every available second cleaning in preparation for Ron’s visit on Friday. It was quite the workout, and somewhat intense … but not quite as intense as I thought it might be. Maybe because I knew Fox was cleaning, too, and I’ve developed coping mechanisms. For example, I found a calendar with beautiful images that I might’ve been tempted to keep, but it’s obsolete (and damaged). So I looked through the images, showed one particularly beautiful one to Fox, then tossed the calendar. Minimal stress.

I’ve also decided to treat clutter like an addiction. Part of recovery (from what I’ve gathered, I’m not an expert by any means) is recognizing that while others may be able to engage in a certain behavior safely – even to their benefit – I cannot. For example, I’ve heard tips about reusing things like wrapping paper – but for me that’s a recipe for disaster. If I let myself think “I can reuse this” I will angst over every decision of what to/not to keep, hoard random items I don’t need, and drown in clutter. No. Maybe it would be ideal to reuse this wrapping paper, but I cannot keep it. Into the trash it goes. End of story.

I lost track of how many bags of garbage we filled, somewhere around 8. Maybe 12?

Especially after vacuuming, the living room has been transformed. You can walk through it. It’s actually pleasant to look around. You can access my music instruments … which is good, because the first thing I did when Ron got here was show them off. 🙂

It was so wonderful to welcome someone into my home and actually feel good about it, confident, unapologetic. We showed Ron things that are important to us and ze looked around and asked questions about items that caught zir interest and we played a tabletop game and had some pizza. It was relaxed and fun and absolutely wonderful. Fox even – very intentionally – gave Ron and me some “us” time by going alone to pick up the pizza. 😀

I feel so incredibly loved. It means so much to me that not only are they both being wonderful to me, they’re (especially Ron) making an effort to be considerate and friendly toward each other.

If I want meaningful change, I need to shift the mindset of what gets me to clean. When I’m visiting someone else, I make an extra effort to make sure I’m respectful of their space, cleaning up after myself and putting items back where they belong. Banji’s asked me why I don’t do that for myself; they’ve told me I deserve that same respect. It’s a hard thing to hear, and a difficult thing to feel … I get sad, almost on the verge of tears.

I was only ever taught to respect everyone else.

If I want meaningful change, I can’t only clean because I want to welcome someone in, and I don’t want them to see my mess. I can’t only clean to hide whatever’s causing this addiction. I need to clean because I deserve a pleasant living environment. I need to clean out of respect for myself, Fox, and our relationship. (And he needs to clean out of respect for himself, me, and our relationship – it’s a joint effort/responsibility.) And it needs to be a continuous effort, maintaining a space we want to live in.

Because we both deserve better.

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