28 June 2007

Taking charge and fear

Originally posted 3/10/07

I have never been organized. I pulled off an illusion at it for a little while, but if I was truly organized, I wouldn't be where I am now. I have had a rough couple of days now and have thought that I am completely useless, good for nothing but as a feedbag for my baby, and generally feeling like a failure at life. I have been on the verge of tears for two days, my house is a disaster, my children are whiny, and my husband is displeased with me. And why shouldn't he be? I have done nothing in the upkeep of the house except to wash laundry (only because I have to have diapers for the baby), cook meals (to shut the kids up), and wash the dishes (so I can cook more meals to shut the kids up). Last night, we hardly spoke to each other and we were only 5 feet apart. Just before going to bed, he said he missed me. I asked what he meant, and he said that he missed spending time with me. The baby has been incredibly clingy this past week and cries almost every time I set him down. Sometimes, I can't even go to the bathroom. I discovered that he seems to only want to sleep either in my arms or in our bed upstairs. The sheepskin on the floor next to me downstairs is no longer good enough. So the baby has been very demanding of my time lately, and I have no idea when the last time is that my husband and I went anywhere by ourselves.

The good news is that in this week of self-deprecating hell, I have figured out a few things. One is that decluttering one's house is not something that only needs to be done once and is done. It has to be done regularly. I did a massive declutter about a year and a half ago and felt good about our home. I was able to stay on top of things and it was decent. But two moves and another child later, the house is more than I can handle. I finally realized I have to declutter again.

At this same time, we are participating in a mandatory program to get our money together (it's a condition of our lease for public housing). I tried for years to create a budget for us, but it seemed like every time I faced our finances, I made them worse. I decided to quit trying to fix them and just go on in blissful ignorance of our financial state. Which partially explains why we are in public housing. So now I have to look at our money again. Terry says the difference this time is that we have someone to help us do it right. The first step was to track our spending for a few months to see what our spending habits are. I had tried this in the past, but only for one month at a time. During those months I found myself changing my spending habits since I knew I would be recording everything I bought. This, of course, did not provide an accurate picture of my spending habits. When you have to track for 3 months, though, your real spending habits resurface and you can get an accurate picture. So I went back to see what December looked like. We spent more in December than we earned. Since we don't have credit cards, I figured that we must have just spent some of a balance forward from November. But January looked the same. I don't know how we spent more than we earned for two months straight for a total of over $200. February we did better (of course, that's when we got our tax refund, too), but only by $75. We will see how March goes and then we turn it all in to our program coordinater. I really want to buy a house in before my children start moving out on their own, so I have less than 8 years to do it. I *have* to get my butt in gear to do it.

One of my husband's complaints is that I don't get stuff done during the day while he's at work? Why not? Because I forget. My brain is a seive. I read once that children under the age of three have an ethereal connection to their mothers. I'm sure that all children do, but those under three cause a drain on the mother's memory capabilities. I have had a child (or two) under the age of three for almost 11 straight years now. My husband's answer: Write it down. This makes sense. If I write it down, I will be reminded. But I wouldn't write things down. And if I did (like when he would put pen and paper in my hand to do so, or he would write ot down for me), I would deliberately avoid the paper. I hated my to-do list. I loathed it. You want an easy way to make me cry? Show me my to-do list. Even if I made it up myself in an effort to get things done, I cried about it. Only once in my 30 years of life on this Earth have I ever completed an entire to-do list. Sometimes I would deliberately not do something on my list so that it wouldn't be done. There's logic for you. My husband laughs at me logic somtimes. I love logic puzzles, and am quite capable of very clear rational, logical thought. I would do quite well as an accountant (for someone else, not me). But other times, I completely refuse to acknowledge logic. No matter how obvious something is, I will refuse to admit it. For no reason whatsoever.

So today I was looking at a website I just found, called The New Homemaker. On it are lots of resources for homemakers, including cleaning tips, cooking hints and recipes, household management systems, and money management. I decided the other day that my whole life is out of control because I had given it up. I was content to be a leaf blowing on the breeze because it was too scary to take charge of my life and give it direction. Much easier (so I thought) to let life happen and deal with things as they came up. But it's not. If I want to achieve anything in this life, I have to take the reins. I have to become proactive. My best friend is far more proactive than I, and I always admired that in her, but thought that I couldn't do it. Anyway, I was reading that website and saw an article that talked about organizing resolutions (from the new year). It said, "Write it down. I have a fear of lists, that they will define me as a failure rather than just be a reminder. I resolve to overcome this fear." That really hit home for me. Now I understand my loathing of to-do lists. I never looked at a list and saw what I had done. I only saw what I had not done. I harshly criticized myself for failing, I used them to show myself how useless I was. I have a lot of negative self-talk to overcome. It is amazing how much I beat myself up. If I said to someone else all the things I say to myself, no one would come within a mile of me for being so abusive.

Now I just have to figure out why I speak so badly to myself. But at least now I have the courage to grab the reins of life, I have a direction in which to head. I need to find a local support system, and I need to face life one day at a time. If I have to write "clean cat poop off the floor for three days in a row because I didn't do it the first time, that will have to be okay. I have to remeber Thomas Edison's philosophy - that I haven't failed x number of times, I have found x number of ways that didn't work. I am x number of attempts closer to achieving my goals. I need to stop hiding from life on the computer and start living it.

Today's to-do list:
Finish the laundry
Do some decluttering
Sweep the floor
Open the Earthdawn book and start prepping the adventure I will be running in just one week
Finish making the pemmican I started
Tell my husband I love him
Tell each and every child I love them
Tell myself I love me (if I say it enough, I might start to believe it)

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