It’s painfully clear to me that I am becoming a homosexual of a certain age when things like vacuuming and picking out a toilet bowl cleaner have become truly soul-satisfying experiences. From licking cocaine off of the private parts of strangers to Windexing my glass coffee table while I’ll listen to the Stephen Sondheim Pandora station– if my dealer could see me now! Granted, I’m not insane about cleaning. Cleaning didn’t become my new tequila. No, I’m still gleefully disorganized and live in a romantic state of what I like to call, “writer messy.” Still, working nearly full-time from home does require me to be a little more put together and it’s easier to create when my desk isn’t doubling as The Tiny Scrap of Paper and Dead Pen Museum. Considering my old drunk house had a sunroom filled with water damaged yet empty appliance boxes, VHS tapes of bad 80s porn and mysterious toenail clippings, I do okay today in the cleaning and organizing department. If only the upkeep and cleaning of my personal life was as easy.
We are told in recovery that if we don’t drink, trust a higher power, help others and clean house, we’ll do alright. The clean house thing is always a struggle for me. Drunk me always liked to shove it in a closet and shut the door when it came to actual and emotional messes. Out of sight, out of mind. Out of control. This method of avoidance maintenance, unfortunately, no longer works for me. At three-plus years of sobriety, I can run but I hide. I’ve had little personality flaws, flaming character defects and some shitty habits show up on my doorstep recently. Instead of facing the music and dancing, I’ve decided to sit this one out and wait for a song I like better. In other words, I’m dealing by not dealing. As previously stated, this kind of shenanigan can’t go on for long. After being really uncomfortable and causing a fair amount of personal drama, I had to grab the metaphoric broom and mop and clean my shit up. This involved but was not limited to such delightful activities as admitting I was wrong, listening to someone I hurt without getting to attack them in return, and owning some really awful behavior. Ugh. I’d rather cleanup the toenails.
Unlike a sparkly clean bathroom blinding with it’s whiteness and smelling like a bleach bouquet, the benefits of personal cleanups aren’t always immediate. Usually for me they require a change in attitude and action. A week has passed since my mess was uncovered and the cleanup process began. This so-called major overhaul and shameful mess hasn’t been so bad. What I thought required an emotional forklift really just needed some honesty and humility. (Which by the way is not in the same aisle as paper towels and Ajax. I looked.) Sure, I’d like to be able to shut the door and say, “Nothing to see here, move along!” on my personal disasters. But as a person in recovery, it’s a luxury I no longer have. Today, I get to face stuff, clean things up and continue to change. And that’s pretty terrific.
So pass the Pine-Sol and pump up the jams!