Miss Jean's Writing
Believe it or not, I think that my squalor started as a way of taking up space when I had to share space with people. I was relatively neat when I was a kid (more of a packrat than a pig). In fact, when I was away at university, I was the neatest of the roomies and remember being DISTINCTLY embarrassed to have to use a stick to remove layers of my mates' dirty underwear off the sole chair so that company could sit down.
I managed to keep things fairly under control until friends/family members moved into my apartment for months at a time and I combined a long-houred job with returning to college to get out of the unrewarding job. With other people moving in, I made room and got used to sleeping surrounded by boxes of my stuff. I maintained the main rooms of the home - a topic about which I could go on and on! - and had little time to figure out what to do with my boxed up stuff.
Until I got to my current place, I'd never opened some of the boxes I'd moved four times. The hilarious thing was finding eight tubes of toothpaste and several pounds of toilet paper packed in with dishware. It was like winning the lottery in a country where toiletries are the currency.
In fact, my clutter is mostly paper, "collectibles" like ceramic knicknacks, and bargains I stockpiled. I have enough giftwrap to last me for 20 years!
I've never been in third-degree squalor, but I've lived nearly a decade in second-degree squalor. I must say that I've made tremendous strides in the last year because I actually see what is around me.
What helped? Well, there was the SlobSisters Website that encouraged me to confront my flatmate (and relative) who had somehow decided that "The one with the ovaries does the cleaning." When he found a place of his own, he owned up to being a squaloree himself. So I saw how he dealt with his mess and how, after two years of cleaning, he stopped being moody and mean. So that was an inspiration to me.
Also - it really did help to move this last time. It was damn embarrassing to have friends help me shove junk into boxes (and THIS after four weeks of cleaning out the worst stuff). But I moved an hour away from my nearest friends, so I don't have to worry about stashing things on a moment's notice. As a result, I've got stuff left out as I clean. Before, I was always sorting a bit, then shoving everything pell-mell into hiding places when company was coming. (Has anyone else ever hid dirty clothes in the oven?)
Where am I now? Well, I'm the woman who never opens her drapes, and not just because of light-sensitivity. I'm still more of a piler than a filer, which I'm working on. I'm also deciding which things I can afford to feel sentimental about - like a painting of my mother - and which I can't - like the box full of collectibles which I'm seriously considering giving to my oldest brother so he can use e-bay to raise funds for his children's education.
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