An Aspie tries to work up the courage to clean the apartment…

Our apartment is a mess.  No, it’s not completely unsanitary, nor does it resemble a “Hoarders” episode.  But it is cluttered and it drives me batshizz crazy.

I’ve long since figured out that chaos is a source of stress, and I’m not exempt from that phenomenon.  But I had underestimated just how much the extra mess was making my nervous system “buzz”.

So today I got to thinking…

I know I have clothes on my bed.

I know there are clothes on the floor.

I realize there are books on every surface in the home office.

I also know I have things on the couch that I haven’t used in forever.

I even know that I still have luggage that I haven’t unpacked from my trip up north five months ago.

It’s embarrassing.  I don’t have a clear path to my keyboard (the musical kind, not the computer kind).  I have an unopened Christmas present on the piano bench, and a scarf somebody gave me draped across the drum set seat.  It’s not that I’m ungrateful or that I don’t care.  I do.  I really do.

I know all this.  I’ve never forgotten it.

Instead, the mess in general is such a source of stress that I’ve begun to tune it out (at least on a conscious level, although it still snags my subconscious and drags me down).  I’ve done my best to ignore it.

Some might ask, “why not just spend a day cleaning?  You’ll feel so much better when it’s all done.”

Obviously, either these people aren’t Aspies, or they are Aspies who already have a handle on their organizational skills.

Lucky y’all. 🙂

To answer the question, there are two good reasons why not.  The first is, it’s daunting for me, so overwhelming that I don’t know where to start.  Surely I could start by unpacking, right?  I mean, that luggage has been sitting there since Christmas and it’s already June, so it’s high time that those things got dealt with.

That’s all well and good, but when I go to put those clothes away, I’m bombarded by the pile already on the floor.  In fact, I may (read: 95% sure that I will) stumble and trip on it (another one of my sore spots).

Soooo….take the clothes pile on the floor and put it away, right?

Not so fast.  I can’t get into my drawers because my partner also has some of his clothes on the floor.  Some of the clothes from my luggage I could hang up, but then I’m overwhelmed–again–by the amount of clothes already in my closet.  My closet is like a black hole; what goes in may or may not ever come back out.  My closets are in desperate need of review, which involves inspecting each item to determine whether I should give it away or hang onto it, which is an agonizing task. (I do need this variety of clothes for reasons too cumbersome to explain here, which makes me dread this task even more, if that’s even possible).  So I have not done this yet, and the task of putting each item under scrutiny–again–is also frighteningly daunting in itself.

The second reason it’s tough to spend a day cleaning is that cleaning is not one of my special interests.  In fact, it’s not even fun; it actually adds to the stress that’s already there.  There are too many decisions to make and judgment calls to force.  I’m afraid of making the wrong decision and regretting it later.  Instead, I would much rather escape the stress (even if temporarily), and the best way to accomplish this is to distract myself, losing myself in something that is a special interest.

And so it goes.

There’s a third reason: cleaning is not in any of my daily routines.  If I had the time to do some cleaning every day, I probably would, since I’d already be in the habit of doing so.  But too many nights have been spent working late at the office over the past few years, which means we barely had time to eat something before having to get to bed so that we could function the next day.  That doesn’t leave much time for cleaning anything, especially when you’re trying to wind down.  Since that routine hasn’t been established already, it’s not likely to happen often.

So the clutter piles up.  And up.  And up…

What I need to do is make a list (hey–that’s a start!) and think thoroughly through the process before I even begin, breaking the big picture of this massive project down in front of me into the various little tasks involved.

The first little task would be to sift through the clothes in the closet and see if there are any I can do without.  Those go into a designated give-away pile.  That would simplify things, since I would only have to work with what’s left.  (That will be plenty.)

The next step would be to separate out the work-related clothes that need to go to the office; they go into another outgoing pile, destined for the office.  That simplifies everything further, at least for now (I’ll need to go through a similar organizational process with these clothes at the office, but my brain can “close” that part of the plan for now).

Then, I’ll need to clear my walking path by addressing the clothes on the floor; hang them up or fold them and organize them into the drawers.  That will cut down on the hazard risk of the rest of the cleaning project.

Then I can turn to the clothing pile on the bed and start addressing that, item by item.  Followed by any clothes flung over the back of the couch.  Followed by those piled on top of the dresser.

At that point, the bed will be cleared off and I now have the option of sleeping there, the couch is more livable and less embarrassing, and the dresser is less chaotic.  If I so desire, I could take a “side trip” and address the rest of the clutter on top of the dresser, or I can switch gears and organize the books that sit in skyscraper-looking piles on the table surfaces of the home office (given, of course, that I have enough space in the bookshelves for them, which, alas, I’m pretty sure I don’t).

Ugh.

Stop for the day until I can get to the used office furniture store to get another bookcase, which involves driving to the other side of town, which is not pleasant and must be planned carefully.

Once we actually get to the furniture store, it’s a crapshoot whether or not they’ll have what we’re looking for and in decent condition, and then there’s the task of rearranging the home office to accommodate it.  (We’re talking about the smaller of two bedrooms in a two-bedroom apartment, and it’s already pretty stocked with furniture, so just how fun is this going to be?  Not so much.)

This project will go on through many more steps and it is not as simple as “take a day and clean”.  It will probably take days, if not weeks or even months.  And during this time, hopefully I won’t have messed up again everything I’ve accomplished in the meantime (only to have to repeat the above steps as applicable).

Yeah.  “Ugh” is right.

Where’s the TV remote again?

***

(Image Credit: “The Garden of Words: Memories of Cinema Official Art Book” by Makoto Shinkai)

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6 Comments

  1. I’ve been pondering the irony of the clutter in my house stressing me in equal parts to the process of actually de-cluttering it recently. And I love that you have probably spent as long writing this lovely post as you could have spent picking the clothes off the floor! Best of luck!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good question! I find my clutter is stressful because it’s a constant stimulus for my brain. But at least I can see everything! Lol. When I *do* clean really well, I forget where I put things and then I’m really screwed. Can’t win! 🙂

      Like

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