Recently I spent hours off and on looking for my kid’s dress clothes for a recital, and the anxiety it caused was deep and multi-layered. Since I was a teen, my laundry has always been in chaos. A friend’s mom stopped bothering her about her own messy room when she showed her mine. It was an example of what not to do and by comparison made other teen’s rooms look pristine.
My ex husband was much neater than myself, and I kept a little more on top of things for his sake, and eventually we came up with a suitable arrangement where I earned the bulk of the income and he managed the bulk of the household stuff including laundry. But then, shortly after my son was born, we divorced so I found myself a single mom of an intense, chaotic child and lost my household support at once.
I honestly don’t know how I functioned, but as one might expect our home was rather chaotic with laundry, dishes & stuff. I made enough to hire someone so the place was at least clean, and we’d get stuff cleared enough for her to work, but laundry was always chaotic.
My spouse, Lior, moved in and we shortly moved to the country where the property requires high maintenance. Most of Lior’s time is spent on maintaining the property and much of the household chores. We used to do our own laundry, but Lior offered to take over for a while and I believe got overwhelmed and stopped. In this case having someone well intentioned to help but then not complete it, means what little sense there was in my own chaos went away and I don’t know where anything is.
So when looking for my kid’s dress clothes, I searched through 5 rooms where clothes might be for 3 different people. When I finally found it, I had no idea why it would have been where it was and it was most likely me who misplaced it.
I judged myself because historically clothing had been a sticking point in my relationship with my ex. Some of my most painful memories were when I wore something he deemed inappropriate for a concert he performed in, and I didn’t want to bring our kid without proper attire. So not only was I stressed about not finding the clothes, but about having to admit to his dad I couldn’t find them. I also judged myself worrying about being late for the concert! In the end, it was all fine. We made it on time with the needed clothing.
Laundry, dishes & stuff have always been a source of self judgment. My lack of executive functioning skills makes seemingly simple tasks difficult, and the energy I exert to complete my day job and other necessary tasks leaves me exhausted at the end of the day.
Recognizing and Translating Self Judgments
Self judgments are self evaluations that result in shame, blame or guilt create outcomes that are driven by self-hatred rather than love.
I shamed myself and felt guilty when my own lack of order affected someone else and worried about being judged by others.
Negative feelings have the purpose of mobilizing us to pursue and fulfill what we need and value. Express self compassion by connecting with the feelings stimulated by the past action or inaction that we regret.
Self forgiveness is connecting with the need we were trying to meet at the time and empathizing with how it has served us in the past.
I was able to give myself grace as I considered the extra energy I have to exert to stay on top of things many others do naturally. By not staying on top of the laundry situation, I allowed myself to meet my need for rest, and spend my active time doing things that met my need for meaning.
Once you have given yourself empathy and understanding, consider what needs were not met through your action or inaction that you would like to meet in the future.
Having to run around looking for specific dress clothes did not meet my need for peace and harmony leaving me feeling worried and anxious.
Evaluate yourself in a way that inspires change both:
in the direction you want to go andout of respect and compassion for yourself (recognizing the needs behind your actions).
Finally explore strategies that might better meet all your needs in the future.
After I got home, I talked to my spouse about working on getting our laundry in order together. That way we both get our need for order met in a way that supports each other instead of impeding.
Julie Feferman Perez
I made a long and wordy response yesterday. It never posted and now gone. I love the topic and will come back to it again..
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