Another reason I am so hard on myself

microwave oven

But my microwave is always clean (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Made it through the emotional storm that hit the past few days, and now just have to clean up the debris.

I think I figured out why it makes me so angry. It isn’t just about perfectionism, though that is a part of it. I think the part that makes me not like myself and be so hard on myself, is that I fear I sound like my mom.

Yup, I hate hearing all my mom’s excuses for why her life isn’t how she wants, how her diseases keep her from exercising or cleaning or house. How her fears keep her from being real, or sharing her life with friends and family. I am disgusted by her. When you can tell her microwave has not been wiped out in months, and I pop in a cup of coffee, I am unsure how to react. But she has trained me to be non-confrontational with her, so I use the microwave and drink my coffee in silence. (I only go to her house a few times a year, she does not live nearby, but the sticky mess bothers me)

And then the phone calls, of her saying repeatedly how she is so tired, could barely make it through the work day, and is so happy to have a day off to just sit in her easy chair and watch TV. How is this different from my hours of computer games? The laundry has piled up, and it is getting difficult to walk through the rooms with so many displaced items randomly strewn about. She chooses to ignore her crusty microwave, and I choose to ignore the disorganized clutter.

I don’t want to ignore the unpleasant chores. I want to be proud of my home. And I don’t want to hear my mom’s excuses coming out of my mouth – and yet they do. Hmmm.

It is so hard to balance my mental health needs. When should I push myself to work harder, to have discipline and overcome mental blocks – and when do I give myself a break, and how long should that break be.

When I was in school, I always took the maximum number of days off allowed each quarter, which I think was 10. So I missed 40 days out of 180 each school year. Many of those days I was actually sick, fevers, ear infections and asthma kept me home often. But the other days, my dad let me stay home any time I wanted as long as I had straight A’s, which I always did. I thought that was awesome then, but now I think it taught me that working hard is not important. I always did the least amount of work possible to get those A’s, and would even calculate which homeworks I could neglect, always looking for a way out. I did not repsect the assignments or the teachers, so that was my way of silently getting back at them for wasting my time.

I usually did the homework for 1st period on the bus, homework for 2nd period in 1st period, and so on. It made the day interesting for me and provided a challenge that otherwise was not there. I know school is hard for some people, it just wasn’t for me. I was blessed with brains and memory and the ability to learn very quickly. So I never had to study. Never had to work hard. And I think that set me up for problems and makes me think I shouldn’t HAVE to do all this housework, and deserve time off from it. To me housework is just like those terrible worksheets the teachers assigned, just filled my time and never gave any benefit. I don’t learn anything new from housework, and have to do the same task daily, wash the same dish, wipe the same counter. And whatever I clean only lasts a few minutes. It is hard for me to be grateful for my house, when I feel like a prisoner, sentenced to fill my days with futility.

I keep hoping that one day I will *grow up* and it won’t be so difficult. I’ll just do the tasks that need done. But until then, it feels like torture, because I can never get the house clean enough for my perfectionistic standards like i did before kids. And it is endless. Mind-numbing torture. So I make lists of what I must do each day, and put on music, and try to dance or enjoy the tasks, but I am too smart to fool myself.

I tried to hire a housekeeper a few years ago, but that didn’t last long. I hated giving my money to her – I felt guilty paying someone to do my job. I hated that she talked to me. I didn’t want to be her friend. And I started feeling guilty for leaving messes for her. I had enough guilt, so I have not asked her back.

And now I’m blogging about my messy house instead of cleaning it. I have so many avoidance tactics, just not funny.

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9 thoughts on “Another reason I am so hard on myself

  1. “I think I figured out why it makes me so angry. It isn’t just about perfectionism, though that is a part of it. I think the part that makes me not like myself and be so hard on myself, is that I fear I sound like my mom.”

    YES!! Me, too!! And yes to the rest of the post as well.

    Part of my anger is knowing I had to take care of NM, so I’m really good at it, but I didn’t learn much of anything about taking care of myself or being a responsible person, except when it came to taking care of NM. Now, I’m having to teach myself all the things I never learned, and I’m afraid of doing it wrong because I was taught I was always wrong. It’s so easy to slip into the old habits.

    I wish I had answers, but I don’t. I’m slogging along trying to figure it out, and feeling horribly behind. I know FlyLady says “You’re not behind. Jump right in where you are.” Yes. I know, but… I need to kick out the but, so to speak, and simply keep trying. I have improved. Cheering for you!

    • Yes, I have to teach myself all the things I never learned, and there are so many. So I have to be my own mom. I was never disciplined as a child, no time-outs, no groundings. No one ever cared enough to do that, or make me responsible. Now I did more than my share of housework growing up, but that was out of fear, not responsibility. In high school I was obsessive about cleaning my room and even color coded my closet to have some control over something in my life. Now everything is chaos. I can never find that happy middle ground, just go from extreme to extreme.

      • In our house the whole thing was one giant pendulum. The neglect was astonishing, but if NM was in a snit the punishment never fit the “crime.” It also depended on whether or not you were one of the boys or one of the girls. Wow, do I recognize those extremes! And keep trying to find some balance.

  2. I did the same thing in school; made good grades….did homework at lunch so I didn’t have to haul books home; got by with the minimum effort. I even slept in math class because I had an A and the teacher let me. I took the easy classes for subjects I didn’t care about so I could spend my energy on “important” classes. And you know what…I don’t feel at all guilty about it and I really don’t think you should either. I think it was a smart way to handle it. They teach to the lowest denominator.

    As far as housework being mind numbing, repetitive and not rewarding in the least. YUP…that is what it is. I personally DO pay someone to clean my house. I make it a point NOT to be home when she comes because I don’t want to talk to her either. But, I can see why you would not want to pay someone to do it also. My husband hates that I hire it out and wishes “we” would do our own cleaning and save the money. But I just can’t bear the thought of cleaning a toilet. So boring.

    I used to get really bored and depressed on the weekend when my daughter was little because sitting at home was such a drag. (Especially nap time) I drank too much wine so I wasn’t bored out of my skull. Not the best solution but it is how I coped.

    I guess I don’t have any answers for you. But I do think you shouldn’t be hard on yourself. The world won’t end if the house isn’t clean and really no one is judging you but yourself.
    (Please get the toilet fixed should it quit working though!! LOL)

    • I don’t feel guilty about my school days, but I do wonder if it taught me some very bad habits about only doing what I want to do, and avoiding tedious work.

      The housekeeper is such a tricky topic, and yes, we don’t have money to spare, and I’m home all day, so it seems I should be able to handle it. I do work from home, but that is an excuse. I actively choose not to do the housework.

      Ugh, I know about using wine when bored. I found many days, the whiskey was entering my coffee cup a little early. Anything to numb the numbness.

  3. PS – the older you get the more you sound like your parents. It happens to all of us, like it or not. It’s an aging thing.

  4. I so relate to the being so smart, doing what needed to be done…I thrived on the praise for getting good grades (‘love’ for what I did instead of who I was). It wasn’t until college that I really HAD to study.
    One thing I do is challenge myself for 15 minutes. If I do the dishes or whatever for 15 minutes, then I can read a chapter in my book…you can decide what your ‘reward’ is. Sometimes I’m really motivated and the 15 minutes turn into cleaning the whole house (not too often). So often, it’s the thinking about it that causes the problem. Once I actually buckle down, it takes so much less time than I imagined.
    Don’t get too worried about the mess…when your kids are grown you will treasure the times that you spent with them being creative and having fun. I used to play a game with my kids with straightening up as well. If they know there is a fun reward (not saying you have to give them something tangible, maybe a bike ride together or an afternoon at the park), it works so much better than threats.
    As far as your mom’s voice and words coming out of your mouth, think of the positives about your mom. When I decided to look at my mom as a gift (despite all the crappy stuff), I could then love myself better because I then saw the gift in myself.
    You are doing great!! Give yourself LOTS of love and praises because if you don’t, who will?

    • Yes I play those reward games, with myself and with the kids. And yes, often the “I’ll just do the dishes” ends up with an entirely clean first floor. It is just getting over that mental hurdle to get started.

      I will try to see what gifts my parents gave me. I spend so much time in therapy processing the trauma. There are gifts they gave me too, even if accidentally.

  5. Pingback: Can’t Shake This Funk | Roots to Blossom

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