Sunday, February 6, 2011

neat-freaks and other curious folk

Been thinking about the whole 'neat-freak' thing lately. Mostly because the person with whom I share a kitchen is probably one of THE biggest slobs I've ever known. Add his house-guests to the mix, and it makes for quite the challenge for a neat-freak. Up until a few months ago, I would just clean up behind them. I'd walk into the kitchen, see the disaster, and just get busy. Of course, this only led to my ever-growing resentment. On top of that, it all went unnoticed (my cleaning up, that is). So I created this pattern of YOU make the mess, I'LL clean it up. My bad. It never occurred to me that I was teaching him (and his slovenly guests) to make as big a mess as they wanted and Camille would clean up. Like I was the household slave. SHEESH!

A few months ago, just before yet another group of guests were to arrive, I told him outright: "I will NOT be cleaning up after you OR your guests. If they use my things (which they ALWAYS do) I expect for them to be put back where they belong. It's not my job to clean up after your guests, so you're on your own." He followed with, "I don't expect you to." Gee. Really? Howz that again?

I did realize at that point that it was my own doing. I was the one who created that expectation (even though he denied having it). But the thing was, I just couldn't stand the mess. It drove me NUTSO. I figured it was 'easier' to clean up than to put up with the anxiety of seeing that stinking mess. I was SO wrong.

What I've come to understand is that one part of my neat-freak-ness has to do with my on-going control issues. I like things to be where they're supposed to be. I like things to be clean and orderly. I like things the way I like things. Why is it so hard for people to honor that? Why do they insist on making it so difficult? Why, why, why? WAH WAH WAH. Lord have mercy on us!

And then there are those blessed moments of clarity. When you finally see it for what it is and you ask yourself, "what took ya so long? ya knucklehead." Immediately followed by loads of laughter and a long shaking of the head. GEEZLOUISE. You'd think that somebody who is supposed to be so dang smart would've seen that long ago, right?

Not so much.

Neat-freaks are very often control-freaks. They kinda go hand-in-hand. I've always known I was a control-freak AND a neat-freak, but I never put two and two together. Until this week. I got home from running some errands the other day, and the kitchen guessed it...a DISASTER. When I'd left the house, it was spotless. One of the guests had made a scrumptious dinner the night before, and I'd been invited to join them. So, as is my norm, I cleaned up afterwards. That's how I was raised. But not everyone was raised that way. To me, it is disrespectful to go into another person's home, make a mess, and not clean up after yourself. To them, it's "nothing". They don't even consider the fact that there is another person living in this house. They use my stuff, eat my food, and never say a word or lift a hand. You call that good manners?

Apparently, my expectations are way out of whack. Because I was still hoping for someone to step up and clean up. I was absolutely out of my mind on that one. People are not going to adhere to 'rules' that they have no clue about. And it's not my job to teach them manners, right? So the dilemma came right back on me. Am I going to allow this to bug the bejeebers outta me or just let it go? Why do I torture myself with what they do or don't do? Why should I even give it one moment's attention? Because it's for damn sure they're not. So...what I ended up with is this:

First: this is NOT a "forever" situation. There will come a day, in the near future, when I will NOT have to share a kitchen. So, take a breath Little Missy. RELAX!
Second: make it clear to said house guests what belongs to whom the moment they step into the kitchen. Tell them the 'rules' and let them decide what they're going to use. It became quite obvious that the roommate didn't have the balls to do it, so that part was up to me. "These are my things. You are welcome to use them so long as you care for them properly and return them to their specified places." End of story. You'd be surprised how many won't touch the stuff after that. Must be too much pressure. (grin) Either way, I don't much give a rip. My stuff, my rules. Period. (bet ya didn't know I was such a tyrant, huh?)
Lastly, it's pretty easy to just not use the kitchen when they're here. So...stay outta there. Then you don't have to git yerself in a tizzy over it. Just leave it be. They won't be here forever. As for the roommate...well, he is who he is. I'm not gonna change him or his habits. I can stay and shut up about it or I can find another place to live. Easy.

Control-freaks are a curious breed, doncha think?

1 comment:

terri said...

nice insight, cams.
whenever i'm freakin' out, sooner or later i see it's my deal not anyone else's. well....sometimes that takes me a long long time...but sure seems to come around that way if you really look!