Cleaning House is Therapy

I devote one whole chapter in my novel, Pop, to cleaning house. Doesn’t sound very enlightening does it? As Pop drank and Mom worked more and more hours, my sister and I became more responsible for household chores. We had to clean every day, do laundry, cook supper, and take care of the animals. Our free time to play after school diminished to nothing. Although Pop was far from perfect, he was a perfectionist. If we did not clean the duplex well enough, we’d be in trouble. We tried hard not to cause trouble, thereby giving him an excuse to drink (no one wanted to be responsible for that). Try as we might, our efforts were never good enough. Our nerves swept over us in waves the later it got and Pop still wasn’t home. This usually caused us to clean even more. Pop would pick out at least one thing every night that was not clean enough or done at all. The t.v. was dusty, the dog bowl had not been washed, the couch pillows were not turned the right way, a picture hung crooked,…the list of ridiculous infractions grew. To this day, whenever my sister and I begin to feel nervous or worried about something, guess what we do? You guessed it, clean. Besides working off tension, it became something that I felt I had control over. Even though it was never good enough, I could tell a significant difference immediately. I could clean up a mess, straighten a mishap, make it look nice. Having such little control as a child, I found it in cleaning. I’m thankful that cleaning can give me a good feeling, a feeling of accomplishment. The feeling of not being good enough is something that I battle to this day. After so many years of hearing the verbal abuse over and over, some of it sticks, no matter how outrageous it is. I don’t always have a perfect house, either. When I was younger, I couldn’t go to bed if there was one dirty glass in the kitchen sink. Yes, it was that bad. But, over the years, I have found a balance. Some things are more important that cleaning house. Spending time with my husband and kids, reading a good book, enjoying the garden, talking with a friend, to just name a few. I take time out for the important stuff, but still believe that cleaning house is good therapy.

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