Sunday, October 08, 2006

Being more than competent

Sometimes I feel like nothing but a huge, squawking chicken, and then I get a grip.

For the last couple of months, I've avoided almost all phone calls. All of my mail has gone into a basket by my desk. The outside world and its demands just seemed too much to handle. I had enough to handle inside. Then the basket turned into a small laundry hamper. Then that overflowed, and the piles started. I have two desks in my office. One is a small antique that's served as nothing but a dumping ground lately for the piles. Then they moved into the old easy chair that's tucked into a corner. When they started taking over my functional desk (your basic office supply assemble it yourself job), I knew the paper had taken over. Just looking at it would make my stomach knot.

What was I going to do with all this stuff? What monsters were lurking for me in the piles? Was there something there that was going to make my life seem even shakier than it already felt? This is not a smart way to go through life. I knew this all along. I knew that the procrastination was just going to make things worse. For the life of me though, I'd look at all those envelopes and start to sweat and get nauseous. What makes this worse is that this has been a repeating problem, and I hate those more than anything. I'm supposed to learn from my mistakes not repeat them, damn it.

For a couple of weeks, I've known that I would eventually get around to all those piles. Sorting paper work has been on the to do list for about a week. The need has been getting pressing. The updated auto insurance card was in there. The utility bill that's due this week is in there. The old copy of Sun magazine that has a story I've been wanting to re-read is in there. More than anything I'm sick and tired of my office, my private little haven, being a disaster area.

Well, since I've been feeling good, and I've got the rest of the house in some semblance of order (We'll just overlook the laundry room), I decided today was the day. I started with one pile which became a smaller pile and a garbage full of shreds. I moved to the next pile and started another garbage bag. Several hours later, the shredder was hissing at me, and I swear it felt like it was trying to pull my fingers in. I think it wanted a break. The piles are gone and the laundry hamper is empty, and everything important in all those piles will now fit in one smaller basket than I started with. I have half a dozen bags of shreds to feed my master gardener's friend compost heap. I have labeled files in my drawers, and the few things that are still left out have a place to go when I get back on task.

This is such a little thing, and I've wasted a lot of emotional energy on it. I spent a good deal of time on it as well today, more time than taking care of things as they came in would have taken. However, I also feel like I have a real accomplishment here. This is about more than my never ending desire to be organized and uncluttered. I did face down a fairly large fear today. A silly fear, I know, but it was my fear, and it felt big and bad and important. I took back a little more control. I may still not like my circumstances, but I understand them better, and that makes them less scary. It also makes me more capable of handling them, and the thing is, I feel that I can.

That's big for me, huge in fact. I've struggled all of my life to show that I was competent, and no matter what I've accomplished, I've never felt that way. There was always some huge, gaping flaw in whatever I did that showed me just what an idiot I was, and looking back, I made sure there was always someone around ready to point it out to me. (For the record, my husband was never one of those people.) I never let my successes matter as much as the so-called failures. Why do I and so many other people torture ourselves like that?

Anyway, today I feel good and strong. I have tangible proof that I'm good and strong, and I'm moving in the direction where I'll need less external proof eventually. That's good. So is realizing that I can finally get around to making my office look as comforting and inviting as it has felt to me. I deserve that pleasant environment, and I can make it happen.


Blogger Theresa Williams said...

Okay, now you can bring your shredder and your garbage bags over to my house!

October 08, 2006 11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

buy a boat and bring the shredder here..
I got a table full o' stuff..

god help me


October 09, 2006 5:22 AM  
Blogger gigi said...

A pox on all paperwork!

I hit the road only to find that my ATM card was useless (turns out they'd sent me a new one, which I had shredded for some reason) and my American Express card had expired. There's a new one somewhere, no doubt. I'm pretty sure. I think.

I'm sure you have always been so much more than competent. You are good and strong, and you should always feel that way. Well, most of the time, anyway. ;)

October 10, 2006 12:24 PM  
Blogger Shelina said...

Wow you did a great job with the paper shredder. I was about to repeat what Theresa said - get yourself over here - I'll even supply the shredder and the bags! It takes me forever to go through paper, because I feel like I have to read it all before I throw it away.

October 12, 2006 11:56 AM  

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