Disclaimer: If you usually come here looking for laughs, you might find a few in this post, but you might find it more poignant. If you hate poignant, you might want to just roll out now. I can’t give you everything.
I decided that after years of neglect and basically just throwing all things I wanted to avoid into our garage, it would be a good idea to rethink that philosophy and try to get in there and clean it. I thought about this for 8 years. That’s right. EIGHT.
This was, undeniably, a task I did not want to tackle. It seemed insurmountable. I mean, I had successfully avoided the Garage Issue for a long time. Because honestly, as soon as we moved into this house we immediately turned the garage into The Land That Time Forgot. You could technically move around in there, but not well or without difficulty. It was filled with useless stuff. Oh, did you need a double vanity with a granite top? What about a power washer? Perhaps I can interest you in a smoke machine? It was a cornucopia of shit on which we could have made a fortune on Craigslist.
But as I said, this shit was daunting, and it wasn’t just a bunch of big weird stuff, there was plenty small stuff as well. SO MANY NUTS AND BOLTS. Just strewn everywhere. So messy and dust-laden and spider-filled. “Let me in there,” my spirit called out. “Fuck you,” answered my weary heart. Until one day. One beautiful day in a Texas July like no other July. We had a streak of cool weather (and I mean waaaaay cooler than normal) and I just bit the bullet, opened the garage door, and stared at things.
I think I stared at everything for 10 minutes. Then something in my brain said, well, nothing’s going to happen if you just keep staring at it. And thus, I began.
It really amounted to throwing almost all of it away. And by “away”, I mean I set all that shit out on the curb. I started, and then my husband joined me later that weekend in Project Free Prizes for Neighbors. We had people there looking through our stuff as soon as we set it out. And honestly, that made me happier than any amount of money Craigslist could have ever brought me. 1) It was gone RIGHT THEN and 2) someone wanted it, they got it. For free. That’s great for them, and all we had to do was walk down the driveway with it. I gathered and organized much of the nut-screw-bolt situation we had going on, placed it on shelves that made sense. I organized the boxes of Yule decorations I wanted to keep. Shit was clean-ish, y’all! I felt a huge sense of not just accomplishment, but a true sense of weight being lifted. I declared to anyone who would listen that it was perhaps the greatest thing I have ever done. It felt THAT GOOD.
I have been successfully parking in my garage ever since, and while there’s still work to be done, it’s leaps and bounds better than it was.
It’s not hard for any of you to read between the lines of metaphor. But for those of you who are musing to yourselves “ok your garage is clean, welcome to being an adult and not living like a fucking hoarder” I say: It’s bigger than that. Way. It’s taken 8 years for me to deal with the crippling obstacle that was my garage. That doesn’t seem like very long when you compare it with the lifetime of other shit I had successfully (or not) avoided in LIFE. I avoided it at an extremely functional level as far as your little eyes could perceive. The twisted beauty of a garage is that as long as you keep the door closed, no one really has any idea of what kind of mess is behind it. I treated my own person much like that garage: Just a void where I pushed away anything I thought didn’t matter. What a shocker when I realized that it actually mattered very much. I avoided by drinking. I numbed by taking meds because they helped me be “even.” I comforted myself with the all-encompassing fuzzy blanket sewn with the Love of Other People’s Problems. I CREATED A LIFE AROUND ALL OF THIS. And I woke up every day with my first utterances being angry, hate-filled, woe-is-me-isms. Good times, y’all. Good fucking times.
Fast forward, and skipping all the therapy and delving and soul-searching (because hey, that shit never ends, we can talk about that ANY time):
It has been over 6 months since I’ve had a drink.
It has been over 8 months since I’ve taken prescription medication.
I AM NOT LOOKING FOR YOUR PRAISE. This is what has worked for me. It is my experience. It is not everyone’s. And while I can be proud of myself, I’m not special. I am just like everyone else, with my own issues and ways of dealing with them. But that’s just it, isn’t it: I’m dealing with them. Not just pushing it into a hidden space.
I wish I could say they have been the BEST MONTHS OF MY LIFE EVER, and while they have been infinitely better than many times in my life, I’ve been raw, vulnerable, and without any door to fucking hide behind. It is uncomfortable. It is sometimes painful. It is, at all times, awkward and surprising and immobilizing and unfathomable, and a giant dichotomy inside my brain that I mostly don’t have any way to resolve. And that is why two words are the only ones that can make any sense to me most of the time:
Because hanging on is for suckers.
I guess now everyone gets to find out who I really am without that door hiding the mess. Including me.
Should be fun, and I’m really not saying that sarcastically at all. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world. And, more than anything, I am completely cognizant that it took all the other experiences to get here. I am grateful for every single minute that has led me to where I am, for a garage that I’m not scared to be in, and a door that’s open for perhaps the first time.