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CHAOS: Any mixed mass, without due form or order; as a chaos of materials. Confusion; disorder; a state in which the parts are undistinguished.

HARMONY: The just adaptation of parts to each other, in any system or composition of things, intended to form a connected whole; as the harmony of the universe. Concord or agreement in views, sentiments or manners, interest, etc., good correspondence; peace and friendship. The citizens live in harmony.

PEACE:  In a general sense, a state of quiet or tranquility; freedom from disturbance or agitation; applicable to society, to individuals, or to the temper of the mind.

Though I’ve been battling a horrible headache all weekend long, my children and I have been busily organizing the house.  We have sorted and boxed up my oldest son’s belongings that he left in his room.  He thought he’d go through it later.  He thought he’d have me ship some stuff to him.  But, things change.  So, finally, today we just sorted, boxed, labeled, and placed it in the attic for him to decide later what is to become of his childhood and college treasures.

Yesterday a friend gave the boys her youngest son’s two twin beds, so they are also going through their own things.  They have hung on to toys that they haven’t played with in years.  Things have just lingered and loitered though no longer welcome in their teenage world.  The new beds are the perfect excuse to sort and clean out the long forgotten souvenirs from their childhood.

I’m loving it.

I have a hard time with the chaos of messy rooms and disorganized belongings.  I grew up in a home that was in a constant state of disorder.  My mom hated order.  She craved chaos and drama, physical and emotional.

I had been an A student, but eventually I could no longer bear up under the oppression of my home life and I acquiesced to her ways.  I couldn’t spend two to three hours searching the filth for a pair of scissors for a project and then do my best on the project itself, investing hours on the actual work of it.  I couldn’t pay attention in class, sitting on bones that throbbed from the beating of the day before.  Her chaos won over the order and stability I craved, and I quit trying in school.

One time she begrudgingly cleaned and sorted through the mess.  She couldn’t bear to part with anything though, so she placed her newspaper collection in paper bags and put them under the kitchen sink.  Of course, she never had the leak under the sink fixed either, so, after the mice finished using the newspapers for nesting material, the bags and papers became a gooey, wet mess to be scraped up.

I remember when my parents were still together my dad would often remark, “B, even pigs shit in one corner.”

My husband was a junk collector.  Though he demanded only the best for himself, he saved every piece of trash as something that he thought the kids and I could use for home schooling or building projects for the animals.  He cluttered every inch of the house and yard with stuff that no one else wanted.  He would volunteer to take garbage off job sites to bring home and dump it around our house.  When he left it took us months to haul away or burn the garbage he abandoned here.

My husband complained bitterly, and got my second son to join him, telling others that I was “anal” and that I forbid them to even sit on the furniture.  That wasn’t true.  I had merely asked that they not sit on it in their dirty work clothes.  I asked that everyone take off their muddy boots at the door, instead of tracking mud across the worn out, used, white carpet that won’t stand up to many more shampoos.  Our house was so messy, so filthy, that it took days to prepare it for company.  God forbid anyone stop by unannounced!

It wore me out to follow around behind R, cleaning up and picking up after him.  He was too much work for just one woman.  He truly needed a team of slaves.  He made remarks that let us know that is what he thought the kids and I were for.

When he replaced my furniture I’d sold to cover the bills when he up and quit yet another job, he replaced it with large, heavy, dark pieces that overwhelmed our tiny cabin.  It felt cluttered and chaotic, dark and oppressive.

I admit that I like things organized.  I like open spaces.  I like the warmth and brightness of the sun.  I crave peace and tranquility.

I can’t relax in the chaos of a mess.  I can’t still my rapid heart rate and quiet my racing mind in the midst of filth.  When there is no order to my surroundings, my spirit cannot find order within itself.   I need those physical boundaries to help me feel secure in my personal boundaries.

My mother and husband created chaos, disorder, and they blurred the lines of personhood and individuality so that I became indistinguishable from them.  I was part of them.  I was their feet, their ass, but I was not a unique individual deserving of my own feelings and thoughts.  I, ANFL, was lost in their swirl of chaos.

I am now spending inordinate amounts of time trying to adapt my surroundings to each other, to create one connected, peaceful whole.  I do this in order to foster a sense of tranquility in my home.  I pray so hard every day that my husband will stop pursuing me through the courts and stop asking for more than what he deserves, not because I hate him but because I desperately need quiet and to be free from his agitation.

I hate chaos.  And, for me, as I box and sort and label and stack and throw away, I move one step closer to the tranquility that has eluded me thus far.

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