Dusting Up

As the therapist probed deeper and deeper, I shifted in discomfort, stared across the room, and admitted a secret,

“I would like to vacuum under that couch and clean up those fuzzies under there.”

She followed my gaze beneath the couch. She thought this was adorable. “That would be a manageable task,” she acknowledged, and then we moved on to the more intractable tasks at hand.

I get it, I act like a petulant teenager when we make progress in therapy, and I dust or vacuum while the world is crumbling around me. I found myself on the stepladder again yesterday, washing the windows. I find this defensible. I do yoga next to those windows, so it’ll be nice to let in more sunlight. Heck, I don’t have a very full social calendar, so I’ve got plenty of time for things like this….okay, that was defeatist. Must stop the negative thoughts.

I brought the stepladder out to the balcony and once the outside of the windows were clean, I left the ladder out there, because the clean windows illuminated the dirt around them. Didn’t I just clean the balcony? Nope, I did it last summer, and I never did get around to a thorough spring cleaning. Wow, I am more than a year into widowhood, now in my second summer alone. I am seasoned. I was back up there at 6:30 this morning with a handbroom, wiping away cobwebs and dirt and pollen from the ceiling and the windowframes. I restrained myself from filling a bucket of soapy water to scrub everything down and took a dog for a walk, instead. See? I know when to say when.

I know that I’m avoiding the path of pleasure and personal development, but I’ve been doing the requisite healthy activities and deriving little pleasure from them. A dusted windowsill may be the most pleasurable thing that’s happened to me lately. I feel less and less of the chaos of husband’s illness and I can see glimmers of calmness. I can see what it takes to get this place spruced up. Someday, I’m going to put this house on the market, and it’s tasks like this that I will need to do. These tasks are manageable. I can do this.

I may well dust myself out of here someday, out of this house and/or out of this funk. Too much dusting, though, and I’ll dust myself into a corner and remain here, in a lonely, miserable heap.

I won’t get invited to any 4th of July parties, but maybe I’ll invite a friend over to hang out on the balcony another night. There, therapist, are you pleased?

And of course she would shoot right back, “Are you?”


2 thoughts on “Dusting Up

  1. At least cleaning and dusting is a positive step in your widowhood journey…kind of like giving yourself confidence builders that you can accomplish a task. I used to get into funks where all I could do is play solitaire until I built up the courage to do something I knew I should do to move forward. I think we all have ways of soothing ourselves and for a lot of women, cleaning works.

  2. I knit. When Philip died I spent most of the year knitting. I tucked myself into the corner of the couch, put on some series (Grey’s Anatomy, ER, etc.) so I could think about something else. But it’s not just about thinking or not thinking. We’re in another world; we might not be “thinking” about it but it’s there, it’s always there. As I said to someone else, I am in this world but not of it.

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