PILES!! I used to think I would be able to get on top of them; that somehow, if I could just have a full day with lots of energy and no interruptions, I would be able to make the piles disappear. But the only thing that ever happened was that the piles kept building up, and instead of me getting on top of them, they multiplied and kept getting on top of me!
In order for me to be involved in my kids’ lives and in church and community service, I had to let some things go. I couldn’t do it all, but I didn’t want to give up the things that were most important to me and that kept me going when otherwise I would have given up. I needed those things at the time, and saved my energy to do the things that I felt were most important. But since I couldn’t keep up with everything, something had to give, and that usually meant things around the house. Thus, the piles!!
The laundry was the most troubled spot. I could manage to get the clothes into the washer, then transfer them to the dryer, then to a basket. That was it. I couldn’t make it past that point. Because the clothes sat in piles in the laundry baskets, when the kids needed something to wear, usually needing it right away on their way somewhere, they would tear through the piles to get what they needed, while leaving more piles behind them on the floor. It felt like a rat-race. There wasn’t a good system, and I could never seem to get on top of things enough to create one. This is literally what my laundry room looked like week after week, for years. I’m sure I could have managed to keep up with the laundry if that was all I had to do, but since I was juggling so many different things with a limited amount of energy, this was the result with the laundry. Even though I was pretending to sleep in the picture, which was taken many years ago (sorry for the pixelation), I was so exhausted and overwhelmed that I didn’t know how to even start tackling the pile, and I would often just stare at it or collapse in exhaustion or tears.
I was so grateful to have a laundry room with a door, and I would pull it closed, hoping for more energy to tackle it the next day. Sometimes I would manage to get half of the pile folded and put away. And sometimes I would even manage to get it all folded, spread over the entire family room floor, while I was watching a movie at night after the children had gone to bed. However, by the time the folding was done, I was too tired to stay up any longer to put it all away. So there it would stay until I had the time and energy as I would try and get my young children to stay off the piles of now folded clothes and help me transfer them to the drawers. Every once in a while, I would get caught up on the piles of laundry- when my mom would come for the weekend and take over the job, or when I would finally agree to have a friend help me once in a while. My amazing husband tried to help all that he could, but with his demanding internet business that he ran for almost 20 years and being on call 24/7 the entire time, he had his hands full on the evenings and Saturdays that he was home trying to keep up with the yard, household repairs, and spend time with the kids and I.
The laundry room wasn’t the only spot that had piles. They were all over the kitchen counter, in the office, bedrooms, and behind closed closet doors. As the piles would build and build, only being tackled in small increments here and there, my anxiety and frustration over them would build and build as well.
I share this to show you my reality, and the reality of those who have chronic illnesses of various kinds. I’m not seeking for sympathy, but I want to help others realize that they are not alone in this battle. And if you know someone with a chronic illness and you just don’t understand why they can’t accomplish what seem to be simple tasks at times, please have empathy for them and realize that they are fighting real battles and they need support, not more piles added to their already heavy burdens.
I’m very grateful to say that my husband’s work has changed and he has now taken over the laundry! Through some of his own moments of realization, he has come to understand how much these piles are pulling me back from making better progress in my healing. There are still plenty of other piles all throughout the house, but having the laundry baskets empty and clean clothes neatly in drawers has lightened my burdens immensely. I’m still working on getting to the other piles. If I look at them for too long, I get very overwhelmed again. So I usually choose to look past them or close another door, waiting for the right moment when things will work out to be able to tackle all the other piles- one paper, one box, one pile- or drop– at a time!