Why I Had A Meltdown Over Cleaning
I have a disease that can severely limit my ability to do household tasks. And I have gotten used to planning such tasks and the time needed to do them around my disease. But my family still doesn’t. You see, even though I have had this disease for 21 years, and my family has known me through the entire process, they still do not understand how it affects me both physically and emotionally. How could they? They don’t experience it. I do. But after 21 years, I do expect that would know me and how I handle things. So springing things on me without thinking them through might not work out the way they want.
This was never more obvious than yesterday when my husband and son decided it would be a great day to use the new steam cleaner on the furniture before going out to the movies.
*Side note: We had just gone through a nice temperature change and decent snowfall
overnight which can be especially hard on my body.*
The day started relatively calm: breakfast, funny tv, paying the bills… Then we decided we hadn’t been out in a long time so why not go to a movie. Everyone was all in. But true to form, my husband and son wanted to get some stuff done first. Josh had errands to run and Mike wanted to clean the kitchen. No big deal. I could rest. OK. But I did feel a bit guilty. I was sore from the weather. We’d been having crazy weather for weeks so I figured the rest was good. We had a couple of hours before the movie.
All that finished. We ate lunch and the guys rested. Then the worst words they could have said popped out of their mouths. “This couch stinks”. “Let’s Use the cleaner on it before we go”.
If you’re wondering why that was so bad, let me explain. I still feel like I should be keeping the house clean. Yes, there are parts of the work I have made peace with the fact I can no longer do. I cannot scrub. So dishes are not my thing. My husband and my son do dishes. Both son’s do their own laundry as lifting and bending are bad for a back that has fractured 4 times over 50yrs of life. But when people enter my home, they still judge me by its cleanliness. And when my husband and kids said the couch stank, it hurt me.
That statement also made me feel like the responsible party as to cleaning it. Yes, they both said they’d do it and to just sit. Maybe give them directions as to how to use the (brand new) machine, but don’t exert myself. OK. Now I feel like it’s my fault the couch stinks and because I’m infirm, they have to clean it for me. I see that best wife/mother award arriving any day now. And they really seemed oblivious to the fact that I wanted to help!
So, I am hurt and humiliated and really feeling the fact that my disease prevents me from doing soooo much that I should be able to do. I started to cry. Which, unfortunately, is another thing I can’t exactly do. I blubber. My nose runs. My mouth runs. My eyes swell up and hurt like the dickens. And I can’t breathe. And what did my family do? They told me to stop. They told me I didn’t need to be upset. That no one was blaming anyone and to calm down.
I blew a gasket. Total meltdown. And here’s why. When I was well enough to clean the furniture, no one wanted to help. When the dog wet on the chair, I asked for someone to re clean it because I ran out of energy, no one did. When There’s a mess somewhere, I get told, but not helped. House cleaning is expected when they ask, help is given on their time.
But the fact is, housecleaning has to be on MY time. When I’M well enough. And when I’m well enough, they NEED to be ready because it won’t last. They can pop up at a moment's notice to carry, move, scrub, or run up or down stairs. I cannot. And I certainly cannot steam clean a couch and THEN get ready and go to a movie. I will turn into a massive ball of cramped muscles, swollen joints, and PAIN.
But this melt down did teach me somethings. 1) It’s good to speak up. My family doesn’t know how I feel day to day. 2) They do think they are helping me. They really do and I love them for it. 3) They need to know how I feel about doing work. When I want to and why I do it the way I do. 4) I need to explain myself more when I ask for help.
5) Always tell them I love them!