Privately, secretly, I carry a terrible shame. It’s all about the state of my home.
I’ve been sick to the point of incapacity for 2 and a half years now. So it’s been over 2 and a half years since I could do any proper housework.
Growler is brilliant and he does the best he can. But there are still jobs that don’t get done.
Clutter is piled up around the house. Stuff put in piles and left in boxes to sort out another day. Another day which never comes.
The garden which I love continues to grow wildly with no-one tending it. Growler does the lawns and will apply weedkiller when asked. But the hedges and shrubs grow and grow. Last year I paid £400 for a firm to spend one day cutting things back to a tidy and manageable level. Once the warm weather comes most of the work will be undone.
I established some time ago that I am not well enough to tackle the gardening even in small amounts. It is physically too taxing for me.
The same for housework. I do the odd thing infrequently but it’s such a tiny amount. Largely things stays the way they are and things gets dirtier. Clutter mounts up.
I am utterly ashamed. I am ashamed of the way I live, the way I have become. Of my failures which are evident in the dust and the grime, in the hedge encroaching the pavement, in the shrubs closing in.
I am so ashamed if I think about it for too long I could weep. So ashamed I don’t invite people to stay or to visit because they’ll see how bad it is and see my failures.
I wonder if the people who 2 years ago said “If there’s anything I can do to help…” really meant it. Whether they meant fetching a pint of milk or whether they would get their hands dirty and do the things I really need help with. But I’m too ashamed to ask and too ashamed to tell them the grotty jobs that need to be done.
Because where I need help is the things which aren’t cosy and aren’t talked about. I need people to come and clean for a hour, or come and garden for a hour. To come and sort out clutter and ferry stuff to the charity shop or flog it on ebay for me.
I guess there’s a quiet thought about cleaning and gardening and decluttering. That I have a husband so he can do it. But there’s only so much one man can do. He works full time to support us both whilst caring for me. He takes care of all the bills, washes and cooks, hoovers and looks after the cat, shops and takes out the rubbish. He baths me, he plans for me, he leaves me food and drink, flasks and cooked meals to get me through the day. He soothes me when I’m pain and when I’m not coping. He holds me when I’m scared and when my heart is breaking. He worries about me 24/7.
How can I ask him to do anymore? How long before he buckles from the load?
It shouldn’t fall to just one person.
So I need help. And the shame stings.
I am ashamed I don’t have friends. That while I was well I didn’t make friendships which means now I have very few people to call on. I suppose there’s a chance even if I had they wouldn’t have stuck around until now. Chronic illness changes friendships I know. But I will never know because I didn’t give more of myself to friendship when I could.
So it seems that the only people who really want to get stuck in to help are Growler and my mother. My mother who is 65 and has her heart problems so is not up to the task but so desperately wants to make things better for me. I won’t watch my mother give herself palpatations to save my own health.
I don’t want to blame other people. But I wish others ‘got it’ a bit more. I’m not going to ring them up and say “will you come clean my floors for me?”, “will you come wipe the mould off the window frames for me?”, “will you come clean out my drain?”, will you come wipe down the doorframes where the cat rubs his grotty face against?”.
Maybe they think I’m happy to live like this. Maybe they’ve forgotten about me. Maybe they are waiting for me to ask. Maybe they don’t really want to help. Maybe I don’t really have anyone to call on. Or maybe they think that it’s been 2 years so I must have found a way to cope by now (rather than it’s been 2 years and things must be really bad by now). Maybe they’re just too busy.
It’s almost certainly my fault for staying quiet. But how do you ask for help with things that are so personal and are your failings?
I know some people say “my house is a tip” but I really mean it when I say mine is dirty. I know if I was well I could get through most of it in a weekend (maybe two). If I just had a healthy young substitute.
I can’t afford to pay for a cleaner. I worry what they would think. I’m also told they will usually only clean once you’ve tidied which isn’t much use to me.
I’m frightened and ashamed to ask Social Services if they can help. Frightened that their idea of helping will be to offer help with meals and washing when what I want is help with cleaning and chores.
I want to run away. I want to leave this house and find a clean new one. To start afresh with less rooms and less garden. But I worry sick to my stomach that I’d just make the new place as dirty as this one. That I’d infect it. I’d have a new shame to face. Besides the obstacles to moving are not insignificant and would mean getting rid of the clutter and cleaning this place anyway.
I’m seriously considering trying to hire a gardener because the thought of it getting more out of control makes me feel nauseous. That if I can find someone who’ll come just twice a month maybe I can just spend the money and make sacrifices elsewhere.
As for the clutter and the cleaning … I started a few weeks ago with Growler to do half an hour of ‘chuck or recycle’ each weekend. We made a small but encouraging dent. So it could work. Less stuff would make cleaning a lot easier. For someone.
I’m wondering whether to directly ask my brother for help. Perhaps with ferrying piles of stuff to the charity shop. He lived with us for two years and never volunteered to help me. So it’s a long shot and has potential to fail.
Last time I gathered my courage and when a friend voluntereed to help do my filing I was elated that someone was going to help. And that they were happy to do it. She never came. Her own life get too busy. The filing is still not done a year later. It was a crushing disappointment.
I considered writing an open letter to everyone I know saying “I need help”. I need help with decluttering and cleaning and I need people who won’t judge me for letting things get so bad. But I suspect the one’s who would step up to help would be the ones who have enough on their plates and/or are the most elderly. Or that I’d be overwhelmed with people wanting to help but none of it would come.
If they did come I am sure I would feel overhwelmed by the gift and by the highlighting of my own inabilities. But maybe that’s just something I have to face.
So what to do. What to do.
Seems my options are:
a) Keep ignoring the problem (it will only get worse). Not an option really.
b) Chip away at it little by little and hope I can catch up eventually without giving myself any setbacks
c) Cry out loudly for help and swallow my pride, hide my shame