Submitted Date 07/05/2019

It seems that all my life I have been cleaning or decluttering something. This mode of living really kicked into high gear after the rape and sexual assaults from my past. It's the part of myself that stuck around in the aftermath, the part that never left me feeling as if things were clean or decluttered enough. As I struggled with this in my younger years I was completely over the top with it, totally OCD. Now, at this stage of my life, thanks to making some significant lifestyle changes such as discovering yoga, meditation, and a really good therapist as well as getting back to trusting God to lead me wherever it is HE intends for me to go, I have finally found more balance in my life. I am focusing more on personalized self-care that is beneficial for me. Doing these things are what have helped me to see what is in front of me much more clearly instead of what I was just imagining to be there. If I'm totally honest, in the beginning, it seemed somewhat overwhelming to shift my mindset. So I started with one task a day….just one. Once I took that baby step, I felt the pressure lift….it was so liberating! I was finally LETTING IT GO!

It hasn't been easy. But now, being more mindful of this I find myself in a place of more peace and contentment. For such a long time, (decades actually) I was so overconcerned with appearances (only my own, not anyone else's). How my house looked, how my kids looked, how I perceived I looked to everyone else. I felt unless everything looked clean and shiny and perfect every minute of the day, I would be judged in a negative way. I cared far too much about what everyone else thought…everyone except myself. It was exhausting. I had to STOP. I had to dig deep into my soul and be honest about what the real driving force was behind this insane feeling of constant perfection I had. It wasn't until I got into therapy and uncovered all of the feelings of fear, shame, and guilt over what had happened to me in my past that I could finally begin to let so much of those perfectionist feelings go. Because those feelings were causing so much unnecessary damage. I mean, don't get me wrong, I still enjoy having a fairly clean and uncluttered space to live in because it helps me feel more in control and able to function more efficiently.

But the difference is I am not OBSESSING over it like I was for so long. The obsession was the problem. And my family and friends would always make jokes about the fact that I was such a "clean freak". Which only added fuel to the fire of my obsession with it. But I was so broken at the time and not in touch with the why and how I felt the way I did about any of it. I was so driven by this. It almost makes me cringe every time I think back on how I was. I have learned that many people who have been sexually assaulted sometimes feel this way. They believe they will never be/feel clean again. So they have to make themselves and their world as clean as humanly possible in order to be/feel "normal". It's not rational. But when you are going through it you are not thinking rationally. And I remember those times I was made fun of for it how dreadful it made me feel inside. But I would just smile and uncomfortably laugh it off as I always did. I never divulged to any of them how their joking made me really feel.

This is why people need to be more mindful of how they speak to others. We all have our own unique personality traits that essentially make us who we are. But many people have endured horrific circumstances that have taken such a toll that it creates new ones that otherwise may have never been there before. You never know what another person has gone through. So ask yourself when you are quick with a seemingly harmless joke how it could come off to another person. Even sarcasm can at times come off very cruel to a person who is struggling.

My experiences have awakened a part of me that has made me consider more carefully how I speak to people. I will admit, there are many times I have got it wrong and said things I later regret. But my point is, I am trying to be more aware of it than I was before and consciously think before I speak. We are all human after all and make mistakes and say things we later regret. But if you say something you feel could have been offensive or hurtful, just go to that person and sincerely apologize. It might not fix it completely because once the words are spoken they are difficult to take back but at least you made the effort. Which is all any of us can do.

Julie 🌺


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