Defensive cleaning….or whatever.

I just got home from a long weekend trip.  The trip involved a celebration with a number of family members whom I don’t see often.  The celebration was wonderful, the visits with adults and children in the family were lovely, and I got to see a part of the world that I haven’t visited for a long time.

NOT the house I was cleaning…

Once home though, I found myself frantically busy:  doing laundry, tidying up my things, looking around the house critically and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.   I know when I get like that, something is happening that is a lot more than I have a dirty house.  In fact, the house wasn’t particularly dirty but I was particularly wired up…I went out to run five kilometers and came home to vacuum and dust and wash countertops.  At one point during this compulsive vacuuming, I finally asked myself the relevant question:  what is it that I have to clean up?  What untidiness am I fending off?  What messiness am I afraid of?

I stopped in mid stroke of the vacuum as the answer smacked me in the head.  Okay, that didn’t really happen but the metaphor is apt:  I felt like I needed to smack my forehead.  Of course.  I am busying myself so I won’t feel my sadness at leaving my children and grandchild yet again.  I am pushing away the very real and painful longing to stay close and connected to these people to whom I am powerfully attached.   I am displacing those feelings by being irritated at the dog hair and normal untidiness of a lived-in home.

Yeah, so Freud was right.   We DO defend ourselves against our feelings….our sadness, our anger, our longing, our fears.   Do you know what you do when you are trying NOT to feel something?

6 thoughts on “Defensive cleaning….or whatever.”

  1. I also keep myself extra busy ( I understand about the cleaning…i do that too!!) …or i tend to eat much more than I should…specially sweets…

    1. Now I am wondering about the BODY ways that I am defending…..these are behavioural but I am sure that I am tensing something up so that I don’t feel what I really feel. Eating is another good way to do that. Overeating carbohydrates leaves people feeling foggy-headed and sleepy, and that’s a good way to “numb out” too. Yes, I think I have used that a time or two!

  2. Aww we are all so much alike! I clean frantically; eat junk food; work my ass off….I love the blog Leslie!

    1. Hey, Valerie, be careful about what you are working off….you need that part of you to SIT on when you finally allow yourself to sit down and take a rest. I often wonder what I am scared of? When I do spend time sitting, which I’ve managed to do a LOT lately, what’s inside isn’t really all that frightening. But still, old habits do die hard!

  3. Well Leslie…I’m tensed most of the time…especially shoulders and neck, but I’m not quite sure if I’m holding something there…

    1. You could ask yourself….what am I tensed AGAINST? What does my body expect to happen that causes me to tense up? Or what do I think would happen if I relaxed? Those are ways to get into the question…you probably have more ideas.

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