Dear Lucy: I share office space with a lady who is driving me crazy. She does good work on the job but this has got to be the junkiest person I know. I consider her a true friend but I refuse to ride in her car, eat at her house or try to find anything on her desk. She's not exactly unclean, just doesn't pick up or put up and everything around her turns into chaos. She is not a hoarder or depressed and is basically a fun person. Even when she straightens up, within days it's back to chaos. How can I help my friend?
Dear NP: I don't get the picture of a hopeless slob or demented person from your letter. Many of us have had the chance to be like your friend at some point in our lives, if only briefly! I have a firm belief that "order is the first law of the universe" and I positively love clean, uncluttered space...especially if I have to occupy it! Yet, there are times when I lose sight of what I believe.
So how can you truly believe something and lose sight of it?
Focusing on what we believe requires reinforcement of the belief and life helps us out. For example, recently I told my daughter-in-law that I absolutely had to stay home and straighten up my house or go crazy. She said, "Yes, Michael told me your house was a mess."
I was stunned, then tickled. I had been traveling intermittently for almost a month and Michael had been dropping in checking mail and I had left a mess. My house is usually in perfect order (according to my own standards) and I demand maintenance of that order of my grandchildren when they visit.
This same level of order doesn't work at my son's house where there is continuous motion and interaction among two busy adults and two very busy young children. The change at my house was enough to make Michael pay attention and comment! He was probably relieved to see that I am still not perfect!
So what is this disorder all about?
For me it is usually a sign of overwhelm and a choosing of priorities so that I can survive the moment. Cleaning up the outside clutter has to wait while I attend to the internal clutter of my mind. When the external clutter reaches a certain level I turn it off by getting focused, cleaning it up and regrouping.
For me, this is a very conscious process. As a consciously creative person I have learned to pay close attention to my immediate surroundings, my dress, my conversational content and my life as a metaphor for my thoughts and emotions. When my immediate environment is out of control, I assume that my thoughts and emotions are also.
For some of us, when there are seemingly lots of things that we cannot control, we choose one really important thing for our survival like our job, do it well and leave the "extraneous" stuff like neatness for another day. When life is really out of control, another day may never show up for us.
I often end up parking my car at work next to someone whose car looks like a rolling trashcan on the inside. Just peeking in gives me the creeps and it is a late model, beautiful vehicle. I have never seen the person who drives it. I don't have to. I already know about the inside of his or her head. Perhaps this car is his or her only island of control. Who knows but them?
The most you can do for your friend is continue to support her in ways that work for you. This seems to be more of a problem for you than for her. Set your own boundaries, communicate them to her and love her anyway. If you feel the need to talk to her about it, do so in a joking way to see how she really feels about it. She probably has an interesting story to tell about it. Believe me, she is quite aware of it and if she could or wanted to, she would probably fix it.
Remember, we all see the world through our own favorite filters. Perhaps you are looking at her blue world through your pink lens. Her stuff just is not pink! We judge others from our own ways of being and believing and often don't leave room for them to do what works for them in the moment. We are all great, blessed works of creation in progress. Today, my lens are green. Maybe tomorrow I will evolve to orange. It takes many colors to make a rainbow!
Sending you a rainbow of love,
(Check out Lucy Shaw's website at http://www.heartworks4u.com. You may send your questions to her by U.S. mail to: Heartworks4U, LLC; 4646 Poplar Ave. Ste 201, Memphis, TN 38117 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.orgThis email address is being protected from spambots.)
(For help with the feelings that get in the way of prayer and peace of mind, get Lucy's new book, "BE NOT ANXIOUS." Order it directly from her at 901-907-0260 or go to her web site www.heartworks4u.com.)