Why I Can't Let You Inside My House

by Emily Duty
Originally Published: 
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I like you. Which is why I can’t let you inside of my house. And no, it’s not because it’s a wreck.


You’re okay with it being a wreck? Would that signify my level of comfort with you and give a nod toward my life being just as chaotic as yours? Is it confirmation I’m past impressions and I’m only interested in making memories with my family and stuff? Confirmation that like you, I too am human and not some 24/7 rage-cleaning robot?

Did you answer yes to all of that? Well, ha! Trick questions! Now you really aren’t getting in! Because I have a confession. My house isn’t messy. Not a little. Not at all. But hear me out. It’s not because I am anymore put together or better than you. Or because I want to give you the illusion it is, or I am.

It’s because when my sink is full of dishes, and the laundry isn’t done, or my floors are a mess, I literally cannot breathe. And if momma can’t breathe, ain’t nobody breathing. You won’t want to be around me then. Nobody wants to be around me then. My anxiety makes sure of it.

So yes, I have a ritual I complete each morning and night. And sometimes in between. (And even in-between the in-between). But please know, it’s for me and only me. I feel healthiest this way.

When things aren’t in their place, I don’t know what to do with myself. I’m spiraling, I’m clouded, I’m angry, I’m raging, I’m unproductive, and the world starts closing in around me. And if I don’t attack the source right away, I get panicked. Like, I will be too far behind, and things will never be right again. When I’m scrubbing the floors, I’m really scrubbing my soul.

Is it odd that I’m happiest while inhaling whiffs of bleach, and color-coding my closet or bagging things up to throw away? Maybe. But, I promise I don’t have anything more figured out than you and I have other more, normal, hobbies. And believe it or not, there are days when my hair is unbrushed, and I live in pajamas too.

You don’t have to ban me from seeing inside your house just because mine is clean. (See, that’s why I didn’t want to let you in.) My panic is confined to the walls of my own living space. For some reason, yours doesn’t affect me at all. So keep doing what’s comfortable for you, and I will do what’s comfortable for me. After all, that’s the beauty about friendships, learning to appreciate and love somebody else in spite of their quirks and differences.

And as for memories, rest assured my kids still dive into all sorts of fun. You know, maybe just one bin at a time. Kidding. (Mostly.) We go on outdoor adventures, we bake, we craft (just not with glitter, my heart can’t take glitter).

Most of the time, they don’t even realize I’m picking up little things behind them.

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