it’s not about the closet
We moved into a house that had a (microscopic) master closet but even that is too generous. There were no racks, shelves, hooks… Nothing beyond walls and a door with two flimsy $20 floor stands that fell over if you tried to have anything on them.
Let me rewind a bit and say this: I may not be the most organized person in the world, actually far from it. But my closet, my clothes and my shoes, my dresses, and the few bags I have, need to be in their place. My closet is my safe place. I can stand in it and cry and not feel overwhelmed by the same chaos and destruction that reign in the rest of my house. It’s where I can choose the outfit that will make me feel ME in a day full of messes, laundry, homework, cleaning, and a general feeling of “lostness.” My closet is kind of important to me.
Since we moved into this house, I’ve tried to be happy without that place, with my clothes and shoes in one room, my dresses in another, some things still living in my suitcase after my last trip because I don’t have the motivation to try to organize the mess that needs it’s own space. I don’t have that many clothes. In fact, I’ve cleaned out a lot of downsized what was already small wardrobe to start. But as I try to clean my house, I inevitably land back at my (lack of) closet. I get overwhelmed looking at the ever-spreading mess. I cry sometimes. I vent others. I whine. But mostly, I get completely frustrated. Yes, it appears to be frustration over a petty thing like a closet but that’s not really the entire truth. Today, we fought about it. For hours. He said I never asked him to fix the closet. In my mind, I’m sure I did. What else would you call the last 6 months?? Cries for help. I’m drowning in chaos. I need a little bit of order. But he doesn’t hear me. His suggestion was to improvise. I have. I have improvised by allowing the chaos to continue and spread things from one room to the next. “You just need to take things out of this closet and put your clothes in instead.” No, because where would I put the things that were taken out? After more than an hour of ever rising tones, I gave up. “Just leave it the way it is.” I didn’t want another temporary fix. I would just dig in and wait until I could figure it out on my own.
A few hours later, he started talking about the closet again. I was incredulous. I thought we were done. My brain couldn’t handle any more arguing. He went about his business after a while and my mind went to dinner. But as I popped upstairs for something, I saw him carrying an armload of my hanging clothes access the house into another room. “WHAT do you think you’re doing?!?” My mind was exploding wondering how you teach someone not to touch your things when clearly they are too old to have their hand slapped. Part of me laughed at the thought while the rest of me tried not to lose my mind. He had not heard a thing I said earlier, not one word. He was going about it his way after accusing me if being so stubborn and not being willing to bend in any way but with no acknowledgement of his own stubbornness (case in point.) I walked away, trying to maintain myself. I wanted to cry. I wanted to try to turn it into something funny on Facebook about how to “parent a spouse” who dared to touch the sacred wardrobe. But I left it… Until he sauntered downstairs and stood staring at me as I grated cheese. “Hi.” He watched me. I looked at him, laughing a little which I tend to do when I am trying not to be angry. “Don’t talk to me.” “But you’re laughing,” he quipped. After all these years, you’d think he’d remember that I laugh when I’m on the brink of being mad. It’s not always a good sign, certainly not today. And from there, it went downhill. We can’t even connect long enough to figure out a simple conversation where pronouns are the worst enemy. “If you are moving my clothes in there, can I’ll just move on there too.” That went over well. I was half joking but a little serious at the same time. Voices went up and I began to feel the urge to vomit as he continued to yell. I bent over the counter and buried my head in my arms wanting it to stop. But it didn’t. That was the moment I actually just wanted to die. I felt like I was going crazy. “What if this turns into the story of the couple arguing over a closet and the wife loses her mind and stabs husband and then herself?” What if what looked like a didn’t over a few freaking shelves turned into absolute death?? Why can’t I make him hear me, hear my heart??? I looked at him and saw nothing but anger in his eyes and a spark of hate. No, maybe it wasn’t hate but that’s what my mind saw. “Don’t yell at me.” I grabbed my phone from the counter and rushed to the only safe space I have.. the bathroom. I sat on the floor and the mascara began to run. No, it’s not about the closet. It’s about the listening (or lack thereof). It’s about the chaos and the need for one thing in my life to be in order. It’s the need for some place safe. I opened up Facebook as I’m want to do when I need to distract myself. What should pop up… But a now from my brother in law to my sister. “I love you.” This is what broke me. I sobbed in silence until my muscles ached. Where had my life gone?!? This place, where I would have never dreamed I would be… This was my reality. This was my new curse. The pizza dough sat on the counter waiting for dinner, shriveling up like my will to keep trying. The cheese was probably a hardened pile by now.
Eventually I heard him in our room. Things in the (non) closet started to bang around. I heard suitcases opening, followed by drawers. Then boxes being taped. He’s leaving. That was my only thought. Inside I wanted to open the door and see what was happening but I couldn’t make myself get up off the floor.