Clutter and Shame

The following "thread" is from the DeCluttr mailing list. It shows how much support and encouragement is available on-line. Chas

><< Who on earth will I be able to call? How can I let them see this bathroom?! Ugh!I know this is off the topic but if anyone has ever gone thru something similar or has ideas on how I might find someone who would be discrete and not blab all over town... (this is a rather small city).


I had a similar problem. The drain pipe under my kitchen sink was leaking badly and running into my downstairs neigbor's apartment. I put a bucket under it, but had to to get a plumber. Before he came, I emptied the cabinet and lined the whole kitchen with newspapers. I told him that I hadn't had a chance to clean the floor and I didn't want him to get dirty. He fixed it and was very nice. It's not a small town, but my neighbors use the same plumber. I don't think he's really concerned about my house. He's doing a job. But it took a long time for me to get up the courage to call. After that was over, I vowed never to let it accumulate like that.

Right! <g>

Good luck. Call someone for the initial repair.

All good wishes


[Replying to Lynn]

I don't hide anything in my oven anymore since I melted plastic to the oven racks and had to replace the racks. Toxic fumes too! I use the dryer. The whole load of dishes wrapped in a sheet fits in the dryer. A girl friend of mine uses her washer.

OOH! I just remembered the most stupid thing I have ever done not wanting someone to see my mess. I went to the store (read long aisle walking consumer therapy) when I returned I heard the smoke detector going off from my car. I smelled smoke and still opened the front door to see if I

could put the fire out by myself. I was also worried that the police would come and I had an unregistered car due to laziness on my part. The fire was localized at the kitchen stove. I left the tea kettle on. Two boxes of baking soda later, I only had a mess to content with. Insanity is really the only way to describe my actions. Now I say to myself, I have to keep the kitchen clean enough for the fire department to come.

Warped thinking! Lynn, Please call the plumber.



Dear Lynn:

You wrote: Who on earth will I be able to call? How can I let them see this bathroom?! . . . if anyone has ever gone thru something similar or has ideas on how I might find someone who would be discrete and not blab all over town...

Yes, I've gone through this before -- more than once, I'm hardly proud to admit.

The first time I remember was close to 29 years ago (I remember which kid was a baby at the time) and the bathtub faucet was leaking hot water so badly that the steam was breaking down the sheetrock and the walls and ceiling were threatening to fall in. I had to leave the door of the bathroom closed because I had an active toddler that I was afraid would get in there and scald himself.

I wrung my hands for days -- or weeks -- and finally asked the bozo to whom I was married at the time if we could call a plumber, making up my mind not to *care* what the plumber thought. Mr. Bozo said yes, then went straight to our jerky landlord's office and asked him to send one. Well, of *course* the landlord had to come over and see for himself.

HOWEVER -- here comes the good part: When the plumber arrived and I apologized for the state of things, he said, "Don't ever apologize to a plumber. Plumbers have seen it all -- you can't even think of anything that would gross us out."

I thought he was awfully kind, but *years* later -- like 20 years later -- I had a *completely different* plumber say EXACTLY the same thing, almost verbatim. Then, just to add creedence to the whole thing, I knew a *completely different* plumber (but not in a "professional" sense -- we were opponents in a pool tournament) and I asked him about this easy going plumber attitude. He assured me that the two plumbers I had encountered were pretty typical.

So, the moral of the story is: Just call one, and clear as much path for him as you can before he arrives. I doubt it can make you any more upset than you already are anticipating what might happen if you don't call.

I'll be thinking about you.


<<<<<"Don't ever apologize to a plumber. Plumbers have seen it all -- you can't even think of anything that would gross us out.">>>>>>>

I was also thinking along these lines............. Plumbing is NOT a pretty job.....



<Original message snipped so I can comply with the 100-line

limit - replying to Lynn>

I'm finding myself wanting more details here. How much do you think that you have to clean up? My attitude is that if the person's immediate workspace is relatively clear, safe, etc., it's none of his business what the rest of it's like. Now, of course, "none of his business" is easy to say, but...well, this is interesting, actually.

I think I'm going to ramble on, later in this post.

To retreat to specifics in this case, my strategy would be to specify a quite small number of hours - whatever you can fit into one day, perhaps - for an "emergency clean" - putting debris in boxes, shifting boxes, compressing stuff, cleaning the immediate work area if it's dirty, shutting all doors that can be shut - and then just grit my teeth and call the repair person. We did that recently when we had an electrical problem. The man was perfectly courteous, didn't

grumble even though we ended up having to move some of those boxes (because the work area ended up being other than the place I expected), and I'm not worrying over who he might tell. It's more difficult, I realize, if you're going to have to have a full remodel, with people coming in for weeks, but if it were me I'd at least have the initial repairman in, so that I knew the scope of the problem and could get the immediate leakage, and therefore the continuing damage, stopped. Then you know where you are, and can plan from there.

That rambling: I always find it curious that one of the big worries of many of the people here is that others will find out how they live. I find that, strangely, this doesn't bother me as much. I don't mean that I don't care at all - I usually don't have guests, because guests generally visit you to enjoy themselves, and I feel that I don't have a pleasant enough environment for that. I do rush around and close bedroom and closet doors when people need to come in for a moment. But we didn't consider, even for a moment, not having that electrician in as soon as we could get him.

This is probably partly my upbringing - my mother most definitely didn't feel that any part of her personal worth was tied up in her housekeeping - in fact, I think that she felt that housekeeping was below her as a creative person.

I don't agree with her on that, because I think that housekeeping that makes you enjoy your environment and live smoothly is worthwhile. But I do agree with her that the state of your house has *nothing* to do with your worth as a person, nothing at all. My attitude is that everyone lacks some skills or talents, and that the ones that clutterers lack happen to be ones that have annoyingly visible results. But lacking the skills or talents for running a smooth and neat household isn't anything to be ashamed of, any more than lacking skills or talents in music, or computer programming, or art, or mathematics, or whatever, is something to be ashamed of.

Usually when you have such a lack, you just avoid that area altogether. You can't do that with a household, unless you can afford to hire a staff to handle it for you, but that doesn't change the fact that the lack is nothing to be ashamed of.


Well, I don't know if this is any help at all, but my advice is still to do a bulldozer-clean, as it were, of the immediate area that the repairman would be working in, and grit your teeth and call him, very very soon. The consequences of continuing damage have to be greater than the fairly unlikely possibility that your repairman will

gossip about your house.




Thanks Martha for tallking in your last post about removing the idea that clutter is shameful and makes you a bad person. I agree with you that the ability to keep things orderly is a skill that some people have and comes with more difficulty for others. Your attitude is really positive and once again reminds me that the reason I am working on this issue in my life is so that "I" can have a nicer life and get things done and feel good. It is not for others. Thsat others won't think poorly of me is just a positive byproduct of my doing it for me.

Thanks again, Barrie


I am very grateful for all the support, tips, and words of wisdom and encouragement that I received about the plumbing problem post. I had a double-whammy of shame after I posted it and had momentarily regretted posting, but I am now so glad I did! Hearing that other people have been through similar situations always pulls me up from the shame. And the humor in the stories is also much appreciated.

I think I know why the water leaked into the basement this time and I think

I've boughten some time--enough, at least, to get the areas cleared in order to call someone in. My house is cluttered from front door to back and have been waffling over which end of the house to attack first. I've been kind of flitting around picking at one area or another. Well now I know to get the kitchen cleared and drape a sheet over the doorway to the rest of the house. This is an ancient house--built in the late 1880s, and there are only two (!) interior doors, so I have to drape sheets to close off rooms.

I have also been getting alot out of the "How to even get started" thread.

Ya know, just cleaning out that one corner of the basement has made a big visual difference for me and I'm realizing I don't have all that much to do down there to finish it.

Thank you all sooooooo much! *hugs all around* I love you guys!

P.S. Guess what I got in the mail today--a newsletter from a plumber who serviced the water heater 12 years ago! BOINK!

Lynn D.


(from Chas - thank you all for sharing!) I can be contacted at Balance Check at ADD Balance.

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