The Hidden Splendor of Messy

I like things neat and tidy.  IMG_0134

In my space, my relationships, and my communications.

I need order to thrive.

A teacher once explained, “To you, order is holy. It’s literally holy order.”

This revelation banged like a gong of truth in my solar plexus.

BOOOOOONG-NG-NG-NG!

So that’s why order is so precious to me! I thought.

This was a great stroke of personal clarity.

I should mention that I never confuse order with perfection. I don’t expect or even desire perfection, because it’s an ever receding finish line that can never be reached.

Order, on the other hand, is quite possible. It just means, to me anyway, that my life is reasonably organized, though to my dismay things may fall through the cracks.

(e.g. If I owe you an email — I apologize!)

I endeavor to maintain a standard of respect, love, and integrity in all that I do, particularly in my communications.

Recently, on Christmas night to be precise, I suddenly found myself in a heated, quite messy moment with a beloved family member over travel plans.

As our points-of-view clashed, I entered into a confrontationalesque* state like Carrie Bradshaw enters a high-end shoe store, with verve.

[*confrontationalesque: def.: contained anger + frustration, but not completely blowing one’s stack].

It wasn’t orderly, and unlike Carrie Bradshaw, it wasn’t pretty.

It was certainly wasn’t Christmasy and we’d had such a nice holiday up until this moment.

This verbal muck seemed like it might ruin the mellow magic of the day.

The whole scene was over a hot Hulk minute and we retreated to our respective corners.

I didn’t know quite where this came from. Something was said by my loved one which triggered a decades old nerve that I had put in a mental junk drawer and almost forgotten.

The way I chose to respond created the tension.

Yes, one could say that what was said initially created the tension, but I believe that we are equally accountable for how we react and the choices we make in these moments.

It’s the ol’ light a candle instead of cursing the darkness approach.

Suddenly, this micro-fued erupted to the surface like fermented old New Coke, creating disharmony on what is supposed to be a peaceful, joy-filled celebration.

On top of this, like melted Velveeta cheese, was the fact that I allowed myself to get upset and storm off like people on reality TV.

“What am I? Some sort of Real Housewife in sensible sleepwear?” I wondered as I cloistered myself in my bedroom to regroup.

It was already after 11 p.m. and most of the household was in bed for the night.

I judged myself negatively for this behavior that I was certain I had outgrown, but simultaneously, I was convinced that I had a case to be angry.

After I had cooled off, I knew two things: 1.) Whether I thought I was right or not ultimately did not matter, because peace was the greater good. 2.) I could not let this mess fester overnight.

I approached my beloved family member and apologized for getting angry.

Thankfully, they were receptive and we began to see each others’ points of view, which were not really so different.

What I started to realize as I explained my process was I was actually more hurt by their behavior than vexed, but was masking my true feelings with a sort of B.S. bravado.

Apologies we exchanged on both sides and a conversation commenced that lasted until the wee hours (and by wee, I mean 3).

Through this pivotal conversation, we were able to reach a deeper level of understanding and intimacy that would not have been possible without our argument.

By morning, I felt a sense of peace and harmony return, feeling much closer to my beloved family member than I had in a long time.

I soon realized that without our conflict, we would have stayed on the light, chatty safer surface roads of our relationship, and not risked the scarier fast-paced highway of authentic personal sharing.

In the end, this new closeness we unearthed felt like a true Christmas gift, arriving in perfect order.

Love,

Alix

 

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10 Responses to The Hidden Splendor of Messy

  1. Joanne says:

    Been there and done that too, am very grateful to see that I am not alone in judging myself negatively for a childish knee-jerk reaction yet feeling I have a right to be angry. Trying very hard to work on it and it’s a painfully slow process, but I too find that quite often I (seem to) have to go through a painful argument with my loved one in order to get to the authentic personal sharing, and I always feel better afterwards but at the same time I wish we could get straight to the authentic personal sharing, bypassing the argument. Then again, I also believe that we are exactly where we are supposed to be at every moment, so I guess I have to accept that for the time being, and maybe forever, I have to wade through knee-deep muck before getting to the good part 😉 Thank you for inspiring me to keep on wading!

    • Alix says:

      Thanks so much for your comment, Joanne! I am happy that you found my story helpful. I totally feel you — the knee-jerk reactions, the wading, and the wanting to get straight to authentic personal sharing, the accepting of where we are supposed to be, etc. (all so well put!). In these moments, when I also wonder why there had to be so much fervor and upset just to get to the truth, I remember to surrender to the process and trust that it serves a greater good, which as we know, is easier said than done. 🙂

  2. taradharma says:

    the ability to step outside one’s self and detach/surrender is the path to reconciliation and true intimacy. you did a great job, here. thank goodness your family member was also receptive.

  3. Josie Rock says:

    I liked The Hidden Splendor of Messy. I related to just about everything you wrote about. Ahhh, neat and tidy, I also putz! I like that it is holy to you, that was perfect! Reading on, your story, and how you felt and what you did, cloistering yourself in your bedroom, analyzing what was said, how you were convinced you had a case to be angry, what to do, was very familiar to me. I too, thought about the 10th step, like Ruth! You will have to read the step, let me know what you think. I love growth, you received a wonderful gift. Wonderful piece. Thank you Alix.
    Josie

    • Alix says:

      Thanks so much for your comment, Josie! I LOVE to putz. In fact, I pray for inspiration to putz so that I can stay on top of all of my organizational challenges and maintain the holy order that I require. 🙂 Also, I’ve looked up Step 10.
      _________________________________________________________________________

      Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

      How It Works

      This thought brings us to Step Ten, which suggests we continue to take personal inventory and continue to set right any new mistakes as we go along. We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past. We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime. Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code.
      -A.A. Big Book p.84
      _________________________________________________________________________

      Wow. I had no idea I was basically practicing Step 10. Cool. I am a big believer in personal accountability, which really is a spiritual practice of surrender and faith in the divine process that we are where we are supposed to be at every moment. Therefore, we are accountable for all that transpires as it pertains to us. What we don’t always realize is that this is a key to personal freedom like no other. Truly accepting where we are at any given moment opens doors of possibility for us like nothing else. We always have the power to shift the energy around us. This is what the ancients meant by “magic.”

  4. Phyllis says:

    I am obsessed with order. And I have definitely been in situations like this, but if the person on the other side isn’t rational or willing to concede compromise…well I can tell you about that later. 😉
    All best,
    Phyllis

    • Alix says:

      Hi Phyllis! Thanks for your comment! You’re right about the other person, they need to “cool off” too and also want to arive at a peaceful resolution. Look forward to your eventual elabortation.
      Cheers,
      Alix 🙂

  5. uucsi says:

    Ah, Alix! I love this post. I love that funny, self-deprecating, pop-inflected way you have of writing your down-to-earth self-reflections — i.e. the Velveeta cheese /”Real Housewife in sensible sleepwear” similie/metaphors. And the real life lesson. Which mirrors the 10th Step in the AA program: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. Thanks for the great writing. And thanks for the important reminder. I was just looking over the chapter on the 10th Step in my Twelve and Twelve the other day (for a patient I’m seeing) and was reminded of the famous line, which we all heavily noted w/yellow highlighter back in the day: “…All people, ourselves included, are to some extent emotionally ill and frequently wrong…” The key words here for me and my pals were “ourselves included” and “frequently wrong”! Ah, the humility it requires to live up to that one. But as you so ably pointed out, the important thing is to keep working at it. Thanks so much! xoxxo, Ruth (I think as comment is going to show up as webmaster@uucsi, because we also have a wordpress acct for church, but it’s really coming from me.)

Thank you for reading + commenting!