Sunday, November 17, 2013

2013.11.17 The Spirituality of Compulsion and Denial —Unlikely Buddies for Good

Denial usually helps me stay blind to household duties like cleaning/dusting and the like. But compulsion kicks in to help me when my denial caves.  Usually serving different purposes, these two mental health culprits occasionally cooperate to create dazzlingly healthy results—near spiritual.
Recently I awoke in a bustley mood, full of energy, rarin’ to go—nowhere in particular.   My husband, Dick, hates my bustley moods because it means he will greet me cheerily in the morning and get no answer—not even a glance, because I’m on the move.

Usually a bustley mood has a compelling focus, almost like a call or an inner commandment.  This day my focus was thick layers of dust on every piece of furniture in sight, the blotches-from-“mars” shining in the sunlight on the bright blue bathroom tile floor, the large swinging cobwebs hanging from the cathedral ceiling, and the tight-woven web of dust swaying in suspension between the baseboard radiator and the neighboring bureau. And I noticed a smudge of blood on the sheet, his side, from a scratched cut of maybe weeks ago. It was, I decided, an infestation of filth— suddenly.

These spectres go ignored by both of us, often for months, except the bathroom crud. I may, from time to time,  pick up little gray hairs, which belong, I decide, to his shedding head not mine, but that’s all. Not today. Off came the sheets, then I dropped to my knees to attack the bathroom floor with a damp sponge. I am Cinderella without a tale of orphaned woe.  

Why are you doing this? he asked..... ( not as politely as I’ve phrased it. )

I don’t know, I said .....(even less politely.)

It’s because you’re nervous about the course you’re teaching tomorrow?  But of all days, Lyn, you don’t have time to clean and why now?? For God’s sake go pray. 

He’s always right about my compulsions, and I get angry at the psychoanalysis. Nevertheless I bustle on, hoping to get two floors done.  

I wasn’t nervous about the course. I was all prepared and confident. So why the Cinderella act? 

Over the vacuum I concluded thus: 1) My natural compulsive energy, sometimes irresistible and always irrational, was driving me; and 2) My denial had caved, unable to manage alone it called for help from a friend. Thus, in one sudden mysterious moment I stopped denying the condition of my surroundings and was given a charge of energy to fix the situation and reset the denial for its next tour of duty :0)   The results will last for a good while.

I know not why this rhythm is mine.  What I do  know is that both of these internal energies can work well together, and neither deserves pathologizing, although both are designated mental health diagnoses.

The spirituality of compulsion and denial working together has nothing to do with cleanliness being next to godliness, however,  their unusual cooperation seemed a mystery worthy of wonder and awe. When I’d finished my one floor I felt uplifted, enlivened to the roots of my being—not because I did such a good job but because it gleamed and glowed as if smiling at me.

In fact, if God had voice Godde might say, It looks glorious Lyn, nice to reflect my glory, or your own, but remember:  The glory of God is the human person fully alive. 

P.S. Because I’m not insane I abandoned today's swerve into compulsive cleaning too long denied. I had somewhere to go and left it half done with resolve to finish tomorrow. It turned out I didn’t have to because when I returned home Dick had cleaned the other floor. Now that’s godly.