The courage to be is the courage to accept oneself, in spite of being unacceptable.

~ Paul Tillich ~

Mess Happens

November 27th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 29 secs

Mess is everywhere!

Mess seems so wrong it’s feels like a crime. Seeing your kitchen, living room and bedroom dishevelled is deflating enough. But when you’ve been putting so much into giving them the once over, it’s distressing.

But that’s life, isn’t it? Things don’t stay tidy, and neither do relationships. You can be all smiles for the family photo and next moment you’re wondering if bloodstains will come out your carpet!

For some unexplained reason, things get into a mess quicker than you can straighten them. Whereas order takes effort, muddle takes nothing at all. Mess just “happens”, and when it does you can be sure it will take plenty of work to fix it.

Knowing this is the case, it’s surprising how many times people are shocked by mess; as if it never happens. A kitchen turned upside down by an exuberant young cook is hardly remarkable. Yet, some are amazed by such messy transformations. So much so, they rant and rail about the situation, creating an even bigger relationship mess as a by-product.

Of course, relationship mess is far more work to sort out than a topsy-turvy kitchen. Individuals unable or unwilling to keep their emotional mess tidy, tend to dump it wherever they go. So that those around them end up surrounded by the fallout, compelling them to tidy it up themselves.

Angry people, unable to deal with their own mercurial emotions, spew out a mess of words and actions that inevitably leave a trail of damage. Like a hurricane, they upend their interactions, leaving behind a jumbled path of confusion, distress, and stress.

It’s always unpleasant, but, being part of the spectrum of human behavior, we endure it. Yet mess like this is more than difficult. It’s traumatizing.

While most mess can be sorted out by rolling up our sleeves and dealing with what needs doing, relationship mess is more complicated. And, so far, no product is currently available to fix it.

So what do we do about life when it attracts so much physical and social mess? Should we keep it concealed to avoid offending anyone? Or maybe go one further and pretend it never happens?

Living in a real world way, that’s honest and genuine, I believe it’s better to let people see what they will and carry on regardless. The open door to your son’s bedroom reveals a horrible mess? So be it. Your family has just had a fight and visitors arrive? Live through it. Hiding it under a veneer of deceit won’t help. Not least for the reason that it’s real, but we need to have the resolve to walk through mess as it is and continue being ourselves.

People who judge you by the state of your bathroom aren’t your friends anyway. Likewise, those who judge you because of a family mess aren’t the kind of people you ought to invest in. You need to remember that and never apologize to anyone for being genuine.

Life is by nature an untidy business. Mess is part of reality and, as real people, we are also built to handle it. But if the chaos in you life is overwhelming you, get help. As the saying goes, a burden shared is a burden halved. Talk to a friend, professional, or anyone you relate to about how to contain the confusion. Like mud, mess is everywhere.  Yet there is nothing to say we have to assess ourselves by its presence.

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