-Being "shocked" by squalor
Once upon a time, a new member made a comment on the old Squalor Survivors forum about some squalor that was mentioned on a TV show such as Oprah or Dr Phil or some "cleaning house" show -- I don't remember which program.
The new member had seen the TV show and said she was grossed out by the squalor she saw. I think she threw up. She asked how anybody could live that way?
And yet the new member had been posting regularly on Squalor Survivors about the parts of her own home she was trying to clean.
I replied in great indignation. I asked her why she was so outraged about the squalor on the TV show. I accused her of being judgmental. I was VERY upset and said so.
My intention was to state the the people on the TV show should be welcomed as members on Squalor Survivors, (if they ever someday
found and joined our forums). I didn't want them to find some old post criticizing them.
My intention was also to note that countless other people lurking and reading (but not posting) on Squalor Survivors would be in similar situations to the one on the TV show .... and they should feel welcomed if they ever decided to join.
I again LOUDLY said that we should not say such judgmental things like being shocked or outraged or angry or upset or grossed out -- about somebody's squalor.
To my complete surprise, the owner of Squalor Survivors -- who managed the forums for SEVEN YEARS ... our leader Pigpen .... she SLAMMED me for what I said. Why?
Why? Because Pigpen pointed out that we should always be "shocked by squalor". She was quite upset with me.
I was stunned. I cried. But then I thought about it.
I realized that Pigpen was right. Why was she right?
Well, our squalor isn't okay. Us PEOPLE are beautiful wonderful fine human beings. Us people are okay.
But our squalor is NOT okay.
Why did I fall into Level 4 Squalor? Because it didn't BOTHER me! I shrugged at the mess.
I actually NEED to have squalor bother me. Otherwise, I won't clean it up!
With an alcoholic, we should be totally loving and respectful of the HUMAN BEING that is drinking .... but we don't need to be supporting of the BEHAVIOR. It's okay to be upset/angered by alcoholic behavior. It doesn't mean you love the person any less.
I had to re-think things. I realized that the newcomer on the Squalor Survivors board was SHOCKED by deep squalor. And that was HEALTHY for her to feel that way. Our new member had a lower level squalor than the person on TV -- and that was a healthy thing.
I think there is something "broken" in me ... because squalor doesn't bother me.
Guess what? I lived in Level 4 Squalor for years. I am grateful that people have posted their photos -- both on the main Squalor Survivors websitewww.squalorsurvivors.com
and also here at Stepping Out of Squalor. Because of those photos, I learned I wasn't alone. I was brave enough to post that I needed help. And I did find help.
I've never owned a camera. But if I had, and had taken photos of my home, my squalor surely would have grossed out some people.
So ... on one hand, I would fiercely defend the brave souls who have posted their photos of squalor. They have helped so many of us.
But ... on the other hand, I would also understand why those photos might gross out some new members. Because I certainly KNOW that any of MY photos would surely have grossed you out.
Frankly, I'm GLAD if somebody's squalor "isn't as bad as" mine was.
I do NOT want people to live in as bad a squalor as I have lived.
Our squalor is NOT us. It does not define who we are. We are talented, intelligent women and men.
But our squalor is nevertheless unhealthy and gross.
I have now reached a level of mental health where I can say that I am wonderful but my squalor is awful. I can separate the two.
In Alcoholics Anonymous they say there are many types of drunks. There is the alcoholic who drinks cheap whiskey or high-proof Thunderbird wine and lives in the gutter. There is the alcoholic who lives in a luxury home and eats fine dinners with her excessive booze. Both are still alcoholics -- and they aren't treated differently in A.A. meetings. One is either an alcoholic, or one isn't. One can't be a "partial alcoholic".
In Narcotics Anonymous, there are many types of drug addicts. There is the person living in the street using crack cocaine. There is also the nicely dressed wealthy person addicted to painkillers. Both are still drug addicts -- and they are treated the SAME at meetings. One is either an addict, or one isn't. One can't be a "partial addict".
So ... here at Stepping Out of Squalor .... every HUMAN BEING is equal.
However, some of us have DEEPER LEVELS of "addiction" than others. In this way, we are somewhat different from alcoholics/addicts. One actually can be only "partially" squalorous. You can gradually "wean" yourself from squalorous habits. It's not something people usually go "cold turkey" with.
Some of us just have a wee bit of clutter. Some of us live in deep squalor with biohazards and dangerous falling piles.
But really, in some ways .... the squalor is NOT the mess. The squalor is the WAY OF THINKING.
Squalorous mind traps:
- The way of thinking that "I don't need to clean that right now ... I can do it later".
- The way of thinking that one is unworthy or hopeless or useless or Layzee.
- The way of thinking that one cannot change.
- The way of thinking that one doesn't have enough time or energy or health to get anything done.
- The way of thinking that it's inevitable to be distracted, so why even bother trying to focus.
- The way of thinking that it will all get messy tomorrow, so why clean today.
- The way of thinking that the physical plane is not "spiritual", and therefore it's not worth bothering with.
- The way of thinking "I don't want to ... and You can't make me".
- The way of thinking that Martha Stewart is ridiculous ... and therefore all homemaking must be ridiculous.
- The way of thinking that one cannot clean perfectly enough, so why bother.
- The way of thinking that "housework is beneath me!"
- The way of thinking that everything should be FUN, and housework is too tedious.
- The way of thinking that I cleaned my whole house last week, and it will magically stay clean forever all by itself.
- The way of thinking that the paperwork/pile/room/task is too overwhelming, so why even start.
- The way of thinking that sorting stuff to decide what to discard/keep would be too heartbreaking/tedious/confusing/scary, so therefore must be avoided and never begun.
- The way of thinking that when I bring new stuff or mail into my home, I don't need to remove old stuff or papers from my home.
- etc., etc., etc.
These "Squalorous Mind Traps" are really what hold us in bondage. And all of us (whatever physical level of squalor we're at) ... all of us have suffered from these mind traps.
Such mind traps are the great equalizer. It's what makes every member here an equal to every other member. Regardless of level of squalor.
Why do people join?
There are people who come to this site for all sorts of reasons.
Most come here looking for help for themselves. But some come here for other reasons.
- Some come here because they are grossed out by squalor and want to laugh at it.
- Some come here looking for help for a friend or relative.
- Some come here just looking for help with one specific cleaning issue, but don't consider themselves to be "squalorous" or "squalid".
However, many of these people who may have scoffed at us originally, often find these forums useful for themselves. They end up staying and learning a lot about themselves.
I don't personally care if somebody found the forums for one of those reasons, or if they originally felt queasy by our squalor. All I care about is that they are here to clean up a mess (just my personal opinion).
One can be shocked by the mess -- yet address EVERY member with respect.
Just some things to think about.-- Lioness, recovering from 4th degree squalor
(Fourth Degree is defined here:www.squalorsurvivors.com/squalor/measuring.shtml
NOTE: This post is from the year 2008. Editing in 2015 to fix technical formatting glitches only. While I'm here, I'll note that many of the replies on this thread are several years old, too, and thus the posters were posting from where they were *then*.