Messy House: Image of messy dining room

Levels, Shame, and Joy… Oh, my! (Aka: Bless this messy house.)

To Do List

Clean (really clean) the first level

Straighten the second level



Consignment Shop

Pick up coffee beans at Quantum Bean

Drop tin of cookies (with note) at Blatter house

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Blatter:

I’m writing to apologize…

For the time I wouldn’t let you use the bathroom in our house even though you had a long drive ahead of you (six hours, wasn’t it?), even though you both really had to go.

I spoke the truth…

When I said the second floor bath was gutted, but I wasn’t entirely honest when I intimated there was no other bathroom available. Remember? That’s when I suggested you try the Circle K down the street.

If my friend Beth still lived close by…

She could explain everything, but she and her family moved overseas more than four years ago and her husband just signed a contract to work four more years Down Under. Beth’s the one who introduced me to the idea of levels.

“Chances are,” she said, “most people will only see the first floor of your home, so definitely keep it tidy. You know, for the folks who drop by when they’re in the neighborhood.” She made little scratch marks in the air when she said in the neighborhood.

           After her first visit to my house, Beth amended her theory.

“Since you don’t have a half bath on your main level, folks will have to go upstairs to pee. If I were you, I’d keep the second floor moderately clean or, you could just keep the kids’ bedroom doors shut and straighten the TV room each morning.”

“What about the third floor?” I asked.

           She smirked. “Don’t worry about it.”

“All that’s up there is your master suite. People’d have to be nibby to insist on going up there. Heck, if my bedroom was on the third floor, I wouldn’t even bother to make my bed half the time.”

So there you have it—Beth’s Theory of Levels—but wait, there’s more, another theory. It fits into this story. I promise.

The other day when I was online I watched one of those TED Talks. You know, lectures on Technology, Entertainment, and Design? The one I viewed featured this gal, Brene` Brown. I immediately loved her because she is hilarious and informative. Know what she talked about? Shame and guilt.

Who knew shame and guilt could be so funny?

Shame is when you think, I am bad (Or, I am not enough. Or, you wouldn’t like me if you knew X about me.). Guilt is when you think, I did a bad thing.

Mrs. Brown’s talk made me realize I suffer from shame which made me think of you, Mrs. Blatter. 

The reason I didn’t take you up to the third floor is because I was sure you’d be appalled by what you saw. Namely:

  1. I didn’t make my bed that day.
  2. The last person who used the commode did not flush.
  3. There were not one, not two, but three bras cast hither and yon on the bedroom floor and that was just on my side of the room.

I couldn’t bear for you to think I’m less than perfect.

That’s why I lied and shooed you out the front door.

I hope you don’t think I’m awful. Honestly? I wasn’t planning to apologize, but then I remembered Mrs. Brown saying:

People who share their shame stories have more joy than people who suffer in silence.

Hence, the cookies. And this note. So I can feel joy. Thank you for hearing me out. I feel better already!


P.S. Also Mrs. Blatter, if you’re one of those people raised to always return containers with something inside, make sure you ring the doorbell when you swing by. I’ll make a pot of coffee to go with your baked good and we can have a nice chat. Then before you leave, with all that coffee, if you need to use the restroom, I’ll let you use either one, I promise. Even if you have to walk through every level of my messy house.


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