How My Dirty Dishes Changed My Dirty Heart
I was cleaning up after dinner, and looking at that sink full of dirty dishes. It took me back to my past when I was cooking for a family of eight, and it seemed like every time to went to the sink, it was full of glasses, spoons, and bowls. No matter how much I reminded everyone to please rinse your dish, and place it in the dishwasher, there was always that bowl of dried cereal that was like chipping away at concrete.
I stood there and was reminded of how my heart was getting as filthy as the dishes that were lying there, with dried food, the foul smells, and how frustrated I would allow myself to reach a boiling point. I would lose it, and something inside of me would snap, and my inner anger would explode onto everyone that was within hearing distance.
I realize now that there was so much more inside of me than just the sink full of dirty dishes ... the dirty dishes was just the final straw from the weight I was sick and tired of carrying. Now, I am cooking for two, and I don't feel that frustration. Is it because I don't have as many dishes? No, it's because I cleaned my heart, just like I cleaned that sink full of dishes.
It was those very 'Standing at the sink' and dreading it moments that led me to snap for the last time. I remembered standing there, crying and the feelings of guilt and shame washing over me after I yelled at my kids about not rinsing out their bowls ... I recall the silent prayer I prayed that day ... "Lord, help me clean my heart like I would clean my home."
I looked around, and I knew there were dust bunnies, cob webs and most likely a dirty floor behind the refridgerator. Nobody else saw it, but I knew it was there. I pulled that refridgerator out, and low and behold, there it was ... the unseen dirt. Hidden behind a large object that hid from others all the things I knew were there. It was there because I didn't want to look at it. I didn't want to take the time to scrub it - My thoughts would say, "Why bother? Nobody can see it." But my conscience would say, "Clean it anyway because you know it needs it."
It was in that moment, my head and my heart were conflicted. More of my past would surfice and I began to realize that it was my heart that was being filled with the pain that my mind was playing over and over in my mind. I began to feel those same feelings about my heart as I did the refridgerator. I knew my heart was not in a good place, and I could sense what was inside of it. Things you may or may not relate to, but I had things like bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, guilt, shame - shame that wasn't even mine to carry, but there it was ...
I decided to use the hidden dirt in my home to provide me the time, as well as the visuals I needed to have a closer look at the hidden parts of my heart that I was dragging around with me for my entire life.
I broke out the cleaning brushes, the buckets of disenfectant, and rags to wipe everything down once the tasks were completed. I cleaned out every cobweb, and threw out every dustbunny I could find. Yes, the physical part was done, but I still didn't know how to take out the trash in my own heart. I realized it was just like that sink of never ending dishes. It was always full and always a trigger for me.
So, I did like most people do, and I talked to my doctor. He listened and recommended I take an anti-anxiety pill. I recall my reaction to his recommendation. "What's it going to be like when the prescription runs out?" He smiled and said, "Call me and I'll just keep the refills coming for as long as it takes." My entire spirit collapsed in that moment. I didn't want to take a pill for as long as it took, so I got in to counseling. By now, my kids were leaving home, my mother whom I was trying to help had died, and my marriage was basically over ... the thought of starting over in my mid-forties was horrifying at the time. My counselor helped me sort out my past, and was great to help me see the family patterns of addiction, codependency, and grief.
Ahhhh ... there it is again ... Grief. So I began to research grief and tried all the support groups. I felt worse than ever ... listening to all those sad stories, and feeling like my grief wasn't so bad after all.
Then I came across this little thing called, Grief Recovery. We didn't sit around and just share our sadness, we actually took action. Upon completion of the loss that I had chose, I realized, that washing that sinkfull of dirty dishes was like winning a marathon. The more actions I took, the less filth I had to dread cleaning.
I had to "unlearn" some of my belief systems, and the truth set me free. I had to take in some knowledge that even the most well intended advice can hurt more than no words at all.
I had to dig deep, and seek my God to help me heal with the aspects of forgiveness. I learned it took my action, and my inner desire to leave the prison of filth that I somehow built with my own two hands. That was an awakening moment for me. Yet, the lesson I took was that it all boiled down to hurting people, hurt people.
I had to soak in that just like I soaked those endless bowls of dried cereal in the sink. Those soaking moments allowed my heart to soften, and the hardness inside of me softened. Forgiveness came, and it was in that moment, the chains were broken, and I was finally set free. I will never forget how that felt inside. It was like I was getting a brand new heart.
I took the time as well as the action to really look at a life time of loss. It wasn't always about someone's death, as I learned about the loss of trust, safety and the loss of protection. I learned about the feelings of betrayal, and that words do hurt. I was taught not only how to release all that pain, but I was shown where to place it.
It allowed the trauma tapes that played over in my mind, to pause, so I could slowly erase them.
My story may or may not be your story ... It doesn't matter, because there is no comparing losses, nor is there nobody telling you that you shouldn't feel a certain way. There are no judgements, period. You are the only person that truly knows how you feel right now.
You are the only person who knows if you're okay with your life just as it is, or if you're ready to take some action to heal from within, and say goodbye to the pain of your past