I have a dysfunctional relationship with my kitchen island. No matter how many times I clean it off, organize it, or wipe it down, it is soon covered again with mail, notes, and papers to be filed. Nothing in quantum physics can explain the strange attractor forces found in this spot. Nothing in metaphysics equals the vortex-like draw of its laminate surface.
I have considered investing in the small-car price of granite countertops to reverse the polarity of this magnetized area, but I know I am just in denial. (Denial always says the answer is spending more money.) Finally I staged an intervention with my kitchen island, addressing it in all its fiendishness: Why are you doing this to me?
It was an honest question. But honest or not, it occurred to me I was a) talking to my kitchen counter, and b) my conversation was coming from a deep victim mentality. Someone once said that every solution is already embedded in the problem. Since I was already in a personal conversation with my island, I decided to use it to my advantage. Instead of pleading why are you doing this to me? I asked why am I letting you do this to me?
My power was returning, just with this small thought shift. That was indeed the question: no one but me was allowing the mail to pile up, or the catalogs to camp out. Next I considered the possibility that I have been secretly seduced by what those envelopes on my island have been saying. Statements like: Exclusive Offer, Time Sensitive Materials, or my favorite, Thank You For Sharing Your Love With Children! I won’t even mention the 1.3% interest rate teasers, or the cocky dare implied in Important Information Enclosed (just try to throw me away, you’ll be sorry.)
Yes, it was clear to me at last that the unopened mail, the store coupons, and the shopping list for the trip to that super-discount store next spring were using me, making flimsy excuses to take up space on my counter and in my head. They said things to me, and I wasn’t saying anything back.
I know it is childish to think that anybody wanting to give me money is going to send me an exclusive offer along with fifty million other people. I know it is silly to be curious about important information enclosed, or nervous about what will happen if I miss a time sensitive deadline, but I was falling for it every time. Like a bad boyfriend, they convinced me I would be making a big mistake if I summarily threw them away. They made me doubt myself. Oops, I mean I let them make me doubt myself.
Actually I can doubt myself just fine on my own. How many times have I brazenly tossed something only to regret it two days later?
Papers and receipts also pile up on the island. I think they like to hang out with the mail. They use a different tactic with me. Instead of the printed words on envelopes, papers and receipts use direct thought transfer. They put the thought in my mind about how impossibly time-consuming and frustrating it is to hunt down the places where they belong. They remind me of all that bending over and pulling out that goes along with filing. They tell me I’ll be at it all night, that putting papers away is really too much to ask of anyone. I have to agree with them. I hate filing.
But now I know what these devilish papers are up to. I can see that they are completely self-absorbed and could care less about me. Now I am talking back. When they warn me I’ll be sorry, I reply that a moment’s regret is a small price to pay for being able to put my purse down on a flat surface at the end of the day. When they tell me I might be missing a very important offer, I call upon my wisdom that no one has ever pressured me to accept something they were giving out of the goodness of their heart. I now see marketing for what it is; marketing. And when those papers remind me about how long the filing will take, and how much I hate to alphabetize, I say to them: get a job or get out.
I now know that the only way to deal with controlling manipulators like paper products is to claim the last word. I don’t argue with them anymore. I ask two questions of each piece of paper, and that’s it. The first question is “If I had never met you, would I be missing anything?” And the second question is “If I listen to you now, will you be easier to deal with later?” Anytime I don’t get the right answer to either of those questions, there is no further discussion. It’s me or them.
They can’t even scare me anymore with the missed opportunity ploy (Final Offer!) because I know that against every law of nature, there will always be more where they came from. The difference now is that I will be dictating the terms of our relationship, sweet and brief though it may be. Our relationship was dysfunctional, but it doesn’t mean I have to be.