Nov 9, 2008

Operation One Good Flush

Back in the dark times before I met my husband, I was in a relationship with a guy we'll call Wilmer.

Wilmer and I had one of those red hot relationships you read about in cheesy romance novels. It was passionate and wildly romantic, but mostly it was unbelievably messy with way too many twists and turns in the plot--one of those books that make you want to ask the author if they really thought their readers were that stupid.

Wilmer had issues. In fact, Wilmer was a pioneer in the field of relationship issues, a veritable genius with a flair for achieving new levels of relationship complexity never before seen in human history. Wilmer's particular expertise was the field of Head Games and I played the role of lab rat during his most productive years.

The only consistent thing in our relationship was a spectacular degree of inconsistency. Our relationship was ON then OFF as quick as flipping a light switch, changing from one to the other in a blink of an eye for reasons understood only by Wilmer.

It was a world where yes meant no, and no meant maybe, and nothing was ever what it appeared. We were speaking jaberwocky that even Alice's rabbit would have thought bizarre--we believed we were destined to spend the rest of our lives together at a time when Wilmer was unable to say for sure if he'd show up for a date on Friday night.

When Wilmer was good, life was very good indeed but when he was bad life was miserable. For example, he had an amusing habit of disappearing for days or weeks at a time without notice, and more than once I (literally) checked the local obituaries to see if Wilmer was dead or if he'd just stood me up--and it wasn't always clear to me which would have made me happier.

Eventually, of course, he would reappear with a perfectly reasonable explanation why he had disappeared without a trace. Until I met Wilmer I had no idea alien abductions were so commonplace.

So, the point is Wilmer came with baggage and thus over time I came to collect a little baggage of my own, and eventually we collected up enough baggage between us to fill a good sized cruise ship.

After a few years of Wilmer, having my heart ripped out and enjoyed with fava beans and a nice glass of Chianti was just not as much fun as it once was, and so one night when Wilmer added one last new twist to our relationship I finally came to the end of Crazy Relationship Road.

That night I stayed up into the wee hours formulating a self-rescue plan which I called "Operation One Good Flush". It was based on my list of all the aspects of my life that weren't working very well and needed some work. It was a very, very long list but without Wilmer around to keep me occupied I had plenty of time on my hands to work on it.

I began with my house which was chock full of debris left over from bad relationships. And it wasn't just Wilmer's debris--there was still debris from my ex husband who had left behind quite a lot of crap when he'd made tracks from the marital home a few years prior.

I began in the bathroom, filling the bathroom trash can with toiletries my ex husband had left in his half of the vanity. Goodbye men's cologne and shaving cream, hello curling irons and mousse in the newly expanded real estate of my vanity. Fifteen minutes and it was done, but the simple process of claiming the entire bathroom for myself was so exhilirating, so cleansing, so freeing that it mobilized me. I am Woman, hear me roar. I upsized to the kitchen trash can and moved on.

I filled the kitchen trash can over and over, stuffing it with bad karma out of my house until the can was so full and heavy that I could hardly lift it to dump it into the giant bin at the curb. This went on for a few days until I streamlined the process by tossing aside the kitchen trash can and rolling the giant outdoor bin itself right into the house. And for the next three weeks I continued my maniacal methodical mission to search out and destroy everything I didn't want or wasn't mine.

My neighbors watched in mounting concern at the sight of me wheeling a giant trash bin in and out of my house and the growing mounds of household items piling up at my curb. With concerned voices they asked if everything was okay and I assured them everything was great! couldn't be better! peachy! but I think they secretly thought I had gone a little postal. And on a temporary basis I probably had.

After I finished purging all the bad man karma in my house I began to make changes.

First I painted my hallway a color nobody but a half crazy woman fresh out of a bad relationship(s) would choose.

Scene at paint counter:

"I'll take a quart of this color, please."

"Interesting choice. Bad relationship?"

"You have no idea. Better m
ake it a gallon--this might take several coats".

I bought a canopy bed because nothing says "woman sleeping alone" like a lace canopy.

I programmed the remote control to stop only on the channels I liked to watch. All Dr. Phil, all the time, with occasional repeats of Cathy Bates' movie "Misery" for motivation.

I borrowed a garden tiller. One Saturday morning I stood in the middle of the street eyeing my front lawn for about twenty minutes, then as my neighbors watched in fascination, I fired up that bad daddy tiller and plowed up half of my front yard to create a massive flower bed that replaced much of the lush lawn that my ex-husband had taken such pride in.

I transformed my garage into the female version of a fantasy craft room/workshop complete with cable TV (Hello Dr. Phil, what do you have for me today?), then took to sitting out there most evenings, sipping wine and playing with power tools. Good times.

I bought velvet covered chairs for my dining room and a wool rug with ladybugs for my living room. Toilet seats glued down.

Then I stood back and looked at what I hath wrought and it was good.

I checked off my list "my house doesn't feel like me".

Next: Operation One Good Flush, Part 2

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