An Accidental Solidarity With Mess

Megan Schumacher
6 min readMay 21, 2022
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I didn’t want to learn this lesson. I truly did not and fought it hard. Busy with so many other things, I had zero interest in inadvertently revisiting the imperative energy of mess in my life. I had worked so hard at containment. But here we were anyway. Of course, looking back I’m hit with all of these ohhhhh moments that make it all worth it. But in the middle of it, it was all so very disappointingly out of control.

My coping mechanism has always been- contain the mess. Alchemize it into beauty. Organize it into something lovely. Serene. Create my own breathing space. Make it organized, color-coded, esthetically soothing. Early on, this was how I discovered I could handle life when the world around me felt chaotic, cruel, unknown. Through too many moves to count, family estrangement, near homelessness poverty, assaults, traumas of various sorts, I could count on my alphabetized files, organized bookshelf, and neatly contained closet to help get me breathing space between the uncontrollable world out there and my psyche. It’s like the world is split into two types of people. Those like me who get great satiation through organization and others who don’t seem to mind mess all that much. My husband is of the latter persuasion and I am both horribly appalled at and in awe of his leniency with disorder.

The last few months, It’s started to occur to me that perhaps I’ve been using this life long love affair with tidiness in a crafty attempt to circumvent a deeply held suspicion: that I’m not able to handle the unruly messiness of living on my own. That the world will swallow me up.

So enter, 2022. I decide it is time to seek out another job. This one has run its course. I’m no longer happy. I’m starting to get to the point where I’m at that fork in the road- I feel insignificant, a nameless cog in the machine, uninspired, underutilized- and so I start to do that thing we often do when we feel stuck. I think crappy, self-sabotaging thoughts about myself, do an increasingly poor job as I feel less and less important, and start to blame others for my misery. So, time to find something else. Only, I didn’t know how quickly things would come about. Found a great position within a few weeks. Right around this time, husband revisits with me the idea of selling the home. We’ve been talking about it for a few years off and…

Megan Schumacher

Toddler mama. Born again creative. Former people pleaser. Working out the fumbles of life on the page.