Levels, Shame, and Joy . . . Oh, My!

To Do List
 
Clean (really clean) the first level
Straighten the second level
Bank
Gas
Consignment Shop
Espresso Beans at A New Day Bakery
Drop note with tin of cookies at Blatters
 
 
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Blatter:
 
            I’m writing to apologize for the time last fall when I refused to 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 two 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’d said, “most people will only see the first floor of your home so you should definitely keep it tidy. You know, for those folks who drop in when they’re in the neighborhood.” She’d 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’d said.
            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 bother to make my bed half the time.”
            So there you have it—Beth’s Theory of Levels—but wait, I’m not done yet. Now I have to introduce you to another theory. The other day I was on Facebook and I clicked on a link for one of those TED Talks. You know, lectures on Technology, Entertainment, Design? The one I watched 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 hilarious? 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, but you probably knew that. 
           Know what? Mrs. Brown’s talk made me realize I suffer from shame which made me think of you two. Allow me to explain. See, in my shameful heart of hearts, I thought you all wouldn’t like me if you saw our third floor that night. Actually, I was pretty sure you’d be appalled that I hadn’t made my bed, that the last person who used the commode did not flush, that 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 a sub-standard housekeeper plus, what if you told other people? That's why I lied to you and shooed you out the front door, because I couldn’t stand for you two to think I was less than perfect. I’m awful, aren’t I? But not as awful as I’d be if I didn’t apologize, right? 
            Oh! I almost forgot, there’s one more part to the shame-guilt theory. Mrs. Brown went on to say that people who share their shame stories with other people have more joy than people who suffer in silence. So that’s why I’m here, to share my shame story with you two, so I can feel joy. Thank you so much for hearing me out. I feel better already!
            
            Sincerely, 
            Me
 

P.S. Also Mrs. Blatter, I wanted to let  you know, if you’re one of those people who was raised to always return containers with something in them, make sure you ring the doorbell when you swing by. I’ll invite you in and if you have time, I’ll make a pot of coffee and we can have a nice chat. Then before you leave, I’ll ask if you need to use the restroom and you may use either one, I promise.
 

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