The House and the Body
I've been trying to talk more about the idea of a house being alive in its own right, but what I've actually been thinking about lately is a house as a metaphor for the body. This is something more than one person has mentioned to me when I talk about my feelings about the house. I get territorial about who goes in the house the way I get territorial about who gets close to my body. I feel ashamed of problems or messes in the house the way I feel ashamed if something in my body doesn't match what I think it should be (and this is not to say that body shame is okay, just that I'm still at a stage of development where I feel it a lot).
I take house things personally, in other words! I project a lot of my own shit onto them.
I was thinking about this a lot as my ex came by to take the last of his stuff from the garage this week. It was fine, and good to get that step over with, but it brought up a lot of feelings about the history of the house and how far it still is from what I envision. I've cleaned it right up and made many improvements, but it's hard not to see the broken and unfinished things that remain.
"I feel like garbage," I said on the phone to my girlfriend afterwards. I meant literal garbage, like the scattering of trash that was still left after he took the items he cared about. I was talking about the house, but I was talking about me. My own body revolted me.
We did a visualization exercise. I noticed immediately that the parts of the house where I spent a lot of time, where I felt safe and at home, were much easier to visualize than the others. My feelings don’t only color how I react to the things I perceive, but how I perceive them in the first place, how easy they are to remember and understand.
We visualized what the garage will look like when I've swept it out and taken the last of the garbage to the dump, fixed the messed-up garage door, given the space a new coat of paint.
“Maybe garbage is a part of the process of living,” she said. She mentioned religions that have goddesses of garbage and impure things. “Maybe garbage can even be part of something sacred. Or maybe it’s not garbage at all. Maybe it just needs a little fixing up.”
There's a lot of discourse about hyperempathy, which is one of the mechanisms that underlies autistic animism. A lot of people say that hyperempathic people don't actually sense emotions any better than a regular person. We just project our crap onto everyone really hard and assume our projections are true. I don't think that this is the whole story, but it has a grain of truth. Everybody projects. When you feel more, maybe you project more. The house is alive in some sense, but I genuinely don't know how the house feels right now. I know how I feel. That's where we have to start.