Mess surrounds me and yet in my mind I’m organised, I’m structured, I’m tidy, I’m clean but yet mess surrounds me.
I label things, I have allocated places for items, allocated containers and specific places in the cupboard . I even label shelving in my fridge and my laundry cupboard.
Is that going overboard?
personally I don’t think so. It just means that others in the house are more likely to put things back where they belong and things can easily be found.
Yet in my own space, my own creative sanctuary, mess surrounds me.
The experts say that creative people are messy and that we live in organised chaos. Well that’s me!
How does it get this way? It seems to just creep up on me. I say me, because I feel like I am the only one it happens to. I visit friends and their homes seem orderly. Not all, just some, but it’s the some that draws my attention. It’s the some that I aspire to be like. They live minimalistically.
It’s My Parents Fault
My parents grew up in during the depression era and World War 2, and so keeping “things’ and valuing “things” was and is still an important belief. Wastage was never a thought. I can only assume that my belief of “everything should be kept especially for those just in case moments” stemmed from my parents upbringing.
I’ve been listening to The Minimalist podcast almost religiously fr the past few weeks. I even opted to buy the documentary movie rather than renting. My goal is to live a minimalist life but no matter how much stuff I get rid of I’m still surrounded by stuff.
We were moving house for the sixth time and we had already cleared a lot of ‘crap” but there was still a lot more to get rid of. Stuff that had moved with us from house to house and still remained in their labelled and sometimes mislabeled box. But this move was going to be different. Hubby had had enough of the “stuff” that followed us around that we never used or even noticed.
Experts say you should have four boxes, one for throwing, one for donating, one for keeping and one, well for the “stuff” you haven’t yet made your mind up about.
Like most families who move house, we ordered a miniskip bin. But our deadline for the skip to be taken away was nearing and for us to vacate our house of two years. The boxes for the donations grew larger and larger. I hadn’t made up my mind as to who or where my donation boxes were going. who was going to be the lucky person to have my treasures.
Avoidance vs Distraction
My sister and her family had arrived from interstate which made my packing and moving efforts a challenge.
My indecisiveness and lack of speed in decluttering for our move was my way of prolonging the final decision to let go of items I didn’t need or use anymore. My husband is quite the opposite , in fact he is brutal (his words not mine). So brutal that I knew he was the right person for the job. The job of decluttering . I admit I’m a procrastinator and it doesn’t serve me. I’m surprised we’re still married 🙂
It was my sister’s last few days with our family. I was torn between helping my husband and spending time with my sister and her family.
I chose the latter.
I like to play not work (don’t we all) It was my husband’s suggestion to play. He thought he’d get more done in less time without me around hampering his decluttering and purging efforts.
So I relinquished my need for control over my stuff and trusted that my husband would do what was necessary to get rid of stuff.
I made a promise to myself and him to not look into the mini-skip bin, or to ask question or to even attempt to climb into the bin and retrieve anything at all.
I caved and I snuck a look in the bin, seeing a lot my things had ended up in there. Things that brought back memories. Despite the mini-skip being almost head height (given that I am so short) I walked up to it on my tippy toes straining to look inside it. The emotional pain and anguish was tremendous. I’d have to say more painful than a relationship break up (sounds dramatic I know, but that’s how I felt). If only I was listening to The Minimalists podcasts back then.
I have never felt so much disproportional level of anxiety as much as I did that day for letting go of inanimate objects that had been in my life for decades. My hands were sweating, I had palpitations, my shoulders began to feel heavy and memory flashbacks of moments when I used those things that now had a new miniskip home. I couldn’t rationally understand the mixed emotions I was experiencing. I’m a psychologist I thought, this surely can’t be happening to me! I teach people how to handle their daily stresses and anxiety and yet here I was.
I rarely get stressed and I rarely get upset. That’s not to say I’m not empathetic or lack compassion. I’m a very balanced level headed person most of the time, which is what made me a good psychologist. But yet I suffered silently with my anxiety levels at it’s peak. Knowing I had to let go of the meaning and emotional attachment I placed on those things that found a new home.
I didn’t fight it, I didn’t argue and I didn’t retrieve. I just let it all go because I knew that if I allowed myself to let go, my future life with less stuff would be so much lighter, freer and happier with an uncluttered mind and that was my goal.
So even now that I am surround by stuff, my stuff is a lot less than before. I’m not quite there yet. I’m still on my minimalist journey. I still have set backs from time to time.
I am grateful for that emotionally agonising experience but I never ever want to experience that level of anxiety again.
Are you a clutter bug or are you a minimalist? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.