I feel like I am living on a reality show. The one about hoarders. I don’t consider myself to be a hoarder, but over the past two months I’ve noticed that it’s not easy to walk around the apartment. I don’t live in a tiny apartment. Whenever I go to friends’ houses, their spaces feel open and livable. I come home and feel claustrophobic. My husband is a much neater person than I am, and I realize that he doesn’t have as much stuff as I do.
For my reasoning and excuses, I admit that I’ve been given approximately 14 bags of clothes from well-meaning people. When my father and step-mother moved for his new job, they took my childhood stuff out of their storage and gave it to us. We already had a two bedroom apartment’s worth, and then here comes my childhood items and my mother’s kitchen. Nostalgia that I haven’t had time to go through. I had some things before, and my husband used to say that I had a lot of clothes. Now, we’re inundated.
I realized that other people don’t live with so much STUFF. And over time, I’ve thought about getting rid of x, y, and z items, but then I would hesitate because I wasn’t sure how to go about it without making a bigger mess than what we already had. I don’t remember where I first came across the introduction to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, but the introduction allowed me to be me and to not change my personality completely while going through the process. There are parts that need re-hard-wiring, like using a soldiering gun to get the right wires into the right spaces.
I’ve waited my entire life to get to a point where my space was MY space. I am a younger sibling, but the house belonged to my parents. I lived in dorms for years, and then in apartments with roommates where my room was mine, but what was the point of decorating when I would move within months anyway? From there, I’ve felt like I never had enough clothes. I believe that is where the 14 bags of clothes came into play. I’ve learned that there was not enough of something although my Dad normally had a job that supported four people well. My mother had a household where they had enough to get by, but there was a feeling of scarcity. I don’t know where the feeling of scarcity came from unless it was my grandmother (father’s mother) in the Great Depression. At this point, I am adult and I am married. My husband has his own thing going on, and it’s time that I claimed my independence from STUFF!
While reading Marie Kondo’s book, I love the introduction that allows a person to not have learned how to tidy. Osmosis tidying does not necessarily work. My mother tried to tidy, but my father did not ever tidy, excepting to throw everything from one room into another whereupon my mother would have to go through everything that just got thrown and make sure that things were tidy. Mixed messages don’t help people. My parents tried, but whatever the case for genetics or otherwise, I am willing to make changes that will positively impact our lives.
My husband might get freaked out by the amount of stuff that I get rid of, but when I talked to him, he was fine with me doing whatever I needed to do. Supportive spouses are wonderful. And it helps when the book says not to touch the stuff of the other people in the household, but only to focus on your stuff. When I look at the amount of stuff that I have to focus on, I am ready to clear and clean out things. Luckily for me, I have also looked up the pickup schedule for the local Salvation Army. I have no idea how many bags I will go through, but I know that it is time.
I am starting today with having read the book through last week and realizing that I would need a few hours to go through even the first part, but to be determined not to stop at the first part, clothes. This morning I brought in all of my tops (only tops) to my bedroom, on top of my bed. It’s the largest open surface in the house. And the mattress is a normal height for an American mattress on a regular box spring and basic frame. The pile of shirts is almost as tall as I am, and I am less than 5’5″. It looks like a bell curve, but a mountain-shaped bell curve.
As I continued bringing in clothes from various parts of the house, I started saying, “I can’t believe that I have this many tops.” From there, it felt like it got worse and worse. At one point, I had to lay on the ground in my husband’s man cave just to let some of the enormity of the amount of tops process in my subconscious. I really did not think that I had that many tops. I am not yet dealing with dresses, sweaters or cardigans, skirts, pants, shorts or capris, or anything else yet. Only tops. Whew. That is what brought me to writing today. There was so much happening in my mind that I was gushing for a psychological release, and so I wrote.
Nothing else in the house has changed yet. It’s just me, learning a little of the size of the issue, and ignoring the size, but focusing on the items that bring me joy. As I was going through the shirts, it was pretty easy to feel the items that made me happy and the items that made me cringe internally. Or the items to which I normally say, “No,” and keep on going. Those needed to be weeded out a long time ago, but will definitely be weeded out now. And for the items where I am wishy-washy, there’s a way of letting go in the book that I loved. Thanking the items for what they taught me, and honoring their service, and then putting them in the bag, trusting that fate will give them a different home where they can be better loved. As I started through the book, there were so many things in there that I did not expect to relate to, but I know that this is a best book of wisdom for me and for my life right now. I need to open my house internally to more light, to more wisdom, and it helps by removing the things that block light. Whether or not this is psychobabble doesn’t matter. When it is time to move to a new place, I want only things that spark joy there with us, and this is a step in the right direction.