Tag Archive | clutter

Filling the hole

In the minutes/hours/days after Maci’s death, I went on a grief-fueled shopping binge. Anything remotely spiritual, cat-related, grief-related, or (better yet) cat-grief–and-spirituality-related brought out an urge to spend, spend, spend. Over the course of two days, I’d spent several hundred dollars on things I wouldn’t likely never have bought otherwise, including making a number of small, spur-of-the-moment donations. The only thing that really stopped me from spending more is a lack of money.

I’d done something similar when my mother died, buying things that I’d hoped might help me to come to grips with the emotions I was feeling…I still haven’t finished reading most of the books I ordered during that period. (Hell, I haven’t even *started* reading most of them.)

Most of the things I ordered this time around won’t arrive for several weeks, but I’m already over the initial rush of gut-wrenching emotion that prompted their purchases. It’s the ultimate in binge buying. The act of shopping filled the aching void in my heart, made me feel like I was actually doing something at a time when I was feeling particularly helpless. (In the weeks before this, I’d been on a smaller buying spree, ordering things that might help me get Maci to eat more. Those items are now arriving in my mailbox and I’m finding myself now trying to figure out where I can donate them.)

The whole situation has me thinking about the issue of hoarding in general. Hoarding is the current topic du jour on TV, the new train wreck for all of us voyeurs. And most people cannot comprehend how a person gets to that point in their lives. I can. While I’m not (quite) at a point where I would be featured on one of those shows, I do live in constant clutter. Before this, the clutter made me kind of depressed. Now, it’s comforting in the sense that it muffles the emptiness that is Maci’s physical absence. It, like the binge shopping, fills the gaping hole in your heart. Of course, it’s a stop-gap measure that causes its own problems in turn that can be even worse than the grief, but at the time you’re not thinking about the future, just about stopping the pain or anxiety.

It’s done what I needed it to do, but I think it’s time to release the clutter, release the bubble I’ve wrapped around myself over the last few decades.

I have much to do, and time’s a wasting.

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Round and round she goes…

…where she’ll stop, no one knows.

Spinning in endless circles, revisiting the same issues over and over and over again. Sidestepping them rather than dealing with them, only to meet them again on the next spin around the dance floor. Good evening, Mr. Clutter. How are you tonight, Mr. Procrastination? So kind of you all to stop by. Well, must dash.

I have a lot of, well, let’s call them “challenges” that I am trying to work through. Or rather, that I’m considering trying to work through. (Mr. Procrastination is a persistent suitor who keeps distracting me from actually doing much of anything, and I let him. Mr. Clutter reaps the benefits.)

The one common root running through almost all of those challenges — financial, health, career, spirit, life — is clutter. Clutter in my environment, clutter in my head, clutter on my computer, clutter in my life in general. Stuff. Loads and loads of unnecessary crap. I’ve let Chaos run rampant through my life, providing me with a ready (though pathetically transparent) excuse: “Oh, I’d could fix <whatever> if only I didn’t have this clutter problem. Oh, well. Too late now.”

I’m calling “Bullshit!” on myself.

It’s been over a year since I completed stage one of dehoarding. You won’t be surprised to learn that not only haven’t I moved on to stage two, but I seem to have gotten worse. (It’s much like dieting — you lose 20 pounds only to gain back 30.) I forget too easily how nice, how much lighter it felt after stage one, how much better I feel without the clutter. (If you’ve never been a hoarder, you can’t understand. It truly is like being a drug addict — you know it is bad for you, you know you’d feel better if you stopped, but you just can’t; the pull of the drug is stronger. And it feeds upon itself. The more clutter, the worse you feel. The worse you feel, the worse the clutter gets. )

I was sitting here today, thinking of all the things I need to do and all of those thoughts led back to this intense need to declutter first. I can’t properly concentrate on anything else while the clutter exists so I’m doing a half-assed job of everything else in my life. That can only lead to heartache, so it’s time I smartened up. (How many times have I said that?) Instead of thinking about all of the other stuff on my mind — job hunting, freelancing, health stuff, my mother — I need to spend the next week (or however long it takes) just concentrating on the one thing with the power over all the rest, the 500 lb gorilla on my back.

Edited to add: Ha, just noticed that my Jonathan Cainer horoscope for today includes the following:

You’re tempted to do whatever’s easiest. But if the path of least resistance leads round in a circle, it may be time to embrace the possibility of change, regardless of how much courage this difficult decision demands of you.

Well, there you go.

Hoarder rehab continued – stage one complete

16:30

So, 48 hours later, my apartment is now clean and ready for the start of decluttering. It’s been a long two days — and a good example of the obsessive part of OCD. I hurt all over. Even my fingers hurt . (One of the many drawbacks to being a nail biter is that the flesh to the sides of the nail tip get very sensitive and scrubbing and the use of cleaners makes them very sore. If there are typos or missing spaces in this post, this is why.) I’m almost dizzy with lack of sleep. I just about asphyxiated myself with over zealous use of bleach. My allergies are in overdrive. My tongue is swollen (enough that I’m lisping slightly and keep biting the sides of my tongue). But it’s done.

Living room, pre-declutter
Living room, post-clean, pre-declutter. The pile on the right is about 5′ high and runs the length of the L-shaped couch to the wall.

I found I started feeling lighter as I cleaned more and more. I need to remember this feeling. I broke the hose on my steam cleaner so no more carpet cleaning until I get that replaced — I have mixed feelings about that. And I got so into cleaning the bathroom that I decided to sacrifice my toothbrush to the cause. Unfortunately, I have barely slept and haven’t eaten much more than a few Pop Tarts so I’m a little loopy.

23:00

Managed to get a small nap in, but got woken by someone knocking on my door at 18:30. My leg was asleep so I didn’t get to the door (and almost broke my neck falling) before they moved on to the next one. Now am wide awake again. The tongue swelling is starting to go away, and I’ve eaten. So I’m feeling somewhat better.

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Living in chaos

Was talking on the phone last night to my best friend and the conversation turned to cleaning. She was in the middle of a massive house clean up. I on the other hand am wallowing on the brink of cleaning mine, unable to make a sufficient dent in the chaos to keep entropy from reclaiming the cleaned spaces, and it grows. It’s kind of like diets — you lose weight but then you gain more back, ending up even heavier and fatter.

I avoid watching Kim Woodburn’s How Clean Is Your House and Kim’s Rude Awakenings because I recognize myself too much in the people (and houses) on the show. Nik and I talked about living in mess and clutter being an outward manifestation of your inner self. (I remember my mother telling me about an article she’d read that talked about people who would clean their homes for visitors but didn’t feel they were worthy of a clean environment themselves.) We also talked about a couple of her favourite books, including Peter Walsh‘s “Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?” (I used to enjoy watching him on TLC’s Clean Sweep but I stopped watching when it became clear to me that I just wasn’t ready for that kind of brutal cleanout of my own clutter — did it when I moved up here and it was extremely painful, not mention expensive to replace the things I had thrown out that I ultimately needed again.)

Kind of funny to be flipping through the TV channels today, then, and finding that today’s Oprah episode is all about Oprah’s Clean Up Your Messy House Tour. Even funnier to see that the guest was Peter Walsh and to hear them talking about the very things Nik and I were talking about last night. The Tour consists of six monthly assignments, leading towards decluttering. November’s assignment is to sign the pledge, define your vision for your life and space, and commit to 10 minutes a day.