The Monster In My Closet
There is something in my home that scares me to my core. Is it a "room of abyss"? A room or space so disorganized that I feel I would die of embarrassment if anyone ever saw it? Nope. My tuxedo rhinestone prom dress from 1996? Nope. (I promise it was considered cute back then). A box so old and forgotten that the contents shake me to my core? Nope. It's a plastic box. Organized, labeled and living in it's home in my closet. From the outside it looks perfectly harmless but beyond the label and lid is a monster that haunts me.
To be an organized minimalist means that you are consciously creating what is in your space…the good and the bad. I know where my pain points are and I can avoid them when I want. However, for many who are not yet at that state of being organized, these items are lurking in our homes…waiting under piles of paper, mixed in with the contents of the kitchen junk drawer, or in a forgotten reusable bag at the bottom of a closet. Like landmines, they sit there waiting for us to "step" on them and detonate their painful emotional wrath at any moment. When we come across them, we are transported to that deep place inside of ourselves that is longing for healing.
Sue and I were a few hours into organizing her office when she turned to me with tears in her eyes, clutching a half-written thank you card from 5 years ago saying "Going through all of this makes me feel like such a failure." She explained that each item she saw ahead of her in the box she was sorting and purging was a reminder of tasks left undone, bringing up deep disappointment and shame. "I know I'm a good person" she said. "I'm kind, I have integrity with my word, I love my family, I do my best, and yet all of this makes me feel like a failure. I know I'm not one, but I feel like it."
I looked her square in the eye and shared with her the truth that I have learned from 13+ years of walking with people through their darkest valleys in the medium of clutter and disorganization:
"It takes engaging at an expert level to know we are enough and to see the good in ourselves on a good day. However, it takes engaging at a ninja level to go through the wreckage of your past and still remember the truth of who you are. This stuff is not here to taunt you, it is here to break your heart open and free you from it's bondage. It's here so you can visit it, acknowledge what you've learned and continue to open up. This stuff is a gift from the past you to the future you. It is a portal for growth and change. You will learn more walking through this box of papers and forgotten, relics than you would through just talking it out. If clutter was about stuff, I wouldn't be here. You would have done this on your own, hired someone with less experience to help you for cheaper, or even lit a match to it all. But you didn’t. You answered the call to transform through your stuff. This process is not about clearing up clutter. It 's about healing what causes the clutter so you don't need it anymore. And when you are not a vibrational match to it anymore, you won't manifest or experience it any longer. Even if you came into contact with clutter from this healed place, you would not feel the same about it as you feel now. There would be more compassion, understanding, and love. So take a break. Take a minute to process what has been stirred up in you, and then come back and continue working. Take your time. Breathe through the process. Handle one thing at a time. Remind yourself of the truth…You are enough, you are a good person, you are kind, loving, and have integrity. And then thank this wreckage from your past for reminding you of the amazing being it has helped you to become."
I agree (mostly) with Marie Kondo when she talks about only having things in our home that bring us joy. However, I know through experience that often times there are valleys we have to walk through to heal fully and become our best selves. These are blessings, not curses. You will feel the call. It will pull your attention like a lighthouse in fog. Listen to the call. And if for any reason it's not quite time yet, honor that. Put the landmines away somewhere that they won't force their way into your day with a surprise attack, but where they are available when you're ready to process them. My plastic box is one of those things. I am not ready to let it go, nor am I ready to face the pain head on yet. So, it sits there in my closet, patiently waiting for the day when we will meet face to face and have our day in the sun together.
Everything in our homes deserve a place of dignity, even the painful pieces. True freedom means choosing to have acceptance and love for all that we are, the light and the dark. You don't have to do it all at once, you just have to be willing to answer the call when you hear it.