Time to De-clutter

tidy

My wardrobe is not the biggest in the world, but it is sure well over its capacity. Some of the clothes in it have been in there for over the last decade, some have only been worn once, others never. Let’s not even start with the shoes and bags! I feel guilty each time I bring a new item into the ‘collection’. If all my items were alive, I am sure I would have had to answer to some authority (thank goodness they’re not). Lots of people around the world have one time or the other felt this way, it might be right now as you are reading this article, or last year. But what did you do when you felt this way; did you ignore it, or in the words of my friend, did you give in to the voice saying, ‘you never know when these may come in handy? Perhaps you had a huge quarrel with someone because they called you the ‘H- word’, HOARDER.

The first time I encountered this word I was quite certain it did not apply to me, I mean how could it? There was just something negative about that word; this moral and medical element about it. I had weirdly connected ‘hoarding’ with another word ‘kleptomaniac’, I know it doesn’t really make sense why I made that connection, but I would tell you why. Hoarding refers to the accumulation of items, while Kleptomaniacs are those who take anything they see (in simple terms). So the connection I used to make was that hoarders become that way because they were Kleptomaniacs and were therefore bad, ill people. Hence, why I felt I couldn’t be a hoarder. Of course, two things were faulty with this thinking; one, I obviously didn’t understand the difference between Kleptomaniacs and Hoarders. Two, I had succeeded in logically excluding myself from a class of people I genuinely felt did not define me. Therein lay the problem- I was in denial.

For many hoarders, they only start feeling guilty when their wardrobes won’t shut, or when they cannot find the space to keep new items. Others have to be verbally assaulted by loved ones to get the message. The only way to ‘un-guilt’ is to admit you have a problem. Acceptance is the key to de-cluttering. What are you accepting though? That you have too many items or that there is something wrong with ‘the self’ that has these items? You guessed right, the latter. Only through self analyses can you understand why you have so many items. You can ask yourself, ‘when was the last time I went shopping? Did I really need to buy this item? How often have I used this item?’ The best way to overcome a habit is to question the habit. Many impulse buyers are often held captive to the lure to buy what they don’t need. What if you naturally think through anything you purchase, does this mean you cannot be a hoarder?

I looked up the origins of the word Hoarder and I was surprised with the search, it comes from a word that means to ‘treasure, valuable stock or store’. So the notion of this word comes along with it a connotation of ‘subjective priceless value’. In other words, it is possible for someone in a few years or month to acquire a skyscraper of items, provided it is of value to the person, regardless of whether it was pre-thought or not.

Is it possible for everything a hoarder has to be objectively valuable? How can a hoarder sieve through what is valuable and what isn’t when deciding what should be thrown away and what shouldn’t? To overcome this nature the first thing is to under-value the items held in esteem (this has to be the harshest thing I have ever said, but it is for the best). See things for what they are, not from your mind’s eye. Honestly, those items are tired of not being used, they want a new home, don’t deceive yourself that someday you will use them, you wouldn’t- You know it. Where is the time to wear all those dresses, to wear all those shoes, to clean all those items drenched in dust and cobwebs? Did I hear you say antique? Did I hear you say you are saving it for the next generation? Seriously, that’s your mind at work, rationalizing again. Try to rationalize differently- base it on fact not on untruth. Have/Can you really use all of these items regularly in the next year? To be fair, did you succeed in doing this in the last six months? You know the answer don’t you?

De-cluttering is hard work; I would advise anyone who intends to do this to set realistic goals, by sorting out all the items in stages. The hardest part about de-cluttering is not the physical work, it is the emotional task of ‘detachment’. Some items might have been given to us by people we love/d; thus each item is like a strand of memory. Think about it, if you have so many memories lying around your house or bedroom can you form fresh ones freely? At times, we just have to let go and move on. To de-clutter, the hoarder needs to detach any memory and stick to the goal in the list. One of the best ways of doing this is to use a time-plan. You could say, ‘I plan to take out any item I haven’t used in the last 6 months or 2 years’ (this all depends on the rate of acquisition) then take out any item that doesn’t fall in the list. Try and avoid making exceptions. The meaner and dispassionate you are toward the items the better you would be at de-cluttering.
Don’t get anyone to do this work for you (if you can manage). With a good plan you can succeed!

Today I look at my wardrobe and I smile. It not only shuts, but it makes a bang when I slam its doors. For the first time in years I notice its beautiful mahogany color, and even its inner mirror! Looking at this mirror, I see a happy sweaty faced girl looking at all the black bags around her, preparing to send them to where they would be needed. She doesn’t feel guilty anymore- her space is de-cluttered and so is her head, those cherished memories are settled where they belong.

*** The above article is not a professional manual for overcoming the psychological disorder of Compulsive Hoarding. It is only a mini-guide on dealing with the social problem of de-cluttering. The word ‘Hoarding’ was not intended to label or cause any form of anxiety.

Have you felt this way before, what did you do? Give us suggestions on more de-cluttering techniques .Feel free to LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE. And if you enjoy my write ups hit the ‘follow’ tab to receive updates on latest posts.

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Through the door

                                                        Image(photo courtesy: 4photos.net)

The wind blew up leaves on the stairway, but it didn’t clear out the pile that had decorated the front porch. There was dust everywhere like the house was dug up from the Sahara desert. The cobwebs lined the front door in complicated spirals, and I was afraid to touch the door knob. I got out my white handkerchief from my purse and attempted to open the door. It was stuck. I knew this house, it seemed so familiar but I was unsure. I couldn’t remember how I got here, but something told me that it was important to be here. I tried again, this time pushing and turning the knob more vigorously. The door handle came off and fell on the leafy sandy floor in a clang. I looked down at it in disbelief. At that point I knew I should be worried about curious neighbours and hidden pets attacking me, but I wasn’t. I also knew I should have knocked before trying to open the door, but I hadn’t. Trying to ignore my thoughts, I picked up the door handle from the floor and tried to stick it back to the door. Just then, the door opened. I pushed the door wide open quickly; afraid the wind might shut it. The room was dark. I reached for the light switch just beside the door and the room was flooded in a yellow dull light.

The spiders had completed their artwork inside the house as well, from wall to wall, ceiling to floor; their dust carrying webs were everywhere, I sneezed a lot as I moved around. I knew where I was but I couldn’t quite place it, maybe it was because it looked different; abandoned. There were two huge stairways than ran across the duplex with all the rooms upstairs visible from the landing. As I walked through the dusty carpet I could hear in my head children screaming in excitement. There was the huge chandelier above me which lighted up the house. Only three of the bulbs were working and the five others had dark lines across them, suggesting they had died out a long time ago. The landing was like an art gallery, sparsely furnished. There were several paintings lined across the walls, mimics of course of original art works like Leonardo da vinci’s Mona lisa and  a couple of Kandiski’s abstract paintings. Looking at the paintings I knew where I was now. I walked more frantically through the room searching for my favourite painting, it had been relocated! I finally found it hanging on the left wall. It was a Frida Kahlo painting, the self portrait one. Like all the other paintings, this one was covered in dust and I could hardly make out Frida’s face.

 I suddenly could smell chocolate cake in my head, the kitchen was the door just opposite me and I remembered how Gran always kept a slice for me even when all the cake was gone. Everything on the Ground floor looked the same except they looked older. The walls were white washed and the carpet felt more like sand than its earlier soft feathery feel. What bothered me the most was that I couldn’t tell what year I was in, albeit I knew I was in the future. I went back to the entrance to take one of the stairways leading upstairs in search of a clue. There were six rooms upstairs, and only one belonged to Gran three were on the left side and the other three on the right side. Upstairs snaked into a u-shape, connecting to the other stairway. I enjoyed running and jumping through each connecting stairway playing hide and seek with my cousins.

Upstairs was a lot brighter, I could admire the chandelier better. It was old and beautiful, very much antique worthy. On occasion I stayed in the second room, right next to Gran’s room. I opened the door of the second room gently half expecting it to be locked. It looked exactly the way I left it. The matching pink sheets and cover were still on, and the winnie the pooh curtain still hung loosely above the window adjacent to the bed. I walked around the tiny room but there was nothing else to see. I began cleaning the glass window with my already dirty handkerchief to look outside. At that point, I heard my name.

 “Sally. Sally. Sally” the voice yelled.

I froze. Stopped cleaning and listened, just to be sure it wasn’t my imagination. The voice got distant with each call, it was definitely coming from downstairs.

I rushed out of the room and bent over the dusty railings, and yelled, “Who is it?” my frightened voice echoed.

“Sally, did you break the door?” a familiar voice rang across the house. It was John, my husband. He was holding the door handle in one hand and looked up trying to make out where I was.

“Oops”

“You said you were only checking this place out, you didn’t say you would come inside. What if someone finds out we are here? We could get in serious trouble Sally.”

“No John. It’s fine, this is my Gran’s house, I’ve finally remembered.” I said excitedly and hurried down to meet him.

 

Daily Prompt: Use it or lose it

The engine went dead, and so did my heart. The car rolled down the hill faster than I anticipated. I tried to restart the engine but it didn’t budge. I hit the break hoping for a miracle; the car slowed down only a little, but not for long, the hill was too steep.

My rear mirror showed more trouble; two cars were racing up the hill, oblivious of my situation. I horned repeatedly but they kept coming toward me.  I turned the steering wheel attempting to get the car to steer into the other lane; thankfully it worked. I tried to slow the car a little more, tapping on the breaks gently.

It was only a few seconds before traffic streamed into my lane; the motorists  horned furiously at me in unison. With every second I kept searching for a way to crash the car into a pavement, but it was moving too fast. I also thought of ditching the car and jumping out like James Bond would.

I had reached the bottom of the hill; People could finally see what was happening. I suddenly could hear screams as the car headed toward the busy intersection.

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!”

“Lola. Lola. Wake up.”

I was sweating all over. My eyes were wet from tears. It was so hard to believe I imagined it all; as I trembled on my bed.

“You will be fine honey, these are the temporary side effects of…”

I couldn’t care less what the nurse was saying. All I really wanted  was to stop shaking. I knew it was only a dream, but I wasn’t certain it was. What if this was a memory?

I shivered some more finding it extra difficult to stay calm.

“Would you like some more pain killers for your arm?”

I looked down at my arm , then looked back at her trying to decide once again whether I had just imagined the car incident.

“What happened to my arm? Did I really do it?”

She held up some tablets and a glass of water, “oh, my dear I thought we’d never come back from that one.” She watched me carefully and continued, “Just drink up, you’ll feel better I promise.”

I did as she asked, without a protest.

“Don’t push yourself Lola, your memories would come back to you”