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Monday, August 18, 2014

Cleaning Up

I've mentioned before my relationship with "stuff". I'm constantly breaking up with it. Be done with you, stuff! What happens is: I bring it into my home, I eventually no longer have a proper place, use, or function for it, it accumulates, and I physically feel like I'm choking in my own home. I suddenly and without warning enter the "fight" part of fight-or-flight mode, and go on a rampage cleaning and purging. Then I feel amazing. Refreshed. Empowered. Renewed. This was my story last night as I went from room to room, reorganizing, purging, sorting, and reclaiming my home. Restoring order. For whatever reason, as often as we purge belongings from our home, we still seem to be overrun with stuff. It creeps in, settles down, and piece by piece takes over my space and my peace of mind. 

My sister and I call this zero-to-crazy phase, "Dad mode." It's inherited, I say, from my dad. He gets in these modes, these zones, where it's best to just stay out of his way and let him do his power-cleaning. He gets tired of stuff laying around, goes into overdrive to get rid of it or clean it up, and then he feels better. I inherited the "Dad mode" trait, though it is a bit amplified in me.

I drive my parents crazy, I'm sure, when they come to visit. They are not allowed to leave their belongings anywhere within my sight. If they bring their items inside my home, I start to feel that choking feeling again, I become extremely irritable, and I cannot rest until it is cleared up and order is restored. Ask my husband how fond he is of hearing me go ballistic when I find things stacked on top of our deep freeze. If I go to put something away and there is stuff in the way of where that item needs to go, or if there is just plain no place to put the daggum thing I'm holding, the world around me starts to fall apart. I get angry. I'm not just being dramatic here, I'm explaining to you the full-on truth of what happens. Is my home spotless? Far from it. Please. I do reach a point, however, when it just becomes too much, and I physically act out on the clutter. Physical clutter creates mental and emotional chaos for me, and I have to purge it or I will become emotionally overwhelmed. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way.

I have kept a lot of things from over the years. Things I find sentimental, things I find meaningful, things that help me remember events, places, people. Sometimes as years go on, though, the meaning or sentiments wane, and I find I no longer need to hold on to it. Whether something has replaced those sentiments, or they're gone altogether, I'm able to let go of things pieces at a time. My husband thinks I hold on far too long to things and then becomes (annoyingly) proud of me when I decide I can part with it. You would have thought I cured disease when I finally agreed to donate a plate set we had received for our wedding, the way he made a ceremony out of it. 

The cleansing/purging cycle goes beyond physical belongings. Sometimes I hold on to emotional things. Things I feel bad about, things I'm not proud of, things I wish I could redo. They can occupy my heart and mind until they become physically overwhelming. I reach the fight-or-flight moment, and I have to purge. At times, however, I purge good things from my mind or life, in order to make room to hold on to the gunk. The yuck. The stuff I don't want occupying that space to begin with. Yet for whatever reason, I just can't let go.

More and more lately, as I've reached a season of preparation and transition, I've realized there are things taking up residence in my psyche that don't belong there. I've held on to them for long enough. It's time to purge them, to stop feeling like I'm choking from beneath their weight, and to allow myself to feel restored. Empowered. Renewed.  

Guilt. Shame. Doubt. Failure. These things have been choking the joy out of my life. Taking over my mind and spirit and not allowing me to be fully present or available for my family. For myself. 

Yes, it's time to purge.

"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ - to the glory and praise of God." ~ Philippians 1:9-11

Not filled with crud. Not filled with angst. Not filled with anxiety, fear, or despair. Granted, there is still room for those things. They will find a way in, a place to settle, and eventually need to be cleaned out again. But I will not be filled with them. Consumed by them. Not anymore.

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