Let’s be honest, clearing space is not always a simple thing to do. It takes courage and perseverance. It takes kindness to admit to yourself that you made some not so great choices, that you indulged in excess, that you’re holding onto things you should have parted with years ago. It brings up emotions you thought you had forgotten, buried, or found a way to ignore.
It’s also a process. You can’t necessarily declutter once and expect everything to stay that way. Life is not static. It’s full of the unexpected. It’s chaotic and beautiful. It’s equal parts frustrating and exhilarating! There are some things we can control–many more we can’t.
Choosing what you surround yourself with is perhaps the only thing you have control over.
Clutter starts out as something we have no control over because it happens gradually, most often following in the wake of a major life event…
It certainly came after my mothers suicide when I was 24. It came after my second marriage, the birth of my second child, and during the three months of bed rest I experienced after a herniated disk. It came once again more recently after I went through my last surgery in December 2014, was thrown into premature menopause, and realized I’d never have another child.
These life experiences and the fact that I’ve had to declutter my life several times are why I feel compelled to share a bit about what I’ve personally gone through during my own journey to create a space that truly nurtures the evolution of my soul.
Please keep in mind that I am sharing this journal entry “unedited” for the most part. It’s a glimpse into the ways in which our mind can work against us when we hit rock bottom. It’s also my way of showing you that I understand, I’ve been there, my life is not and never has been perfect. For that I’m actually grateful. I wouldn’t be who I am today without the darkness. And in retrospect, I can appreciate how the difficult emotions surface and ebb so long as I allow them the space and conscious awareness to do so.
Tuesday, July 7th, 2015
I’m ashamed to admit I’ve lost sight of what is important–that I can’t seem to identify what is meaningful and essential at this moment in my life.
My heart is so so so heavy and burdened right now–I struggle to verbalize what is happening internally. All I know is that depression, anxiety, anger, and frustration have been my constant companions. These consuming emotions are tearing me down, extinguishing my energy, my light–my life.
Yesterday I had one moment of clarity that I think explained everything…
While trying to convey the reasons behind a series of emotional breakdowns to my husband I was suddenly able to identify the cause of my discontent:
I feel like a failure because I’m surrounded by dozens of half-hearted, failed attempts to make something of myself.
This conversation led me to realize I’m in the midst of a mid-life, spiritual crisis–15 years too soon. Ever since my surgery put me into premature menopause and took away my ability to have more children–I haven’t been the same. I’ve lost my clarity of thought and focus. I’ve lost my drive, my energy–my purpose.
Most days feel like a muddled haze and I don’t quite know what to do with myself.
I’ll admit–I’m scared. It seems like my entire life has been fast-tracked, reaching most major milestones 15 years too soon. (marriage, children, the loss of a parent, menopause) And what do I have to show for it? What have I accomplished? What has my time here on earth contributed to the greater good of humanity?
I can’t help but wonder–if death should also visit me 15 years too soon, what will I be remembered for? Or will I be forgotten, disappearing like a faint whisper on the timeline of humanity–much like my mother?**
(**Please know, my optimistic/rational side flares up as I write this to oppose this kind of thinking–but I’m going to keep this language here so you understand the dark side of cluttered thinking and the realities of our consuming emotions.)
Explaining what I’m going through to my husband, tears breaking free, I told him:
All I feel capable of right now is clearing a bit of space–of creating some breathing room.
In the midst of this existential mess, it seems all I can do is determine, “No I don’t want this thing in my life anymore because it does not bring me joy,” or “Yes, this particular item still holds some meaning.”
Again I feel that familiar sense of fear–because this particular round of “letting go” feels so extreme.
Things I once held dear that I couldn’t part with the last time I did a clean sweep of my home are being tossed without a second thought. Things like my previously adored 500+ book collection have been whittled down to a mere 20-30 relevant titles. My wardrobe now consists of a few pairs of pants, 20 or so warm and cold weather tops, and three nightgowns. And this is only the beginning!
I feel as if I could let go of every possession I own without batting an eye!
My husband’s response to all of this?
Maybe that’s exactly what needs to happen. Maybe you’re preparing for a big change–making room for something you can’t explain.
How ironic that his response echoes words of wisdom I myself have spoken in the past, but had forgotten.
As a result of this conversation I was inspired to revisit the book “Breathing Room” by Lauren Rosenfeld and Dr. Melva Green this morning.
Of course, the first chapter only validates this notion, reminding me that “decluttering is a spiritual process that involves coming into communion with what is truly important.”
I must “look at each piece of clutter as an opportunity to look at the emotional clutter that is preventing my spiritual growth.”
Much like the authors and their clients–before I can continue on my life’s journey and find true happiness–I need to take the time to create my own “Breathing Room”. I need to face the emotions I continually try to ignore. I need to deal with the remnants of my past self and clear space for the woman I am becoming.
And most importantly, I know I need to deal with the rest of the clutter associated with my mother’s death if I am ever going to find a bit of happiness.
So, that’s exactly what I’m going to continue doing. I’m going to trust that in this moment, this is enough. I’m going to trust the process and have faith that all is unfolding as it’s meant to–when it’s meant to.
I’ll do my best to record this journey and share my progress–although I admit it’s a difficult thing to do because of how vulnerable and raw these experiences can be.
It’s like my very being has cracked wide open and I can’t help but question my identity.
There is no doubt in my mind that certain stages of transformation are uncomfortable and painful.
I just know I can’t run or hide from this anymore. I need to change the circumstances of my life–and that starts with changing the internal landscape of my emotions, my attachments, my habits, my fears, and my tendency to ignore what does not support or nourish my greater good.
Fast forward one month to the day:
I am most certainly in a different place right now. As I’ve been clearing space I’ve been giving myself time to process the emotions that arise graciously. I’ve been drinking plenty of water, taking breaks, sleeping, and doing things I find exceptionally fulfilling–like camping with my family, writing again, and making an effort to connect with other people instead of falling into my old habits of isolating.
It’s most certainly a process that requires deep trust and faith. What I can say without a doubt…
Having room to breathe again is cathartic. It fills me with peace and provides much more patience for the unknown than what I had before.
Most importantly, it gives me hope that all will be okay–that like my husband said, I’m moving towards something so great I can’t even comprehend what it will be, what it will look like, feel like, etc…
I’m just so excited for the possibilities!
Do you have a story you’d like to share about creating your own breathing room? I’d love to hear it in the comments, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d rather not share publicly.
With much love & light,