When I was first on sick leave from work I had a lot of time to look around my house. After living here 10 yrs (longest I’ve lived anywhere since I was 16), 2 kids and 2 dogs. We have accumulated a lot of stuff. I’m a crafter, a bargain shopper, a ‘recycler’ of second-hand items, and I hate to throw things out as I may someday need them.
I was never a hoarder or even recreational shopper, but I still had too much stuff. So I started to organize my house. But somehow I realized that this ‘stuff’, even when organized, was not helping me feel very good, in fact it was often bringing up a lot of negative feelings. So I started to give things away to people I knew who could use them. I got excited the more I gave. I was motivated by the feeling of giving something to someone who needed it when I was not using it anyway. This was a pivotal moment in my healing. I was reminded that I could actually feel something other than sadness and exhaustion and that it was something I could do for myself.
I discovered the amazing feeling of a bare countertop, an empty box, and the joy of treasures found that had been buried away. I had no idea how far it would go, but I knew I needed to keep going. It was an emotional rollercoaster of shame and pride and hope.
I felt ashamed to realize I had tried to buy happiness; the makeup I never wore, the business clothes that I had hoped would make me feel like I fit in, or the books I felt I should read. There was also shame from holding onto things that no longer served me; those jeans that only made me feel guilty as I could no longer wear them, the fabric I had bought with intentions of sewing myself a dress but no longer liked. The money ‘wasted’ on things I hardly ever used. But when I could move beyond the negativity and forgive myself, I found pride in knowing I could now do things differently.
I made guidelines around what I would keep, things I loved, things that were useful, things I just wasn’t ready to let go of. I felt lighter with every item that left the house. But I also allowed myself to spend money on things I would have denied myself before. I took a weaving class and bought a loom. We bought a beautiful bedroom set to replace the hand me downs that I never liked. The handmade pottery mug that makes my coffee taste better. We went on a family cruise with my mom and stepfather (which turned out to be only months before my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer). All of these things still bring me joy when I think about them.
This has been a journey for almost 5 years now and I expect it to continue indefinetly. It is a lifelong process of deciding where I want to put my energy, my time, my money and what I choose to surround myself with. But these are choices we all make every day, but so often we let the choices be made for us, without being conscious of them. However, I now know that by being aware of these choices, taking ownership of them, taking risks to do things differently than what is sometimes expected of us, is well worth the investment.
Do you feel supported by the things in your life or held back under their weight? Feel free to share in the comments below or on my facebook page.