IF I had to pick a theme word for my week this week (apart from simply exhausting) it would have to be declutter, writes psychotherapist Jody Merelle.
Our family is currently faced with an imminent house move which has come about through necessity rather than choice. Obviously, just as in any move, that means packing up all the stuff in our current home and moving it to the new one – not something that most people enjoy.
However, as someone who has moved many, many times in my adult life I am trying to see this one as an opportunity rather than a burden.
At the beginning of the year I wrote in my diary that one of my aims for 2023 was to reduce the amount of material possessions I owned. Despite the fact that we have only been back in the UK for just over three years, we seem to have acquired an enormous amount of “stuff” in that time.
I strongly believe the theory that suggests that the clutter in your home is closely related to the clutter in your head – and I certainly would like some more space in mine. Added to this is the fact that I still have boxes and boxes of things from my late parents. Stuff that has been sitting in the garage for years.
Despite my very best of intentions for a long time now – I have found tackling those boxes almost impossible. Anyone who has had to sort through the possessions of someone dear to them knows just how emotionally painful that process can be. So it is something I have just avoided doing altogether.
My parents never threw anything away – so it is impossible to know what any particular box will contain, but I feel duty bound to go through it all. This evening I spent two hours sifting through some old gas bills and a huge pile of Christmas cards from 2003. Most of what I find can just go straight into the recycling – but occasionally there will be a diary or newspaper cutting which opens up a little of my family’s history, which, as an only child, I am the only person left to remember and preserve. It is a painstakingly slow process but somehow feels like a final mark of respect to my parents who are no longer here to go through it all themselves.
I am not going to pretend that I am looking forward to the move at the end of this month. Working full time and then spending every evening and weekend sorting, packing, carrying and arranging is not my idea of a good time.
However it has been made easier as I have been steadfastly keeping our end goal in mind. When we are finally settled in our new home – my aim is for it to feel more spacious, even though the new house is considerably smaller than our current one. In order for that to be the case it means letting go, both literally and metaphorically of all the “stuff” that no longer has a meaningful role in our lives.
Holding on to large quantities of material things you no longer need, use or value could well be one of the reasons you feel stuck in some way. But whilst letting go of these things can feel challenging – it can be an enormously cathartic process too. We all know that we arrive with nothing and will leave with nothing – so do we really need that enormous mountain of stuff in between?
I am trying this week to look at all our family’s possessions in a new light. With each item I am asking myself if we really need it or whether it brings us joy or represents a special memory. If the answer is no to all of those questions, then in all probability it has to go. Whilst progress is slow, little by little it feels as though my aim of having less clutter and more space is getting closer. Keeping me going is the thought of finally being in a place with less material things and more space - both in my home and in my currently cluttered head!