It is good to be me today. And yesterday. And the day before that was pretty good, too.
Over the years I’ve learned lots of neat tricks to help myself get in a better place. I’ve talked about most of them here, in one post or another. Feel free to browse. Those tricks were employed with varying degrees of success, but it seemed that as soon as I got one thing under control, something else went off the rails. In the last few weeks I have discovered that it was my obsession with control that was actually the problem.
I was raised to believe I could do anything I wanted to do. Despite all the ways my parents screwed up, they managed to get that right. I have always believed I am reasonably smart and capable. That was a double-edged sword, though. Because when problems arise – and they always will – my first, most instinctive and most powerful response is to solve it immediately. It’s a little like trying to shave your legs with an electric carving knife. It will probably get the job done, but you’ll need a blood transfusion and skin grafts when it’s over. (Don’t ask me how I know that)
For the last few weeks, I have been drilling positive thoughts into my head to the point where it almost (but not quite) automatic. I found meditation music that I listen to at work. I get up and do yoga first thing in the morning and the last thing before I go to bed. And I found a state of happiness that I didn’t even know existed. I was blissed out.
And then my brother brought me a set of barbells. He knows I am working on being more active and it was a thoughtful gesture that I appreciated. Except I already have two sets of barbells.
As we were leaving, I opened the closet to get my coat and he commented that my closet is nearly empty. My first thought was, “OH MY GOD, DON’T BRING ME ANYTHING ELSE!”
I have been feeling anxious lately and I couldn’t figure out why. But that one off-hand observation made it click for me. I have too much stuff. The barbells made me feel panicky. They’re little, they don’t take up any space at all, but it just highlighted the fact that I feel the need to unclutter. I am not a hoarder – not by a long shot. In fact, I am remarkably unsentimental about things. But I have too many things I don’t want, don’t need, and don’t use that I feel obligated to keep because someone who is sentimental gave them to me.
When MoC died, my brother and I finished cleaning up her apartment. I ended up with a lot of little things – cups and saucers, coffee mugs, knick knacks. David tried to give me an ashtray and I freaked out. I told him I didn’t want it and he said something like I needed it because I only had a couple and I yelled, “I DON’T WANT ONE MORE THING!” At the time, I thought I was overwhelmed with the grief, but that was only partially true. I instinctively didn’t want any more clutter, but I didn’t realize it at the time. The trunk of my car still has some things in it – a box of letters my dad wrote to my mom, a roasting pan (?), a box of pictures. At the time, I thought I didn’t unload the trunk because I was overwhelmed with the grief, but again – I just don’t want more stuff.
It makes sense to want to clean house, but I couldn’t figure out why I was in a panic over it. It is making me feel anxious just typing this. After a week of trying to fight off the anxiety with meditation and affirmations (I AM PEACEFUL AND SERENE, DAMN IT!), it finally occurred to me that I am freaking out because I really, really love the way I am feeling now and I think that a person’s home reflects their state of mind. At least that’s true in my case.
My brain is emptied out on a daily basis and my soul is so much lighter now. I want my house to reflect that, but if I keep my old stuff – because someone gave it to me or I liked it 5 years ago or I might need it someday – then I am afraid I will gradually slip back into the old patterns of thinking and feeling and behaving.
So I cleaned out my closet. I will clean out my dresser this weekend and take it all to the Salvation Army. I am getting rid of the books I have already read and have no reason to keep. I plan on getting a smaller bed and a smaller dresser and a smaller computer desk. All of that will take some time because I can’t afford to do it all at once, but I feel so much better knowing that I have a plan.
The weeds don’t have to come back. There is one thing I can control – my thoughts. I want to swim in positive thoughts and surround myself with positive people – and I want to live in a home that reflects that. I am so grateful that all it took was one (or possibly two) minor panic attacks for me to realize what I need in my life. Or, in this case, what I don’t need.
Besides, the electric knife is rusty and I’m out of bandages.
(In my defense, this came straight out of my journal with virtually no editing. Sorry for the mess. And the bad metaphor.)