Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Clutter runs deep

I've often wondered why it is that I have such a strong desire to get rid of clutter, yet so little success at doing so.
Today I set aside the whole day to make a dent in my clutter. At some point I will go for a run (more of a walk/run because I'm new at this), because that's important to me too, and at some point I will make supper, because that's important to my family, but I have a big chunk of time here.
I decided to start with my clothes.
I feel so anxious about de-cluttering my clothes that I almost talked myself into de-cluttering more toiletries as a "warm up" to the clothes.
I can see now that starting with toiletries would just be procrastinating the clothes. I am very averse to this. I am afraid of it.
I decided to start by meditating, both because I'm trying to make a habit of it and because I thought it would help me get into a better space for this.
Not so much. I didn't find any peace, but I discovered something.
I realized that I have a lot of guilt. Well, I knew that, but I realized that I have even more guilt!
Almost two years ago, my mother died. This has been very hard for me. In lots of ways. Mostly, I miss her. A lot. Also, I feel a lot of guilt. Guilt about not being a better daughter. Guilt about wasted time. Guilt about not showing her how much I loved her. Guilt about being critical of her.
Among other things, I was critical of the way that she held onto things. I tried to help her, but in doing so I was critical of her.
One time I even went so far as to intentionally break a teapot right in front of her. She had received it as a gift but she did not like it. I was trying to show her that it was okay to get rid of an unwanted gift. I took the teapot and wrapped it in newspaper, and dropped it on her kitchen floor. It shattered. She started to cry. She tried to laugh, but I could see that she was very hurt. It was incredibly stupid of me. I feel like a monster. A cold, insensitive bully. I was really trying to help her. I thought that she would find it liberating. She didn't, of course. I've regretted it ever since, and yet I never brought it up again. I wonder if she was able to forgive me, or if she just felt horribly rejected by me, by this heartless creature that she had nurtured.
My mom also kept clothes. In my late teens I pulled out some clothes I was no longer wearing, to give to charity. My mom squeezed them into her dresser and continued to wear them. I found this embarrassing at the time, as any eighteen-year-old probably would. If those clothes weren't good enough for me, my mom deserved better too! But she didn't see it that way. She saw that they were wearable and it would be wasteful to give them away.
Now I feel that purging my own clothes would be a betrayal of my mom.
This is not easy.
I already feel that I was not a good enough daughter when she was alive. Can I get of my clothes while I feel that she's watching, and is disappointed in me?
I remind myself that feelings aren't facts, but I want to believe that she is watching. I want to believe that she is still with me.
I wish that she would forgive me and tell me that it's okay to do this.
I am amazed that my father has apparently been making some progress de-cluttering his home. And yet, he gave me bins of her clothes that I will eventually go through.
Maybe I will start with those easy toiletries after all.
I wish that I didn't feel that getting rid of clothes that don't serve me was betraying my mom. Let me start with that thought. I feel that it's a betrayal. Is it? It's not what she would do. Therefore in doing so I feel that I am rejecting her. Yet I don't love her any less. Is it possible to act differently from one's parent without rejecting them? I am rejecting her beliefs in this one area. Those beliefs were part of her frugality. For most of my life I have been anything but frugal. Very recently, I've become more frugal. Mom, you set a good example for me there, and I'm finally embracing it. But keeping clothes that don't fit, that don't suit me, that I don't want to wear, is not helping me. It's taking up space. It's wasting time. It isn't saving me any money. The money isn't spent, and if I'm not wearing these clothes then they aren't doing any good at all. I'm not criticizing your habits -- you actually wore your clothes! I'm just trying to make some changes in my life. To free up some space for me. I hope you understand.
I can see that I need to find a way to accept myself, to forgive myself.  She isn't here to hear my apology, or to forgive me, and I can't seem to accept that. Yet. I hope.
I suppose that my mom got her frugality from her own mom, another absolutely amazing woman. My Oma dismissed any thought of waste with the phrase, "During the war..." She would say this while brushing the visible mould off a blueberry muffin and handing it to me. I will never forget the taste of mouldy blueberry muffin, because I enjoyed it several times. It's hard to argue with someone who raised two kids in an occupied country, her husband hidden from the enemy under the dining room floor. My Oma lived until she was 93 and none of us ever got food poisoning. Two generations later, I still feel a little bit under siege. I just can't identify the enemy.

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