The Weight of My Stuff

It is bigger than I.

Recently I received the following comment on my Facebook Page:

"My house always seems to be a work in progress. It's not just the construction and it's not just the folks who live here.

When my dad died young and unexpectedly in 2006, my family's world impolded. My husband and I are the hub and caregivers. My dad's stuff and some of my mom and grandmother's (who are both with us physically) grows here.

For a while, we treaded water; now I am trying to siphon out as quickly as possible, but it is bigger than I.

I have treasures and I have stuff. It's not all trash, but it's not stuff I want. We are trying. But I am not hopeful.

Yes I have made strides but I need bigger than baby steps."

Somewhere along our journey stuff can become heavy, especially when we've held it too long.

There is so much e-motion (energy in motion) tied to our things that weigh us down.

  • The way it came to us (through a grief stricken period)

  • Who it belonged to (our child or our family, discarding feels disrespectful)

  • The stories attached (this was your grandmothers watch)

  • The silent expectation of how much money an item should return if ever sold (stuff was marketed as investment pieces in the 1940s and 1950s)

In one phrase, it is paralyzing. And it is suffocating.

There is a tipping point of too much when we decide to rise up over our stuff and take the reign in our own home once more.

MY SPACE! we declare.

We get started with sorting and purging but, like clockwork, the emotions creep back in. The what-ifs and the shoulds and the guilt take their hold on our neck once more and start to close tighter and tighter.

The weight of it begins to shut off our air supply and we realize we can't breathe! We start to panic so we stand up and shut the door on the stuff. Defeated once more by the weight of it all feeling helpless against it's power.

How do you make strides on your own?

I don't think you do. In order to gain traction, you need direction and you need expertise that lies outside of your own realm of thoughts.

Organizing LOOKS SO EASY which is the #1 reason we don't ask for help. But you know what else is easy? Cleaning the house.

Yet we've glossed right over the guilt of paying someone to clean our house for us gladly accepting their help and the sanity it provides us.

So why don't we do the same the organizing? Perhaps because it hasn't been modeled for us by our own mamas and grandmamas. (My grandmaw to this day has no idea what I do "for a living" because she just can't fathom the need for the service.)

Perhaps because when we tell our friends that we are hiring an organizer, they look at us with raised eyebrows non-verbally communicating we've lost our minds. Or even worse, they offer to come help. For the love of all things holy, no I am not letting you dear friend come in and help me sort through my "mess".

Perhaps because we want to keep it locked away in the basement where no one can see it. Maybe they can't but YOU CAN FEEL IT. Every single day, the weight of the stuff is felt. It starts to show in our appearance and in our mood. Our energy tank starts to drain. Our bank accounts do too as we spend time in stores and restaurants in an effort to get away from the monster locked up in the basement.

Perhaps because we don't want to spend money on it.

There are things that I don't like to spend money on either, like tires and oil changes and going to the dentist. That isn't exactly fun money.

But the reality is you are spending the money anyways, so instead of buying another purse and another jumpsuit and another can of miracle face cream, spend it on you.

INVEST in you. It will feel weird and awkward, because we are not accustomed to spending money on ourselves in THIS way.
How will you feel this time next year if nothing has changed in your life?

If you want to talk about bigger strides, I am here.

Jennifer Burnham