I am a neat freak. I love organization. I love when EVERYTHING has a place. I hate clutter. I hate useless things. I do not understand people who hold onto things that they never use or look at because they can’t part with it. Well…I do understand this. I understand WHY people do this…but they shouldn’t. And their lives would be easier and simpler if they could just let it go.
I believe our living space is a reflection of our inner space…so to speak. When we deal with our emotional baggage and let go of junk, we live a fuller life. We feel more at peace. I believe the same is true for our living space. When it’s filled with clutter and mess we feel overwhelmed…we don’t take pride in it. I love Oprah’s quote “your home should rise up to meet you.” I have always loved that… and lived it I think. Even when I was in college, my college apartment was decorated and organized to the hilt. It was always full of people because it was warm, inviting, cozy, and…most importantly…organized. Hell, my friend Abby spent the majority of her college career sleeping on my couch because her house was such a mess. Mine was just happier! I love that. And I pride myself on the fact that people always comment on how warm my home is. I definitely got THAT from my mom….
We moved SO much when I was growing up. Like…15 schools between kindergarten and graduation. So I became very familiar with packing, unpacking, organizing, etc. No matter how temporary, or small, our living space was, Mom made it “homey” …I definitely got that from her. I remember us getting in fights though, because I would pack something that I didn’t need or that was essentially trash and go through the hassle of moving it to the next location. Mom would get into these serious purge modes where she would let so much stuff go. I totally empathize with her reasoning but sometimes she let stuff go that really meant alot to me. So…all that to say, over the years I got really good at learning what to let go and what to hold onto. And as I dealt with my own “emotional baggage” as I moved into adulthood, I was able to let go of many useless things I had moved with me from place to place. I realized I only saw those items when I was packing and unpacking – I never used them or looked at them. I realized the “stuff” was just that…stuff. What I was holding onto were the memories associated with the stuff. And I realized that I never let those go. I had them with me forever. There are some things, of course, that I will hold onto for sentimental value, but I believe in finding a way to cherish those things by displaying them – not sticking them in a box in the basement. So I love frames and shadowboxes for that reason. If it’s worth holding onto, it deserves a space where it’s cherished.
I used to be big on keeping magazines and newspapers and cookbooks. But now everything is online. Seriously. I can’t remember the last time I opened a cookbook for a recipe. And I don’t need the newspaper from every Alabama National Championship victory – I realized those just sat and collected dust somewhere in my house. I have the memories of those moments…hell they are all thoroughly documented..throwing away an old newspaper doesn’t mean I’m losing that memory.
I’m rambling…moving on to my point…
We live in a small house. We had planned to sell this house and move to a bigger one before the baby was born…but things changed. We still plan on doing that but it’s on hold for now. So…we are tasked with making room for baby in our tiny (but cute and cozy) 2 bedroom, 1 bath home. I used to consider this house large for a 2 bedroom bungalow in Forest Park. I had plenty of storage for the things I needed…and then I met Eric. And oh how Eric loves to collect. Eric loves a stack, he loves to stuff something in a drawer. He is a packrat in the truest sense of the word. I love his sentimentality though…some of the things he holds on to are awesome..but some are totally pointless. For all the ways that we are alike and in sync with each other, THIS is our one true and definitive difference. I joke with him that he’s a hoarder and it really bothers him. He’s not. And he’s come a long way since we met. I have to give him credit. He had more clothes than me when we met and he has gone through and purged several bags full of stuff that he never wore anymore. But I’ll be honest, the first time I set foot in his apartment when we were dating I almost called it off. I said to myself, “this guy is one-in-a-million, but you know you can never live with someone that lives like this.” I’m glad I gave him a chance. THAT was a God thing – he knew there was a bigger plan in place here!
I could go on and on but my point is that we have navigated this issue and we are doing much better. Eric and I don’t fight or argue. The two of us probably have the best communication skills of anyone we know. Him because he’s just a calm and good soul…me because I spent years unlearning what I learned growing up. ha. I grew up in a family or very poor communicators. Anyhoo…so we are sitting down the other night talking about how we are going about making room for baby, what we are sending to storage, and what we are keeping, etc. And we get deep about the issue – which I tend to do alot. Growing up I was raised to believe that neatness and cleanliness were ideal traits, that people who live slovenly are lazy. That being a messy and unorganized person is a BAD thing. To this day, if I go into the office of a colleague or professional and their office is a disaster, I lose respect for them. And when you get to know people, often those that are the most efficient in what they do are also the most organized. Maybe I’m judgmental but it’s how I was raised and it’s one thing that really stuck. I don’t understand how anyone could desire to live that way…messy and unorganized. I would think that EVERYONE would strive to live differently. I know that many people admire those who are neat and organized and wish they could be so as well.
After talking about it, Eric agreed…yeah it is laziness to a point. And laziness isn’t a good thing right? Why throw that piece of junk mail on the table for days and days if it’s TRASH? Because you’re lazy or because you’re scared you’re going to need it for something? What is it? I think alot of people just repeat patterns they see growing up. I am a neat freak because my mom was a neat freak. Thank GOD! I wanted to murder her sometimes when she was ridiculously hard on me about it …but still I appreciate it. It can be taken too far and alot of those “must have everything perfect” traits can bleed into less desirable ones over time – that’s something we perfectionists have to keep in check. But overall, I feel I’ve done a good job of managing my OCD-ness!
So what do y’all think? Can people change in this area? Do they secretly want to? People can’t possibly LIKE living in a mess all the time and being embarrassed of their home right?
All I know is…I’m so glad Eric was able to bend in this area…we have a bit more
clutter stuff than I’d like, but one day we’ll have a much bigger house and Eric’s 9 zillion comic books will have a “man room” to call home.
So…if you’re one of those people that has clutter, that is surrounded by stacks and drawers full of stuff you don’t really need or use, I challenge you. I challenge you to clean out your baggage – emotionally and literally. What is holding you back? Make the space in which you live a sanctuary and a place you are proud of. It can be, no matter how small it is!
I want to make a disclaimer that I don’t think people who are messy are BAD people – there are people that I dearly love who aren’t the neatest in the world. But I do think it’s a bad trait. Am I wrong? Opinions?
I did not get the cleaning / straightening gene.. My theory is life is too short 🙂
I read somewhere that if you know your children will just throw away most of your “collection” of junk when you die, you should get rid of it while you are alive and save them the hassle. That way, they won’t “take your name in vain” after you’re gone.
BTW, I am holding on to a gazillion comic books for McLane Anderson Griffin, but the son(s) of these “Anderson” cousins will be so thrilled they did! Therefore, I’m glad you are relenting in that area.
I do think you make a GREAT point about organization and efficiency.
BONNIE MIZERANY said:
I was very OCD until I had a drug addict son and I got into therapy and spent eons in Al-Anon. It was the day I realized that what was driving me crazy was not that my son had a fatal illness but that I could not keep my house perfectly that I realized I had to change. I realized there was a happy medium and I swung back and forth from one extreme to the other passing that middle place until I began to moderate, Today my comfort and the comfort of those around me matters more than being tidy but I don’t carry that to extremes either. After I moderated, I married a man who is an EXTREME neat freak and somehow over time he has moderated. His OCD was a way for him to control his surroundings growing up in an alcoholic home. His bedroom and bathroom were the only clean places in the house unless he cleaned other rooms. Over time, realizing that our home was a safe place, he has moderated so YES people do change either over time or because of a crisis.