I woke up in a panic from a dream one night this week. I was trying to pack up the belongings in my house for a move but there was so much clutter and so many heavy things in my way, that I did not know where to begin. In the dream, I felt overwhelmed and frustrated; trapped and powerless. In the dream, I was ranting hysterically about all of the clutter in the house that was making it impossible for me to move on. I woke up knowing that there were several things about the dream that were familiar. The feeling in the dream, the sense of powerlessness, the feeling of being overwhelmed by the chaos around me, was incredibly familiar.
Growing up, I often felt frustrated by the chaos in our home. My mother’s house was obsessively clean and tidy but totally dysfunctional. You could never find a needle, thread, or scissors to hem a pair of pants. You could not find a hammer or nails to hang a picture. While our home was orderly on the surface, it was a chaotic underneath. The drawers were full of junk, the cupboards were a mess; there was no storage place for the tools needed to run a household; and there was no place for a child to play. My childhood home was a mirror for my mother. She was creative, adventurous, and a rule-breaker, but she was also disorganized, depressed and angry. The world seemed unpredictable to me as a child. People could lash out at you for no reason. I learned to be quiet; to read the signs; to be small and invisible. I learned to be responsible; how to organize things for myself; how to create order out of chaos.
These skills have served me well in my adult life. They have allowed me to create a home that is both organized and functional. They have helped me to juggle the demands of a career with those of child-rearing. But my need for order has also been a challenge because children are agents of chaos! They accumulate belongings for every stage of life. They create messes in every room. They leave clothes on the floor, back-packs at the door, and belongings in every room. It has taken self-discipline to “let go” of my need for order; to relax about chaotic bedrooms; to accept creative messes; to ignore clutter.
But now, with everyone leaving home, I am left in a home that is full of the detritus of life; exercise equipment that my husband no longer uses; toys that my kids have outgrown; a piano that my step-daughter once played; a work bench buried in tools and hardware; a garage full of soccer and road-hockey equipment that is no longer used. I feel overwhelmed by the mess; frustrated that I don’t have permission to let these belongings go; powerless to move on. I feel stuck in the transition; weighed down by the mess of what was; unable to see what could be; learning to live with the chaos that is life.
- the slamming of the cupboard doors (bluebird.typepad.com)
- Happiness and Dreams (legendofanomad.com)
- From Clean to Chaos… (karladornacher.typepad.com)
- Oh, the dreams (looktwicesavealife.wordpress.com)
- the orderliness in our chaotic life… (royinks2day.wordpress.com)
- The Chaos of Big Transformations (writingyourdestiny.com)
- ☆ Is an Messy Desk a sign of a Cluttered Mind? (kirstinmcculloch.blogspot.com)
- “Tidy house, Tidy mind”…how tidy is yours?? (greenermums.wordpress.com)
- From chaos to freedom — and back (psychologytoday.com)