the urge to purge or Muddling through
Like a lot of you, I’ve been on a major clearing-out-clutter tear. A few weeks ago, three large bags of winter clothes joined a trunk full of items bound for a charity thrift shop. Last week boxes of household items were taken to a non-profit for their annual yard sale. I’ve culled my shoe collection and emptied bins of holiday decorations. The kitchen cupboards and pantry are re-organized to the point that my husband doesn’t know where anything goes anymore. (He’s decidedly unappreciative of my efforts.) I even tossed out stacks of special-interest magazines, but only after tucking unread articles into sheet protectors and snapping them into a big binder. How’s that for overkill?
The house is reasonably ship-shape, or at least heading that way, but I still can’t shake feeling edgy, almost twitchy, whenever I stare into a closet. It’s like my body's been taken over by an alien being with a compulsive need for order. Think of it as a Stepford-wife-on-steroids version of PMS.
When I sat down long enough to mull over this uncontrollable urge to purge, I came to the conclusion that my zeal to over-organize is, in fact, a “productive” coping mechanism. This revelation hit me after listening to an onslaught of mind-numbing TV newscasts, receiving word that our one healthy dog needed surgery, learning that yet another friend had passed away, and processing it all with too many glasses of red wine.
What I have come to terms with is this—the unvarnished truth—the stress of life’s minor upsets is accumulative and can quickly shift from exhausting to unmanageable. We become targets in a carnival game. We take the hit, bounce upright in time for the next pitch, and then over we go again. Do you know what I mean? To heck with having a five-year plan, how about an uninterrupted five-day plan? I'm still waiting for that to happen.
When I can’t cope with the news of another mass shooting, out-of-control wildfire, political derailment, or when crisis-after-crisis tempts me to pull the covers over my head and stay in bed all day, I change my focus and diligently put my own house in order. Yes, it's all feel-good smoke and mirrors: a vain attempt to find the elusive nirvana of a serene life and a calm mind. The truth is that no matter how many times I redo that pantry, neither my personal ducks nor those of the world will ever line up in rows as neat as the serving spoons in my kitchen drawer.
Coping with life’s challenges while trying to stay emotionally balanced is like being caught between the two maxims, Life is What Happens While You're Making Plans and Man Plans, God Laughs. Only I have to tell you (your mouth to God's ear), sometimes it’s not so damn funny.
11/11/2018 02:37:44 pm
I hear you. I am in the middle of this, myself, as we speak.
11/11/2018 05:45:08 pm
I totally understand your comments about life happening when you’re making other plans. I only wish my coping mechanisms were as productive as yours are!
11/11/2018 07:32:44 pm
If I didn't put productive in quotes, I should have. I guess it's better than draining all the wine bottles in the house :)
11/11/2018 07:31:20 pm
Gotcha. We smile, but inside we're hanging on by our toenails.
11/11/2018 06:45:34 pm
Been there done that. Buy a house, sell a house, down size, move, down size some more and still have to get creative but we finally got two cars into our little two car garage. OMG--one drawer for serving spoons?--we'll never catch up to that. As for the crap life dishes out daily on the radio, TV and newspapers, I'll paraphrase something a very famous person once said. "It is surprising how happy one can feel in life if you just turn off the media for a few weeks." Actually, most of the crap that goes on outside our lives has little to do with a persons day-to-day life. The Serenity Prayer comes to mind. You don't even have to be religious for it to be useful. I think the "urge to purge" and "declutter" fall under the category of things one has the power to change.
11/11/2018 07:35:49 pm
I used to have a lovely, framed Serenity Prayer. I think I passed it along to someone who really needed to have it. I do keep the words in mind. And yes, I've become a NetFlix addict to hide from the onslaught of news. Another coping mechanism. As for you...both David and I are in awe of everything you have done and handled in the past several months. You deserve a long cruise somewhere wonderful.
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