I did it! I decluttered my guest room. Which means I can now cross item no 1 off my bucket list. As I suspected it wasn’t a joy ride. Opening the boxes full of old letters and cards and documents that I had unceremoniously stored in one corner of my spare bedroom sent me on a speed trip throughout my youth and early adulthood. And boy, can it be embarrassing to be reminded…
My no regret (bucket) list:
Declutter my guest roomand basement – synonymous to letting go of past pain and hurtful memories.
- Visit my father, make him a gift I know he would like, and tell him how I would love our relationship to be.
- Go see my brother and reconcile with him.
- Tell my ex how I still feel about us.
It took me two whole days just to pre-organize the mess. There wasn’t any system to my storage (quite fittingly so, as it was also not quite processed internally), so the first thing I did was to actually group zillions of items into piles and then put them into themed boxes. I had purchased a few new and really nice ones for this specific purpose and I have to admit there was a moment – a rather long one – when I very seriously contemplated just putting them into my sideboard as they were.
I had already somewhat convinced myself that this qualified as “decluttering” when the thought of my follow-up blog post made me reevaluate this initially charming proposition. Didn’t my bucket list say “declutter my guest room (…) synonymous to letting go of the past pain and hurtful memories”? How could I let go without even looking at the stuff, let alone decluttering it? “Organized clutter is still clutter”, as they say. Argh.
So I bit the bullet, gave myself a little push this morning and started familiarizing myself with the prospect. Which instantly woke up my instant gratification monkey who would have preferred watching some more youtube videos on procrastination. I even briefly thought about giving my windows (all of them!) a good scrub, a testament to my despair. It took my rational decision-maker half a day to win the upper hand and eventually, in the late afternoon, I actually started doing stuff.
And once I get started…. Fast-forward eight hours: what’s left of it is back in the boxes, now officially decluttered, neatly filed and organized.
I looked at every single photo printout I own (not the digital ones, oh dear, I don’t even want to think about it) and discarded about two thirds of them. Which wasn’t actually as difficult as I thought it would be. In the good old days, when photos were still shot “blind” with analog cameras, a lot of the pictures didn’t come out quite right, so I would hoard three similarly blurry variations of that one same moment. Easy one to throw away two out of three. Plus the unflattering ones. 🙂
Tougher, way tougher, were the letters. I didn’t read all of them, heaven forbid, this would have taken me forever. I just skimmed through them. Which was painful enough. It’s a weird thing to re-read your old letters and diary entries, you know, when you’re young and innocent (or not so innocent), and also a bit of a know-it-all smart ass.
Suffice to say, I had some really embarrassing encounters with my younger self. I only now realize that not only did I have my fair share of heartbreaks. I actually also caused some to others. Some of the letters really made me flinch. Oh, and there was this fling with a married man, platonic but bad enough. I’m so not proud of this one. Still blushing when I think of it.
For a little while I fluctuated between the alternatives of truthful documentation and redemptive white-washing – and finally decided to destroy all remaining evidence of my not so glorious moments. I really just didn’t know any better then. So while I moved the letters to the “shred and forget” pile I gently forgave myself for my youthful blunders, secretly hoping that, maybe, I have also long been forgiven by my old friends and flames.
Fortunately, there were some uplifting moments, too. Photos long forgotten tucked away in yellowed envelopes made me laugh out loud. I also marveled at the incredible number of letters, some of them twenty years and older, written by a very dear friend of mine whom I’m fortunate enough to still have on my side today. And I found a substantial amount of currency from a country that no longer exists. Where has all the time gone?
Last but not least, there was my marriage stuff that had kept me from opening the boxes in the first place for two whole years, turning my guest room into a disgrace. I finally did open them and quickly, very quickly, merged the items and stuffed all of them into one big box. I also might have shed a tear, or two… Who would have thought that a whole marriage, the many wonderful ups and the very sad downs of so many years, would fit into just one box?
Anyhow, I’m clearly not ready yet to let this one go. I think I will know when the time comes (see item no 4 on my bucket list, not coincidentally sorted by increasing difficulty). For now, though, I’m quite proud of myself. This was as much decluttering as I could humanly muster in just four days. It was really quite exhausting. I guess it’s because the decluttering is happening internally as much (if not more so) as externally. But it’s also very liberating. And cleansing.
I also suddenly have so much more R-O-O-M after donating four huge boxes of knick-knack to my neighbors. Fortunately, I live in a very highly populated area, so it’s pretty straight-forward: 1) Put boxes out the front with a ‘help yourself’ sign, 2) Wait for passers-by to raid and plunder, 3) Boom, gone.
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