At tonight's Clutter Busting workshop, one of the participants brought in a photo album that was a present from her sister, who had passed away five years ago. She was feeling a lot of conflict about what to do with the album. She said it meant a lot to her that her sister had constructed it herself. She emphasized that it had been made with love. She then surprised herself by saying that she didn't like the album itself and that she wished it wasn't in her house. She agonized over the situation. She wished she could let go of the album, but she was worried that her sister would be hurt, even though she was no longer alive. The she spoke of a photo in a frame that her sister had given her of the two of them. It was clear she relished its presence in her home. Her words were simple and strong.
I pointed out that the presence of the album in her home made her associate her memories of her sister with conflict. She didn't like the album, but she felt that tossing it would hurt her sister. It tore her heart every time she encountered it. But the photo of the two of them nurtured her heart and made her remember her love for her sister in an easy and supportive way.
She thought about it quietly. Then she said that she wished she could feel it was okay to make decisions about the things in her home. She wished she had the authority, and that she didn't give it away in the hopes of appeasing others. I said, "You have the authority. Its your home. You have the courage and the insight to say no to the things you don't want in your home. We can't control the outside world. But our homes are our space. It's the one place we can control. You have the right to decide what's best for you. You can't use yourself up hoping to manage how others will feel. They can take care of themselves. Your responsibility is to take care of your happiness. What you say goes."
She said calmly and with strength, "I don't want the album. I'm going to donate it." She looked solid and self-reliant. She took the photo sleeves out of the album. She set the album aside in a donate pile. It's exciting to watch people take back their lives.