It Feels Good to Help People Help Themselves

I got into this job by chance. Friends of mine that I casually helped clutter bust, suggested I do it for a living. So I put up flyers. My first call was from a woman who said, "Can you come over now, I'm desperate?" I didn't know who she was or why she was calling. I said, "Who is this?" She told me she saw the flyer and needed me to come over right away. I had the day free, so I went over.

The house was pretty chaotic. Things were piled up all over the house. She was very scattered. I didn't have a plan of action. But I felt very calm. The chaos didn't bother me. I felt a deep clarity. I asked her a few questions about her life. She told me that she and her husband were on the verge of divorce. I asked to take a look at their bedroom. I figured that's a couple's office, so it would be worth checking out the state of things there.

There was a strong sense of disorder about their bedroom. Each of their nightstand's was overflowing with stuff. The stuff actually cascaded onto the floor, reminding me of stalagmites. I had a trash bag with me and said, "Let's start here." She was so frazzled that she automatically went along me. I started with her side. I asked her about everything. I figured that's the thing to do. I felt she didn't have the wherewithal to do it herself. I knew that the chaos next to her bed would interfere with her sleep. She would take it with her into her dreams. It would keep her from getting a deep rest. And it would interfere with her connecting with her husband.

There was junk mail on her night stand. And notes to herself. And articles she downloaded from the internet. And about fifteen books. And snacks and other various items. Most of the stuff went. Because I got her to focus on one thing at a time, it became apparent that a lot of it was trash. The thing I noticed was that as she let go of more stuff, she started looking and acting stronger. The stuff was draining her and as it went, she was getting herself back. I figured when she was drained, she lost her clarity and couldn't see what this situation was doing to her. We got her nightstand down to one notepad, a pen and a book on peace of mind. We went to her husband's side and cleared his space.

We ended up clearing out stuff from under the book, and on the chest of drawers, and from the floor, and then the closets. As we continued to each place, she got stronger and stronger. Basically the job was telling me what do to. One thing lead to another. I was keeping her focused on making decisions. She was taking back her life with each step. It helped that I was pretty calm through the process. That must have relaxed her.

I worked with her for a week. On the third day, she told me that she and her husband were now getting along better than they ever had. I figured that they were no longer drained of their precious resources, and they no longer were distracted. It felt good to help people help themselves. It still feels that way, ten years later.