Today's my last day in New York. It's been an amazing trip. It had been a number of years since I was last here. In the past I was overwhelmed by the amount of people, buildings and intensity of the place. But this time New York felt smaller. It was as if we were friendly towards each other. This time New York felt like a person rather than a thing.
I also had a really good experience with a client I worked with this past weekend. She had hired me to take care of the papers that had piled up in her office and main living area. But I had a sense to clutter bust a closet in her bedroom. I found a very tall stack of papers hidden in the back of her closet. They were wrapped in plastic.
She immediately said, "No, we don't need to do anything with those." There was a strong feeling of fear and anxiety in her words. I told her that there was a wide current of fear in her. It felt like a raging rapid river. It made her be un-present in her home.
I took a small stack of the papers from the tower in the closet and said if we took care of these it would allow her to take care of the more obvious clutter. The stuff that causes us the most grief in our home is often unnoticed. It's too overwhelming for us to take it all in, so it's not possible for us to notice its presence. Instead we are bothered by the other clutter that this main source attracts. It's like a big magnet.
As we started to go through the papers, she revealed to me that thirty years ago, she made a choice to do something that ended up making her very ill for many years. Her life fell apart. Sometimes when we are in a weak place, the world has a way of trying to devour us and we can't defend ourselves. She chronicled every bad thing that had happened to her in detail on these papers. As she looked at what she had written, she became distraught and despondent.
The thing is, she's healthy now. But she wanted to hang onto the details of her despair to keep those terrible experiences from happening again. I told her that living with this history of hell was keeping the trauma alive in her. They didn't bring her the peace of mind that she was looking for all along. As she looked at the papers, she began to see how the writings kept the devastation alive in her.
Seeing the actual effect that clutter has on us is what allows us to let it go. She began letting go of large sections of her writings. As she did this, it was as if she was coming back to life. Her natural joy for life was returning. She kept a very small stack of humorous insights about her experience. They made her laugh.