False Protection

Sometimes clutter can feel like the walls of a fortress. Underlying this fort is the need to defend against something that might hurt us. The accumulated stuff that's not a real part of our life is held onto as a defensive buffer from the world. We are overwhelmed, the world has become too much, and this gives us a sense of protection.

But, these buffers that were unconsciously built to protect us end up hurting us in our homes. The clutter keeps us in a fearful state, cutting us off from a feeling of connection, and we lose the flexibility necessary to adapt and enjoy our life.

I was working with a client who lived in fear amidst the stacks of things in various piles on the floor, on counter surfaces, taking up space in her hallways, and surrounding her bed. I noticed that she tended to gravitate towards the concentrated stuff and when she did she disappeared emotionally. They anesthetized her. I thought this was her way of numbing whatever was too much.

I told her what I was seeing. She looked within. She said she felt nervous and antsy all the time. She wasn't sure why. She said it felt like a general sense that something was going to go wrong. I asked her if anything was going wrong now. She said no. Then she said she had the feeling that her stuff distracted her from her dire state of mind. I asked how it felt to be distracted. She said, "Worse."

I said it sounded like the fortress walls were actually a prison. I asked if she would be open to taking them down. She was eager. We set to work.