There's a comfort that comes from holding onto things that are no longer a part of our life. Otherwise we wouldn't hold onto them. But that comfort is not a soothing in the moment ease like if we sat in a comfy chair and drank a hot tea. The comfort that comes from clutter is the draining and dulling kind. When those items take our energy, there's less of us. When we're stressed in life, that can feel like comfort. It can be like getting drunk. It erases us. There's less awareness. The dulling takes away the discomforts, anxieties, and sorrows we may be feeling.
I recently worked with a client who seemed neutralized. She was present in the room, but she was incapable of taking action. Also, her emotions seemed flatlined. There were no highs or lows. She felt like a doll. I sensed that she was under the influence of her clutter. I knew that she had the capacities to feel more alive. But not while the clutter dominated her home.
I took a tour of her home and found a bunch of boxes and grocery store paper bags filled with papers and other stuff. They smelled musty and the room had a dulling inertia. My client seemed especially switched off in their presence. I could see why she hadn't been able to do anything about these things. She was gone. There was no one there to do anything.
I brought some of the boxes and bags to a room that felt more alive. I had my client drink some water. I talked with her about the things that she liked in her life now. She started to feel more alive. Then I started asking about the individual items in the bags and boxes. There were letters from an old relationship that ended badly. There were items she inherited from her mother who had passed away that my client hadn't looked at since they came into her home. There was also a lot of unopened mail because she had shut down and wasn't taking care of her life.
Initially it was difficult for her to face each thing that I pulled from these old clutter tombs. She'd been shut down. She needed to warm up to being present again. But as we went along, and as I encouraged her, and also congratulated her on what she did, she became stronger.
Buried under the clutter, and the passivity that comes with living with clutter, is our vitality. It doesn't disappear. It's dormant. But given a chance, it comes alive. And so do we.