I am giving up a large, spacious house, the place where first we, and then I alone, raised our family. I have mixed feelings about all the levels of being that this move affects. Certainly I will have more time and resources available at my disposal since there will be so much less house to take care of. I have shed much of the clutter of unused things, old papers and files, and other people’s accumulated stuff. This allows me to feel lighter. Or actually, it will eventually allow me to feel lighter. Right now I see mess everywhere I look. I see the disorganization that is the necessary prelude to the reorganization. This word, reorganization, is something I associate with positivity. It reflects the idea of a fresh start and I like fresh starts. They offer hopefulness.
Whenever I decide to do a reorganization task, whether it’s a drawer, a cabinet, a closet, or a room, the first step is emptying. Removing all the objects within that space and laying them out on the floor or on a counter. Next, is cleaning and creating a fresh environment. After that, it’s assessing the prior contents to eliminate what is no longer useful or in good repair. From there I’ll move to categorizing, gathering like with like, finding appropriate containers to assist in the process if necessary. Finally, returning only those items that serve my purpose moving forward, my work is complete. Ta da! The job is done.
I recently realized that my mind also needs to be reorganized on occasion. Opening the door and looking inside, I see some messes that require attention. I don’t want my closets to be repositories of clutter so why should my brain be any different? I can pull out and review some old patterns of thinking or behaving, assess their usefulness, determine whether they continue to serve me well, and retain only what is good or, to borrow from Marie Kondo, brings me joy.
One thing that doesn’t do either is my inner self-critic. This soul sucking taskmaster was introduced to me in my formative years and her influence is reflected in the framework of how I’m constructed. Not knowing better, I worked around her dictates and constraints because it was easier than fighting to get her to butt out. Now that I’m downsizing, I’ve finally realized that enough is enough. It’s time for an update.
I wish it was as easy as pushing perfectionism out the door, loading her in the car and dumping her off at the local Goodwill. It isn’t. The destructive evidence remains behind because perfectionism can be like an infestation of termites that silently burrows into the supporting structure, often unseen, but damaging nonetheless. There is work to be done to get the house in order and keep it there. In some ways it’s similar to reorganizing a closet. First, choose a single place to get started. One example might be how I view whether I’m achieving my writing goals. Then take inventory of everything, including what I’ve accomplished so far, consciously recognizing what is good. Remove what is negative, including comparisons and unrealistic timetables for achievement. Avoid procrastinating on tasks that cannot be easily mastered and allow myself a learning curve to tinker.
Facing my perfectionism is difficult. It’s like looking in the mirror and not liking what you see, and then not liking that you don’t like it. Perhaps this only makes sense to other perfectionists. Regardless, I know that I’m in for a daily battle so I’ve gathered a few tools and reinforcements, including an understanding counselor, to assist me. I’m hopeful that I can make progress on several fronts even if I cannot eliminate perfectionism perfectly. Recognizing this seems like a good place to start.
I have been where you are. It was a lonely and grief filled place. As a result, I have made it my mission to help other widows by suggesting that taking action to honor your husband’s legacy will enable you to set goals for yourself so you can begin to embrace life again. What do you mean, you may ask.