I walk by the same pile of junk on my dresser every day. A mish-mash of jewelry, soap, lotion, papers, and dust collects and I walk by as if not to notice. I'm digging out from the pain and sadness of four years, and now I see all the damage, the neglect. While I was mourning the autism, fighting for services, and advocating for change my bedroom and my body were falling into desperate disrepair.
I watch the show, Hoarders, every Monday night on A&E without fail. I think I'm looking for the "why" of it all. How does it get to that point? When life seems to be spinning out of control, why does it seem better to have piles of paper crowding around me? I filled my bedroom with dozens of books and articles on autism, binders with data on my son's progress, therapy flash cards, files, photos of my kids. Is there a connection between the stuff and the 50 pounds I packed on? Now that I'm in the slow process to clean it out and lose the weight I worry that it could all happen again.
Each week I lose approximately a pound of fat, and I donate a trash bag full of things. This week I donated 3 bags of items to my sons' school, and three trash bags of stuff to the Disabled Veterans Association. Last week it was a bag full of sheets to the Regional Center so The Linus Project can make weighted blankets for kids with autism. At this rate, my house and my body should be back on track in just over a year.
"Reality" shows make it look so easy. A person loses 100 pounds in 6 weeks, or an entire house is cleared of clutter in 2 days (and redecorated). What I want to know is how long does it take if you do it yourself? What is a "normal" rate of decluttering look like? Is it possible to dig yourself out without a TV reality show taking over your life and doing it for you?
It all comes down to the 'follow through'. One day instead of just walking by the dresser and thinking, "I need to clean that up." I picked up a necklace and hung it on the hook in the bathroom. Instead of ordering a large Coke I chose a large water and ordered a salad as a meal for the first time. Believe it or not these things do add up. Healthy people know this and do it without thinking.
My therapist told me something very simple when I went to her with help during one of the most painful times in my life. She said, "take care of yourself". I'd tried every other way, so I thought I'd try hers. You know what? It worked! Hoarding and weight gain cannot thrive in an atmosphere of care. When I care enough to follow through (to keep up with the stuff coming in and get rid of 3 or 4 things each day from the pile that was already here) I make progress. It all adds up! This is kids stuff to most, but to me it is a real life-changing revelation. Now instead of feeling bitter that Oprah hasn't shown up on my doorstep to help me out in a millisecond, I'm thankful that I'm working through this process in real-time. I'm learning so much more from "reality" than a reality TV show could ever teach me.
Best wishes in this new year for all of you working your way through your own reality. May you experience growth and success!