The things we collect in our lives say a lot about who we are and what we want our lives to look like. If we look closely, they also say a lot about our desires, hopes and the things we are holding onto.
My friend Meaghan recently offered to help me detox and de-clutter my home. She runs a business specialising in detoxing and improving the flow of energy in home environments.
I prevaricated and made some excuses. My house was fairly tidy and I didn’t think it was worth her time. But a few days later I realised it was time to shake things up and perhaps my home (a bit like me) had settled into a comfort zone that was a little too comfortable. I was stuck and it was time to shift things around.
A few hours later Meaghan was on my doorstep and what followed was certainly eye-opening and unexpected.
We began with a briefing session. I was keen to start straight away so we began in my study/storage/ironing room.
Meaghan headed straight for the wardrobe. ‘Why do you have so many bags on top of the wardrobe?’ she asked. I had six suitcases plus an assortment of other bags.
‘Um. I’m not sure,’ I said.
‘Does one person need that many bags?’ she asked.
It was a valid question.
Then Meaghan pulled open the doors and discovered (yes, you guessed it)…more bags. I was a veritable bag lady.
There were plastic bags (kept because I might need them later), an assortment of cloth shopping bags (they might be good to carry groceries in but had never made it to the boot of my car where they would be easily accessible), and a couple of sports bags too.
‘Lucy, you have a lot of baggage in here,’ Meaghan said with a kind of puzzled wonder as we pulled them out in handfuls.
Eventually the wardrobe was relieved of its collection and we moved the suitcases and other bags into the kitchen to sort into keep, maybe, and donate piles.
I’d been feeling pretty comfortable with the process until that point but things began to change when I had to decide what to keep, and what to give away.
I found myself feeling upset about letting go of some of the suitcases. I had two the same size and there was also a big one I hadn’t used for years and wasn’t very practical. Yet I could feel my anxiety growing by the second. I didn’t understand why I was so upset. They were just suitcases and I am only one woman. I don’t need six suitcases…who does?
I also have to say that Meaghan wasn’t pressuring me to give away all or any of them. She just asked the questions, ‘Which of these suitcases do you need to keep? Which ones are you undecided about (we’ll put them in the maybe pile)? And which ones would you like to give away?’
I made the decisions and my anxiety bubbled away beneath the surface while my rational brain wondered what all the fuss was about.
It was only an hour or so later, when we sat down to de-brief, that I finally clicked. The large suitcase, which I thought I was happy to let go of, had a few strong memories attached to it. It was the suitcase I used on my first trip overseas. That same trip was my honeymoon. And although I don’t want to be with my ex-husband now, that suitcase was symbolic of all the love, hope and joy I felt at that time.
I knew it was time to let that part of my life go (in fact, I thought I did that years ago). But for some reason I was holding on to that part of my history. I was holding on to that baggage and stopping myself from moving forward. My emotional baggage was in the suitcase. And all those other bags were symbolic of the rest of my emotional baggage; those things I was still holding onto but no longer needed.
It may sound silly but it took me a couple more days before I could take those suitcases and bags to Lifeline. It was like I had to process and say goodbye. When I finally dropped them off at the charity shop I felt good. I was ready to let my baggage go to allow the new to come in (whatever that might be).
Meaghan and I have been continuing my home detox and there have been a few more unexpected revelations for me along the way. I’m sure there will also be more in the future.
But for now, I have a lot less baggage in my house. And that has to be a good thing.