I have yet to watch “Tidying Up” on Netflix, though it is currently in my lineup for shows I’d like to watch when I’m sitting still long enough to do so. Still, it’s kind of hard to ignore this KonMari tidying up process since it’s splashed all over Instagram and has recently made it into the news.
As someone that has problems with piles, I am intrigued. I also have this nasty habit of holding onto things that emotionally have some tie to some past event in my life. I’m overly sentimental. The Free People dress I went out with my mom to buy for my first date with my (now) husband 10 years ago? On a hanger in my closet. The little post it notes my mom would slip into packages or my wallet? Still there. The t-shirt with a giant Frankenstein pug face on it that my grandma got me for Christmas? Yup, have that too.
I know they’re just things. I know the bin in my grandma’s attic filled with pug stuffed animals from my middle school days are not worth keeping. I know if I donate the collection of gag t-shirts I amassed over the years nothing bad will happen. It doesn’t mean I love the people that gifted them any less.
And yet even still knowing all of this, I find myself unable to kick whatever this might be.
A few months ago I told my husband I was gutting my closet and his unenthusiastic response was just, “uh huh”. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that he said to me I’ve told him at least 4-5 times I was gutting my closet and yet when I was done, it never looked any different. And for a while I struggled with that statement, because when I walked into my closet I saw all the changes. Did he not see my scarves were all in one spot now? The one whole empty shelf that I cleared off? My shoes now all fit on the shoe rack instead of on the floor?
But he’s right. What I’ve been doing has been more of a surface cleaning. I grab the handful of items I see at the top of the pile and throw them in a bag to sell/donate. And that’s really it. My first date dress still hangs on the rack - even though I would never wear it now. My massive collection of J.Crew button downs and sweaters from when I used to work for the company is all still hanging in dry cleaning bags from over 3 years ago. They don’t fit. But I want them to so I keep them tucked away on a top shelf.
It was one small paragraph in a HuffPost article about KonMari that sparked this post. And it was from someone that simply said, “Tidying up made the problem look better on the outside, but I had to figure out that I was fundamentally unhappy with my life and take steps to change it, to fix what was happening on the inside”.
That gave me pause. There are people out there just like me. People struggling through life and coping in ways they might not even realize. Shopping. Hoarding. There have been many times I’ve been asked, “why are you like this?” and I have never had an answer. I’m not sure that I have one even now. But I feel like I’m on my way to at least understanding the question.