Clare’s Clutter Clearing Story

When I was clearing my clutter and imagining my Best Life, I envisioned getting married, having a family, and living happily ever after.

Just to be clear – I didn’t ‘wish’ or ‘hope’ for these things, like everything in life that you value, they didn’t come easy, and that vision has had to evolve.

It all began 20 years ago when I got clear and specific with my vision of my Best Life, which included the type of man I wanted to share my Best Life with. I made a list of all the negative qualities and behaviours of the men I had dated and the qualities I didn’t want in my future husband. Then I made a list of all the positive opposites of those qualities and behaviours, so I was clear about what I DID want and could recognise it. This was surprisingly hard to do.  It’s always easier to identify the negatives than the positives, but just like our Clutter Clearing, we need to be clear and specific about what we want and what success looks like.

Then one night I started putting that checklist to work. A friend of mine and I got tipsy so that we could summon the courage to sign up to a dating website – very modern back in 2004!

Keith was the first man I contacted. He didn’t have a picture, but his profile description sounded kind, honest and genuine. Keith and I started chatting online, and he quickly suggested we meet in person which terrified me, although of course it was obvious we were going to have to meet at some point, after all, how else was a relationship going to work?!

We met up at a country pub and stayed long after they closed. We just sat there, in the dark, talking. Conversation was easy, I felt safe, we agreed on so much, and I felt I was able to just be myself around him – a whole new experience for me, especially on a first date.

We became close, but just as good friends. Neither of us had any experience of having healthy relationships – perhaps that’s why we didn’t rush anything.  We met up regularly, talked about everything, texted each other constantly, yet weren’t ‘officially’ dating. I went on other dates, and so did he. We told each other everything. I even met his parents – just as a friend.

After 8 months, I decided to risk rejection and tell Keith that I felt more for him than just good friends. His response was to tell me that he didn’t want a relationship with anyone – which seemed odd given we had met on a dating website. However, when he later told his mother he thought he’d made a mistake saying that, she told him to sort it out!

A week later, Keith picked me up to take me to the airport for a holiday I was going on alone. As he took my suitcase out of his car in the drop off zone at the airport, he smiled, kissed me passionately, then got back in his car and drove off. Confused doesn’t begin to describe how I felt! This man, who had said he didn’t want a relationship with me only a week earlier, was now passionately kissing me as he left me at the airport. Rather unromantically, he finally confirmed that he DID want a relationship with me by text a day later. We became inseparable when I returned from my holiday.

As we all know, falling in love is the easy bit. It’s after the end of the movie that the work really begins. Keith and I were older when we met – he was 38, I was 31. We both wanted children, so we decided to start trying for a family almost straight away.

We spent a fortune on trying, then we sold my house to continue trying. We told no one that we were spending a fortune on getting help because we soon realised that we didn’t have emotionally supportive people around us. All they knew was that we were going up to London to see a doctor regularly for my back – which was true, it just wasn’t the whole truth.

To prove his commitment to me, Keith proposed. For us the wedding was symbolic of the commitment we were making to each other, not a big social event. By this point Keith was 40 and I was 32. We intended to pay for our wedding ourselves. My parents expected a traditional wedding that they paid for. To ensure we had control, we decided to get married in Paphos, Cyprus in a small, intimate ceremony. My parents refused to attend. My brother gave me away.

By the time we returned home we had to start borrowing money to continue trying to start a family. Two years later the 2008-9 recession hit, and as we were both self-employed we were struggling to survive. We were living on credit cards, and had to finally give up on trying for a family after 4 years.

The financial, emotional, and physical strain on us  was unbearable, and unsurprisingly the stress got too much. To cut a long story short, because neither of us were able to deal with our emotions, in the heat of the moment we started divorce proceedings. As a result, my parents came back into our lives. We still didn’t tell them our secret – we preferred for them to think we had been irresponsible with our money than know the truth. Getting into debt trying to have children is emotional, not logical. They would never have understood because they only understand logic.

After the initial anger and the reality of getting a divorce sunk in, neither Keith nor I wanted to give up on our relationship. He ticked everything on my list – why would I give up on that? We both acknowledged that the cause of our problems was our inability to deal with our emotions because we had never been taught how. We had to be willing to move out of our comfort zone, into to the learning and change zone together, and counselling would help us to do that.

Having stopped trying for a family because of the money and my age, we were left with huge debts and were struggling to keep a roof over our heads. In desperation we asked my parents for financial help. They didn’t understand why we had such big debts, and we weren’t about to tell them the reason why.

They had conditions  –  we  had to do a full financial disclosure, sign a contract, the signing of which was witnessed by their neighbours, pay 5% interest, and start repaying it immediately. They put legal charges on our property which totalled double what we borrowed in case we defaulted.

We were in the depths of despair, uncertainty, and vulnerability. We knew we couldn’t afford the repayments, yet we felt we had no choice but to accept. My parents were back in control. We either accepted the non-negotiable deal with them, or we sold our home, gave up our businesses and moved in with Keith’s father.

In my view of the world, parents are supposed to be your unconditional lifeguards in life, whatever your age. We were at our lowest, and once again my parents’ prioritised money and control over our relationship. We both questioned the point of living.

Then a lifeguard appeared. Frank, Keith’s father. He was so appalled by my parents’ behaviour he offered to give us – not lend us – the money to pay my parents every month. It was madness – Frank was giving us money so we could pay my millionaire parents so we could keep a roof over our heads and live off what money we made. Frank made us promise that when the time came, Keiths’ inheritance wouldn’t go to my parents. A financial advisor said it was best to pay off the debt. It meant my parents got most of Keith’s inheritance. Yet what mattered was that Keith and I had survived the very worst, we had been able to keep our secret, and we had come out stronger as a couple.

My Best Life with Keith is something that didn’t come easily. We’ve been in the panic zone many times, yet we’ve always found our way back to our comfort zone via the learning and change zone. Our life together didn’t quite work out how we imagined. We have fur-babies not human babies.

The list I made over 20 years ago with the qualities that I wanted in a man to share my Best Life with is framed in my office. The most important of those qualities has been ‘Someone willing to adapt, learn and is open to change.’ I’m so glad I wrote that list to remind me that whatever happens, the man beside me was always destined to be part of my Best Life.

You can clear your clutter fast, or you can clear your clutter forever, but you can’t clear your clutter forever, fast.

To find out how Clare can help you clear your clutter Forever, without the need for an expensive home visit, click here now:

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