Clare’s Clutter Clearing Story
‘Are you seriously going to get rid of those mum?’ I screamed at my mother from the bottom of the loft ladder.
It was Christmas 1996, and my parents were moving out of their house after a flood while they’d been away over Christmas. Not from water coming up from below, but from the water tank in the attic leaking. They’d turned the heating off which meant the water in the pipes had frozen and the inevitable happened in the thaw. They were having to empty the house and move out for six months while it was all fixed.
This particular day when I turned up for a visit they were in the attic sorting things into black bags.
Keep, rubbish/trash, charity. They were taking the opportunity to get rid of things they’d stored up there for years.
90% of it was going in the ‘rubbish/trash’ black bags. It felt as though they were erasing the family history without a second thought.
I was told there was a small pile of things that my brother and I could sort through that we might want, in particular the 1970’s cot/crib that my brother and I had been brought up with.
‘You can use that when you have children of your own one day’ my mother told me.
Not likely – it had so many nuts and bolts on it I was surprised I still had 10 fingers and toes. Besides, I’d always imagined buying a cot/crib and pram/stroller with the man of my dreams as we ‘nested’ together before our first precious one arrived.
My first precious one was actually a fury tabby rescue cat called Betty with half a tail. She was followed by 7 other precious fur-babies. Sorry mum – no human ones.
And then I watched as she picked up my first ever pair of shoes and without hesitation dropped them in the ‘rubbish / trash’ black bag.
My gasp was audible.
‘Are you seriously going to get rid of those, mum? Do my first pair of shoes really mean that little to you that you can just throw them away, just like that as if my childhood meant nothing to you?’
I should have known better than to ask.
It felt as though my mother had no emotional attachment to anything just as much as she had little emotional attachment to me or my brother.
Those darling little red shoes from the shop that just about everyone in the UK got their first pair of shoes from (Clarks) and the memories of me wearing them – did they mean nothing to her?
Holding Back the Tears
Somehow, I managed to hold back my tears of rejection.
Those little shoes meant something to ME, even though I didn’t actually have a single memory of wearing them.
As my sadness turned to anger I decided that I’d take, love and care for them if my mother didn’t want them.
I christened them my ‘Dorothy’ shoes because they reminded me of the shoes that Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz wore. They now proudly sit on the shelf in my studio – you may have seen them in my videos beside the photo of me as a 4 ½ year old in my favourite dress with a patchwork ‘C’ on the front. I was so cute!
To Love and to Cherish
The shoes weren’t the only thing I took that day.
Anything and everything that related to me and my childhood and which my mother didn’t want (which was most of it). I decided I could and would love and cherish my childhood even if she couldn’t.
With hindsight it was about me wanting to take care of my younger self and the painful feelings that these things triggered. I could love that Clare more than she had ever felt she’d been loved. I could prove that she was loved by keeping all the things that were hers.
Ironically, what I interpreted as my mother heartlessly ‘getting rid of’ things connected to me, her own daughter, and which I interpreted as a sign she didn’t care and had no emotions, would later help me realise that neither of us was right or wrong, we just had and needed different triggers for the memories and feelings. At that time I didn’t know how else to trigger the feelings that my childhood things gave me. So I kept them all.
Trapped in a Cycle
If we’re not careful we can easily get ourselves trapped in a cycle of keeping sentimental or inherited things because we need to somehow prove that we care about the past and won’t forget.
For a handful of things that’s OK. But the mistake I made that day when my parents were clearing out their attic was thinking that I had to fill my present with my past at the expense of having space for my present and my best life to come in the future.
When people are patient and trust the Journey they usually find fewer things are sentimental or emotional than they expected because they’ve done the ground work and given their brain the time it needs to prepare to let go.
Learning to capture the feelings and memories and let go of the ‘things’ from the past is probably one of the hardest – yet most important – skills we learn on our Clutter Clearing Journey to a Clutter Free Life.
It is possible.
I did it.
Hundreds of others have done it in the last 20 years.
You can do it too.
Ultimately letting go of the past, holding onto the positives and taking some into your Clutter Free Future is what will enable you to move on and live your best life.
Find out more about the Clutter Clearing 7 Step Journey here: https://www.clutterclearing.net/7-step-journey/