Declutter to Stop the Emotional Speedball

Speedballing:  mixing heroin and cocaine together and shooting up.  

The effect is “supposed” to give the feeling of a euphoric high without the “negative” side effects like anxiety and heart palpitations.  But the danger in the combination is that the user may believe they have a higher tolerance than they actually do and take more drugs and lethally risk an overdose.

Organizing clutter is like taking an emotional speedball.

Let’s assume clutter is the cocaine in this observation and organizing is the heroin.

Retail therapy can act like a drug.  It’s not as deadly as cocaine. No. But creates a dopamine high effect. And if one can snag a deal or a great sale, the high is even bigger.  So the more a person buys, acquiring all that stuff, can give that similar high. But the high doesn’t last. In fact, all that clutter over time can cause depression.

On the other side of it, organizing can have a cathartic relaxing feeling like heroin. We’ve spent hours on Pinterest to find the best way to organize, visited the dollar store for buckets and tension rods; baskets and stickers.  The stuff is put away and we can see the floor again. Yay! So glad that shit is out of our way now. We can sip some wine and read a book.

So we’ve got our stuff, cleaned it up, and can now go about our day.  Right?

Probably not.

Here’s why, my own example. I’m a total thrift hunter.  I love thrift stores. Love the outlet thrift store even more. I’ll spend hours at the store with my latex gloves and eye for stuff.  Because I’m totally going to use it someday. Then, when I get home, it all sits in bags in my living room. The high of the hunt is gone by the time I get home and I don’t want to bother with putting it all away.  My living room will look like crap for a couple weeks and I’ll snap at people until I get tired of the mess. Eventually I’ll rage clean to make it look decent again.

I’ll stuff the crap into closets, cabinets, and drawers. And I can still close everything. So I’m all good.

But the clutter is still there.  

THEN I think to myself “look how much room I have!” and “I have such a “clean” house!” so then off I go to the store to get more stuff.  

It’s fucking madness, is what it is.

I've been organizing and decluttering for years now
Gray hairs! All that crap just messes with your head.

Or, I’ll have a huge decluttering spree of all the shit I’ve bought in the last three years and then a couple weeks later, to blow off my boredom (because there’s nothing to clean and I need to find a way to spend my time) I’ll hit the thrift store to get that high again.

It takes a few weeks, but I keep going through the cycle (and I bet you do too) and then wonder why I would rather sit and watch TV.  I ignore the clutter until it pisses me off, rage organize until it’s clean and then get more crap.

Organizing clutter isn’t the solution.

Wait! Let’s go back to Pinterest for a quick moment.

Pinterest is an enabling asshole to those of us who already have too much shit. Because we don’t have THAT credenza. Or, we don’t have THAT knick knack.  And when we do get THE THING, there’s no room to put it or we don’t want to pull everything out of the closet to find the other things that would go with it and so we just shove the thing we bought into the closet that can’t quite close anymore and bow to clean all this up this weekend and before we know it there’s 100 home decorating magazines that we hate because it’s just full of ads anyway.

The solution isn’t to organize better. It’s not a bigger house either.

Dude, a bigger house to fit all that clutter would be a terrible idea!

The solution is to cut the emotional and visual drugs from our lives and get rid of shit.  To clear away the disorder and chaos we are creating for ourselves.

But why am I bringing all of this up on a blog about slower parenting? Well, it’s likely that with all the overwhelming demands in your life that the state of your castle is turning more into a labyrinth and you’d like to tell Jareth to suck a fat cigar.  We know that it’s difficult to concentrate on our goals of creating a calm space for our families when we’re being distracted by goblins in the maze.

Clutter is a goblin in the battle against entitlement and it’s a goblin managed by purging. (I’m not talking about hoarding here. Hoarding involves Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I’m talking about persons stuck in a habit cycle that they would like to break.)

If you have kids with ADHD,

clutter can intensify their symptoms.

In addition, clutter can affect children negatively.  Children need a routine and to know what they can expect will happen throughout their day. If there’s a recurring clutter-to-organized cycle going on, their sense of stability will be disturbed and could lead to behavior problems.  If you have kids with ADHD then this can intensify their symptoms.

Now, you don’t have to be all proper and perfect, and Tidy Up.  

If the idea of pulling up a dumpster to your driveway is giving you anxiety right now then don’t do it. You’re not ready for that level.  Your level is zero right now. I’d say that my level is currently about a six. I’m not ready for the dumpster either.

You’ve got to figure out what you can do that’s stupid easy in order to build that habit of saying goodbye.  So start with something like clothes that are stained or that don’t fit. Or notebooks full of pages of notes that you know damn well you’ll never read again.  Find your zero. Get totally comfortable with that level before you level up.

Maybe you’re already above zero like I am and you’ve found decluttering fairly easy like I did, until now. Now, you’re at the hard part.  Now, there’s things that you are finding truly difficult to part with. Maybe you need a break. I’ve taken a six month break since dumping half the basement of my things.  That decluttering event was pretty draining and made me feel tied up in knots.

So take a break. But when we take these breaks we have to swear an oath to ourselves not to fill up the space again. We have to swear off retail as therapy.  And if we can’t on our own, then we need a coach or a professional therapist. You know yourself and the lies you’ll tell yourself deep down.  You know what level help you’ll need.

And if you need a sponsor of sorts, tag me on IG @hitchpitchflip or use the hashtag #speedballdeclutter   For our emotional sanity, we owe it to ourselves and we owe to our kids to show them that MORE stuff is not the solution to how we’re feeling.  I’ll be decluttering right along with you.

Let’s get it done, get this crap out of our lives and our kids’ lives.

What do you have to say for yourself?