Moment of clarity

This morning I have been thinking about when I was a child and my relationship with my Auntie Joan. She wasn’t a real auntie, but one of my mum’s best friends who lived across the road. I liked her well enough but in truth, the most massive appeal of Auntie Joan was that she let me rearrange her food cupboards. I would order, categorise by type and shape, and bring a sense of tranquillity to the cupboard which was above her breakfast bar. It was an activity that filled me with joy.

Thinking about this stemmed from a conversation that I had last night with Will. We were talking about the benefits of having a personal assistant in a somewhat jokey sort of way. I started off by thinking that it would be good to have someone to bring physical order to my life, someone to tend my kitchen, then I realised that I could do this perfectly well. Then I thought about my paperwork, and how nice it would be to have someone to organise it. This one took a bit longer to process, but it eventually occurred to me that I am good at this too, just not actively so in my own life.

I organise events, run accounts, coordinate activities and a host of similar things. I can look at someone else’s paperwork and see immediate clarity, I know where things are meant to go. I have an inbuilt Dewey decimal system in my head; I can always see how much better things could be.

So thinking back to how I felt about organisation as a child (it’s amazing! it’s phenomenal!) and to my situation now where helping others to make sense of their chaos comes easily, (but applying this to my own life feels trickier). I started to ponder the interim years. What prevented me from applying this incredible skill to my life?

Then I thought about the videos. Am sure that I have blogged on this before, likely in reference to hoarding, but I think I somewhat understated the organisation involved in this. Each video was diligently numbered and labelled, and kept strictly in its row. I believe there was also a reference folder so that I could simply flick through the pages, locate the program that I wanted and instantly locate without having to sift through every tape. It was an elegant system.

At the same time, I knew it wasn’t healthy to have to record everything I watched, I knew that what I was doing edged on a sort of hysteria, but quietly. The tapes became an area that I could perfectly control, there was no loss or corruption, everything was precisely as it should be. And this juxtaposed with being at school, where bullying made my life a scary place. Maybe at this point, perhaps even subconsciously, I knew that I had tarnished my love of order. Now when things become too organised, too neat in my life, I feel uncomfortable, as I have linked this to feelings of being out of control. Only I am not experiencing that sort of pain anymore, I am genuinely excited and happy to be entirely me, my life is brilliant! Only now that me, when things get to tidy, decides that it would be a super great plan to pull out entire cupboards worth of stuff, which I can then feel at ease with. Only at a deeper level, I really am not.

So moving forward, I see the link that no longer serves me. Being organised is not a pollution, it is a straightforward thing that enables me to have a life where I can do more of what I love. It creates simplicity. And this is exceptional.

Map Point. How can I understand my motivations better?


..definitely somewhere..

I keep forgetting stuff.  All kinds of stuff. The ‘where things are’ sort of stuff happens much too frequently.  Sometimes it’s funny, other times it’s massively distressing. Possibly this is made more terrible with my love of hoarding, but this can be empowering for me as it is good to let something’s go. Sometimes.

Today I found my university dissertation. This has been on the missing list (I like lists!) for just under a year. It was likely missing for a lot longer, but I guess things only become officially missing when you realise that they are, in fact, lost. This ‘great work’ consumed around nine months of my life and last year, when I needed to send it to someone, it was nowhere to be found. Whether it is something of great importance or something trivial makes utterly no difference, some things are simply forgotten.

Possibly one of my worst ‘losses’ in my teenage years was my goldfish. It had an agreeably round glass bowl (all future fish have had tanks with the whole filtration and lighting malarkey) and occasionally my Mum would move it around the house so it got a different view of its world. I have no idea whether or not the goldfish had a preferred spot, but it was one Sunday lunchtime when I suddenly realised that I had not seen the fish for a while and I asked my Mum where she had moved it to. At this point, both my Mum and brother burst out laughing. Apparently, it had been dead for three months and they were both waiting to see how long it would take me to notice. Three months apparently.

I have lost birthday cards, passport,  keys, phones, my car in the car park, other people’s car’s in the car park (I can be quite persuasive when I think that I know!) , paper money that I have used as bookmarks, books, glasses, cups, loaf of bread (this was last week), innumerable objects. I guess if I had less stuff then there would be fewer places for me to lose things, but I don’t think this is necessarily true as I always seem to lose more when other people have assisted in helping me tidy. I know where most of my things are in my space. Except of course when I don’t.

Acknowledging that I don’t have good personal organisational skills is hard. It is a skill that I can readily apply to others. I see clarity and simplicity when I am looking at others people’s things. With my own, I see memories and possibilities. The things themselves have long since disappeared as being independent in their own right. I feel their weight.

Epic organisation is a skill I definitely know that I have, but for some reason, I choose not to utilise it. Maybe the chaos is simply so familiar to me now that organisation feels alien. Or maybe (and possibly more likely) this is another area of my life where I have made more progress than I think but for some reason am not acknowledging.

I am doing better.

Map Point. How have I always categorised myself?