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Making Peace with Your Order - or Disorder
Last week I learned a little more about myself and my passion for organization. Or is it a little bit of OCD? My mother was here in August for her annual visit. We got to talking about "the old days" and she mentioned off handedly, "Well, you know what your uncle used to say about my mother's side of the family. The best way they could control their lives was to reorder the towels and make sure everthing was in its proper place. We couldn't even go out to eat until your grandmother had walked through the entire house making sure every room was in order."
Later I thought about that conversation and my possible roots of compulsion that lurked beneath my desire for order. Did I inherit my mother's and her family's belief that if our living space wasn't perfect, everything - not just the house - but our lives - would fall apart?
I think my grandmother and her siblings used the rituals of order to combat the powerlessness they may have felt as Italian immigrants struggling to make a life in a new country while their father slowly died of tuberculosis in the upstairs bedroom. Order was their survival kit, their way to stay in control.
Of course the reverse can also be true. Disorganization and holding onto too many things is a different kind of survival kit, a pattern inherited from the past. We can heed these patterns, but don't have to hold onto them.
If your relationship with clutter is a "living survival kit" - maybe passed to you from another generation or another time in your life, can you afford to let it go? If it's an outdated coping mechanism that makes your life difficult or tough for those nearest and dearest, can you afford not to?