Well folks, I thought I’d better come clean.
I am struggling here. Usually I have a big depression every year from mid-January to the beginning of March and then it lifts as suddenly as it descended. But this year it has already begun.
You cannot escape grief. And I jetted off to my magical stay in France on the back of losing Ulf and Rusty. Now, back in the house, I think about Ulf all day and cannot make myself go out for walks here, and every time I see a lone woman walking her dog I crack up inside. At night I am dreaming about Rusty or the house where she lived, or the times I spent there as a girl. Last night I was in her house, but decided to walk to the next village where I lived to go home. But each time the road led me straight back to her house again. There was no way to leave. Strange.
And my actual home is sapping my energy and giving me grief: I felt it as soon as I came back. I have been trying to analyse my situation. Because of various things that happened to me as a child I need to feel free. I was trapped in unbearable situations very young which had traumatic consequences. So, I have found that I need to live high on a hill with open views: I like to have no curtains at the windows: I like open doors and windows with the wind blowing through: I like open expanses within and without: I like relationships which are transparent: I need to know where I am physically and emotionally: I do not like to have too many possessions.
Now my sister is the opposite: she like to have lots of things around her: lots of thick curtains, half drawn against people looking in: playing her cards close to her chest: being close to home: having a game plan. My husband is similar.
Just different ways of reacting to difficult situations: no blame, just different people need different things.
But the amount of ‘stuff’ in my home is suffocating me: we have had to clear five peoples’ houses in the last 15 years. Although we have felt drastic in what we disposed of, inevitably there are things we have kept. We had a valuer in last Autumn and a lot would have gone to auction then but I had to prepare for examinations, then Ulf and Rusty became ill and died, and then my trip to Paris was upon me. The prices are bad in the salesrooms at the moment so it seems a bad time to let precious things go, for a few months at least.
And I am my own worst enemy: I have never gone through and sorted out all the papers from my teaching or all the many wonderful academic books on plants, trees, landscape, soil, physics, chemistry, music, French, not to mention history, novels, travel etc. There are books in cardboard boxes and in piles across the floor because there is no room for shelves to put them on. Then I have clothes in all sizes and styles because they are too good to throw away and may come in useful again. etc. etc. It is the same old story for so many people. Things accumulate over the years and once they reach a certain level it is just too exhausting to wade through the muddle.
When you walk in here you feel as if you are physically dragged to your knees rather than sighing with relief at being home. So I have spent the time since my return from France beginning to sort through old paperwork. So far I have filled one and three- quarters of our blue bin (paper recycling) and two large sacks, but have now used up my energy spurt from my trip away and am struggling to keep on going. Its a vicious circle: you need the energy to get rid of the stuff which will give you the energy to go on getting rid. But stopping over Christmas has broken the spurt and I need to get back on track.
Sorting through books to give away is so emotionally draining: one part of me is so desperate at the moment that I am inclined to give everything away lock, stock and barrel: but that would be silly: and it is not just the house. All the outbuildings are packed full of ‘stuff’ and I want to run away screaming. I have felt like this for years and years only I have never been away for so long before and had to come back to the full realisation of how dreadful I find it and how I long to set fire to the lot.
In my own defence, I have been so busy living that I have not stopped to clear up as I go along: and with teaching you tend to gather so much material that may ‘come in’ that you hang on to. Then there was the whole executor stuff from sorting out my friend’s estate that I felt it necessary to hang on to for tax and legal reasons: but yesterday I found marking schedules and feedback forms from years ago that I had never thrown away. It makes me ashamed. Still, I have spent the last couple of days sorting, sifting, shredding, making new piles and new files. There are pieces of carpet which have not seen the light of day for years, and I can actually see my desk.
But I have still to go through fifteen box files of teaching materials, handouts, maps, field trip details, marking criteria, to see what is still relevant, what to keep, what to chuck. They are the result of so many hours of research and writing that it is hard to get rid of them! What a paradox, to need space and lack of clutter, but not to be able to part with things for fear of needing them again.
Anyway, thanks to the Christmas chocolates I have managed another energy spurt and when I need a change from books and papers, I have been through the medicine cupboard and the pantry shelves: anything out of date has gone. Then there are the cupboards full of material for projects long forgotten, bedding for attic beds which will probably never see the light of day because the attics are no longer spare rooms, etc. etc. Boxes of old family letters to sort through for relatives in Australia, plays by my grandmother to send to Sweden, notes from both my parents on books they were writing, notebooks from Victorian ladies on the Grand Tour, ancient recipe books, notes for books I have begun to write. It is exhausting just writing about it, but I must make some sense out of this stuff: I cannot leave it to others to sort through.
And once I have made some headway it will get easier as I go along: once space and room become apparent it will give me the energy to continue. 2011 is THE year when I will get on top of this stuff. I will feel lighter and freer once I can shed all these old ‘skins’: parts of lives I wish to remember but not carry with me. It is enough to carry my present life: I cannot carry all these past lives, my own and others.
So, to all of you who also wish to make changes in your lives, improve your quality of life and/or health, I wish you energy, motivation and health to sustain you through 2011. Plus of course, fun, joy, laughter, happiness and good friends.
2010 has been a good year for me: and one of the most amazing and unexpected things has been making friends through blogging. I never would have believed it possible and I want to say Thank You to all you kind, supportive, dear people who have so enriched my life this year.
May 2011 be a kind year to you all!
Our remaining dog, Onyx, sitting in the sun.
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