You can’t know where you are going…until you know where you’ve been
By: Raychel Chumley & Brandon Chumley
Every January there is a big push for people to get really specific with their goals, passions, and purpose over the next calendar year. I mean everyone is doing it! We are even leading our gals in Steady On through our own BBCC style planning sesh.
So, anyway, a few days ago I was catching up on my Steady On guided journal questions while waiting in line for my kids at school (great tip BTW- always have something with you to fill those down times!) And, things were going really good…until I got to day six. It read, “What needs to change so your free time can be spent the way you’d like?”
The day before, I had been planning what I REALLY wanted my free time to look like, listing what kind of life experiences I wanted to have, and even filing out the pages of my iBloom planner for what my theme and priorities were going to be for 2017. That sounds really good, right? I thought so, too!
But as soon as I started listing all the things that needed to change, I quickly realized there was a huge disconnect between what I wanted my life to look like and my current reality. There were some things I had been avoiding and ignoring for far too long and I got a reality check right then and there.
I guess you really can’t figure out where you are going until you know where you’ve been.
“Where have I been?”
That’s the question I’ve been asking myself since December. I’ve learned some unhealthy coping mechanisms from some not so pretty life experiences. Walking through Postpartum OCD x3, depression, and being married to a man who struggled with the toxic behaviors that result from being raised by a very selfish mother, makes you learn a few nasty habits like:
- Avoid & ignore,
- And, pretend & lie,
- Oh and don’t forget blame & rage.
Sigh. It’s not pretty to look at. But that is exactly what I’ve been doing over the last couple of months. See, I’ve kind of had to look this stuff right in the face because I’ve been cleaning out my house. Now, on the surface you might not understand what I mean. But, it turns out even science is proving there is a connection between depression and clutter (and vice versa if you ask me!) I can trace my mental history through every project I have tackled and completed.
I’ve spent the last 6 weeks doing things like:
- Cleaning out closets that could be hoarder episodes,
- Opening up boxes and totes that haven’t been touched since we moved. In 2011.
- Organizing a file cabinet full of unopened statements and stacks of old outdated medical and insurance info.
- Going through the remains of old business choices that look like a 5 year old made the decisions. What color should the labels be this week? Ugh. I didn’t get the name “serial entrepreneur” for nothing.
- Vacuuming so much lint from behind the dryer it’s a miracle we didn’t start the house on fire. (Don’t tell Mandy!)
- Cleaning the pantries and freezers where I found a turkey from 2010 (clearly we moved the poor bird with us!) and 6 bottles of Worcestershire sauce. Six! And this project isn’t even done yet!
I couldn’t believe what I found as I started digging under the surface of my home. Oh the outside looked great. But dig a little and you would find the consequences, and clutter, that mental illness and toxic relationships can bring and it was not very pretty. Not at all.
But, as I find myself with an ever growing pile of papers that need to be shredded and boxes that need to go to good will, I’m finding something so precious as well. You see, with every clean space I’m able to breathe and relax a little bit more. With each choice to keep or throw I’m finding my power again. And, with every organized closet and beautifully decorated room I’m finding the girl I lost so many years ago.
So, even though it’s sobering, and downright infuriating, I welcome this step in the healing process. I can’t figure out what I want 2017 to be if I can’t spend time in the muck and mire that covered much of the last decade. Ignoring all the clutter only made it worse! I want my home to reflect my calm & powerful mind and my steadfast heart.
“And now for the rest of the story” After reading Raychel’s rough draft of this post I got to thinking. The last thing I wanted was for you all to thinking she was busting a$% and I was sitting on mine. I told her that and she told me “It’s time to write your story. It’s part of the healing process. And, I won’t write it for you.” So here I am making my WRITER debut.
I have been living two lives. If you know our story well this will probably not come as a shock to you. I have one life where I keep it all together. I have everything in line. All things have a place and it stays there… my work life.
Then I have another life where I let everything get chaotic and messy. I let everything fall apart and all adult responsibility falls to my wife…My home life. The worst part is I knew it was happening. I purposely tried to not “adult.” But I told myself it was all good, just let it be, it will all fix itself.
Well a few months ago I decided that it was enough. A person cannot function with that much difference in their life! Just like the brain can’t function with chaos neither can you function with chaotic surroundings! So, my first step towards creating calm was cleaning my garage (my “hoarding” place) and finishing the projects I had started in the house but had not completed. The first of many steps have been taken and there is no looking back now.
In the end…
My word this year is “Dig Deep” and the whole point of this house clean up project is to make sure my soil is good. I’m want to make sure I’m not spreading good seed onto rocky soil. One room at a time hubby and I are putting the good stuff back in the dirt and pulling the weeds out. There has been a resurgence of adulating in the Chumley house. And, it feels awesome.
Raychel & Brandon