You and I have shared many cups of tea, laughing over crazy minimalist antics, watching children play in these woods, walking the lane with the cathedral of trees. If you were here this evening, as the sun begins to set in the west, you might need to hear this part of the story. I offer it to you just in case you, or someone you love, needs to hear it.
I had struggled with depression for a long time and never realized that my physical surroundings contributed to the overwhelm.
When I first came to the concept of minimalism, I was drowning emotionally. I had walked away from my corporate job with my baby's medical complications with no plan financially and no simplicity in my life. We lived in a 100 year old duplex that had rotting onions in it for 2 years prior to our purchase of it. It didn't have a backdoor and the snow came in. Needless to say, it needed a complete rehab. And, in all honesty, so did I.
I had struggled with depression for a long time, and never realized that my physical surroundings contributed to the overwhelm. Now, I'm not a therapist and in no way am I offering psychological advice. I am only sharing my story in the firm belief that the connection between our physical surroundings and our souls is strong. I knew that I needed to get my home in order for my sanity, literally.
Maybe you can relate to that horrible ache of stress in the shoulders. Or the furious anger of not being able to be present for what you believe is truly important. I walked through all those emotions as I donated bag after bag. Sometimes, I would angry-cry as I shoved totally useful items into a box for the local charity. I asked myself questions of blame "how could I allow this stuff in my house?" and "why did I ever think all this stuff was a good idea?" or "I wish I could just enjoy my kids rather than always be cleaning up after them."
I hope, dear friend, that you already have created a peace-filled haven, or maybe you are already on the journey and making great progress. Yet, maybe you know someone who is still struggling. Or maybe that's you. Here's some insight that helped me walk out of the darkest days of my life.
1. Slow down but don't quit. I realized that part of the root cause of the mess was a pace of life that didn't work for me. I was saying "yes" to everyone except myself. I'm a giver, and maybe you are too, so it's hard when you see a need. I get it. Creating that sacred space for your own soul means having the courage to say "no" to what is too much. Too much stress, or stuff, or commitments. I chose to be in charge of my own life-pace. So many days, I wanted to quit and stay on the floor sobbing in despair. I'm not proud of that. My children knew. It was hard. The difference came with getting up again. Faster each time. And learning to set new, healthier boundaries.
2. Ask for help. Oh dear friend, I know it's hard to ask for the help in the season when all hope seems lost. I know that sick feeling of being at the end of all strength and going through the day not in hope but out of sheer despair. It's time. Ask for help from family, friends, or your faith community. Be wise, obviously, and bold. Ask until someone listens.
3. You were never meant to do this alone. As a strong personality, this was excruciatingly hard for me. I never wanted to admit that I struggled, and yet I longed to be truly honest with someone at how much a mess the house was and how deeply I was struggling emotionally, financially, and in every other way. I had pride that I could do it all alone, but I found in the end, I didn't want to be alone anymore. I finally came to a horribly dark place and my husband forced me to ask for help and actually receive it. I'm so thankful. Maybe having a trusted friend to come along side you is what you need right now. I found that I needed my own coach and a part-time nanny and cleaning help. I am such a frugal personality that it took every fiber of my being to allow such an investment in me. I had to come to place where my health, the condition of my family, and my well-being made it necessary. Everyone's journey is different, but you are worthy of help. Only you can decide what that looks like, but know that you, dear friend, were never meant to go this journey alone.
And you will find, with those insights, you can change the course of your life and your home. Are there still hard days as a minimalist? Yes, absolutely. Minimalism didn't solve all my problems (just most of them). And the struggles that remain are those common to humanity. In my home, I cleared away enough clutter (500+bags to charity) to have the mental time and space to address the deeper issues of the soul. With each bag gone, clarity shone brighter. The depression lifted.
As you are building for a new tomorrow, you have the choice today to slow down, ask for help, and release the burden of feeling alone. You're stronger than you know.
*As always, if you need professional psychological help, please ask for that help today.