yellow gray blue t-shirts on hangers in an orderly row

Getting Unstuck

Carol’s closet was full.* Although she adored clothes, she knew some of her favorites had become more sentimental than usable. She was eager to thin the ranks so she could find what she wanted.

She worked enthusiastically for our first session but when I returned the next week, her energy was dragging. She had a hard time focusing and told me she hadn’t slept well.

We worked our way through the jeans and the ski jackets and then we got to the skirts. Carol sighed. “Let’s leave those for now,” she said. We moved on but later on I came back to the skirts.

“Sure, let’s try,” she murmured warily.

“Exhibit A,” I announced as I held up the first skirt, paisley mid-calf. Carol examined the skirt carefully, turning it around, holding it against herself, checking the seams and inspecting the hem before quietly announcing, “Keep it.”

One by one I held up the next few skirts. Her eyes seemed to get heavier and heavier as she painstakingly made decisions about each one.

“Let’s just finish the skirts,” I thought and pulled a perfectly ordinary looking beige skirt from the rack, holding it up for her to assess. Her eyes widened, she took a deep breath and called out, “I don’t need that skirt!”

Her energy gathering force, Carol started sorting through the skirts, flipping the clothes along the rack as she declared, “No, no, donate, keep, no one wants this one, it’s awful. Out, out out!” In under two minutes she’d finished and we moved onto the sweaters and scarves.

“What happened there?” I asked as we reached the end of the session and she sat down to catch her breath.

“Those were all the skirts from Mom’s house. I’ve been putting off deciding about them for years. But my mom doesn’t care about any of this now. I kept a couple that will go with other things but most of them just aren’t me.”

Carol sent me off with eight full bags of donations. She later described feeling like a fast-moving stream, gurgling along contentedly and easily until it came to a rock in the middle of the water bed. Removing the rock – facing the decisions about her mom’s clothes – had let the stream flow back on its way again.

Is there something you’ve been avoiding organizing? This Saturday, could you take look and see what happens?

*Name changed.


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