Saturday, July 23, 2011

Operation "DOWNSIZE" - Part 1

This has been a year of self-reflection for me.  I'm really not 100% sure why I've decided to "BLOG" all of these inner thoughts - but I have, so I will.   I'm don’t know that I’m ready for an all-encompassing REVEAL of all that I've discovered about myself, but I do think I'm ready to embrace certain aspects of who I am and process through accepting or changing them.

Here’s a little history.  Starting about 10 years ago, I was at a time in my life when I was lost.  I lacked direction, was divorced, eventually got involved in a meaningless relationship and only found peace with myself when I was working my fool head off and being the "best that I could be".  I had a magnetic personality and was always surrounded by “friends” at work that wanted me involved in their projects, or wanted my insight on their projects.   I felt respected, cared for, and it was the only place I felt appreciated.  Home life, was empty, without purpose.  I spent time with my children – but not really.  I spent time making sure they were safe when they were returned back to their father.  I believed that because they were “with” me for part of the week, that I was spending time with them.   I wasn’t.  This went on for about 5 years. Reflecting back - this was how I was raised as well.  I occupied myself, came up with my own entertainment, but my mom was always somewhere around.  Made dinner when I complained that I was hungry, bought my school supplies, drove me to school functions, dropped me off at friends houses.  We didn't have a relationship - she was my parent.   We are definitely a product of our parents.   I didn't know there was anything wrong with that.  I thought my childhood was great!  Again, these reflections are all relatively recent.  Anyway - back to adulthood.  All I really did at the time was work.  Multiple jobs most times.  Eventually around 2005ish…I was down to one job, trying to turn the meaningless relationship into “something”. Not really sure what that something was – but I was trying.  Most often I found myself alone, physically and emotionally. 

Throughout my life, I was always a “crafter”.  I cross-stitched, crocheted, did some plastic canvas. Put puzzles together.  But mostly ‘collected’ things.  Patterns, magazines, Embroidery floss, yarn.  I’d spend time cataloging them and gaps (missing magazine issues, or missing floss colors) would stand out.  So I’d hunt on ebay, and garage sales, or hit sales at Joann’s to fill the gaps.   Then I’d catalog and organize some more.   This seemed to fill the “void” – though I didn’t realize it at the time.  I thought these past-times were part of me.  I thought I was doing things I truly enjoyed!  They had purpose!

Much of this portion of my self-reflection has to do with my mother.  Not just upbringing, but who she is now.  I have accepted that my mother, is a dictionary-definition Hoarder.  I didn’t know it then…there was always a reason, or some “plan” for the piles that were growing at her house.  The recent discovery that her life, my future...will not change, without intervention and DRASTIC change, has been difficult, to say the least.  In this process, I have come to understand that I too have many of her tendencies ingrained in me. I thought I was a well-rounded, independent, STRONG individual!  Turns out I had great “coping skills” for the disappointments in my life….boy was I wrong.   I have spent the last year (maybe a bit more) just MAD or sad. It flip-flops.  Sometimes even outwardly angry to come to the realization that "things" in her life are more important than family and those we love. And in turn, that’s what I learned.  She didn’t do it on purpose...she is a product of her life experiences.  Loss, disappointment, fear, rejection....  She never travelled the journey that I have in the past few years to truly have a chance, or a REASON to pursue self-awareness.   I am angry and ashamed that I too, somehow got to the point that things, collections, possessions were more important than the things that SHOULD matter most.  Family, friendships, making memories. Making an impact on the world and those that we love.  I’m still struggling to find the balance.

Somewhere in 2005, I bought my Embroidery\Sewing machine.  It was then that quilting & embroidery came into my life.  This was an amazing discovery.  I was good at it, I learned quickly, it took over my creative mind.  It brought social aspects to my life that I didn’t know existed.   I began to join guilds, teach classes and all the while, continue to “COLLECT & CATALOG”.  It brought me a feeling of happiness that far exceeded anything else up to that point in my life.  It took over, and began to define me. I didn't want to spend all my time WORKING.  I wanted to get home, create, have things to share at show-n-tell.  Come up with ideas to teach to made me feel good.

Back to the journey.  In the past few years, I have rekindled my lost love with my husband.  We’ve remarried, and our family is one again.  It’s a second chance at living the life I want to have.  Once I introverted myself and took a long hard look INSIDE myself…it’s been a tough road.  It’s hard to own and accept the mistakes you’ve made in your life. And to what cost. I spend most days now struggling with guilt and regret for all the time I missed with my family, my children.   Yet the “coping skills” I acquired in that decade seemed so real.  I struggle with who I want to be, and who I think I am, who I thought I was…..blah blah blah.   This post has gotten deeper than I thought it would….whew.

I guess it’s poignant to say….I’m still lost.  And I feel like the proverbial clock is ticking for me to figure it out.  Where’s the balance…what in our lives are truly a “PART” of us.  What really makes me me?  All those days I spent playing in the garden last year…did it really matter?  I look at the flower beds overgrown with weeds and wonder – What’s the difference?  Does it really make ME happy, or was it just something else I used to distract myself from focusing on my relationships within my family, that do NOT come nearly as easy.   I love creating things – at least I think I do.   I dunno.  Was that all a coping mechanism for disappointments in life?  Like my mom?  What do I REALLY enjoy?  And then immediately following that question – is why am I just thinking about myself?  Am I a good mom?  A good wife?  A good friend?  A good daughter?  How do you pick what to focus on when you’ve come to the realization that you’ve failed at so many things when all the while, you thought you were so stable and successful?   How does one find the balance…..

Anyway – on to the original reason for the post – “Operation Downsize”.  I’m scared to end up like my mom.  I’m scared to leave all these “things” for my boys and their families to deal with someday.  I know that I’m not even remotely close to living like she does – but I could be, I think.  I dunno.   Anyway – my focus for the moment, is to downsize all the clutter in my sewing room. It’s suffocating me. I was looking at the photos on the Accuquilt Facebook page today.  They are running a “Bust My Stash” contest.  I’m no worse off than the photos there, or any of my close quilty friends for that matter. But I am MORE than certain that they don't have all the inner demons going on in their heads that I do right now.   My husband could solve the problem for me and just haul it all away in a day...but somehow, I think that clearing out all the junk I don’t use or care about anymore will make me feel better.    I know I have so many other things to work on when it comes to “SELF”….but for now – this is all I feel I can handle. I think and reflect when I'm in here.   Maybe if I get it back to feeling like a safe haven again, I'll have the opportunity to do that "thinking" that I so desperately need to do.  If only there was a time machine…..

Here’s the pictures of TODAY – I hope eventually to post some amazing AFTER pictures.

If you have wisdom and insight that you can share to help me - please comment.    If you want to ignore the pink elephant in the room and just cheer me on to clean this place up....that's great too.  :-)  I'd love to hear from you.   I'm sending this out into the abyss now.  LOL   Probably should be in a private journal instead of a blog...but what the hell.   If I've learned anything in the past few years - putting yourself out there, and allowing yourself to be vunerable....IS the journey....