More than three years ago, when my husband and I downsized and moved into our current house, I intended to use the move as an opportunity to organize my new closet. I hoped to utilize every available space while taking advantage of my mild (to moderate) OCD and get rid of outdated clothing and arrange things so everything would fit into the much smaller closet space.
I purchased black and white hangers with the intent to change out the multi-colored hangers and coordinate my clothes by seasons and colors. Nearly three and a half years later, all of that color coordination stuff apparently wasn’t a high priority for me and I don’t even know what happened to those black and white hangers! Purging those out-of-fashion clothes or worn out or damaged garments didn’t seem to make the “To Do” list either. The closet never came together the way I’d imagined it in my mind. For the last three years, I’ve just been shoving stuff in there with nary a care about organization. I’m not going to lie – the space has become a bit of an eye sore.
Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about Marie Kondo who is a “tidying expert, bestselling author, star of Netflix’s hit show, “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo,” and founder of KonMari Media, Inc.” (This description came directly from Ms. Kondo’s website.)
I’ve never watched this Tidying Up show, but considering the state of my closet, I decided a little research might be in order. After reading a little about her, the basic premise of Ms. Kondo’s show is all about helping people de-clutter their lives little by little. Rather than working from room-to-room (which she states can be too overwhelming), she suggests doing things by categories. Clothes, books, toys, etc. Her philosophy is that you keep only those things that “spark joy.” There are some other basic principles, that you can check out at https://konmari.com/pages/about.
Over the weekend I had some unscheduled free time and decided it was time to Marie Kondo my closet. I attacked the space with a fair amount of fanatical OCD and overzealous verve – at least MY side of the closet, anyway. My husband’s side of the closet is a project for another weekend.
It was during this Kondo-ing closet purge session that I received some much-needed enlightenment from God regarding a previously mentioned problem. I’ve been praying and asking God about my issue of not being able to let loose and have fun and my inability to just act silly and/or foolish. I’ve been seeking God’s guidance for what is at the core of this problem, but He’s been pretty silent on the matter. At least until a couple of days ago. Isn’t it just like God to remain silent when WE want an immediate answer, and to shout at us when we least expect it!
There I was pulling XL sweatshirt castoffs off their hangers, when I heard in my spirit …
Kathy, you are a control freak!
Who, ME, Lord?
Well … maybe – but at least I’m not as hardcore as some!
Okay, okay … I’ll admit that a certain amount of OCD flows through my veins.
This revelation was made clear BEFORE my closet Kondo-purge was fully underway. I’d barely gotten started on my clean-out mission, when I noticed ALL of my clothes already were arranged facing in the same direction. My obsessive control streak was evidenced in the way my clothes were already organized by color. Even the long and short sleeved shirts were separated, as were my winter and summer outfits. Hmm, who knew? Without even realizing it, I’d naturally already semi-organized things in a controlled pattern.
Throughout the day, I bagged out-of-date clothes that no longer “sparked joy” in me. Which is code for these “joyless” clothes didn’t have a snowball’s chance in Hades of ever becoming fashion forward throughout my remaining lifetime. I amassed an entire mound of things that are too big for me since I’ve lost weight. (Praise the Lord and all that is holy!) When all was said and done, I compiled two gigantic trash bags full of discards that will be donated.
With my task completed, I stood surveying my perfectly arranged, color-coordinated, seasonally sectioned closet with brand new black and white hangers – marveling at my accomplishments. All of a sudden I had a great epiphany. The reason I am incapable of letting loose and acting silly is … because to do so, would mean relinquishing a certain amount of well-ordered control. I hate to lose control with anything in any way, shape or form.
This “epiphanious” eye-opener brought awareness to the notion that control is not just limited to closet organization, but with practically everything else in my life. The way I fix my hair and make-up has a set order. Because my weight was so out of control for so many years, now it’s imperative that I specifically control my daily exercise routines and my daily food journal. Even my daily quiet time with God must be done in the same obsessive fashion and routine in order for me to feel whole or “normal.” At least normal as defined in the brain of someone like me.
This control starts first thing in the morning immediately upon waking. Every day begins with making my bed. The routines all line up in order like good little soldiers. Brushing my teeth, working out, showering, breakfast. Daily devotions and time with God. All are repeated the exact same way every day, seven days a week to the same sub-conscious repetitive checklist. The real revelation was the understanding that all of this obsessive scheduled, routine control is because of my depression and anxiety disorder.
When you live with anxiety and depression, an attack or episode is completely random and unpredictable. A dark cloud of depression can move through like a sudden summer monsoon storm. Without warning, anxiety and depression swoops in without showing up on your radar, catching you completely off guard. Being unable to control a mental health disease is so overwhelming, it makes “normal” thinking or reactions nearly impossible. Even with medication my anxiety and depression are still unpredictable. I realize my moderate OCD with every aspect of my life is my sub-conscious mind trying to store up rational behavior in the hopes that I’ll have a surplus of control when needed to deal with a sudden anxiety attack or bout of depression. My need to control tangible routines is necessary for my daily survival.
In the middle of figuring out this OCD stuff, my mind was suddenly flooded with several events that happened to me in my past where I was ridiculed or laughed at for “letting loose.” My memories included several incidents from childhood and early adulthood that I’d stuffed deep, deep down for all these years. These memories were painful as I remembered the embarrassment I felt due to my childlike uncontrolled behavior and the way I was ridiculed and made fun of. I’m guessing God chose this time to help me remember these selective memories at this point in my life because my healing journey has progressed to the point that I am now able to handle these painful memories.
Handle them, I did, too. I put myself back into those situations, one by one and picked them apart. Who was there? What exactly was I doing that caused me to become so embarrassed? While the whole exercise left me with a little residual embarrassment, I was able to recognize that these situations were magnified in my mind and likely immediately forgotten by those that I thought were judging me.
My life-long relationship with low self-esteem and worrying about other people’s opinions have roots that go way back. I CHOSE to relive these situations repeatedly, ad nauseum, before finally stuffing them down in my sub-conscious with an out-of-sight, out-of-mind lie from the devil. (And most certainly, these painful memories were stuffed down with a sleeve of Oreos or other high caloric snack food, because THAT is how a food addict deals with pain.)
I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to fully let loose and relinquish this obsessive control I’m married to. As with most problems, hang-ups, addictions or personality quirks – real help comes from the Lord. Me … You? None of us will ever know complete healing and wholeness until we pass on and meet our Lord on the other side. Since none of us know the hour or day when that will happen, the goal needs to be following God’s path for us, starting with John 10:10:
The Amplified Version actually says: The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].
I want that! I want to enjoy my life!
Since I’ve uncovered some of the answers I’ve sought, I find myself asking God, “Seriously, Lord … how can one person have so many things wrong with them?” And “how can God still possibly love me knowing that I have so many things wrong with me?” The good news is, He DOES know every single thing that is wrong with me, yet he loves me unconditionally in spite of it and will never leave me or forsake me. Revelation and healing are progress! Now as I move forward – my constant prayer is simple: LORD, FIX ME … one problem at a time!
QUOTE OF THE DAY: