This morning, I had an existential crisis.  Now, these types of experiences are not  exactly unheard of with me.  As a Highly Sensitive Person, I tend to have a lot of FEELINGS and I have been known to become overwhelmed by FEELINGS on a pretty regular basis.  Sometimes, the FEELINGS are great – I’m happy and excited and just want to twirl around with my arms outstretched because I feel that good (and I do twirl around, because part of being a grown up means I can twirl around if I want to.  There are also times I eat ice cream for breakfast).

But sometimes the FEELINGS are not happy.  Sometimes, they are great sadness, or massive stress, or – as in this morning – total fear of entrapment.

I’m not sure why, but I have a complete and total fear of being trapped.  Strange – it’s taken me ten years to identify the real root of the problem, but there it is – I don’t like feeling trapped.  I still haven’t figured out why I don’t like feeling trapped, but I suppose it has something to do with that innate fight-or-flight basic animalistic instinct we all have buried inside us.  Regardless, I felt trapped.  And, as I felt trapped, I defaulted to my normal feeling-of-trapped response: I decided I desperately needed to move to Europe.

Except, rationally, I knew that was not a proper response to my feelings.

Which is why I’m typing this and not sitting in an airport right now.

After forcing myself to think rationally, I began to look at why I felt trapped in this particular instance and what I thought moving to Europe might solve.  And the answer is this: my house overwhelms me.

Several years ago, when the market crashed, I picked up a large house at a good price.  Although it was far more space than I needed, it was an investment.  Somehow, in the last five years, I’ve managed to go from “more space than I need” to “space crammed full of stuff.”  I am not exaggerating – there is stuff EVERYWHERE.  I keep saying “oh, I’ll put that away,” except I have no place to put it.  The closets are bulging – they are full of stuff already.  Here’s a picture of my living room at the moment:

Yes, that table is full of groceries.  Why?  Because I have no closet to keep the groceries in.  I mean, I have a closet near my kitchen that would be good for storing food.  It just has candles and random boxes full of old hotel soap and appliances that I never use but thought I absolutely needed once upon a time in it.  My home is cramped and cluttered.  When I asked myself to sum up my house in a few words, those came to mind.  Also this one: cage.

It’s not that I feel tied down by the concept of home ownership.  Home ownership is a good investment, and even if I did not live in my house, it could be rented or what have you. It’s that my house is so full of stuff, I feel like it’s eating me alive.  The stuff, I mean.  There is stuff everywhere, and it’s just too much.  I want my home to be a sanctuary – someplace I WANT to spend time in.  The building I’m residing in at the moment doesn’t feel that way…except for one room that I purged, cleaned, and redecorated last year whose decor is inspired by a place I stayed in Italy a few years back.  (For context, the houses I stayed in during my last trip through Europe were also all very simplistic in their decor, and often felt airy and free – which is probably where a lot of the EUROPE comes from.  That, and I really like Europe).

The solution is not to move to Europe.  Although I like Europe, it’s not very realistic to just pack up and move your entire life because your house is messy.  The solution is to clean your house – really clean your house.  Purging everything.

So that’s what I’m going to do.  I’m going to start getting rid of stuff.  I have clothes I’ve owned since high school – I really should not be dressing like a sixteen year old.  I have clothes that no longer fit because I’ve dropped from a size 12 to a 6/8 thanks to martial arts – why am I keeping them?  Keeping them means I’m afraid I’ll need them again, and I won’t.  Plus, they’re nice things and someone out there may be able to use a designer suit that’s too big for me and just collecting dust in my closet.

I’m going through closets and getting rid of things.  I have furniture that I want to keep, but that isn’t my style – so I’m going to get it refinished to something that is my style (no more dark wood – light stain and white, please!)  I’m going to use things how I want to use them and not in a way I feel they “have to” be used.  There is no “have to.”  My roommate is a cat, and as she doesn’t have a job and doesn’t pay the mortgage, she gets no say in our decorating styles.  But mostly, I’m going to purge.  If I haven’t used it in a year, I’m not going to use it.  It goes.  There are plenty of wonderful charities that will take my almost-brand-new-stuff-I-couldn’t-live-without-but-never-used and will make sure it gets to people who will love and appreciate – and use – it.

The next few entries of this blog are going to be my cleaning adventure.  Cleaning doesn’t seem like the right word.  I’m not sure what is.  But this is radical and it’s going to change some things.  First up, no more cages.