Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Clean Your Room

I had a spare bedroom that simply held things that I didn't want to deal with. I grew to be embarrassed by the sight of it, but instead of doing the work and cleaning the room, I closed the door. I walked by this room, with the door closed, day after day. Closing the door made it easier to ignore the disarray, but it was impossible to forget.

I am generally in touch with my emotions. I’m aware when I need space, when I need to write, and when I need to take a mental break. The trouble begins when my need involves others—when I need to open up, trust, be vulnerable, and depend on someone else for help. I shut the door, ignoring the emotional disarray until it demands my attention and I feel as if I've slammed into a brick wall.

Recently, I had a serious wake-up call. I ignored all warning signs, bells, and whistles, but it's hard to ignore a brick and that's exactly what it felt like I hit. I could no longer ignore that I was off track. Feeling discouraged, frustrated, and embarrassed, I walked into my place and the first thing I noticed was that closed door. It seemed to taunt me. What I'd done with that physical space mirrored what I'd been doing with my emotional space.

I opened the door to the spare bedroom—the room containing all that I didn’t want to see, make decisions on, or have to handle. I didn’t know how to start or what the finished product would resemble. I had no plan and yet I was certain that I absolutely needed to do something. That room represented my emotional state and if I couldn't handle that room then I feared I wouldn't be able to handle what was even more essential—my emotional space.

Little by little, I made organizational strides. As I cleared out that room I started to feel better. With the clarity of space came mental clarity. I realized that it was impossible for me to clear my mind and be emotionally healthy while shutting the door on things that I was tired of handling or seeing. That physical space was an external manifestation of what I was feeling internally. I needed to clean my room.

Just as with that spare bedroom, emotional health has to be maintained and given attention. It isn’t enough, nor is it responsible, to simply ignore emotions by closing the door. Eventually, you will have to deal. You may have to take some personal time or even recruit some help from your circle of support, but it has to be done. When you clear out the closed places and areas you've pretended were no longer a factor, you feel freer and create the space needed to genuinely heal.

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