January was an incredibly busy month for me and I promised myself that as soon as things calmed down, I’d de-clutter my home office and a storage area that I hadn’t laid eyes on in twenty years {shudder}.

That day came and I began to go through boxes. And boxes. And more boxes. I was determined to get rid of as much stuff as possible, longing for that Zen feeling of peacefulness. A clean slate. A lightness.

Tons of cancelled checks were tossed. Old receipts got cleared out. Duplicate photos were thrown away. But then I saw it. The little pink diary I’d gotten when I was 8 years old. I couldn’t help but sit and spend the 10 minutes it took to read through it. Notes about a doll I’d gotten for my birthday, a beloved cousin moving far away, being mad at a brother. And it went downhill from there. I’d kept a diary for over 10 years, though most of the entries were very brief. But very revealing. My throat tightened as I read about refusing to go to school. Feeling sick at school. Begging to come home from school. I had a whopping case of school phobia but had forgotten how much I’d written about the daily agony of having to deal with my fears. My notes during 6th grade showed how I’d lost my popularity in 24 hours after my family moved to a different town.

And then, there it was, October 26: “Daddy died of a heart attack.” Nothing more, nothing less. I was 10 years old.

My zealousness in de-cluttering made a complete U-turn as I re-lived the sadness of my youth. The awkwardness. The fears and anxieties. The not fitting in. The losses- too many in a short period of time.

When I talk about de-cluttering in webinars or in the Queens of Distraction, I think about things. We share an enthusiasm to just roll up our sleeves and get rid of stuff. But I think we need to take into account the emotional upheaval this can bring to our awareness- memories that lay dormant until we pull out the big black Hefty bag. If we throw out all the “stuff”, do we also remove our memories? Does it bring relief? Or does it bring anger and sadness?

I’m still processing this whole thing, amongst bags and boxes waiting to be explored.

What about you? Do you feel great, ditching old stuff from your past? Or do you screech to a halt, wondering who that person was back then? Do you hang on to her? Let her go? Is she ever really gone?

Share your thoughts in the comment section below- I’d love to hear your emotional experiences with de-cluttering.