I have a friend that is in distress. Her life is beyond her control and her coping mechanism to to control her "stuff" instead. Her need to hang on to too much has paralyzed her to the point of despair. She hates her home because it is too crowded and "too small" (it is crammed to the rafters with things she can't use because it's too crammed in).
She confessed she hasn't used the family dining room table in well over a year, but she continues to care for THREE full formal dinnerware sets in hopes that one day she can entertain. She has mountains of sturdy matching totes all carefully labeled and stacked full of toy sets that her growing children don't play with anymore. She has several shining steel baker's racks as room dividers artfully clothed in tailored fabrics used as pantries and wardrobes full of many types of multiples of food, cookware and linens (and more totes). Bookshelves in the narrow hallway, multiple dressers in each room, she even raised her bed to epic heights to accommodate more storage underneath. her mantle is crammed full of her green glass collection to the point of some items being stacked. She claims that she loves every single piece and wants more.
It may be organized, but it is suffocatingly dense.
She ran out of room a long time ago, but refuses to get rid of anything no matter how long it's been since anyone has used it. She is so stressed out about it all that she has anxiety attacks on a daily basis. She has been hospitalized for stress related symptoms and her blood pressure is now serious enough for her to be medicated. I feel for her!
The writing is on the wall. No quick fix though, I think if her stuff was taken or destroyed it might send her over the edge. But, you know what, it's not her stuff - that's just a symptom - it's her relationships that are killing her. She doesn't trust that she can rely on the one she pledged to rely on, and the relationship is toxic in so many ways. He blames her and the stuff for his trouble, and she insulates herself with more stuff to protect herself from harmful events. The kids are living in a cluttered world of micro-managed stuff and parents that are stressed to breaking. It's brutal, and I am helpless to help her except by saying that I am there for her no matter what.
It's easy to blame the stuff.
It's easy to say "we just need more space/storage".
And that's what she always says... "It would be okay if I just had a proper place for everything, then we wouldn't argue and I wouldn't be so stressed all the time"
She is vehement that all of her things are useful and needed... even when I suggest she sell the items or give them to someone that needs them more to make more space. She desperately wants more space (hyperventilating and tense when she looks around) but ironically her home wouldn't be listable for sale in it's current density. And like most people, she couldn't afford to upgrade before selling.
Her home is the same size as mine and we have the same number of kids and pets and hobbies. My family eats together at table every night and host large family dinners at least 4 times a year (she says they eat in shifts at the crowded breakfast bar and haven't eaten together except at restaurants in months). The only real and meaningful difference is that I trust my life will provide what I need even if I get rid of stuff. I feel safe in my life.
I am not a minimalist, not even close. And my home is not a tidy show home either. But I have a happy life and am surrounded by love. Most importantly, I trust my life not to leave me stranded. (Not to say crap can't happen, it all could be taken away in an instant, but I'm loving NOW and genuinely believe I am safe NOW)
Her uncertainty and feeling of insecurity has eaten her reasonable mind. Like water eroding a stone. I've known her for 20 years now (before changeable career, chaotic kids, and untrustworthy husband) and when I met her she was in control of her finances, and hopeful of the future. Her home was a lovely display of good taste and light. She is intelligent and logical in all other things except this, and because I love and respect her as a longtime friend I can talk to her when she wants to talk and encourage any movement she is willing to make (or admit needs to be made).
I'm uncomfortable writing all that down. Just because it's an invasion into her personal life and I feel like I'm making sweeping assumptions. Know that this came from a place of love and respect for the woman I know she wants to be. I'm no professional on these matters, and I can NOT judge her for her choices that were all made with nothing but the very best hope for a loving future. Like I said, she is intelligent and I respect her very much even if I am worried that she is a little lost right now.