April 21, 2004

A Woman at War...with Herself

Last night I went to my second meeting of Clutterers Anonymous. It was slightly less awful than last time, and I certainly started to feel like I might belong. I feel a huge resistance to this program in a way I don't to Debtors Anonymous, probably because DA (a larger group, to be sure) is full of bright, apparently with-it people who are generally achievers (and most of the women are beautifully accessorized, oddly enough).

I know I have to approach this problem sideways rather than head-on for the very simple reason that there's no intellectual problem at all: I can look at other people's messes, clutter and junk and tell them 1) how they ought to arrange the stuff to take up less room, and 2) which items are the best candidates for getting rid of. With the exception of my mother, these people generally escape any advice-giving because I do know how to bite my tongue. But the fact that I have the impulse tells me that I don't need Techniques or Organizational Systems as much as I need to fix the hole in my soul.

It's interesting to me how much my problems with time, money, and the allocation of space fit together and reinforce each other. It makes all the sense in the world to me that DA has special meetings for clutterers and for those with time issues.

Right now it feels like I'm locked in a death-match with the worst side of my nature. It may be that this time in my life--while I'm freelancing and slightly underutilized as an editor, and awaiting the arrival of my son or daughter--is the best moment to address some of my worst personality traits.

Onward and upward.

Posted by Attila at April 21, 2004 02:41 PM

How does CA define "sobriety"?

Posted by: Christophe at April 22, 2004 08:21 AM

Christophe: Note that Clutterers Anonymous is CLA -- probably because CA was already taken by Cocaine
Anonymous. (I don't know what Caffeine Anonymous uses as its abbreviation.)

Anyhow: A quick look at the CLA website (http://www.clutterersanonymous.net) didn't bring up a definition of sobriety. But I would say that it's roughly: freedom from physical, emotional, and spiritual clutter.

Note: A high percentage of clutterers seem to also be information junkies.

Posted by: Dan Goodman at April 22, 2004 01:33 PM

I've been told that 1) it's individual, as it is in certain groups within OA (some OA people, for instance, do not eat any refined grains). Also 2) there is a rule that we do not bring anything into our homes without having a space for it. There's also a less-often-invoked rule that 3) everytime something comes into the home, something else has to go out.

One woman with five years in CLA noted that "the road gets narrower." She explained that every once in a while she loses something, and no amount of looking *or* prayer will get it back; she only finds it when she does a certain amount of general cleaning and straightening.

One more note: a lot of the DA oldtimers (that means 20 years or so) insist that part of the DA program is keeping your house/apartment clean and neat, and keeping your car clean and neat. Some DA people maintain that the best way to get a new car is to take excellent care of the old one (including some things we might see as "aesthetic," like how clean or neat it is).

Posted by: Attila Girl at April 22, 2004 01:45 PM

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