I think of decluttering as something that is never completely done, it’s sort of like a never ending journey. I’ve been observing this in my own life, and I had a pretty significant experience with my own clutter last fall, but I’ve been holding back from sharing it with you, because it’s really personal and there are are raw painful feelings around it.

Couple problem

My husband and I had been have challenges in our marriage, for at least a couple years if I’m being honest, but what marriage doesn’t have problems? And just like physical clutter in so many people’s houses, we ignored the clutter in our relationship. Last summer, all the “stuff” we had been ignoring in our marriage came to a head, which resulted in a major crisis.

After being physically separated for two weeks while I was at a meditation retreat and then after about a month of marriage counseling it became really clear that my husband and I needed to spend more time apart.

During that time I had been getting a huge wave of intuition that I needed to go on an extended road trip to the Western part of the U.S. My gut told me I would be gone for two to six months.

As I started to pack for my trip my emotions started to get really riled up. I realized that even though I knew this trip was absolutely the right thing to do that I was scared shitless.

No matter what happened, nothing would ever be the same again. I went through phases of feeling like my marriage was doomed to feeling exhilarated by the thought of being out on the road again (I LOVE traveling). But it had been a long time since I lived by myself and things were quite different for me then than they were nine years before.

Only one thing was for certain, things could only be different after this trip.

I decided to drive my truck instead of the car, because even though the car got twice as good gas mileage, I could fit only a fraction of the amount of stuff in the car that I could into the truck. And I watched almost in awe as I continued to tetris my truck more full and more full.

And there I was, scared again – totally flipped out, frightened, like a little kid. Part of me wasn’t trusting that everything would work out on this trip, and I was taking nearly every single thing I could possibly fit into my truck to help me feel more secure, to make me feel safe. I may not have a husband, but at least I have all this stuff to keep me warm or that I could sell if I needed to if everything goes to hell.

There was so much fear in me and so much emptiness from feeling like I had failed (yet again) in my relationship with the one person I felt like really understood me. Even though I knew I had to leave, part of me wanted to stay and try to work things out a different way.

But I had to go. And I did. I ended up being gone for two and a half months. And you know what – I never touched at least 50% of the stuff in my truck during the time I was gone.

And every single thing came together in perfect timing – from the places I got to stay, to the people I met, to the food I ate – I was taken care of the entire trip.

And the longer the trip went on, I realized that all the marriage problems we were having weren’t really about what we thought they were about. I discovered that part of my emotional clutter was that travel was missing. Sure, I’d go to a meditation retreat or business-related event here and there, but I rarely allowed myself to spend time in these locations outside of the primary events. My soul craves travel, exploration, seeing new places and meeting new people, but I had let myself stagnate and wasn’t doing the exploration I really desired.

We both had a host of other realizations, but upon my return what we both realized was that we did indeed want to be together. The time apart gave us both an amazing chance to consciously look at the individual clutter we were bringing to the relationship.

I really feel like it was this willingness on both of our parts to look at our own clutter, some of the really hidden, gross clutter, that allowed us to see what really mattered. It also gave me a fascinating chance to see how I was projecting my own emotional clutter onto the physical stuff that I ended up taking with me on the trip.

How about you, have you ever separated from your partner? How did your physical stuff play a role in the emotional rollercoaster you may have been going through?

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