clean & sober

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For those of you looking for cheap therapy in what the media claim is a downtrodden economy, I have the perfect solution: clean.  Over the past week, we’ve ventured where no man has gone for at least the last 7 years, every nook and cranny, and unearthed many a shirt from high school or a framed needlepoint from before kindergarten.  We put on the Claude Challe and the Rihanna dance tunes, and old Eurodance tracks from the early ’90s bound and determined to get you up and moving, and went.

It got worse before it got better.  Everything came out into the open, strewn all over the floor, including the Massage Office computer software that try as I might, I could never get it to work.

Or the Trapper Keeper of 2 years’ worth of love letters written during class between me and my high school sweetheart.

Or the dresses purchased at Goodwill during leaner times (you know–back when the economy actually was bad.  (I call bullshit on the current doom and gloom reports because the mall stores do indeed have “now hiring”/”help wanted” signs hanging outside, something that was not the case during our Goodwill times…but I digress.)  Nothing was sacred, nothing exempt.  I found second and even sometimes third copies of books; good as they are, we only really need one.  We sifted through the VHS tapes and found that some of those that we thought we had gotten rid of, we actually had not yet.

Next was the filing cabinet that stores massage therapy notes and intake paperwork (no, you’re not filling all those forms out in vain; yes, we actually do store them).  I realized that most of the paperwork pertained to clients that no longer come here and by that I was a little surprised, just because even back when I was actually trying to build my practice and I really put my heart and soul into every session, people still left after 1-2 visits.  That’s OK, maybe they’re shopping around and we just weren’t a good fit or they wanted someone who would dig an elbow into the back for an hour.  No problem.  I also realized that many of those who left had Issues; as in, I can still remember them 3-4 years later and I’m not sorry they’re not still clients.  There were the One-Hit Wonders–the no-shows, pervs, and just plain psycho people who swore up and down that we had not worked their neck when in fact we had just spent the last hour doing exactly that.  But there were the good people too, some of whom I had simply screwed up with, committed a faux pas of some sort somewhere along the line, and they’re no longer with me.  For that, I’m sorry, and while part of me wishes I could see them again, it is overruled by the house majority that knows I’m far too busy to give them the attention they deserve.  I’m more than content with the select few clients I currently have.

The more I went through and unloaded things from my past, the more ready I was to face the present (and future, for that matter).  Gone was the yet-unused candle given to me by a former friend with whom I no longer have contact.  Gone is that common popular picture of the angel, since angels are predominantly a Christian phenomenon and I am further removed from Christianity with each passing day.  Gone are the last belongings from my childhood (don’t worry Mom, I kept my baby book and 2nd birthday cards–although I did chuck the laminated cookbook we made as a class in first grade, cuz let’s face it–I ain’t ever gonna learn to cook hamburger meat, but my partner does a bang-up job, so what’s the point?)

I saved the journals I’ve kept since 4th grade, and the cool late-’80s earrings I got for Christmas when I was 12, because they’re still cool and I might still wear them, even after grunge destroyed the glam scene and drowned the hot pink and electric blue in a sea of brown and forest green.  I kept the T-shirt the Tangents magazine (read: alterna-crowd) staffers pulled an all-nighter to make the night before my early-morning initiation.  I will probably never wear it, and it hangs all the way up on the top row of a walk-in closet with 12-foot ceilings, but I do catch it frequently in the corner of my eye and it still takes me back, so I deem it important.  Some of these pointless keepsakes serve as anchors to memories of times long gone, times of innocence, when life was much simpler.  Before the mortgages and auto insurance.  Before having to file taxes and fight rush hour.  Back before I even knew what the rat race was.  As far as I could tell, the rat race was for older people.  Well, now we are those older people.  Sometimes the adult real world gets overwhelming.  I feel gypped sometimes, because it’s nothing like we saw on MTV.

But what do you do?  Some people go to a shrink.  But for me, there’s nothing like cleaning out unwanted stuff I haven’t looked at in 3 years and giving it away, knowing it will probably wind up in the hands of someone who could really use it.  Despite my promises to myself that I would need that item someday, thus justifying my hanging on to it, I finally had to admit to myself that it’s not gonna happen.  Reluctantly, I let it go.

You know what?  I can’t even remember what those items were, and I cleaned them out just a few days ago.  Instead, I feel lighter.  More refreshed.  Simpler.  For the first time in a long time, our house only contains objects that we’re actually going to use.  That shouldn’t be a revolutionary concept, but it is.  There’s no other feeling like it.  The therapeutic value is off the charts.  And hey–the price is right.

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