When life is satisfactory, content, or even good, it's really easy to ignore all the things that make me sad. After all, I live in America, where feelings are bad and we're supposed to hold on to everything, and happiness and positive thinking are meant to be states of being. So when things are good, it's really easy to ignore all the things that are collecting in my studio that I will never turn into art, or to ignore that the noise I hear through the windows of my house drives me crazy, or to ignore all the little ways my friends show me that they don't really value me at all.
But when life is shitty, it's absolutely the best time to look around at all the shit piling up in the varying parts of my life and feel just fucking buried under a bunch of shit that doesn't fit or is broken or isn't useful or is not working for me at all. Of course, when struggling with the depths of a major depressive episode or simply suffering from dysthymia, thinks that actually make me happy can be hard to recognize because NOTHING is making me happy. However, I've become fairly good at sussing out the low feeling of, "I used to enjoy this, but now I'm struggling to enjoy anything" and "Why haven't I realized how crappy this makes me feel".
It's times like these that I turn to organizing. I like to get rid of shit. I hate having crap that I feel obligated to do something with when I want to do nothing with it. Often, I start with cleaning out my closet of all the shit that I feel like I should keep (the dress my mom made for me that I wore once) and then I go right to all the craft supplies I've collected for all the things I'm going to make that I really am never going to make. I can look at these things and feel the weight of them. From there, I start to struggle with friends.
I start to think about the friend who missed my wedding ceremony because she felt teaching her yoga class was more important and the friend who is not only always busy, like always, but also never manages to give me a time when we can hang, so I'm just constantly chasing her down. I start to look at the pile of packages I have saved because I want to pass on books or clothes or because I've gone out of my way to collect little things for my friends who have never once given me a gift of any sort.
These thoughts weigh me down, because they make me feel like crap, because I'm not supposed to feel like my friends aren't good friends. I'm supposed to post selfies of us on Instagram and write about how grateful I am. American culture teaches us to hold onto friends FOREVER and that ending a friendship is THE WORST THING EVER. I don't know why, because honestly, things just change. I have needs and some people can't meet them and it can take a long time to figure that out. But how long?
This is the question I invariably send to my friends when I'm wrestling with letting go of some of the relationships that are bringing me down instead of building me up.
No one ever has a good answer, because most people are even worse at letting go of shitty friendship then I. All the times I have to hear, "I just realized this is the place where she was, so I accepted that," like a friendship is all about one person being flexible while the other person gets to be selfish and indifferent and not really much of a friend.
It's hard too, because there's always the detritus of friendships. The things we were going to do. The presents I still haven't mailed or the projects we still haven't completed. It's easy to try to hold on for just one more event, which I sometimes do. But it's that time of holding on that hurts so much more, because I KNOW what's over and they don't and I feel a little bit like a liar.
But it's time. It is time to take stock and to delete contacts from my phone and to unfollow on social media. It's time to focus on my feelings and my needs and to respect them and to take care of myself. So I'm going to organize my life now, going to go for that KonMari method (which I have a blog post about!!) and I'm going to apply it to my friends as well. Because if my friends don't "spark joy," then what is the purpose of keeping them?