My first “client” is a good friend of mine, so I will call her Cristina on this blog.

When I first started talking about becoming a professional organizer, Cristina was one of my earliest and most enthusiastic supporters. She instantly offered to pay me for my services, but since we are friends and what I really needed was a test client/testimonial, we worked out another arrangement.

Early in the pandemic, Cristina got out of a very destructive relationship with a monster that I will call “Frankenstein”. Part of the trauma she experienced was feeling like she wasn’t able to deal with the clutter that had built up during that relationship. As she said to me: “I don’t recognize this place. I used to be so neat and tidy”.

I offered some of the lessons that I had learned from my own experience as a domestic violence survivor. When you are in “survivor” mode, your brain pushes away all but the decisions critical to your survival. The thing is, that once your system is flooded with cortisol/adrenaline, it takes quite awhile to clear that and to not have the alarm bells get triggered so quickly. It can take a long time to feel safe.

We started in her bedroom. I wanted her to have a place where she could rest and recharge. She offered me a pile of photos that she didn’t know what to do with. The photos were of vacations and events that she and “Frankenstein” had been on. She didn’t want to just throw them out, she was in those photos and she wanted to remember those places. So I offered these two observations:

  • First I said, “Christina you are Italian and you know about malocchio (the evil eye). Leaving these photos around allows “Frankenstein” to give you the evil eye.
  • But it was the second thing that I said that broke through. I said “Christina, we have a mutual friend who is a wizard graphic designer, he can easily photoshop in some other guy’s face for you. If it were me, I’d choose Keanu Reeves myself.” Christina burst out laughing and all of a sudden those photos went into a “Frankenstein box” along with any other items that reminded her of him.

The energy shifted and Christina was able to burn through everything in the room. I left with 4 IKEA bags of clothes and items to donate or trash. And Christina moved on in her life.