Finally, Kat realised it was not a clutter problem, not a storage problem. There was something going on with her. And she needed to find out what.
She remembered those nice ladies at the library and their talk. They had resources on their website so she took a look and found something called the Clutter Quality of Life Scale. She loves a quiz and clutter was definitely affecting her quality of life. It was only a short questionnaire but the impact was profound. It left her emotionally drained.
Right from the start, question 1 smacked her in the face. She had to rate on a scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree), “I’m concerned about what others might think of me if they know about the clutter in my home”.
Her immediate reaction was “Well, I don’t care what people think”. But then from the back of her mind came a little voice reminding her of all the times she made excuses to avoid having the book club meeting at her place, all the times she suggested getting coffee out instead of inviting people in, and the friendships she’d shunned because she couldn’t reciprocate dinner invitations. It’s one thing to have family over at Christmas, but entirely another to invite outsiders. Who was she kidding? She’s a 7.
Question 2 – “I have to move things in order to accomplish tasks in my home.” “Well, didn’t everybody?”, she thought. “It would be a waste to keep the dining table clear for the odd family dinner, when she could use it to store shopping till she got around to unpacking it. But she did agree that, yes, she did have to move stuff. A lot.
Question 8 is when the tears started. “My family life has suffered as a result of the clutter in my home.” The memory of Kylie’s face on her 13th birthday came flooding back. All her friends had celebrated their birthdays with slumber parties, but that just wasn’t possible. They’d gone to the Pancake Parlour instead and Kylie had been so disappointed. Bill’s 50th birthday party was held at the RSL, even though she’d hoped to clear the back room in time. It had cost them a bucket load. And Bill was embarrassed when he’d sent out the change of venue announcement. And little Tiffany couldn’t even come for a sleepover. The years were slipping away and the guest bedroom wasn’t any closer to ready. Kat marked down another 7.
Kat’s total score of 92 meant that the clutter did have a high impact on her quality of life, particularly socially.
Bill arrived as she wiped her tears, and asked, “What’s going on, Love?” He sat with her and studied the questionnaire. Kat waited for the usual bluster, but for once, Bill spoke with more sensitivity than usual. “Well, I don’t care so much about what people think, but I can see why it upsets you. And frankly, it does annoy me that we always have to move things around, like shifting the deckchairs on the Titanic.”
Bill scanned the questionnaire and asked, “Kat, why did you score yourself so low on Question 14 – “I have to be careful when walking through my home in order to avoid tripping over objects? You ended up in hospital and you were out of action for months after you tripped over the stuff in the front entry”.
“Oh yeah”, Kat sighed.
Then he opened up about his concerns on the financial front. It took a lot of courage for him to say how he felt. It turns out he felt resentful about Kat’s monthly spending plus the storage unit they’d kept for so long. It meant the comfortable retirement he’d been looking forward to just wasn’t possible. And there was no way they could travel the world like they’d dreamed of. Kat’s habit may have cost just a couple of dollars here, a couple of dollars there, but they were paying the price now in so many other ways, not just financially. The cost to their marriage had been huge.
This conversation made her strangely optimistic. It was the first time she could remember a conversation about clutter that wasn’t just accusations flying back and forth. Kat said, “Bill, I think I need some help”. Bill had been waiting for this day. “Great, I’ll order a skip!”
“No. That’s not the answer. The clutter in this house is nothing compared to the clutter in my mind. That’s where I need to start.”
If you want to take the Clutter Quality of Life Scale questionnaire like Kat, you can find it here.
Catch up on the past Adventures of Kat here…