That’s what my life used to be like, chock full of stuff. Piles and piles of issues and problems and toxic people mixed in with the awesome people I have a habit of stumbling into even in my worst moments. Did you ever have to tidy up a truly messy room? I was one of those messy room kids. I had a carpet of clothes and books and teddy bears, wardrobe stuffed with more clothes – who knew what was clean—desk piled high with bits of paper, books and copybooks and of course all the glass and spoons and plates that were missing from the kitchen.
It took so much effort to tidy up that small space and I always knew that in two days it’d be back to the same state. It drags you down. I had the real life messy room but I also had the messy space inside my head. My life, my head and my room were my hoarding house. I kept all the good and bad, not having the skill-set to separate and throw out what I did not need. The fear of throwing out the valuable memories forced me to keep the toxic ones. The scary thing was that I was convinced for years that some of those truly toxic memories were good ones.
My changing point, my rebirth (yeah, I went to the cliché, deal with it), was when I arrived in the Toulouse train station and had yet another mental breakdown. I sat outside the station, on the ground with all the homeless people and their dogs nearby, trying to find the train station on the map book I had purchased. I couldn’t find it. Took me nearly an hour to work it out.
To this day, I have absolutely no idea how I survived those first few months. Yes, I broke down crying in shaded areas throughout Toulouse. Random people would just chat with me on the street. There was a young bloke who would walk along one of the main streets with me and ask me did I get a job yet, then say good luck and disappear. The homeless guys would nod a hello at me. People would offer help when they saw me flipping my map book around trying to work out what street I was on. There were bad experiences too, men would tell me I had to go to their apartment to have sex with them right now, I was followed down streets, and the big one: my flatmate fell in love with me and proceeded to stalk me. Which always impressed me, in a dark way, because you have to be very dedicated to stalk a person you live with! Oh yeah, he was a heroin addict. Good times…
I got a job, then I got a second job. I had a room in an alright apartment with the dodgy flatmate in an equally dodgy area. I got a bank account and they instantly started to screw me charging me €16 a month for two magazines I never signed up for. Nice of them. Then I met Smoky (7 months mark, he likes his privacy). The greatest lesson he has ever taught me is that going to therapy does not make you a crazy person.
There I was, after several weeks of night terrors so bad I’d wake up and just not sleep again for the night. I was starring at my hoarding house full of crap. Contemplating burning the whole thing down. I had tried to do that by moving to France and the damn thing was weighing me down. So I started going to therapy. I put on my rubber gloves, tied my hair back, opened a pile of black bags and started clearing and sorting out my life.
Here I am, now, nearly five years later. I’m working in a job that I never even dreamed I could do. I love it, and I’m improving every day. My house isn’t completely cleared yet, there’s a room or two that I’m still sorting through. It’s no longer the impossible task it once felt like. My goal when I moved to France was to be happy. I realised after a few years that that was a silly goal to have. Now, I want to be okay. I will be happy when there are reasons to be happy, I will feel the emotions I’m supposed to feel in the right moments.
I’m a strong, confident, independent woman. My partner is an awesome, intelligent, fun loving man (I could name adjectives for hours but I’ll stick with three). And we have a beautiful meowing fluff ball of a cat. I’m saying farewell to my hoarding house.