Julia's Style Cure Progress: Cleaning out the IKEA Cabinet of Emotional Clutter

Julia's Style Cure Progress: Cleaning out the IKEA Cabinet of Emotional Clutter

Julia Brenner
Aug 23, 2013

The “style” part of the Style Cure has been fun, since wheeling and dealing in paint samples and art prints are favorite pastimes of mine. But the “cure” part has been more difficult. My cure involved having to clear out some emotionally-charged clutter I’ve been lugging around for over a decade (no joke). So last Saturday, I stopped rationalizing and finally, finally cleared out the IKEA-cabinet-of-sadness. 

Sitting in the corner of my pre-Style Cure dining room, taunting me. *It does not typically have balloons floating over it, though. Those were left over from my son's birthday.

I think many of us have a version of my IKEA cabinet: innocuous-looking boxes, filing cabinets, drawers or closets that house things from our past that we just don’t want to deal with. And so they sit for months, years, even decades, silently haunting us because they never go away. In my case, I winced a little every time I walked past that cabinet because I knew. I knew what was inside: documented proof of something I painfully regret that I can never go back and change. 

I should have cleaned it out 10 years ago, but what have I done instead? Oh, it’s rich, and also proof that the ability to rationalize is amazing, because I did all of this instead of dealing with a bunch of papers.  

1.  Duct-taped it shut every time I moved. You’d think moving would have forced me to clean out the cabinet, but no, I duct taped it shut. Every single time I moved, including halfway across the country and back, that thing came with me, fully loaded. Those drawers never budged open, and nary a single paper was removed.

2.  Used it as a record player table. This attempt would have worked longer if it hadn’t been for my pesky cat knocking the record player off and breaking it. (I sound like a villain from Scooby Doo.)

3.  Used it as a plant stand…same result as above.

4.  Used it as a “place to keep board games”, you know, for game night. Because nothing says “game night” like a broken IKEA MALM cabinet filled with old papers representing deep personal pain. Uno, anyone?  

5.  Stuck it in the corner of the dining room and pretended it wasn’t there. Sometimes people would remark, “Oh, what is that?” and I would either A) Pretend I didn’t hear them or B) Say, “Oh, well, you know…” and they would give me a puzzled look because clearly they didn’t know. That’s why they asked.

Cut to last weekend, I had to finally face down the IKEA-cabinet-dragon in order to move forward with the Style Cure. I looked up some ‘clearing out emotional clutter’ articles, but at the end of the day, there was no technique. I just had to do it. I had to sit on the floor for a couple hours and get on with it. I cried a few times, ate chocolate chips out of a jar, and shredded a bunch of papers that had been haunting me for over a decade. The feeling of lightness was real and immediate. It was done. I know it sounds corny, but in letting go of all that physical “stuff” I felt like I could let go of a part of my past that I’d been dragging around far too long. As the Dalai Lama says, "When we make mistakes, we cannot turn the clock back and try again. All we can do is use the present well." Amen.

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    • Julia's Interview: Romantic Tomboy
    • Julia's Treasure Hunt: In a New Direction
    • Julia's Before Photos: The Random Catch-all Dining Room
    • Julia's Floorplan: Designing the Dining Room
    • Julia's Dining Room Paint & Pairing: Sultry Gray Walls & Warm Brown Shelf
    • Julia's Product Research: Industrial-Style Bookcase for Under $100

    (Images: 1. MALM 2-drawer chest from IKEA, 2. Julia Brenner)

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