Recent decisions in my personal life have sparked a process of decorating and, more importantly, decluttering. I have felt an overwhelming need to clear books, papers & objects from my home. In the past when this has taken place it has usually been in a manic frenzy, purging myself of stagnant energy & a sense of suffocation by “stuff”, usually items I’ve been given or collected for possible art projects. “That’ll come in handy” or “I could use that for something” usually accompanies half-formed ideas that never come to fruition, mainly because there’s so many and there are only 24 hours in a day.

A tipping point is reached &, depending on my mental state, I take action to remove the clutter. This time has been different, each item has been considered & realistically appraised as to its usefulness. I’ve been watching minimalist videos for guidance and come across the term “fantasy self”. One of my fantasy selves was that of novel writer which developed around 2004-2014 & which I nurtured by attending a swathe of writing classes, groups, events & buying books

No novel has been written, in fact, no fiction beyond the writing exercises has been written. Conclusion: Fantasy self (Young, playful, aged approx 8 years old) likes the social interaction of writers groups, listening to stories but gets bored with actually having to write it all down, it takes hours and she would much rather be making something (in the studio) or going for a walk or discussing ideas.

An older part likes to know how the process of writing occurs, ie the creative process, so, all is not lost, parts of me had fun, learned new things but the act of fiction writing wasn’t & still isn’t one that any part of me enjoys. So, I’ve collected all the fun writing exercises & worksheets & shredded the remaining three boxfuls of notes and taken around 60 books to the charity shop.

You will notice that I refer to “different parts” of myself, I have had 7 years of IFS therapy, (Internal Family Systems) that recognizes that we are all made up of different parts or alters.  We all have multiple subjectivities, e.g ” I’m in two minds whether to….” “A part of me wants to do that but another this…””I can’t make my mind up”. This is all healthy, we have different parts of us that develop, these parts have different roles, the problem arises though when our internal parts do not agree, are polarised or are not aware of the other parts and then take unilateral action without considering the needs of the whole system (i.e. the body, mind and psyche). For people who have experienced trauma as children parts of us tend to be split off at the age of the trauma and these parts can operate quite independently of others.  Therapy helps to increase awareness of how all of the alters/parts operate and foster ways to enable them to work together or integrate.  This takes a long time as each traumatized part needs to feel safe enough to feel the feelings of the original trauma and then learn new ways of communicating. Parts can sometimes continue to retraumatize as a way to work through the original trauma. Ref. Schwartz, R. C. (1995). Sometimes dissociation takes place when one alter takes over a system, this is called DID or Dissociative Identity Disorder. Looking after your system takes a lot of energy as it involves a lot of internal negotiations between the different alters who do not agree. “We” get exhausted very quickly as it is like living with a large group of people inside. However, if I refer to my system as “we” this tends to freak people out so I use the first person.

My living room feels so much more spacious & calm. Next is upstairs, then the loft & finally the studio. I’m leaving that until last as I’ll have a clearer idea of where I’m headed once all my parts have decided which activities they no longer are interested in and what they want to do next. It has felt like a long time since I have been in the studio and parts of me are getting frustrated about not being in there. The decorating is nearly finished!

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