The Joy of Purging

“If you want to improve your life immediately, go clean out a closet.  Often it’s what we hold onto that holds us back.”

Purging! I’m not referring to an eating disorder. I’m referring to the amazing experience of getting rid of “clutter” in our lives. My family and I recently moved. It wasn’t a huge move. We simply moved 8.6 miles down the road, but oh my goodness, it was still a move!

As humans, isn’t it our nature to fill up our space? We tend to keep things far longer than we should (I said keep, not use). Or we buy new things before the old ones have worn out so we keep both. We shove things into cupboards and closets. We buy storage boxes, fill them, and stack them in the basement. We keep things that we really don’t need to keep. We don’t like to get rid of things, even though we know we will never use them again. Why do we let this clutter build up in our lives?

Our purge started innocently enough. We realized we needed to get rid of some items in our home as we downsized. It quickly turned into an addiction of sorts. One thing led to another and we started giving away, donating, and selling items from all over our house. I would find myself walking around the house grabbing things that we hadn’t used in a while and clearly didn’t “need” and would gleefully add them to the “time to go” pile growing daily in our garage. The extra baggage, the items that had no emotional or utilitarian value, were destined for a better future in someone else’s home.

When it came to the clothes in my closet, my mantra became, “If Justin hasn’t seen this on me, it’s time for it to go!” You see, Justin and I have been married for 6 years. If he hasn’t seen me wear something by now, then obviously I’m not wearing it for a good reason. And with challenge being the hurdle to overcome, out went my favorite chunky sweater from college. Out went my “skinny” pants that I hang onto for some unknown reason! Out went the cute (and by cute I really mean “frumpy”) dress that I wore to church when my daughter was 3 (does the fact that she is now a senior in high school tell you anything?).

This purging was cathartic. I felt freer and lighter with everything that walked out of our home. I started thinking about how cathartic it is when we purge ourselves of all the extra baggage that accumulates in our lives. And when I say baggage, I don’t mean just the extra sheets, shoes, and candles that I seemed to collect. By baggage I mean the people, the circumstances, or the emotions that weigh us down unnecessarily.

“The next time you decide to unclutter your life and clean up your space, start with the things that are truly useless: like regrets, shame, and anger.” Sandra Kring

I spend a significant amount of time talking with women who are divorced. So many of these women are weighed down by clutter in their lives. I encourage them to purge themselves of this clutter of anger, shame, and self-doubt.

Forgiving people removes that negative movie reel of anger from playing over and over in your head and taking up space. Removing toxic friends from your social circle who want nothing more than to see you continue to wallow in misery and self-pity only because misery loves company will free you up to add positive friends into your mix.

Purging regrets from your viewpoint and spending all of your time asking “what if” and looking backwards will free you up to ask “now what” and look forward at new horizons ahead. Give back the anger and shame that you picked up along the way. You don’t need them in your life anymore. Donate the feeling that you aren’t enough and accept that you are completely enough. Work on adding to who you are, not what you have!

What do you think? Have you uncluttered and purged your life? Are you happy with the results?

About the Author:

Author Monique A. Honaman wrote “The High Road Has Less Traffic: honest advice on the path through love and divorce” (2010) in response to a need for a book that provided honest, real, and raw advice about how to survive and thrive through one of life’s toughest journeys, and “The High Road Has Less Traffic … and a better view” (2013) to provide perspectives on love, marriage, divorce and everything in between. The books are available on Learn more at

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