Friday 5 June 2015


Day 96, and my current obsession is clutter.

We high functioning alkies, in order to remain high functioning, become masters of prioritisation. We identity all the really important plates and we make damn sure that we keep them spinning.

Much of this is about external appearance. If everything looks as if it's in control then we can kid ourselves that it really is. We're like swans - apparently gliding effortlessly over the water, but in reality paddling like crazy through all the fish poo.

So I would like to bet that many of you have homes that look, on the surface, in pretty good order, but if you look in the cupboards, under the stairs, under the bed or in the cellar they are stuffed with clutter.

When you're drinking a lot you simply don't have time to deal with loads of stuff, to work out where it goes or what to do with it. So you shove it in a drawer and pour another glass of vino. Am I right?

And, here's the spooky thing, didn't we do exactly the same thing with our minds? Oh dear, here's a little emotion that I don't really like and don't know what to do with. Shove it in a recess and pour another drink.

So when we get sober we start clearing out all those rejected and neglected emotions that haven't gone away but have sat there getting mouldy and making us all sluggish and dysfunctional.

It's no surprise, then, that we start feeling the need to do the same thing with our environment. Our gardens (see Gardening) and our homes.

The link between our spiritual selves and our surroundings is the basis of feng shui. I have to confess that I'd always filed feng shui in the 'life's too short for all that up itself nonsense' drawer. But now it makes total sense.

Here's what feng shui has to say about clutter: Clutter is low, stagnant, and confusing energy that constantly drains energy from you. Depending on the feng shui area of your home and where your clutter is located, it can also negatively influence, or even completely block, the flow of energy and events in many areas of your life.

Funnily enough, the two areas of my house that I've started decluttering first are my kitchen and the entrance to my house. Having done some (quick) research I've discovered that the kitchen is the area which is related to your health, especially your liver. How spooky is that?!?

And the entrance to your house is known as the 'mouth of chi' and where your house gets its 'energy and nourishment.' If your 'mouth of chi' is all blocked you're screwed (executive summary).

Now, if you've only just quit drinking and are still in that slight-state-of-shock pink cloudy state, then do park all this and come back to it in a few months time. If, however, this is ringing some bells with you, then here's a link to how to clear your clutter with feng shui.

But, because I'm feeling generous and giving today, I've done a SoberMummy summary:

1. Don't try to do it all at once. Take one small area at a time and spend no more than thirty minutes on each session.

2. In those 30 minutes separate all your clutter into 3 piles: 'keep', 'bin' and 'don't know'.

3. Only keep stuff that you love, or is useful and you have a place for. If you don't love it, or have no use for it and nowhere to put it - BIN IT. (N.B. by 'bin' I obviously mean take to the charity shop/recycle or sell!)

4. Take the 'don't know' box away for a few months, then go through it again doing 'keep', 'bin', 'don't know' until it's eventually empty.

This process is hard work - physically and emotionally - but hugely rewarding. According to feng shui, we are like plants, and we cannot grow without space and light. Clutter saps health and vitality, restricts finances and stifles relationships (apparently).

Let it go (oh God, now I've got that terrible 'Frozen' song in my head for the day) and feel the energy flow.

Since my decluttering frenzy (before I even read all the feng shui stuff), I've created my little herb garden outside my front door, plus a tank filled with the children's tadpoles (which I now think of as my equivalent to the koi carp pool!).

By the front door I have a hook for the dog leads, and pegs for all the children's school bags. And all those bowls filled with bits of stuff have been emptied out and categorised.

I have a long way to go, both with the physical and the emotional clutter, (I haven't been anywhere near the cellar - known in our house as 'the pit of despair'), but I can see chinks of light starting to break through.

Happy Friday everyone!

SM x


  1. Hi SM, reading your post regarding the feng shui is so weird. I recently had to pull down my kitchen ceiling after having several leaks that couldnt be sourced from above then 4 days later I decided to quit drinking. And with help from your blog I'm currently on day 39..the longest I've gone af since being pregnant with daughter#2 nearly 6 years ago! And this time it does seem different. And my obsession before being af?!! Large plastic tubs with lids that can be rammed with stuff then hidden away in the attic or cellar never to be seen again. I'm also on a decluttering mission though as you say its pretty overwhelming when there is just so much stuff-mental and physical. I shall try the 30mins advice of starting small. I just seem to keep writing lists then never starting!..not helped by ( I think) going through a PAWS episode currently..brain fog and no energy. How long do you think a PAWS episode lasts for btw?

    P.s. There was a really good documentary on the history of the AA and whether its ideology and methods are still as relevant on Radio 4 a few weeks ago. It might be on iplayer possibly?

    1. Huge congrats on 39 days MissyO! That's awesome! I think you might have hit 'The Wall'. I felt just like this around day 45. Have a look at this post on 'the sobercoaster' :
      It took me about three weeks to start feeling the clouds lifting again, but - after that the PAWS episodes are much shorter and easier - just two or three days.
      Hang on in there, and stay in touch! Hugs SM x

  2. AAhhh, this is why I have made a list of areas to declutter! I moved into my husband's house when we got married and sold mine, so initially there was a lot of de-bachelor -zing, but then it all seemed a lot easier to crack open another bottle of wine, than tackle the bulging I can't stand it! ps. I watched "A Royal Hangover" on itunes, it was a very good documentary about binge drinking, but sadly left out all us 'secret' high functioning drinkers. Maybe we are too secret!

    1. I'm going to check out that documentary WB - thank you! You're right, there's loads of public concern about the noisy binge drinkers, but not us - quietly, steadily drinking ourselves to death ;-) xx

  3. Having moved house fairly recently I have already tackled most of the clutter in my house. I totally get the feng shui thing and am quite anal about what goes where and keeping things decluttered. Alcohol only really took up my evenings as I could function pretty well being hungover a lot of the time. However I totally get the idea that emotional clutter can be pushed aside/supressed by alcohol and this is an area that I don't feel ready to declutter yet! No huge secrets or terrible upbringing just maybe a lot of insecurities to face at some point. Onwards and upwards xxx

    1. All in good time, EH! You're doing great. Have a fab weekend! x

  4. I can't face my physical clutter. It's all over! I'm still waiting for a burst of energy which hasn't materialised yet since going AF (Day 99 today :-)) As for mental/emotional baggage - its been flowing. I never thought there were things from the past that scarred me but I was so wrong. Just need to figure out what to do with it all?! Not spoken to anyone yet (not even Mr LNM). x

    1. Baby steps LNM! And HUGE CONGRATS for tomorrow on 100 days! I hope you've planned some way to celebrate? Will be thinking of you x

    2. A coincidental lunch with the ladies then an evening home sans Mr LNM with full control of the telly and a few AF beers. God i know how to live lol I'm going to stop counting days after tomorrow. x

  5. Ah yes. Full control of the remote: the new all night rave ;-) x

  6. I have just started reading 'The life changing magic of tidying' by Marie Kondo. It's interesting so far and I'm hoping that it will help me get my house in order!!
    Congrats on day 96. That is so awesome!! A x

  7. I am so glad I found your blog, I know I was meant to, that's how these things seem to work, but you write so honestly and clearly and in the early days of my sobriety reading your whole blog today has really helped me.

  8. Thanks RainyDayGirl and HUGE CONGRATS on taking the leap. You won't regret it. Please stay in touch! SM x

  9. Hi SM, I got out of bed last night to clear out a big drawer containing lots of handbags. I am LOVING de-cluttering. Incredibly satisfying.
    Your blog is awesome, almost up to date now :)

  10. SM I had saved this post after I read it last year!!! Mum and dad have now moved out and my decluttering, tidying, blitzing frenzy has started!!!! Can't actually believe how excited I am about it!!! 9 months I've had to wait. Feels like all my sober pieces are fitting together if that makes sense???? Xxx