A Private Life On Public Display

 

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

As I have been spending the past weeks packing, cleaning, and preparing to stage our home for listing images, I have endured some serious stress.  Not only is by back aching, feet throbbing and hands cracked and dry from the boxes, but I have been put through the mental wringer as well.

My children are struggling with the idea of putting their items away. I have heard them say things like “Don’t touch my stuff! You don’t know what’s important to me…” and “Are people going to be walking through my room touching my things?” and “Why are you packing my things like that?  They will all break apart!”

Additionally, an in-law has packed my husbands collectible fossils without his awareness.  Then they moved those boxes to the garage where we are staging our move.   Needless to say, this did not go over well with him.  He felt violated and intruded upon.  The same is true for the kids.  They are protective of their personal items and distrustful of others to make decisions about them.

I never considered packing for a move as such an intimate affair until now.  Everyone does it in their own way, with their own style, their own plans for the process and their own desire for privacy.  I have found it is easier to discard items I would otherwise had difficulty parting with when an outside influence, a third party with little emotional attachment,  helps me process through needs vs. wants.  That third party, however, needs to have an understanding of personal boundaries, respect for individual choices and your best interest in mind; otherwise it will not work.

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

When I think of the moves I have been involved with regarding the older adults I have cared for I now have a new perspective on how difficult that must have been.  I was the third party in their lives with an agenda to get a job done and little awareness of the intimacy the moving process was for them.  I would box items, load them on a hand truck, stack items sky high as if I were in a Dr. Seuss book and travel up and down the elevator to relocate the resident.

I gave little thought to their packing style, plans for the process and desire for privacy.  I just did what I had to do, what I was directed to do in order to get on with my day.  I look back at those “moving days” for the residents and find a knot in my stomach, realizing how disconnected I was to their need for the respect for their items and the emotional attachment they had to the experience.

I was the third party who took their prized possessions, filled with nostalgia and memories, and boxed them away to stage in a new apartment, unaware of the violation and intrusion they may have felt.

Today I am going through the boxes that were haphazardly packed and put in my garage.  I am purging the garbage, donating the useful but unnecessary items and downsizing the rest.  It is work that needed to be done regardless, but the process I find myself in reminds me of the intimacy of having my private life on public display.

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Once the pictures of the house get posted online, it will be open for others to see.  How we have lived, how we decorated and how we arranged our furniture will be on display to the public.  As the realtor takes families on a tour, our home will become just a house.  It is open to criticism and scrutiny.  I know because I have been on the other end of this experience as well, touring homes that have become barren of life for the staging process, kicking bricks to establish worthiness.

It is heart-wrenching to be on the receiving end of this process and eye opening to reveal how intimate, vulnerable and violating the process of turning a private life into a public display can really be.

 

 

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