*My life is a mess. My job, my relationship with my boyfriend, the house I try to keep up with while raising a soon-to-be teenager ? it?s all one big mess, and I don?t know where to begin to get things back on track. I?m sure I could use couples counseling to make a decision about how to move forward with my boyfriend. It would be great to get some career guidance as well (I have a very good job, but it?s boring and frustrating most days). But honestly, any?of those activities would take me out of the unbelievable mess my house has become. We moved two years ago and I still am living out of boxes. I would just end up feeling guilty about not using my time to finally get organized. For example, this is what happens when I go to the gym: I feel guilty about being there and leave halfway through, only to feel worse about myself once I get home and have no energy to clean. I just need some ideas about where to start.
-Under the Mess*
Let?s begin with what you are doing right. It sounds like you have a fairly non-stressful job and a long term relationship with Boyfriend. No part of your question addresses the complexities of single-parenting Preteen Child, so I?m going to trust that things are going pretty well there, too. If none of those situations are in immediate crisis, I?d say you have a lot going for you.?
See what I just did? I prioritized the three most important relationships in your life and pointed out that you are doing a lot of things right already. That is prioritizing. When we get overwhelmed with the mess and can?t even allow ourselves a complete workout at the gym (you have a gym membership already ? more points for you!), that suggests that our prioritizing skills need some work. The good news is that you already have the insight about what needs help, now focus on the momentum-building.?
There is one, simple, comforting, sure-fireway to launch you out of paralysis and into that magical momentum: outsourcing. Seriously. Finding the right people to help you get moving is taking charge. You don?t have to do this alone. Hire a house organizer to get a handle on those boxes (I recommend Lynne Mishele at CreativelyOrganize.com). Head to a weekend relationship seminar to help you and Boyfriend start that marriage conversation (check out the programs section at ImagoCenterDC.com). Book some time with a career counselor who can help narrow down your job wish list (call me, I?m happy to help you find someone nearby). Again, you do not have to do this alone.
My strongest advice is to start with the home organization. While your living space may not feel like the most important issue at hand, change in that area will have a huge impact by alleviating the stress you are putting on yourself every time you think about how deficient you are in this area. You will have a streamlined, organized space from which to make all those other choices.?
*Stacy Notaras Murphy is a licensed professional counselor and certified Imago Relationship therapist practicing in Georgetown. This column is meant for entertainment only, and should not be considered a substitute for professional counseling. Send your confidential question to firstname.lastname@example.org.*