Are You Living in a Mausoleum?

November 9, 2009

Mausoleum Window

Is your parents’ sofa sitting in your living room?  Are you sleeping on the same bed where you and your now-divorced husband slept when you were married?  Is your dining room buffet the same one where your mother stored her linens, fine china or silverware?  Are you keeping your deceased husband’s book collection? 

Answering “yes” to any of these questions begs a moment of reflection. Some will say they like that sofa or that four-poster bed, but do they really? Perhaps they are more attached to the previous owner–their mother or their grandfather–than to the item itself. Some believe they can’t afford the furniture they truly want, so they accept the hand-me-down as a substitute. Still others feel obligated to hold on to certain items because they feel indebted to the person who gave it to them.

These emotional, invisible ties bind us in unconscious ways. All those hand-me-down pieces of furniture hold a memory of what happened in their presence. So, if our parents or grandparents’ stuff resides in our home, their essence permeates our space. As wonderful as these people were or are, they all had or have issues. Their conversations, arguments and, yes, laughter, too, reside in the furniture’s cell memory. Think about it this way. The bed where you and your now-divorced husband slept holds the memory of a marriage gone amok. Do you really want those unhappy memories in your space?

All of this stuff, be it a bed, a buffet or a bureau, is a remnant of the past. Chained to the past you cannot be fully open to the present–the only place where you truly live. If you are looking back, you can’t look forward. If you are holding (in some cases, clutching) onto something, you cannot reach out to receive the gifts of the present.

Take a moment to assess the energy of your home. Is it dead, alive or barely breathing? Too much of your parents’, great aunt’s, or, for that matter, yard sale furniture carries an energy that is not yours. Be wary of living in a mausoleum–a building that entombs the dead above ground. Put your own spin on your living space. Make it truly yours! Make it a space where you can welcome the gifts of the present.

A participant in a recent class I was teaching shared that her home is the repository of 1,000 books that belonged to her husband, who died 3 years ago.  On his deathbed he requested that she keep the books to give to their son.  At an intensely emotional time, she promised to honor his request. 

Three years later she still has the books.  They’ve acquired mold and she is allergic to it.  Her unemployed son lives in too small a house to keep the books, yet he implored her to keep them, even though his son is asthmatic and probably couldn’t tolerate being near them.  She has no money to put them in storage.  Held hostage to a deathbed promise and extortionate son, this woman is chained to her husband’s books and to the past.  The moldy books reflect moldy relationships with her husband and son.

This woman’s situation is extreme, but it illustrates how we can get so attached to an object that it prevents us from creating a home that comforts and nurtures us.  Years ago when I didn’t have much money, my great aunt’s daybed served as my living room couch.  I used it for a few years until I was able to buy my own furniture.  It served its purpose, but a breath of fresh air swooshed into my home once I felt courageous enough to take charge of my own decorating.  This was the first time I had ever determined my own color scheme and bought my own furniture.  I felt empowered.charlottenburger_mausoleum_Grabmonument

I encourage you to take a moment to assess the energy of your home.  Is it dead, alive, or barely breathing?  Too much of your parents’, great aunt’s, or, for that matter, yard sale furniture carries an energy that is not yours.  Be wary of living in a mausoleum—a building that entombs the dead above ground.  Put your own spin on your living space.  Make it truly yours!  Make it a space where you can welcome the gifts of the present.

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