Nesting Doll

My friend Zoe told me the best life advice her mother gave her was, “No guilt.” Her mother was correct. Shame and guilt are two things that compound with age. My most persistent shame surrounds my lack of organization.



My mess is a nesting doll. I’m disorganized in all of the places. The inside of my wallet is a mess inside of my tote bag that’s also a mess that sits on the floor of my car that’s also a mess. My drawers are a mess inside the closet that’s also a mess inside the bedroom that is, you guessed it, also a mess. I can’t escape the shame. Every time I open something, there’s another messy something inside and my shame greets me with a knot in my stomach.

I’ve switched from purses to tote bags. I try to believe it’s an eco fashion statement. But I’d like to confess why I really use a tote now. It’s because I opened a closet and found 36 totes inside of one large tote, lying on top of a package of toilet paper, which was on top of the red bucket that has been vomited into twice. (Don’t worry, it was immediately and totally sanitized. Messy and dirty are two completely different things.)


Twenty-five years ago my apartment was spotless and organized. I had a tea rack, I had a basket for my blankets, and I had no shower items on the floor of the shower. You could open any drawer or closet and things would be organized in their compartments. I had a label maker.

I bought the Marie Kondo book. All that did was make me sell most of my wardrobe to consignment. What a mistake that was. I miss most of the things I thought did not bring me joy.
I had no idea how much joy those Italian loafers I didn’t wear (even once) brought me. That said, if someone were to come to my house to organize it for free I would pop my keys in their hands and stay with a friend for three days.



I am capable of keeping my clothing drawers separate and organized. I am capable of keeping shoes in pairs and clothes out of piles strewn on the floor. But I don’t, and I don’t understand why I can’t keep my house the way that I’m expecting myself to keep it organized. I don’t know how I became the person I am today. A person who would never open a drawer or closet in front of a guest. 

I know I am not the only person to feel this way because I’ve been the guest in the house with the messy closets and drawers. 

“I’m sorry it’s so messy,” they apologize, juggling some magazines in their hands.
“You should see my house,” I replied.

I guess one day I just stopped caring that I might, too, be the person juggling those magazines. As I’m thinking about it now, I wonder if it was because the organizational skills of my youth were a farce to begin with. Did I really want to make labels for my sock drawer? Or did I just have a lot of free time?

Shame is pointless. It’s masochistic and yet I’m connected to it by a cord. A cord that ties present me to every past version of me. At this point in time I’m trying to cut that cord. But I feel like I’m using the butter knife that I found on the ground in the backseat of my car. No guilt.