What’s in Your Junk Drawer?

By Penelope Conway

We all have one – that infamous junk drawer that collects a little bit of everything from spare keys, to half used chapstick, to pens, to some unknown mechanical looking thing that nobody is quite sure what it is, to just plain junk. There seems to be at least one drawer like that in every person’s house. Even the most put together house has lurking somewhere in the kitchen, office or bathroom, a junk drawer.

It goes unnoticed until a pen is needed to jot down a quick note, then almost as if by habit you go to the junk drawer. Immediately you open the drawer and begin tossing items back and forth as you rummage through the contents in search of that much needed pen.

You keep telling yourself that someday you’ll clean that drawer out. Someday, you’ll organize it. But every time you open the drawer, the task seems too overwhelming, too time consuming and just plain hard.

Does this sound familiar?

Just like that junk drawer, we have places in our heart where we hide away bits and pieces of the brokenness we have experienced because of multiple sclerosis and other painful life events. It’s messy in there.

I know I stuffed away my own share of hurts, fears and difficulties. Things like the anger I felt because I had to end my career due to my MS progression, the defeat I encountered when I started using a wheelchair, the abandonment I went through due to lost friendships, the fear I experienced because I found I was no longer able to be as independent as I was before MS came along, and the disappointment I felt because I could no longer wear heels. Yes, even my shoe choice was a difficult thing to face.

I kept telling myself I would face those fears, disappointments and pain someday. Someday, I’ll address those things head on. But every time I opened that drawer in my heart, the task seemed too overwhelming, too time consuming, and just plain hard.  So what did I do? I ignored it.

Every once in a while I would forget it was there and accidentally open it up. The emotions would start spilling out and I would shut it as quickly as I could.

“Nope, I’m not dealing with that. I’m not ready,” I would say.

But I knew I needed to take some time to dump everything out, sort through what should stay and what should go, and then take the trash out. It wasn’t easy. I actually think it’s one of the hardest things in life to do, but it was time I let go of the hurts and fears weighing me down.

Today is a new day and you are worth too much to hold onto all those weighty emotions tucked away in your junk drawer. Set some time aside and start clearing out the clutter so you can make room for the beautiful things that you deserve in life. You are worth it.

*Penelope Conway was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in November 2011. She is the author and founder of Positive Living with MS (positivelivingwithms.com) where she uses humor and her own life experiences with MS to help others navigate this unpredictable journey. She believes that staying positive and holding onto hope is the key to waking up each morning with the strength to get through the day.

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About MSAA

The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) is a national nonprofit organization and leading resource for the entire MS community, improving lives today through vital services and support. MSAA provides free programs and services, such as: a Helpline with trained specialists; award-winning publications, including, The Motivator; MSAA’s nationally recognized website, featuring educational videos, webinars, and research updates; a mobile phone app, My MS Manager™; safety and mobility equipment products; cooling accessories for heat-sensitive individuals; MRI funding; My MSAA Community, a peer-to-peer online support forum; MS Conversations blog; a clinical trial search tool; podcasts; and more. For additional information, please visit www.mymsaa.org or call (800) 532-7667.


  • Leah says:

    Not to minimize how awful it is to live with MS, I was recently informed that one of my friends has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer which has now spread to her brain. Her husband will be admitting her to a palliative care facility by the end of this week.
    My junk drawer is nor way near her size of junk drawer…knowing this, I think I’ll be capable of clearing out my junk with a little more ease now. MS certainly wasn’t something I ever imagined being diagnosed with, but there are worse things to be told by the doctor. I’m just grateful to be alive…despite having to cope with this horrible chronic illness on a daily basis.

  • Carla L Broadbent Rogers says:

    Sometimes the junk drawer is not just a drawer. Be well.

  • Rodger Ashton-Smith says:

    We all have a junk draw, that is what we make from anything we don’t need to use straight away. With MS it can be very messy if you don’t clear it out every decade or so. Some times it can be useful and other times useless, but it’s still there.

  • Terri Ogburn says:

    My junk drawer is mostly filled with “treasures”. They are memories of something that was special. A key chain from a vacation, a small dog toy played with by a loved, furry family member that has crossed the Bridge and a lot more that makes me go through a whole range of emotions. Happiness thinking of days on the beach, puppy love for having him to hug when the thoughts of missing out on life because of the MS, sadness for a husband dying way too early causing me to be alone and afraid of what this disease has in store for me. No more vacations, loss of dogs because it’s too hard to care for them due to the weakness from the MS.
    Yes, that drawer contains a lot of memories and it has several tears due to the memories of who I used to be and the reality of the life I’m living now, thanks to MS. It’s made me pay so much for something I never owed.

  • itasara says:

    I so identify with this article. I think I’ve been this way forever, MS or not, however it’s definitely worse now than it used to be. My whole house is it junk house wherever I put something down it becomes a hotspot. I can’t just throw the stuff out. Sometimes I go through and I do get rid of stuff but my junk drawer Yes stuff in there that I do need from time to time. I don’t know how I’m ever going to move which is something my husband would like us to do with all the stuff I have.

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