Break Free

We have decided to get rid of all of our stuff. I mean, pretty much all of it. We’re not moving across the world or anything, so we’re keeping our furniture (at least for now), but we are getting rid of almost everything else. I am completely freaking out.

I am not a hoarder by any means. I have plenty of room to walk around my house, and clutter drives me batty. Still, I know that I’ve held on to too many things over the years, and it’s time to lighten the load. I keep reading about the benefits of doing this type of purge, and if I’m being honest, I want the life those people have. I don’t really want to do the work, but I want the results. 

So what brought all this up?

I have moved 16 times in as many years. Some of those moves were relatively easy, others were chaotic and draining. This last one, while physically easy, has taken such a toll on me emotionally, I’m actually a little taken aback. I’ve barely unpacked. Everything is safely stowed in a room I have affectionately labeled the “wtf room,” and I’ve only gone in there twice since the move. Just for some perspective: It’s almost February. I moved in November.

Another wake-up call: there are some big problems with this house. They are all probably easy fixes, but they need to be managed by the landlord, as they’re a little above the DIY level. Normally, I’d just call him and tell him I need some help. In my current situation, however, I’m too embarrassed to let him in the house right now. I don’t want him to see that I haven’t really moved in. It’s a really stupid roadblock, but a roadblock nonetheless. It is very obvious to me that this is an insane way to operate.

So, what’s the problem? Get ready for a whole slew of BS excuses:

1. A lot of the things I have were gifts. My parents are the types of people who show love by buying stuff, and I’ve never been able to break them of the habit. I tell them year after year that I don’t want anything for my birthday or for Christmas, but they get so hurt and offended by the suggestion. Gift-giving is the only way they know how to deliver emotion, yet it sort of kills me. I appreciate everything I receive, but there are also some things that I just don’t end up using. Or using enough. Or using quickly enough. Or whatever. It makes me feel guilty.

2. As I look around my house, of course there are things I don’t use or don’t wear very often. As I have already said, some of these things were gifts, but others I bought myself. I am SO careful with my money, especially after getting so deep in debt, that if I find myself with an item I haven’t used or worn very often, I feel like I’ve failed. It’s like… I failed to love it enough, so I have to get rid of it now. It makes me feel guilty.

3. I am emotionally attached to an unusual amount of things. I realize that is like the hoarder’s motto, and I just said I’m not in that category, so maybe I’m worse off than I thought. I have purged quite a few things from the past, but there are certainly some stragglers. I know I’ll never get rid of my photo albums or my CD collection, but I would probably survive without my college notebooks. I would for sure survive without the hundreds of Beanie Babies that are languishing in a box in the wtf room. Here’s the thing, though: I miss a lot of pieces of my past. I used to be such a high-energy, fun-loving person. Over the years, as I’ve dealt with illness and a series of painful losses and transitions, I’ve lost some (a lot) of that spark. I like seeing reminders of it and feeling those old feelings again. The thought of losing those connections to the past makes me feel scared.

4. I keep thinking I’m going to use things again. I think about the large number of stuffed animals I have, and my first thought is that I will give them to the kids I eventually have. Why haven’t I had kids yet? Well, I’m waiting until I’m not crazy sick. Reality check time: I’m 32 and I’m in for at least another year of treatment. I can’t get pregnant while I’m on these particular meds. By the time I’m done, I’ll be 33. I realize women are able to have children well into their 30s and even into their 40s, but I know my fertility is waning. I’m seeing signs of it every day. I’m not ready to entirely let go of the idea of having kids, but I know it’s less of a possibility than it used to be. The thought of shutting the door on that idea forever mades me feel sad.

So that’s where I’m at today. I realize that every single one of those hesitations is based on a feeling, and feelings are not reality. I need to push through the yucky stuff and just do it. All it’s really going to take is a commitment to not waiting a day longer and to just start separating stuff and getting it out the door. I don’t even want money for most of it. I just need to be able to look at my life and be able to breathe. 

I’m overwhelmed, and it’s not my favorite. Here are some links for inspiration:

You Are Not Your Khakis

Get Rid of Stuff–No Garage Sale Required!

I Got Rid of 90% of My Stuff and I Feel Fine

7 Tips to Get With the New Minimalist Mentality



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