I would classify myself as an anti-hoarder. Since around the age of 15, I have been on a mission to keep my possessions as simplified as possible. Back story time: I remember, as a child, I was always terrified that my relatives would die, or my parents would get divorced, or that one of my sisters would be kidnapped, or that one of us would fall in a lake and drown, or that a UFO with shoot a beam down and abduct me, and the list goes on and on and on. I was a very nervous and anxious child, terrified of my own shadow. I have many theories as to why this was the case, I will not get into all of those right now. Suffice it to say, I was a child riddled with anxiety.
One way that I coped with these looming doom feelings, was to sentimentally hoard everything that had a memory tied up in it. This resulted in drawers full of the most random crap imaginable. Things like a sticker that I got on a family fun day, A straw from a restaurant that my best friend used to drink her soda, a piece of Styrofoam packaging out of a box from a Christmas present that was really special to me, almost completely burned up candles that had a pretty jar and reminded me of my mom, shirts that my sisters had outgrown, but for some reason I kept a hold of them in case they ever were picked up by a UFO at least I would have that scrap of fabric to remember them by, An old cup filled with mild sauce packets from Taco Bell in case Taco Bell ever quit making my favorite sauce and I needed some packets to fall back on. As you can see, these are all highly valuable and precious artifacts, essential to the integrity of my well being. No?
The list could go on for hours, I had shelves, boxes, totes full of items stashed in every corner of my room.
The meticulous storing of all my special keepsakes all but consumed me.
Every superhero (or super villain 😈) has a breaking point, and here was mine.The Easter when I was about age 10, my mom made me a beautiful box filled with Handmade chocolates that she created herself from chocolate molds. They were so beautiful that I did not even want to eat them, I wanted to keep them in that box, perfectly preserved, so that if my mom ever dropped dead I would have them to look back and remember her. I was a little bit sad watching my sisters devour their homemade candies. I wanted to taste mine as well, but why didn’t they seem to understand the importance? Did they not want something to remember mom by if she were to be kidnapped by a band of cowboys and dragged off into the wild west one day?
I tucked mine away. Stored into Becky’s catalogued museum of treasures (aka, a storage rack in my closet full of old stickers, straws and styrofoam). Better known as Becky’s museum of useless clutter. I would Pull the box out every now then to look at it, and sometimes show my mom to remind her how much I loved the candy and that I would keep it forever. 😇
As I grew a little older, I needed more space and a lot of my treasures were moved into boxes in the attic for safekeeping. A couple years passed by and my parents were cleaning out the attic. They came across some of my treasure boxes and brought them down for me to look through and see if it all needed to be kept. I came across my beautiful gift from my mom, and upon examination I noticed the corner was chewed off. I threw open the lid and gasped! Every single one of my chocolates had been nearly completely consumed by attic mice! I burst into tears! I couldn’t believe it! I had stared at those chocolates for YEARS, Every single time, resisting the urge to taste the candy that my mom carefully and painstakingly created just for me. I filled with anger and I felt hot tears rolling down my burning cheeks. How dare those dirty mice get to taste that candy! I saved those chocolates as a memory for all these years and THEY got to enjoy the candy for its original intent. To be eaten and enjoyed.
Once my rage settled, I was left with a new feeling. Regret. I regretted not eating the candy myself when I had the opportunity. I regretted that I would never know what my mom’s Easter candy tasted like. I regretted that she put the time and work into the candy and some dirty attic mice got to enjoy it instead of her own daughter. Then I felt wasteful, ashamed and embarrassed. What was Becky’s museum of treasures, really?? How FOOLISH! That I could save a special treasure for several years and then it be wasted in such a way, I began to look through my box of treasures and realize it was nothing more than junk. Those stickers, straws and Styrofoam did not spark the memories and special feelings that it used to. I now saw these items for what they were, nothing more than common garbage. Was my best friend still my best friend even if I didn’t save that straw from the time we went to a restaurant? Yes! Did I still remember jumping at that Bouncyland with my sisters while my aunt visited from California, even if I didn’t have the sticker from the prize stand to remember it? Yes! Did I still have years of fun and enjoyment playing with my special Christmas toys, even if I didn’t have the packaging that they were originally shipped in? Yes x1000!!!
I decided to see what it felt like to let go of these “treasures.” I started placing them in a new special filing system, better known as the trashcan. And you know what? I felt great. It’s as if each item that I let go of, gave me more happiness than all the years of storing those useless items and knickknacks combined.
I learned a lot about myself and about what’s really important, that day. I do still keep special trinkets and mementos, but I have a little conversation with myself each time to make sure that I’m storing these effects for the right reasons. I have created these neural pathways in my brain which make me want to store and hoard, and now that these habits were created in childhood, it is something I will have to work hard at my entire life. That’s ok. We all have something like that, don’t we?
It’s OK to let go. A fire, flood, tornado, or a family of hungry mice could come to your home and ruin your special keepsakes. But even without those physical reminders, don’t you still have the memories? Did those special moments happen any less because you don’t have the sticker, straw or Styrofoam to remember them? Embrace the freeing feeling of letting go. ❤️
Life goes on. Life is fuller and richer once you allow yourself to let go of some sentimental clutter. You will be happy to know, that even after all these years, my sisters were never kidnapped, I was never abducted by aliens, and my mom has not yet been dragged off into the wild west by a band of cowboys…YET 😉