I am a hoarder! Hands down. Self diagnosed, but trust me, I was born a pack rat.
I’ll be the first to admit this, though I’ve always thought of myself as more of a packrat; convinced that whatever it was, no matter how obscure- that I would use it for something, eventually. I just knew that as soon as I threw it away I would come up with the perfect use for it. And sometimes I was right.
I’m also the most sentimental person I have ever met; which really doesn’t help the situation. After my grandparents passed away and their home of 40+ years was being foreclosed on, I literally kept doorknobs, heating registers and buckets of bolts, screws, lightbulbs and God knows what else from my grandfathers workshop. I had planned on someday welding them into adorable metal sculptures as gifts for my family. But since we lived in an 800 sq ft fully carpeted apartment without the means or know how to actually weld, they just gathered dust hidden from my husband under our bed.
What can I say, I liked things! Loved them in fact. Stuff, yay! It wasn’t until the week of our son’s first birthday when my moms house was robbed and my laptop and hard drive were stolen that I wanted to be free from possessions and my attachment to things. I realized that I would have gladly given up the majority of my belongings instead of my beloved photos. While most of my work was backed up I did love about a year of my professional work and a much larger portion of Jude’s baby photos than I would have liked.
When we arrived home I quickly and happily purged our apartment of about 15 garbage bags worth of clothes and household items I just didn’t need. Poppy’s bolts included. Most of it was just junk anyways. And IT FELT GREAT!
A few months later we started seriously discussing a move to Mexico, and while I had already spent a ridiculous amount of time and money hauling our useless belongings from Hawaii to NY and NY to Seattle, the red tape with an international move meant that we had to seriously simplify our life.
To my surprise I was able to clean out another 20+ bags from our apartment; donated jewelry and accessories to my coworkers and clothes and pots and pans to goodwill. MY GOD! I couldn’t believe how little attachment I truly had to these things, and wondered what possessed me to want them in the first place. I wasn’t seeing as big a difference in the space as I expected and began to feel overwhelmed. I became obsessed and frantically started giving away as much as I could.
My goal was to strip down our belongings to a few suitcases we planned on taking to Mexico and perhaps a few storage bins of family heirlooms and camera equipment I would want back if/ when we got a house. I worked in stages; sometimes in the beginning I would come across items that I knew I wouldn’t keep but wasn’t ready to say goodbye to yet. On my next go around I would be annoyed with them and they’d have to go asap.
My husband was thrilled! He viably cringed every time we went home and he had to watch me load up the car with another trunk full of junk I assured him I could cram somewhere.
Jude’s stuff was easy. We already avoided buying him absurd amounts of plastic toys, so all I really struggled with was narrowing down his massive book collection and a few way too cute to donate outfits that he had outgrown.
I won’t lie; it did get harder, way harder. The more I progressed it became almost painful. Could I really throw out my grandparents glass figurines or my father in laws shoes? They felt like my only connections to the people we loved and missed. But I pushed through and kept reminding myself about how I felt when I was robbed, knowing that the only things that really mattered were my family, our memories and our photos.
It has completely changed the way I think about shopping and gift giving. We are so happy to be able to teach our son that life is about experiences and not possessions.
The attachment to things is the root of depression…
I am convinced that if I could become a minimalist, anyone could.