Here’s a little fact about me. I’m a paper hoarder. Magazines – check. Books – check. Old school notebooks – check. Catalogs – check. Mementos – check. Interesting articles cut from whatever source I found them in – check. Wedding invites, birth announcements – check. Get the idea yet?
As I’ve mentioned we’re getting the basement finished. When it’s all done we’ll have far less room to store things than we did before. Since we now have lots of baby things that we want to keep in the hopes that it will be used again, that means I need to get rid of some of the other crap I’ve been holding onto. For some people throwing things out is no big deal especially since what’s been kept is junk in the eyes of many. But I’m not one of those people. I guess you could say I have definite pack rat tendencies and definite personality issues that make these things seem like a part of who I am.
This weekend I spent HOURS going through things. It was a long, slow, and painful process. I’m happy to say we have less stuff. We still have more to get rid of but it’s a start. On one hand it feels great to know that my life is a little less cluttered. On the other hand, I feel like I lost some old friends.
We got rid of my old stereo system. Between my husband and I we had three old systems. We kept one. Even though I haven’t used my old electronics in years this was a sad parting for me. I’ve had those stereo components since my early twenties. My dad and my old boyfriend bought them for me. When I still lived at home I used them everyday. I spend many hours with that thing blasting away while I danced my stress away or tried to drown out the sounds of various family members arguing. It also helped me get through the breakup of that old boyfriend I mentioned. There’s nothing better than drowning your sorrows in sappy love songs and crying your eyes out in the wee hours of the morning to help heal the wounds of lost love. Saying good-bye to that stereo was like saying good-bye to a vital part of my history.
The next to go were two boxes of home decorating magazines and wedding magazines. This is a process that can take me hours, days even, as I go through each magazine tearing out anything that might be of interest. I have files of these torn out pages. But for the first time I did something unheard of for me. I actually threw away every Martha Stewart Wedding magazine and Southern Living Wedding magazine that I had without even opening the cover. I’m still reeling from the thought of all those beautiful pictures and ideas that are in the dumpster and not at my fingertips. I’m ashamed to say I couldn’t do the same with the home decorating magazines. I spent several hours going through them. I am happy to say that I only tore out maybe 25 pages or so and some of those I’m only keeping long enough to show the Ethan Allen designer so she can see the kind of look and color I’m hoping to achieve in my own home.
Also gone, either to Goodwill or the dumpster, are the chair cushions that went with the wicker patio furniture that we no longer have because this house does not have the full front porch that our last house had. Old kitchen supplies that I will never use – gone. Old Christmas wreaths and bows – gone. I felt bad because my grandmom gave me those but I can’t use all of what she gave me so there’s no point in storing it any longer. A cute painted watering can that also was from the days of the full front porch went. I would have kept it if it hadn’t been so faded. I threw away a bunch of old cassette tapes too.
Big was ecstatic to see three plastic drawers of ribbons, bows, and other wrapping accoutrements be mostly thrown away. I kept wrapping paper and rolls of bows that were still good and threw the rest away. But I couldn’t part with most of the beautiful cloth ribbon that I had collected from past gifts. Why am I keeping the used cloth ribbon? I’m starting a scrap box of art supplies for my son. I thought he might like feeling them and then pasting them onto paper. Go ahead roll your eyes but some of those ribbons were just too pretty to throw away.
I still need to go through the hundreds of books I own. I’m guessing that most of those will stay. I have a box of old college notebooks that needs my attention. I’m hoping that I can allow myself to let go of most of that stuff. That is going to be difficult for me as it irks the heck out of me that I dropped out of college and so I hold dearly to anything that reminds that once I was well spoken and well written and that I am smarter than I usually give myself credit. (Gee, that sounded quiet conceited.) Oh, and the Barbie dolls – need to convince myself that it’s time to let go. I had tons of these as a kid. Even though I played with them everyday for years they are still in beautiful condition. I was neurotic about not undoing the original hairdos and messing them up. (I wonder what a good psychiatrist would say about that?)
So, you see, it’s junk to others, including Big. But to me, it’s my life. It’s the story of my favorite childhood toys, my escape from the world when I didn’t want to deal with reality, my dreams of the wedding and home I’ve always wanted, and my record of a time in life when I felt confident, intelligent, and beautiful, and like I knew exactly where I was going and what I was doing. For someone who has struggled with self-esteem issues and has felt less than beautiful or happy with herself all this junk is my way of hanging onto the other me. The me that believed she could do anything or be anything. The me that never doubted that she was as smart or as put together as other people.
But now it’s time to let some of those memories live only in my mind. It’s time to stop clinging to the past and live for today. It’s time to concentrate on the person I want to be now and not the one I was all those years ago. I’m hoping as I purge my stuff that I take the good parts and keep them inside me and leave behind the things that no longer matter and move forward toward a more authentic me.