When I was little I had a big room. With lots of cupboards full of stuff. I remember before each Christmas and birthday, my Mum would tell me to clear out a cupboard in anticipation of the new stuff that I would be getting. When I completed this task, I was praised for my efforts. I don’t recall having any particular issues with getting rid of stuff at this point in my life. I know that I have always had an issue with tidying up, I would look at the horrors that I had created and have to walk away. As an adult, that mentality is often still there, but this has been joined by finding it really hard to get rid of stuff too.
I guess it could be a good thing to have a lot of things perfectly well organised, that could be a deeply practical arrangement. To always have what you need and know precisely where to find it. However, my house has never really worked like that. I recently discovered (and this was genuine observation) that the DVD’s in my house are stored in six separate locations. Now, this might be good if they were themed and sorted by the locations that they were in, but they aren’t, not even close. I did attempt to streamline this process, and after a couple of weeks tentative sorting, appraisal of space, I can now rewardingly tell you that the DVD’s are now stored in six completely the same places!
The hoarding began in my life, in a meaningful way with VHS. The glory of the video tape that you could record things onto from the television. Television was big to me back then, I watched lots of soaps, particularly Australian ones. I am not sure why or how it first occurred to me, but I started to record almost everything that I watched; in case I wanted to watch it again. I remember going on a school trip and coming back to discover that my mum had missed videoing one of my hallowed episodes and telling her it didn’t matter – she was very apologetic – but feeling utterly distraught. I could never get that information back. It was gone.
As an adult, during one particularly horrific house move, I had to dump all my VHS as there simply wasn’t space for it. I had squashed in as many boxes as I could into the house and there was no more room. As a teenager I had laboriously numbered every cassette, there were around five hundred of them. Box after box, tumbling into a large container bin. I sobbed.
It wasn’t as if I had ever any genuine inclination to ever watch these tapes again, I really didn’t. But to lose them felt like losing a part of me, that I could never reclaim. When I read minimalist posts talking about only holding onto things that fill you with joy and love, I understand it, but my things have become representational of me, of times in my life, and if I throw stuff away, am I throwing away parts of me too?
I understand why I started hoarding things now, it was my means to exert a control over my life, something that was woefully lacking during my teenage years. And then something that I just accepted as part of who I was. I also became especially adept at compacting the same amount of stuff into a smaller space. This is not an efficient life skill to have! Over the past ten years, my stuff has dramatically gone down, I keep a bag in an inside cupboard that regularly fills and I take to a charity shop. I am learning to remove this ritual from my life.
Map Point. What do I always do simply because I have always done?