I started the Great Purge awhile ago, if I’m being honest. As it progresses, it becomes more and more aggressive as I understand why I have SO. MUCH. SHIT. I have so much stuff. Just, stuff. Why do I have soooo much stuff? Is this because of my ADHD? Yes. My anxiety? Yes. My want to try to keep up with everyone else? OF COURSE! I can’t deny that want, and I won’t say I don’t have it. However, I have learned to appreciate the experiences I have with those people and things in a way that tells my brain that their grass is a perfect shade FOR THEM, and it doesn’t mean I need to call my yard guy–I can just appreciate the beauty of theirs and the joy I have spending time with people I care about who really GET who I am.
I kept asking myself why do I need to have 3 of this, or 4 backups of the other…a closet full of clothes with the tags still on, shoes that I literally cannot wear new in the boxes. Why do I need so much to feel safe? I think about my camper, and how “little” I have there–I know it’s covered from floor to ceiling, but that is the art. I have empty cabinets and drawers, and I’m ok with that because it’s just MY space. I am the only one in charge of it and because I know I will always work in one form or another, I can have just the essentials and not need all the backups. This is not always the case. When I was young, my mom stayed home. My young memories are all tainted because I never felt like I was in a stable, safe house. We moved, my aunt died, my gramma died, we moved again, they put me in a different school, then I went back, nothing was ever stable. It felt like the world was feast or famine–and I think that is because my father was self-employed doing everything from Amway to Usana and Edward Jones. To be honest I was never really sure what he did, just that he was always working. He was self-employed and, I think, a bit afraid to take super big steps to fully succeed because it also means exposing yourself to the possibility of doing a full on faceplant on your entire life. Of all the words I would use to describe my father, and this will sound shitty but it is what it is and the truth is he was a lot of things to me, but not that kind of brave. Not the kind of bravery that requires you to trustfall into the Universe. It’s hard to have that faith that you are on the right path doing what you were put on this beautiful Earth to do.
When I went into 6th grade my Mom started working. I remember them fighting about it, he was old-fashioned and didn’t think women should work, she said she was bored and why not? She won, obviously, and started working and I felt a little more safe and stable. I ended up being in the same school for….um, ever, that helped a lot. It was when my parents split up, when I should have been feeling the most unsafe and unstable, that I actually felt like there was safe ground. It was my mother. Now I look back and can clearly see how her working, having a steady, boring “lunchbox mentality” as my father called it, that is what brought me the feeling of safety and stability in my life. I want to toss in that of COURSE there were other people like my grands that were always an anchor of safety and stability. I had my brothers and sister(this was before I knew my other two sisters existed) that would always be there in one way or another. Now my sibs are a little more complicated, but family in general is much more complicated once you lose the ignorance of youth. My favorite parts of my memories of our huge family gatherings is how blissfully unaware I was of the people around me save the fact that they were my family and I loved them no matter what. I can think back on summers spent at the beach and see both perspectives, as mother and child, and I prefer the ones as child–walking the boardwalk with my Mother’s hand on the back of my neck was one of the safest times in my life. It was always with her. She taught me everything about taking care of myself and making sure everything was secure.
How does this relate to how much shit is in my cupboards? Because I let my anxiety and ADHD take this lesson and learn to stock up on everything, always, because you never know when the rug will be pulled and it all goes to shit. It’s why I picked a relatively banal job and have a good worker bee mentality–to make sure I was always covered. I remember stocking up on cleaning supplies in my 20’s thinking “If I get laid off I will be ok for X number of weeks.” Sadly this mentality did NOT give me good habits in the area of saving for a rainy day. All the monetary skills went to my sibs. Like, ALL of them except me.
Now I look at my endless amounts of stuff and am physically ill by my habits and my squirrely behavior and I purge. I donate things that I have been hanging onto because of feelings this stuff brought me, and instead I address it’s use in my current daily life in 6mo chunks. Have I used it in the last 6mos? What about the 6 coming up? Was it something I bought, or was it inherited and do I have it out because I feel like I HAVE to or because I choose to? These are huge questions, and it’s hard as fuck to look at your habits and see so many faults.
The beauty of addressing such faults is it means you can change. And that is one of my favorite things about life—change. It’s the only constant. Everything changes, and there is never a time in your life when you can’t change. I don’t know who said it, but whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right. I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt. Sounds like her, in my opinion. I know I could look it up, but I don’t want to lose my train of thought.
What I am learning from purging is that I no longer crave so many things, but rather experiences. I want to have deeper connections with fewer people. I want to be able to grow without being questioned on my motives. My motives are clearly written in my words and my actions. Authentic is hard, but worth it. Being wrong, exposing yourself, being open to failure—it’s all excruciating. But that’s how you grow. You fuck it up, and then you do it again–just a little differently and one day out of nowhere all the puzzle pieces fit together and you see a picture that is much bigger than just yourself. You see how you fit in the world and affect lives. You become humbled by how huge and small your place is in the world.
What is the point of all of this? Honestly, fuck if I know.
I think it’s different for everyone. Duh. This is not news, folks–I’m not saying anything you haven’t heard, I’m just saying it in a different way. Hopefully a way that speaks to you and perhaps motivates a little change. For me, this is started because my house is always a wreck and I read a “few things” (many many things) about organizing and it clicked for me that your home should be a reflection of how you feel about you life. Something to cherish, to take pride in. It’s not enough to just have the stuff, but it should be clean, organized, easy to maneuver. My house is none of those things. My life is none of those things. Everything is messy, in piles, no one bothers to put up their laundry or show any sort of initiative to make things better. I voice my frustration to rolled eyes and turned backs as it seems to be perfectly reasonable to walk out of the room while I’m still talking. I look around at what could be, what should be, a beautiful home, and it’s just a fucking wreck.
So now, I do what my mother taught me. Do what I have to do until I can do what I want to do. (that’s an Oprah Winfrey quote right there, gang). Put on those big girl panties and deal with this. I take care of myself. I put time and effort into who I am and how I interact with the world. I started thinking less linearly and more openly about how I have lived the last forty years, and how I want to spend the next forty. How I want my children to spend their childhood. How I want to be remembered as a mother. I understand that my choices now will affect lives for years to come and I joke that I’m giving my children fodder for them to talk to their shrink about in 20yrs. There is sad truth in that statement because you can’t have children today and NOT think you are fucking them up on a regular basis. My motherhood isn’t the point. The point is the stuff. The materialism. The lack of genuine connections. The inability to get my shit together.
I will continue to purge because I am starting to love looking in the mirror again. The more I get rid of, the better I feel. I even put a bag in my car and within 24hrs I had put it in the donation bin!! DUDE! I can’t explain how good it felt. I am seeing myself in a different way, with less crap and more joy and love. It’s weird to live with a dormant feeling for so long and experience the re-awakening. I wish I could explain with greater eloquence what it is like to have an honest conversation with yourself and realize that I am indeed the bigger bananahead. Yes, that’s an Empire Records reference. The freedom is in not just admitting that I’m an asshole, but really owning why I make the choices I make, recognizing a pattern of behavior and making a real effort to be less of an asshole. No one is perfect. And perfection is not what I am striving for. I’m looking for the why’s and what the purge has taught me so far is that because of my upbringing I have a strong tendency to hold on to things much longer than I should. I do this from a place of fear that there might not be anything better, but having something is better than nothing. That is some serious shit right there. That is me standing naked in public kind of fear and I don’t want to carry that fear anymore. I want to trustfall and know that I have built a life that will catch me. My father might not have had the strength to do it, but because of my mother, I sure as fuck do.
Now, who wants to do some ebay postings for me?