Monday, December 10, 2012

Aversion to Stuff

Want to know what I REALLY want for Xmas?  (not from you, I mean from my friends that live OUTSIDE the shiny box on my desk).

I want NOTHING.  not one thing.  Not a calendar, not a pair of holiday socks, not a basket of lotions.  NO.

And what will I be giving YOU?  NOTHING.  Unless you are related to me AND have not yet graduated from high school, in which case you get a $40 gift card with my love.  Jeff and I don't exchange gifts, that would just be stupid.  We give each other stuff all the time anyway.

I have not stepped FOOT inside a mall or Target or whatever this year, except to buy MYSELF a few new tops and Jeff some new shirts for work.  Here.  I will show you the extent of my xmas decor so far:  (please remember I don't have kids, this would be different if I had littles running amok I would have a tree etc).

That's my 'fireplace', over 50% of the books I still have (these are the vintage ones), and two sad little fake xmas topiaries.  The only reason I have ANY decorations out this year is because we are hosting a Misfit Toys party, a gathering for all the other folks here that we know who have no real plans.  (We plan on shooting Mike's Red Ryder BB gun.  We will NOT shoot our eyes out.)

It isn't xmas that I don't like, it's the STUFF.  I hate stuff.  When we moved here I got rid of at least half, probably more, of the stuff I had in my condo in San Diego.  I emptied my bookcases and under-bed storage of HUNDREDS of books.  I am a voracious reader.  But I didn't want the books anymore, and here's why:

These aren't your parent's books.  The stuff WE buy at Barnes & Nobel or wherever aren't made with leather bindings and good paper and good ink.  The books you buy for $25 (or for $4 if you are me and buy from the clearance table) are made with the absolute cheapest glue.  Cheapest paper.  Those publishing companies don't use fine linen paper.  If you have ever worked around a copier/printer you know the difference between cheap paper and good paper, and they don't use the good stuff at Penguin Press.  Yes, the books smell good NOW.  But I had books I had been 'collecting' for over 30 years - like old Stephen King novels (that weren't 1st editions, like I have ANY first editions, har).  They were completely full of dust, the covers were falling apart, the glue was DRY and cracking, and sorry.  I know you love books.  But, they stink.  They make your house smell.  THEY SMELL.  I know it's sort of sacreligious to get rid of books, but I decided if I want a particular novel (like Jane Eyre, I MUST have a copy of that again!) I am going to get a really good copy of it.  I couldn't afford it when Mike was little, but I can NOW.  I convinced Mike to do the same thing.
Mike's books.  He rescued some of my King and STOLE my Salinger and Steinbeck,
I am keeping his books for him until he is out of the Corps

We threw into the recycling bin almost every paperback book that we had, I am talking BOXES.  They went into recycling because, contrary to what you may be thinking, thrift stores and VA hospitals and used book stores DON'T WANT YOUR PAPBERBACK BOOKS.  I called and asked.  Not paperbacks, not so much.  Don't even THINK of taking your parent's huge collection of National Geographics to a thrift store.  They will chase you away with two sticks.  NOBODY WANTS THEM.  I also refuse to contribute to some other narcissist's hoard.  I recycled them to be made into new books.

The gabillion hard cover books we had between us DID go to an independant thrift store.  We snuck over in the dead of night and left the boxes at their loading dock.

I bought myself and Mike a Nook for xmas last year, in exchange for his help and his getting rid of his books.  I LOVE my Nook.  No, it isn't like turning the pages of a real book.  However, I have maybe 50 books on the thing already and it isn't even 1/4 full.  I can carry my library with me everywhere.

I got rid of every single sheet or towel that was stained, bleached, torn, too thin, etc.  ALL of them.  I got rid of every plate and serving dish that hadn't seen the light of day in two years.  Any clothes that I kept thinking I was going to do something with that one day, I would fit into that again some day...  All old craft projects, unused makeup and lotions and face creams (trash).  Old coats and boots that were 'still good."  I got rid of SO MUCH CRAP.  And my house wasn't all hoarded and piled up.  It was all in bookcases, cupboards, closets, under the sinks.  It was horrifying.

I also got rid of SO many vintage ceramic faces that I collected over the years, starting from when I was 14-years old.  These are from the 20's and 30's and 40's and 50's - and I think they are wonderful!  But some of my collection was there only because it went with the other stuff.  I weeded it all out and ended up with the stuff I really love.  The rest I GAVE to an antique store for ~$100.00 <--probably 1/10th of the price I actually threw into that collection for the last 30 years.  But it was crap, and not worth a damn in this economy, and I didn't want to move it clear across the country.
from this in SD (not all of it, oh HO, no way):
to this.
From this:
To this:
Yes, it's ME!  in my pajamas!

People don't understand not having stuff.  They collect and keep and store and yes, hoard.  I still have a lot of stuff.  The thought of Jeff possibly getting a new job and us moving BACK to San Diego fills me with dread when I think of all the boxes again.  And I have infinitely less stuff than I did, even after we moved in HERE I have been pitching crap out to a thrift store.

Hoarders are ALWAYS narcissists.  They are absolute assholes who choose things over people.  STUFF over relationships, and children who need a place to sit and do homework or need clean clothes or any attention at all are DAMNED for being so needy.  When I started researching narcs I found these 'children of hoarders' blogs.  It is disgusting and dreadful what these poor kids have to go through.  Like, if one of you, after all these years of horrifying abuse, inherited the abusers home and it was hoarded, and YOU had to go through every single thing and keep/sale/toss.  The impulse would be to bulldoze it, but there is CASH in the hoard, and stuff worth selling, and worst of all, photos and mementos from the GOOD people in your life are in there.  Photos from YOUR childhood.  All buried.  Under piles of dust and used tissues.  And, don't even THINK of trying to tackle the hoard while the narc is still alive.  You will need the police, a court order, and a couple of Army Rangers to remove the dragon from its hoard.

I don't know how old age is going to manifest itself in me.  But I'm not leaving a pile of garbage for Mike to sort through.  It will be traumatic enough for him to deal with me dying (or possibly a relief?  I KID).  Here is a hard truth:

Nobody wants your crap.  NOBODY.

Here.  Here is the (sort of) point to this post.  I found THIS blog at least a year ago.  These two girls/women grew up with a narcissistic asshole parent who wouldn't fix the water heater EVER, wouldn't fix a washing machine, wouldn't fix a damn thing.  But he was a mechanic and worked on cars.  He collected them, he hoarded them, he hoarded all things related to mechanics.  Here is the punchline:  These two women have removed over 20 TONS OF SCRAP METAL from this property.  Twenty. Tons.  That is since they started taking it to a place that pays you for scrap, before that they were driving it to the dump. 

Here's pictures:  and this

Narcs and hoarding go hand in hand.  I have a real aversion to stuff.  It creeps me out.


  1. The guy sounds a bit like my NF - an engineer who fixed stuff all the time and then kept piles of "fixed" and unfixed junk all around all the time. We never ate in the kitchen because the kitchen table was covered with his tools and broken parts.

    I'm also a minimalist.

  2. Christmas makes me want to clean out my house too. The clutter starts to make me anxious. I'm already planning for my garage sale this spring (I would just donate the crap, but I thought it was a good way to add to my kids' college fund.)

    It's interesting what you say about narcissists being hoarders. My narcissistic grandmother was almost anti-hoarder. She had to have everything minimal, and extremely clean.

    But the rest of my narcs, well, while not hoarders, they seem to need stuff. My step-mother has probably 50 rubber maid tubs in the basement. Filled with LIDS FROM SHAMPOO BOTTLES, and other such shit. Because you never know when you might need a spare lid. My narcy-SIL, collects every scrap of paper my niece has every drawn on. Dirty napkins with one scribble on them. I'm sure my niece will be thrilled to receive a box of scribbles. I know I was THRILLED when my NMIL dropped off a box of my husband's "memories" at my house. 90% of it was junk- HER old receipts, and bank deposit slips. Endless worksheets my husband completed with simple addition and subtraction. And she made a big deal out of the box, like she was doing me a damn favor! It was mildewy and dusty and junk. But she has an obsession with stuff. Stuff crammed in nooks and crannies at her house. Junk that doesn't work, stored up to "fix". I think they are so defined by the external "stuff" in their life, that throwing any of it out is like throwing out part of their identity. So sad.

    1. My step mom was an anti-hoarder too - to the tune of tossing an original 45 of 'rock around the clock', Madam Alexander dolls, stuff we maybe would have wanted. She continues to GIVE BACK gifts to the giver. Soon she will have 1 spoon and 1 cup. It's another way to control. I know what you mean.

      For a LONG time I had all of Mike's little papers and stuff. I sorted through it all and tossed TONS of crap - I kept the stuff that brought a tear or brought a laugh. The rest of it, like you said, was worksheets and CRAP.

  3. Gladys, I am WITCHA! Do tell. Sigh. We spend the first part of our lives acquiring. We spend the middle part admiring what we have and acquiring MORE "stuff" to go with the "resident" stuff.
    Then reality sets in. (ahem...aging) I've been "down-sizing" since about '01 in a series of successive moves. To smaller and smaller, more manageable places. I've also had the "book mess" and yes, it unfolded pretty much as your's did.
    However, just about that time they out-lawed burn barrels, those ubiquitous, rusted out collections of "lawn ornaments" that graced everyone's back yards, set as close as possible to your next door neighbor's property line and down wind from your own place. Then the book mess unfolded. Do you know how EXPENSIVE it is to move books? OK, so I'm a criminal. I had acres of woods, some still "usable" burn barrels and under cover of darkness, well, you'd a thought the old lady sneaking out the side door of her house at night, stealthily making her way with boxes out back was puttin' in a crop of home-grown.
    I am now about as stripped down to sparse with everything including furniture, "decor items" and various other Stuff. And that's how it's gonna stay.
    Here's the human life-cyle of Stuff: Late Adolescence/Early Adulthood: Desire. Middle Adulthood: Acquire. Late Adulthood/Prior to Overt Manifestations of Dementia: Fire.
    Where's a typically covetous Narc when ya need one? Oh, that's right: Ya got rid of them years ago, prior to any thought or necessity of down-sizing.
    Ashes to ashes, books to dust, fire up the the burn barrels--and hasten the rust.

    1. Desire/Aquire/FIRE god you are brilliant...

      I LOVE the idea of burning stuff, even books! Yeah yeah, burning books ugh but NOT burning them because of what they say or what is in them, burning them because they are cheap CRAP gathering dust. Burning them, and papers and bank statements (who keeps bank statements anymore??) and old bills...

      And the JOY of burning, because then it's really GONE and nobody's problem anymore.

      And the narcs would be fuh-REAKING out because YOUE MIGHT NEED THAT SOME DAY!!

  4. Okay okay, I mostly agree with you on the hoarding thing.

    BUT - my dad is a hoarder. And he's definitely not a narcissist. The thing is that my mom won't let him hoard in the house, would NEVER have let him hoard in the house. He mostly hoards comic books and trading cards and for as long as I've been around, his section of the basement has always been jam packed with them - boxes and boxes and boxes. Some neatly organized, some not so neatly organized. Just tons of crap that he's never been able to get rid of. Or he'd get rid of some of it and then amass a new collection weeks later.

    My mother hates it. Mostly, it never impacted us directly, except when we needed a tool or something and had to venture into dad's crap, where boxes of cards were liable to fall on us and shit.

    I think it's all directly related to the way he grew up. My mom makes him watch the "Hoarders" show (I think it's on A&E or something). He's got the mentality of a hoarder, for sure. My mom just never let it go further than his basement. And even then she makes him purge shit every couple of years. It's been a long battle for them.

    I do think there is something to there being a connection between narcissism and hoarding though. The show is horrendous. What always ends up happening is that the hoarders' crap becomes more important to them than the people. And their family's are always devastated. It's heartbreaking to watch/read about.

    I can understand your aversion to "stuff."

    1. Jonsi, you KNOW how I hate 'growing as a person' - WHY do you want to make me think?!? lol

      OK, I like your parents. Through the stories you tell and because I can read how normal your online voice sounds, I know they are NOT the narcs that we discuss around these parts. Having said that:

      The fact that your dad (or anyone! not pointing at Jonsi's dad!) amasses a pile of things that cannot be enjoyed is not great. That someone else (in this case your mom) has to be the one to set limits on the size of the pile... it IS pretty selfish and self-centered behavior. How can things bring joy into your life if they are stacked and piled?

      The accumulation of stuff just to have it seems so counter productive. And it seems hoarders/collectors always think their stuff is worth WAY more than it really is. I hate those 'American Picker' shows for that reason. It promotes the idea that saving every damned thing means you will have a profit, when most of the people on these shows simply CANNOT part with anything even when faced with cold hard cash.

  5. My NF was a hoarder. And if you asked him, all his shit was worth thousands and thousands of dollars. He refused to clean it up. Luckily, we sold the house at a bargain price to a local who wanted to pick through all his shit. Yeah, some of it was worth something, but only about .099 of it. We were able to find the stuff that had some emotional value in about two hours. I never ever ever want to leave that kind of mess for anyone to clean up after I'm gone. Sis & I seriously discussed whether we should just knock the house down.

  6. That reminds me of a guy I used to work for. He had buckets of rusty screws sitting around left over from projects over the years. And instead of slipping us the company credit card to buy a couple of cases of what we needed for the job at hand, he would have six or eight guys spending half a day digging through these five gallon paint cans. Which meant he was spending hundreds of dollars on labor to save fifty or sixty bucks on materials and giving us rusty rained on shitty hardware to work with.
    Go figure.

    1. Yeah, you probably saw it but that blog has pictures of old refrigerator drawers filled with old rusty bolts and nuts and screws. They found something like 15 hand saws. A saw blade marked 'bent' (which means useless) but it was saved. An amazing assortment of wrenches (not ratchet).

      They plan on puting together sets, one for the house, one for the shop, etc, but they STILL have gabillions left over. They added it all to the pile to go to the metal recycling. It's a mental illness.

    2. LuLoo here; my NF has a small, battery-powered hand drill that only goes in reverse. He's had it for at least 20 years. I don't understand why people hold on to broken things--fix it, or (if it can't be fixed), TOSS IT.

  7. Oh, Gladys, if you could see my mother's basement of primly organized shit, you'd be afraid. I wish I'd taken a picture when I saw it two years ago. Have you watched Raider's of the Lost Ark and seen the scene at the end when they hide the artifact away? My mother's basement looks like that. Rows and rows of pretentious muck. It's disgusting.

    1. What I said to Jonsi above: How can treasure that you cannot see or appreciate be good for your soul? It is just the ACQUISITION, then the hoarding, that they love. I collect the things I do because I like the way they LOOK. Boxes of stuff is just stuff...

  8. Wow...Ns and hoarding...YES! My NM is a champion hoarder. (Not of my stuff, though--when I went away to college at 18, she threw away my winter coat and boots that I had left at the house because I moved out in August when it was 100 degrees out.)

    When I was 23, my then-boyfriend and I gave in to my father's browbeating and cleaned out the garage one weekend when he took my mother away on a vacation. The then-boyfriend (now spouse) has a gift for organization; he built them shelves and bought one of those peg-boards, and took a one-car garage from complete chaos to perfectly respectable over the course of a weekend. We threw nothing away except for rotted food that had fallen out of the freezer (I swear I am not making this up). Everything had a place in plain sight (for example, all gardening tools and materials in one corner, all tools on the pegboard, all books in another corner, etc.)

    My NM had an *absolute*, epic hissy-fit when she saw the garage, and spent months whining to everyone and anyone how she "couldn't find ANYthing" in there. I went NC 5 years ago; I'd hate to see what the garage looks like now.

    1. I really wonder what they SEE. They look at a mess, an absolute shit-hole of a piled up mess, and like it better than a neat, organized, accessable mess. I think it must be like the way anorexics look in a mirror and still see 'fat' - dysmorphia? Crap Dysmorphia.

      Like, your mom was gone, presumably NOT in a hoard, for the weekend. I'm going to assume hotel room. Neat, tidy, CLEAN. So for two days at least she didn't see or SMELL any hoard. Then she comes home and WANTS to see her mess!!

      I just don't understand them.

    2. Ooops, sorry--the above was written by LuLoo, and this is LuLoo again. Yes, the NPs went away to a hotel for the weekend, and you can bet your last cent that if it wasn't absolutely immaculate, the NP would be raising the roof.

      In my NM's case, the clean garage was an affront *because it wasn't her idea*. It's a control thing. There's also a bit of "more is more" with her; she has an entire walk-in linen closet packed to the gills with shampoo (it's just her and the NF and the NF is bald...), soap, toothbrushes, etc. The more, the better. Maybe to fill up the emptiness inside?

  9. I've seen those Hoarders shows. I was always left with the opinion that these people epitomized Narc/Laziness. They could only see THEIR wants and desires, how it made THEM feel. My HPD/NPD ex husband is the same way. For 25 years I battled all of the kitchen appliances filling up the counters, the bathroom counters clogged with things that should be placed out of sight. Since we're from Southeast Louisiana I'm accustomed mandatory hurricane evacuations. It's impossible to load the family truckster with EVERYTHING. I have a knack for narrowing down and de-cluttering by order of importance not only to me but also to my children. I always knew what to pack that could be transported in the most efficient manner. Along with thousands of other families, Katrina took everything that was left behind. The things that Narc ex of mine wanted to take and keep from the muck of our home astonished me. That's why today I'm of the opinion that all those hoarders need is a cat 5 hurricane ;)!

    1. Now THAT is an awesome idea! Just a leeetle hurricane to get you to let the fuck go of all your crap. I LOVE IT.