Saturday, February 23, 2013

Clutter is not the boss of you - and comments on a comment

Tundra Woman, you made an excellent comment on my last post, which, I mean - ALL of your comments are excellent.  But it prompted a reply from me, and now I want to expound on that a bit.  I realized that the idea of STUFF can be brought around to narcs, because OF COURSE, it always comes back to being raised by assholes.

(My reply to TW follows, but I've edited it for brevity, and bolded for emphasis.  For the original full monty, please go to the linked post and down to the comments.)

It was the feeling that I could only be a 'true grown up' if I had grown up things. Things like a storage closet with extra tile and paint, a bathroom under-sink stuffed with proof of my pampering of myself, book cases full of books, a kitchen stuffed with serving platters I never used.

I always felt that I at least had to have the 'costume' of a grown up, since I so obviously (to myself) (even with a full time job and a child) was NOT a grown up. These days I actually have grown UP in my head, so I'm finally out of the need for the costume.

I've driven the shitty ass cars that wouldn't start unless you climbed under with a screwdriver, and done the 'carry oil just in case' and kept a full change of clothes in my car in case of break down - I've lived in shitty ass apartments where Mike wasn't allowed to play outside with the feral beasts that passed for children. I've eaten expired food and had couches (and beds! and tables!) that I pulled out of dumpsters or off the side of the road.

I'm through living like that. While I am still frugal like a tight-fisted bitch, I buy better stuff now. It isn't the STATUS of crap, although I will admit to being enough of a human bean <--! to fall into that once in a while, it is more the feeling that I deserve better. I deserve a safe car, I deserve food that I buy because it sounds good, not because it's expired and almost free. I'm still shopping at Target, but not just the clearance racks anymore, I've moved on UP! (oh I am a dork)

But I also feel like, these days, I deserve to treat myself well. Which means not having crap in my life, having wide open swaths of carpet [that is easily vacuumed] and counter space [that I can wipe clean in seconds, no freaking toasters or blenders on it, just the lone necessary coffee pot.] And not having bills bills bills ruin my sleep (I need my beauty sleep!). No more having something just to have it.

No more keeping something that someone gave me, simply because it is a gift. I am DONE with the responsibility of gifts, they weigh SO heavily on a person. I think of that every time I GIVE a gift now - it's sort of like giving someone a horse. Now they have a horrible responsibility to that gift! I donated the glass head that woman gave me, and I felt guilty doing it. NOT FAIR. A gift shouldn't make the recipient a museum curator for the rest of their lives.

The things I am finding in closets, STILL! including photos, are bringing a lot of the past right up into my face. And this time I'm not bowing down to the memories and letting all of that emotion roil through me. These are OBJECTS. And I get to choose. The memories, good and bad, are NOT the objects.

The objects can be judged on their own merit. Ugly? Stained? Torn? Chipped? Useful? they either ARE or they AREN'T. They are just objects.

And objects are not the boss of ME.

That statement there, that last one, is my Profound Ah Ha Moment.  Maybe it will resonate with you.

Objects either ARE useful and right for you, or they ARE NOT.  Objects have no feelings.  Memories are not dependant on objects.

YOU have the choice.  To keep a thing, or to not keep a thing.  There is no guilt tied to an object unless you allow it.  There is no emotion other than the pleasure it brings you to SEE and USE the object, not just to HAVE the object.  Do you like seeing it?  Do you use it?  Does it bring you pleasure to do both?  You have a keeper.

Does the object bring you joy?  Does it function?  Does it make you happy to SEE it?  If not, it has no place in your life.  NO PLACE.  It is a hindrance.

A lot of the time, the objects we hang on to were given as gifts.  A gift can become an obligation.  I do understand the problem with gifts.  There have been many times I thought I had given the PERFECT gift, but the recipient wasn't as thrilled as I had hoped.  Or the other way around (hello, glass head).  I understand the disapointment.  But I do not agree to take on the responsibility of keeping and storing that item.  I DO NOT AGREE.  I get to pick if I like it and if I am going to keep it.

Once the gift is given, it becomes the recipient's property and they are free to use or dispose of that gift as they see fit.

For ACoNs, if your parents/narc have given you things [and I bring this up because evidently narcs LOVE to give things, my kind of narcs excluded] please remember that narcs do not give GIFTS.  What they give is OBLIGATIONS.  They give 'strings attached'.  They give GUILT.  it doesn't matter if they gave you a bottle of perfume or a lawn mower.  Narcs feel as though the given object should thereafter be displayed with lights and glowing arrows pointing at it, and a placard stating that they gave it to you ["on loan from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Douche Bag"].  It's a control issue, not a gift.  IT'S A WAY TO CONTROL.

And because we have been so well trained by THEM, we assume every single gift ever given comes attached with that obligation.  We assume that every gift from neighbors, every tchotchke purchased while drunk on vacation, everything that our children ever drew on is a forever item, that they are all valuable and full of MEMORIES and guilt and responsibility.  THAT IS BULLSHIT, my friends.

Your home is not a repository for other people's expectations of you.

Newspapers and magazines and unfinished knitting projects are another form of guilt.  It is expectations of OURSELVES.  'Finish what you start!' 'What a waste of money!'  Again, I call bullshit.

If your intentions were to cut out recipes, and you never did it, it's because that activity is NOT IMPORTANT to you.  Throw the papers/magazines out.  You are not a bad person because you don't have time, you are a discerning individual and that project doesn't make the cut of how you want to spend your time.  Same for that ball of yarn or those unused paints.  The money was gone when you spent it.  You didn't waste money so much as you were exploring possibilities.  You found out you don't like that activity.  NOW?  Now all you can do is pass the stuff on to someone who will use it/recycle it, and reclaim that space in your home or your head for things that make you sing.

The guilt.  The expectations.  It's all crap.  You get to choose.  What do you want to look at, to live with?  Don't let other people choose what you live with.


  1. T-Dub is a genius. I look forward to her comments.

    I didn't get a chance to read your previous post, but I'll head over there in a few and then come back to this one.

  2. Love this! The gift from my parents that carried the biggest obligation was money, which is probably why they loosened the purse strings in the last ten years or so. They would demand to know how I spent it and after I was stupid enough to tell them they'd criticize my choices. Finally, I started to say, "Oh sorry, I thought it was a gift."

    As a "gift", they paid my daughter's tuition for her last year of university and then claimed the right to disapprove of her career choices! When she inherited money from her dad I suggested she give back the money to shut them up. My kick ass kid said, "Screw 'em. I earned that money by putting up with their BS."

    I'm so glad my kid didn't inherit the doormat gene!

  3. HA! Excellent post! You just inspired me to get rid of the oh-so-cute little bedside table lamp that doesn't work. I'd been keeping it in the guest bedroom because it's so very cute and goes perfectly with the rest of the decor in there...but why? It's a $10 lamp and IT DOESN'T WORK.

    I am also proud of myself for the following: about 15 years ago, my NGran gave me some orange-and-brown "collector's plates". Nothing in my house is orange or brown. I do not collect or display plates. They went straight to a charity, literally on the way home from dropping the NGran off at the airport. About five years after that, she was again in my home and was offended that she didn't see "her" plates. I shrugged and said, "They didn't suit me". (Yes, I paid dearly for the truth.) Looking back now, I say, "Good for me!", LOL, was that the first step?


  4. Thanks, Gladys. I really appreciate the comment "shook loose" some more connections. Yk, that's been a whole bunch of the joy of learning from other AC's for me as well: The Posts are great, I really appreciate you, the other Blogging "ULBs" and all the work you do. I also enjoy reading the comments. They always seem to give me more to think about/recall because there's just so much mental "stuff" (along with the physical "stuff")-a memory, an association I never thought of re: the "Roots" of all kinds of..."stuff" ;)
    Aiye! Gawd, a life time of crap to be "examined," connected-to, processed etc. How I wish you and the other AC's were around 30/40 yrs. ago, but you're here now. And I'm grateful you are-"boy, howdy" (< a Q-ism) am I!
    And I thank you from the bottom of this little ol' widow's heart. As does Troubs-the-geriatric-cat because keyboards are such great fun to flop on when I put the lap top aside for a min. to go to the bathroom/kitchen etc.