I think, and this can sometimes be a dangerous thing, that “normal” people don’t have a problem with parting ways with inanimate objects when they no longer serve a purpose.
I have two anxieties, quite possibly way more than two, about letting go of things given to me by someone else. Tossing out a gesture of love is a near abomination to me. The other anxiety is the thing given to me in love has become a dust collector and is hardly even noticed, let alone used.
I have a collection of plush bears given to me by Joe over the past 12 years. Each bear had been hugged, squealed over, and many moments had been spent feeling the soft texture of the fur in my hands, and doing the ultimate act of delight….rubbing the soft cuddly thing against a cheek. Many days had moments where I stopped to look at the new treasure, give it a touch and a squeeze, feel my heart swell with love, and off I’d go about my daily business. Those moments dwindled into walking past the bear collection without a single notice. That is until I saw the thick layer of dust upon the once loved fur.
Every winter, during my hiatus, these bears all come off the shelves and are run through the clothes dryer for an hour on high heat. I have a tennis ball in the dryer that bounces around inside during the drying cycle to help bang the dust off the bears. This also kills any dust mites that may be living in the fur.
I learned, long ago, that you don’t put a plush bear through the washing machine to clean it. By the time it gets through the wash cycle all the stuffing has shifted down into one leg or up into one arm. The poor creature is terribly deformed and misshapen. The only thing to do then is operate on it, rip its guts out, add new stuffing material back inside the bear, then stitch it back up. Oh ya, after it has gone through the dryer to fully dry.
I had to, reluctantly, tell Joe to not bring me any more bears. Crushing both of our hearts. He thinking that I don’t like ANY of the bears he had brought me and putting him through several minutes of agony. My watching and hearing the hurt I have just put upon the man I love.
These bears have become hostages in a home that has no love for them any longer. They are held, on display and forgotten, because I don’t want to give them away yet I don’t want to keep them either. They mean a lot to me, yet again, they mean nothing to me. Poor bears 😦
I had to have a talk with Joe. A long avoided and much dreaded talk with him. I had to explain myself and my request fully so he would understand that I love the thought behind the gifts but I no longer love the gift itself. Joe, being the fantastic man that he is, gave me permission to let go of the bears as long as I took pictures of each bear before it left our home. In his wisdom, the reason behind it, he said I would eventually miss them and would wish I had not given them away later on. Having photos of the bears would give me the ability to still keep the bears close to me but in a better place.
Joe’s parting words were…..”A child will have a bear to cuddle with at night and be kept safe from the closet monsters. That child will give the bear the love it truly needs.” Do I have the most awesome man in the world or what?!
Here are the bears that were donated to the Goodwill. After they went through the dryer first to get them cleaned up.
Many years ago I read some pretty harsh words said by Flylady. “Clutter is Clutter no matter how much you love it”. The words stung me each time I looked at my collection of bears. These were not Clutter! I was adamant about that. She was wrong, so very wrong.
Well, I got over being upset with her. It has taken me about five years to finally decide to embrace the fact that these bears are just exactly that. Clutter.
To be fair to Flylady, she was addressing a problem one of her “Fly-Babies” was having about inherited household goods of that person’s late parents. The Fly-Baby lamented over the state her house was in having all the furniture and “Stuff” of her parents. Much of which the woman grew up with and adored because it belonged to her mother or held dear memories of her father. She couldn’t give any of it away, nor could she live with it all.
USER FRIENDLY TIPS:
- Take a good look at the items you have collected over the years. Do they get used? Maybe china passed down from your parents or grandparents? You want to still keep them?
- Do you have a collection, or stuff, that never gets used? Do you mutter under your breath each time you have to dust or clean the collection? Or you have clothing in a closet that you used to look stunning in but no longer can wear?
- Do you live in fear that once these items are gone they are gone forever?!
- Just take some time to think about how you would feel to have some space in your home if the stuff were gone.
- Give yourself permission to feel the pain of the loss, feel the sadness of packing the stuff up and giving it away, feel the betrayal of thinking about someone else putting their loving hands on these treasures of yours.
- If this process causes you too much anxiety to even think about then let it go and don’t do anything.
- If, through this process, you feel a sense of freedom, and a nudge of guilt as well, then think about taking pictures of these treasures. Consider making a scrapbook. One you can look through and remember these once treasured items.
- This is a highly emotional task and is filled with all kinds of land mines that could set you off on a rant or an emotional storm. Give yourself permission to leave this until you are ready to try once again.
- If, on the other hand, you are ready to begin the process of letting stuff go then get in there and do it.
This house cleaning and purging I’ve been going through for several weeks has been an emotional roller coaster. I’ve had many moments of frustration knowing that I will go through the whole process once again next winter. All this work for nothing. Then again, all this work has brought me so much freedom as well.
I’ve brought out the “Pity Party” decorations and had quite the shindig. I’ve lamented not having a regular job like a regular person. One that I’m home every night with two regular days off. A life that would allow me to spend time in my craft room and be creative throughout the year instead of just in small chunks of time.
I’ve also been brought up short in my partying to realize that I would have my butt fired in an instant because I don’t “Play well with others”. Then I’ve had to clean up my partying mess and get back to the business at hand.
The last, and final, post of 2012 will be (hopefully) tomorrow about our hallway. Or as I like to call it – Joe’s “Man Cave”. His tools and STUFF reach out and grab me each time I pass through to the laundry room. The result ranges from muttering under my breath, occasional loud cursing, micro bursts of exasperation aimed directly at Joe to get the mess cleaned up.
Truth to tell, he had been asking me when I would be finished with what I was doing so we could clean the hallway. HE was getting excited about getting the hallway, and his stuff, organized. So, see, all this work does have an effect on those in your household. As they see the results and feel the pride you are showing in your environment it seems to rub off on them. Okay, I’ll shut up for now.