The more and more I work with clients I find that they have two different issues; either not enough time or they are sentimentally attached to their stuff. For my clients that simply have no time, when I work with them it is fun, easy and they enjoy the process. For my clients that have a attachment to their items, this process tends to be a bit slower and more emotional. Today I got a phone call from one of my sentimental clients. She was so excited about the chair that she got rid of. For most of us we would think a broken torn chair, what is so hard. But for her she has reasons that she was holding onto that chair….until today. I asked her to write her story for me to place in my blog because what I was hearing from her, was what I could see in the eyes of my clients. This is what they were feeling. And this is what they can share with their loved ones to help explain what the process of getting rid of clutter is for them. I will let Susie tell her story, as she does a beautiful job of it!
My name is Susie and I’m a sentimental hoarder. It’s true – I believe if I throw a picture of someone out I am throwing a piece of that person out. If I give away Aunt Ina’s faded afghan I am committing a horrible crime and something awful will happen to me. It is painful to live with that heavy responsibility and makes it almost impossible to let things go. I hold onto things because they are inextricably tied to the memories.
I remember the chair sitting in our living room. It was a huge oversized easy chair that I inherited when I got my own room at age 7. Mom had it recovered and I remember draping sideways on it, reading, twirling my hair and tapping my heel against its side.
It made the trip through all of my houses as an adult, ending up in my daughter’s room, recovered once again in a bright white cotton with rainbow colored animals. As the years went by the fabric ripped, the seat blew out, we lost part of one of the legs and we finally moved it out to our garage.
“I’ll recover it again! Move it into my office! It will be awesome!” I enthusiastically proclaimed. For three years. It got hidden further beneath garage garbage, but I never forgot it. It was going to be perfect once I found fabric then drove it 100 miles to the upholsterer, and paid $1000.
I don’t have room in my office for an easy chair. My daughter, now grown, has her own house that is full of her own beautiful furniture. Just to make sure, I called her and asked if she wanted the chair. Her articulate reply? “No, I don’t, Mom. And you’re going to have to figure out for yourself what you need to do with it.” I asked my husband, my voice of reason, what I should do. “Give it away,” he said. Nobody would take it, I was certain of it.
This morning I went out to the garage and pulled it out from under the mountain of car totes, old blankets, jumper cables and portable dog dishes. I set it upright and sat down in it. As I sank into it I was surprised that it sat so low to the ground. I didn’t realize it was that small. I know I’ve sat in it since my smaller childhood days when it had seemed huge. But as I sat there, my knees up to my chin, I realized I’d outgrown my chair. It no longer fit me or my life, and no amount of upholstering would change that.
I took a few deep breaths, packed it into my car and drove to the landfill, paying the $12 to lift it up and over into the big green dumpster. I would be lying if I didn’t tell you my palms were sweating and my heart beating a little faster. Would I regret it? Would I want it back? Would I miss it? Was I making a huge mistake? Then I remember – I’ve outgrown it. It’s not only okay to let it go, it’s necessary. It doesn’t fit me or my life anymore. I still have my memories of Dad sitting in it, reading the paper. I still have my own fond memories of it being my loyal constant during those tumultuous teen years. I still can see my beautiful daughter sitting in it and yes I’m now crying as I’m typing because I think what this all really means is that I love life, I love my father, myself and my daughter, and time moves so very swiftly and is so precious and fragile. But I also know that if we hold onto everything in our past we leave no room for the present.
I know that I’ll probably always be in recovery for my sentimental hoarding instincts, but I believe there’s hope, as long as we keep trusting and being willing to let go. Good-bye, sweet chair – you served us all well. Now it’s time to move on.
It is my hope that by sharing Susie’s story that it will help give a voice to those of you who are dealing with the same sentimental issues that she is dealing with. There is a sentimental fool in all of us and it is ok to say good-bye because you too need to move on.
To Joyful, Simplified Living,
MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity. She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at http://www.mssimplicity.com/
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