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Holding on to so much STUFF/CLUTTER - WHY??

Friday, November 09, 2012

Cleaning out my Dad's place(s) has given me a renewed sense of getting rid of things. I think we amass STUFF and most of it stays unused. Why??

The clean out has been a big deal. I won't say my Dad was a hoarder but his place(s) needed work. We took back two overflowing shopping carts full of things he bought but didn't use to the store yesterday. He probably had more clothes than my sister and I. The paperwork clutter was tremendous. We still have to do the garage. That will take a while.

I feel bad in saying this - I want to be clear he was not a bad person - and it wasn't as bad as some of what I have seen on TV.

My grandmother though IS a hoarder, it is kind of sad. But it makes it hard to clean out where my Dad was living at her house (he was mostly living there, taking care of her). She moves things and insists things are hers so they won't be taken away or donated, some rooms are so cluttered we can't tell what item belongs to who. She used to be neat, years ago.

My Mom holds on to things as well. She could open a food bank with all she has in her garage, many times we have to watch things because they are long since expired (not fresh food, but canned/packaged). She liked a salad dressing, couldn't find it, so when she did - she bought 14 bottles, for example. She has taken so many things from my Dad's house - sometimes she has multiple items of the same thing yet you often can't find them because her garage has so much stuff. My brother also took carloads full, and his three car garage is so full, they can't park cars in it.

My sister says it makes her want to go home and donate most of what she owns! I want to go through things I have already packed for my move when I get back and MAKE SURE I am using all of them.

Why do you think people hold on to so much stuff? I have watched the TV show, "Hoarders", and it seems many times people do it after some sort of tragedy (sometimes there is no root cause), or sometimes growing up "without" can make people also feel like they need to hold on to everything. I am somewhat paranoid of becoming this way, too, since I have relatives that were at least borderline like this.

Several years ago, I quit my job and sold all I owned to travel the world. Driving away after that, I felt so free. I've read that holding on to things is more than material - it's also a symbol of emotional clutter. I feel - I hope anyway - I'm getting to the point where I am ready to just let it all go, and start things anew.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I think -- for me -- it comes down to hating waste. So many things in my home are things I don't use (though I might, one day!), or haven't used, despite good intentions. So tossing them (most of them aren't even worth selling), is a huge waste. So I hold onto them, hoping that they'll one day justify themselves!
    1922 days ago
  • GLC2009
    my mom collects and has way too much stuff too. it's frustrating. she is supposed to move over to our property (with her own place to live in). but, she can't cuz she has too much stuff. she can't pack without getting rid of alot. i'm not paying for movers to move all this stuff and i'm not having that much stuff come to my property! in the meantime it's been 4 years since we started planning on having her move here. sigh... emoticon
    1925 days ago
  • SHEILA1505
    Good to see you here again, A!
    1926 days ago
    I'm sorry for your loss of your dad.

    1926 days ago
    I relate to this, went through similar things when my dad died in 1998.
    1926 days ago
    Going thru other people's stuff does make us realize not to do this to ourselves----I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff but should do more. But the issue with the older people is that they forget what they do have or can't find it so they just replace it. I look at my mom's house and want to scream, too----and plan on a major cleanout coming very soon---because my mom just cannot take care of things and my sister is definitely not taking care of it so I have to do it---very aggrevating----hope you have been taking a lot of it to donate. And at least you have the time and energy to do these things for him---shaking your head the whole time, I am sure---LOL
    1926 days ago
    People usually hoard to fill a void elsewhere in their life, even if it is merely an imagined or perceived void. We had similar experiences cleaning out my grandmother's house. She had unopened mail older than me, food that was several years expired, and boxes of empty egg cartons and TV dinner foil trays stored in her house. She was suffering from dementia but this stuff was accumulated decades prior. She threw away nothing ever.
    1926 days ago
    You've nailed it for sure. It IS a symbol of emotional clutter. Be it the results of experiencing deprivation or whatever. It is an emotional thing for cure. Difficult to deal with.

    Wishing you good luck in clearing things out. Having moved 5 times in the last 24 yrs. I can tell you I have learned to purge!!! If it's not being used after 1 yr. out it goes. Fridge and pantry get a once-a-week purge of items that aren't used. If they're unopened, they're donated. And I make a mental note not to buy that particular item again, as it didn't get used!

    So many tricks of the trade to get rid of stuff, but it all starts upstairs in the brain!

    I learned to find joy in donating while on the weight loss part of this journey. I donated literally 3 wardrobes to Good Will. It made me feel good that clothes still in really fine condition could bless someone else. And in turn, I bought (and still do when I need) clothes @ Good Will.

    Ok, babbling. Good luck to you. Hugs.
    1926 days ago
  • JLITT62
    Apparently, my dad still has travel brochures from around when I was born. FIFTY years ago.

    Going thru their house, when the time comes, will be a nightmare.

    It seems so many people become that way as they get older.
    I will admit I have lots of clothes & accessories -/ but they do get used & I go thru them on a regular basis & donate. But yes, there's no doubt I have way too much stuff.

    I find my monthly goals have really helped me. Not always easy coming up with them!
    1926 days ago
    I think it certainly fulfills an emotional need. On the positive side material possessions recall to mind happy or positive memories, or bring enjoyment to the owner. But when one's space starts becoming cluttered, then overflowing, then is a sign of some deep seated emotional issues that need to be addressed.

    I have been guilty of mild clutter, but mostly because I am disorganized and not that keen on housework. I try to make cleaning out a regular activity, and moving is a perfect time to pare down to essentials. I got rid of at least a third of my possessions when I moved, a third went into storage for when I move back to the US and a third came with me. And of the 2/3 I kept I know I could pare that down even further if I wished.
    1926 days ago
    My biggest fear about clutter is how unsafe it is. Accidents can happen to them and those around them. Good for you for cleaning out your dads place!

    Much luck to you in your continued efforts! emoticon
    1926 days ago
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