Anti-hoarding: junk the crap and emotional baggage

Everyone is talking about Hoarders and A&E. I’ll admit that I begin every show by saying I won’t be able to watch the whole thing, and then I’m mesmerized to the end.

While some people watch and admit that they have tendencies to collect unneeded crap, I am quite the opposite. I find myself peering around the house for any areas that might be victim to pileup. With the exception of one organized – yet stuffed – closet, my house is very tidy.

I used to be a clutter bug, if not a hoarder in training. I had a small apartment with dozens of houseplants and prized possessions hanging everywhere. I wouldn’t clean for a few weeks and then I’d freak out and deep clean everywhere. Most of the items that cluttered my space were valuable and/or memorable.

When I decided to quit my old life and go west for a new one (yes on the Oregon Trail), I had to downsize. Knickknacks, collectible plates, clothes and almost every piece of furniture had to go. I wanted to sell valuable collectibles, but there was no marketplace. So, I had a free garage sale and forced all visitors to leave the house with something.

Hoarders have emotional reasons for filing their homes with stuff. I found emotional release in giving stuff away. I was holding onto boots that climbed summits yet killed my feet, gifts from old boyfriends I hate and even the leg cast I wore in torment after destroying my ankle. I let go and old emotions stopped strangling me.

Our first apartment in Portland was so small that we emptied half the moving truck at Goodwill. (I do regret ditching the snow shovel.) The bed was our only furniture, yet we felt free.

In the six years since, I’ve tried to only keep sentimental, valuable or useful items. Clearing clutter seems to open my life to change and release negative emotions.

The day I was laid off, I sorted the entire garage. I recycled boxes of school papers my parents dropped off when we bought the house. The next day I attacked the crammed walk-in closet. I’ve gone through both again since, getting rid of more.

If there’s a medical condition that makes one consider packing a backpack and walking away from all other belongings, I am prone to it. I’d rather have very little than a house full of junk and filth.

Likewise, if I see a chance to shed emotional baggage and make room for growth, I will. I don’t want my head and heart full of junk either.


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4 Responses to “Anti-hoarding: junk the crap and emotional baggage”

  1. Jo Says:

    Hmmm… I think I am married to a Pack Rat.

    • happyasalarque Says:

      Well, he did clean out the shed (somewhat). I find life is all one step at a time. I have jeans in 3 sizes. I am now in the middle size, down from the large size, headed to the small size. Unfortunately, I’ve done this cycle in reverse. In the show, the hoarders always keep stuff … getting rid of some is a huge step forward.

  2. Rebecca Ross Says:

    Hi there,
    I am a professional organizer in Seattle, and I see hoarders that are facing decisions about things that they believe represent their very lives. It is so hard for them to separate the two, and even more painful when I see that it is hurting them.
    The answer lies in an approach that includes BOTH therapy and hands on help in letting go, in their homes. But it sure takes more than a weekend with a Got Junk truck at the curb!
    Congratulations on breaking the pattern and using your move to set a new one!
    Rebecca Ross

    • happyasalarque Says:

      Good point Rebecca. I recently did some energy work (Energetic Business Coaching to be specific) and was surprised that clearing negative emotions on business issues resulted in much needed weight control. Thank you for treating people holistically. I truly respect your work.

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