Compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder that is just beginning to be understood. As a hoarder, I have acquired things over the years with a specific purpose in mind at the time of the acquisition, used some of those items for their intended purposes, forgotten the goal for different objects, but now that I find that they have outlived their purpose in my life I am struggling to rid myself of those same things.

You can read the start of my journey here.

Friday, March 26, 2010

I feel the earth move under my feet.

Something I am just getting the courage to share from the other night. . .I really, really struggled with getting rid of two things when I was cleaning off the countertop in the kitchen.

We had a tin that was in the shape of a Christmas tree that one of us got as a gift for Christmas a few months ago. It had been filled with chocolates, but they've been long gone. I've been trying to make a decision as to what I was going to do with that tin from the moment I laid eyes on it. So I've had this in the back of my mind for 3 months at this point. However, decision time had finally come, because it was on the kitchen counter, and I needed to do something with it.

I kept moving it from one part of the counter to the other until I finally confronted it full on. I thought of putting it in the donation box, but I realized that they'd likely throw it away anyway. Our oldest daughter didn't want it. I asked. And as neat a shape as it was, I couldn't figure out what I'd do with it. It had raised ornaments on the tree and a raised brand name, so other than the shape it was rather ugly. After much contemplation, I threw it in the trash.

The other thing was a cylindrical tin can that had held some of those stick-shaped cookies. It was in great shape, and there was nothing embossed or raised on it, and I just knew I could use it for something. It made its appearance in our household about a year ago. And I've hung onto it this whole time, because I just knew I'd use it for something. I reluctantly confronted it and threw it back into the trash. Yes. I said it. "Back into the trash." I'd thrown it away once already. I'd thrown it on Sunday and then took it back out of the garbage bag. I wasn't ready to let it go.

I get that it sounds stupid. I do. I know in my mind, in my heart of hearts, that it's not logical.

After I'd thrown them, I thought of everything that I could use them for that I hadn't already contemplated.
I'd already considered decoupaging the tins with either paper or fabric and making little gift boxes out of them. But after I discarded them, I thought of how, "they'd be perfect to store my polymer clay! :::Gasp!::: Better yet!! I could cover them with polymer clay, and they'd be adorable gift boxes. I mean, think of how cute a Christmas tree shaped, polymer clay covered and decorated gift box would be!! Oh my goodness! I need to get them out of the trash! Now!"

At this point, I started getting physical symptoms as I thought of retrieving them from the trash. I was shocked that I could feel a physical pull to go get them. My pulse was racing. My breath grew more quick. And my anxiousness was palpable. It felt as though I had to command myself to stay where I was. That if I didn't think very hard about staying there that my legs would start moving on their own, and I'd be at the trash can ready to rummage. It was a very odd and somewhat scary sensation.

About that time, my husband finally made it home, and I was telling him about it. I told him I felt what would seem like withdrawal symptoms. That I had to make myself not go get them. He assured me that I don't need them right now, that I won't be able to do anything with them anytime soon, and that we will indeed find really cute tin boxes in the future that I can cover with polymer clay when the time is right.

I thanked him and then asked him to please get the trash taken out as soon as possible, because I was concerned I'd get them out anyway. Plus, if they were outside, I wouldn't go out in the snow to get them, and trash pickup was in the morning. Once the trash was picked up, it would be out of my hands.

I talked before about how sometimes creativity can be a curse. It's incredibly hard for me to discard something in which I can see such great potential. However, I have to limit what I keep. If my house didn't look like it does, if I didn't already have 10,000 projects waiting for me, if I hadn't gone almost 18 months without having a clear kitchen counter, I may have felt okay keeping the tins. And while the thought of little polymer clay covered gift boxes sounds so wonderful, a clean, dehoarded house sounds better.


  1. Wow that is a strong feeling ! Way to go for overvcoming it and getting the stuff out of the house .You are doing so well!

  2. You described your feelings so well.

    And it does not sound stupid at all. It sounds like you're confronting your own personal demons (for want of a better word) and winning.

    That sounds strong and intelligent.

    You kick butt.

  3. Oh, and one other thing.

    The more you win, the easier it's going to be for you to fight. Every battle makes you stronger.

    Go, Judy!!

  4. Awesome! I love the way you can describe how you are feeling! You're doing great and will continue to do well!

  5. Good for you in throwing away those tins! I know exactly what you mean about the "curse of creativity" ;). Good description. Some of us are always looking at little tins and scraps of ribbon and wine corks and thinking, "But I could make something cute out of this!" I bought a large cabinet years ago where I store crafts supplies. The beauty of having that cabinet is that I pretty much try to limit my supplies to whatever will fit in there. So if the extra tins or baskets or whatever that I'm contemplating keeping don't fit in there, I either have to make room by throwing out the old popsicle sticks from last decade ;) or simply forego keeping whatever the newest item is. You are doing great at clearing out stuff. Keep up the great work.

  6. I was feelin' your panic girl but pat yourself on the back and give yourself a big old woohoo! You did what needed to be done. Too much stuff just sucks the energy right out of ya!

    God bless and have a glorious day!!!

  7. So, as I am reading this, I am thinking to myself "She sounds like a smoker trying to quit!"..The justification thoughts..all of it, even the physical symptoms..Wow..Good for you fighting through that!

  8. Oh..and Guess who?..Interesting observation. I'll have to use it to encourage you sometime! ;)


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