A few years ago when we started working on cleaning up the backyard, we actually had the entire porch cleaned off. Ok. Maybe not completely, but it was close. We still had a stack of chairs, and a big metal footlocker that Hubster had used in his work truck for years, but for the most part it was clean. Unfortunately, it didn't stay that way. It didn't take long for it to be filled with overflow when we tried to clean out the garage. (I did, however, get rid of the stack of chairs several months ago, and the footlocker went a few weeks ago. Yay me!)
I'd hired a neighbor kid to help me with it, but it was more than he could handle. Heck, I couldn't even handle things. Frank has helped me with it here and there, but he really isn't into working much, so it's been very hit and miss. Awhile back, I asked Atticus, if he was interested in earning some money and helping me to dehoard. He's between jobs, so it was a good fit. He also grew up with hoarding parents, so he's familiar with the mindset, and he's been a huge encouragement without pushing me to make decisions I'm not quite ready to make. As a result, we've made huge progress!
We finished cleaning the back porch off completely a few weeks ago. It's since been somewhat filled with other things, but it's because we're using it as a staging area. In one area, I've got the things I'm selling, in another there are things I'm keeping, and in another area I keep the stuff that's being donated. It's been nice, because as I go through things in the garage, Atticus can take them to the appropriate place on the porch, and I can deal with it further from there.
I've sold a few things and donated a bit, but by and large I've either given things away or thrown them out with the trash each week. I've been able to get rid of things that I've hung onto for years with relative ease, and when I struggle to get rid of something and finally make the choice, Atticus chimes in with, "Good decision!" It's encouraging.
One of the big decisions I made last week was to get rid of papers I've held onto since I was in high school close to 40 years ago. I took classes in architecture and drafting back then. I liked it well enough, but I wasn't quite suited to it. I struggled to get the perspective perfect in spite of the tools I had at my disposal to draw them correctly. I just couldn't get it quite right. In a weak moment my junior year of high school, I cheated. I took another student's drawing, (with his permission), and I turned it in as my own. I was found out, and I ended up with a poor grade. I don't recall, if I got an incomplete in the class, or if I only got an F on that paper. It's been a long time ago, and a lot has happened in my life since then, so the details are blurry, but it has hung like a millstone around my neck all these years.
I'm ashamed that I was so weak as to think that cheating was an option just because I was overwhelmed and I had a looming deadline. I'm not proud of myself for that. I think it's one of the reasons I've hung onto the blueprints all these years. I wanted to punish myself for my failure, because I didn't deserve to forgive myself. How could I forgive myself for such a moral failure? As a result, I've paid for that single moment of cheating many, many times over the years.
Last week, I went page by page through the blueprints, as I told the story to Atticus. As hard as it was to admit, it was so freeing. I was able to forgive myself, to put the past in the past, and to move in to the future.