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{29/02/2012}   Cleaning out my closet: confessions of a hoarder

Today is day one of what will be many days sorting through my relatively preserved childhood bedroom. As I’ve always rented there’s not been any pressure on me to sort my stuff. But today it’s not about retrieval, it’s about rehoming (charity or bin, hopefully not in an ahhhh-but-I-used-to-love-that pile).

Part of me is dreading it because I’ve been enjoying reminiscing of late in a phew-glad-I’ve-moved-on kind of way and I don’t want to revert to melancholy or nostalgia. But I am largely looking forward to it. I realise that I don’t think I’ve ever felt ready to do it. I’ve certainly gone through cupboards etc either looking for something specific or out of curiosity but never felt a need like I do now to actually address the stuff. I suppose if I’d had to for any reason, I would’ve done, though I fear if I’d moved somewhere with an attic, it could’ve just been transferred from my old room and attic (the attic is for another time and that will take ages) to my attic.

I am not entirely sure what cupboards and drawers have in them. I do know that I’ve been in all those places before and not felt there are things I want or, worryingly, things that can be chucked/given to charity. My mum has occasionally suggested a few freed up drawers etc might be nice. My freeing up has been distressingly minimal. I must be ruthless, I must, I must.

I know there are a lot of books, some of which are out of date politics books from my studies. What do you do with books like that? There is also my video collection, cassettes … these are things I struggle with because they all work but they are maybe too out of date to be used and I doubt charity shops even want them. I suspect some people reading this might already be shouting, “Bin! Bin!” and I guess herein lies my problem: I am not a ruthless sorter of stuff for I am a hoarder.

For someone who moves house as much as I do I have a lot of stuff. Really, a lot. As I’ve moved, my homes have got bigger and bigger (hence moving out of London!) and as of three moves ago I have started on furniture. Most of my stuff is put away, ie in cupboards, drawers, currently an attic and utility room. But it is there. For my last few moves I have had quite significant sort outs (by my standards). I also had an extraordinarily therapeutic clothing sort out whereby I tried almost everything on and got rid of clothes that didn’t fit or, the challenging one, suit me (I’ve since replenished my wardrobe with a few others that don’t suit me!). That felt amazing. I did the same with my bathroom and got rid of old stuff. I discovered I have a bit of a ooo-that-looks-nice-I’ll-try-that approach to buying bathroom things so I still have a lot of things in my bathroom (five shower gels on the go for example) but they are at least now all usable and used.

I am also a dabbler when it comes to hobby type things. Unfortunately I discovered that I like making books and kind of decoupage. For this, I have a staggering amount of paper and “resources”. There are things there that I just can’t throw out. Likewise, a bad move, I went through a phase of going to auctions with a view to getting things I wanted and paying for them by eBaying other things. Did I eBay? Did I ****! Well, I did about four bursts of eBay selling (in fact I think one of my initial blogs, maybe two years ago, on this site was about auctions) but I didn’t enjoy it and took it too personally when two people claimed not to have received their stuff.

So really I need to do a car boot fair, but two summers have gone past and I haven’t done it. Maybe probably definitely I should start preparing for a summer of boot fairs.

However, all this is true and it is something I worry about, but I do feel that having stuff is part of who I am. I have got rid of a few things and while I now have a lot of stuff, I pretty much know what it is I have and that it’s been kept because I made a decision to keep it. I neither want to be minimalist nor am I capable of being so. Sometimes I feel society makes you think you have too much stuff if it won’t all fit in a transit van. Yes, there is a lot of stuff I have that could probably be dealt with at a car boot fair for example. But there is a limit and my limit is just different to perhaps most people. But I can see that it could overcome you and your home and consequently your self. For me it will probably always be a struggle to keep it under control though. But for now, ruthless hat is kind of on!

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