Why I Can’t Throw Things Out

Throwing things away is extremely difficult for me. I don’t mean taking the garbage out every week to get rid of a bag of actual garbage. I find sentimental value in objects very easily and it’s difficult for me to convince myself that it’s time to get rid of it. I constantly tell myself I need to get rid of things because I have a room in my house which only has about half of the floor space available.

I could condense things vertically to take up only a few feet of floor space but I keep going through it all to try to get rid of it. It just ends with me going over memories of how, where and when I got them and outing them back into a box while maybe throwing out 4 or 5 things.

I know I have a problem and watching a recent video of Garrett Watts helped me find some motivation to get rid of a large portion of the smaller things but once I got done and had a couple empty boxes it still looked like I hadn’t made any progress.

There are times when I’m trying to get rid of things and someone will offer to help or grab something and say “Why don’t you just get rid of this?” I immediately lock up and go into an anxiety attack. I can’t do any more for at least a week after because if I try to I have another anxiety attack thinking about the last one. After having this happen numerous times I feel like I may have found out where some of my anxiety of getting rid of things may have come from.

Growing up we moved every year for my first few years of school. Things would come and go and I had no problem with it. The one constant we had was a pile of boxes full of papers. They had the report cards of all the kids from every year of school along with different homework assignments and projects we had brought home. It was a cool time capsule which we would go through every once in a while to look at how much we changed in such a short time. In the house which we lived in the longest, about 7 years, the boxes took up an entire closet under a set of stairs.

When my mother got remarried we moved into his house. We had a big yard sale to get rid of things and anything that didn’t sell we donated or threw out. I was fine with it because it was mostly toys I didn’t play with anymore either way.

When we got moved into the new house I soon noticed something else which hadn’t made the move with us. The pile of boxes. The only connection I had to my childhood. Things I was hoping to save and one day show to my children so they could see what things were like back in ancient times when things were done on paper.

A year or so later our house flooded and I lost everything except for a couple things which were in my bedroom in the attic. A few months later we flooded again but I didn’t lose as much because I saw how much it was raining and moved all of my things into the attic. That’s around the time I started to really hoard things.

When I moved out to my first apartment I didn’t have time to grab all of my things right away because I was at the busiest time of the year with work so I was told I had about 8 months to get everything.

That was no problem at all. I was only about 4 months from my schedule opening up enough to grab everything. And I had to room where I was staying to be able to store it all. So over the next few months I would find time every once in a while to stop by and grab a box or whatever I could fit in the cab of my truck.

When it got to the point in the year where I had plenty of time to move things I showed up ready to make multiple trips and grab everything that was still there and it was all gone. All my old tax papers, music I had written over the years, a model truck which I had built with my dad, and some other stacks of paperwork and odds and ends. I wasn’t given any reason other than I should have taken it.

I think those are the cause of my anxiety when I try to get rid of things. It triggers something in my brain which links back to having everything with sentimental value thrown out. I hope writing this will help me to cope a little bit and find the strength to get rid of some of the things I don’t need which are just taking up space. And hopefully it will help someone else find the same courage for themselves.


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