A couple weeks ago, I had this revelation while tidying up my space. As a result of this revelation, I tossed a few extra things that “helped me to remember” tough times I’d endured during my life.
It all started when I made the difficult decision to wad up a watercolor I’d done about 30 years ago — something I’d done to help me to “never forget” something awful. It was a pretty painting, if I do say so myself. Since it was a “happy” image, only I knew the pain it represented. It was my morbid little secret. For years I planned on having it framed and hanging it — so others would see it and comment and I would smile and know the darker meaning. (I’m glad I didn’t.)
I stored this painting in my art portfolio. This means every time I was feeling creative and I went into my portfolio, I saw it. It deflated me. I thought it made me strong, but it didn’t. It made me sad and angry and it wrestled any creativity that I might have possessed at that moment, pinned it down to the ground, and b*tch slapped the creative juice right out of me.
Come to think of it, this could be the primary reason that, although I love to paint, I haven’t found the time to do so in many, many years.
Why it took me 30+ years to realize this was not a desired effect — is beyond me.
After the positive impact of wadding up the watercolor, I started looking around at the other little things that I have saved through the years and through all the bouts of tossing things out and donating and living small. Many, many of them were “reminders” of a point in time — and few were joyous times. Most of them were rough times. Depressing times. Hard times. Most of them were reminders of what I’d overcome. How I’d conquered.
I considered them “trophies” of sorts for my abilities.
Comparatively speaking, I own few mementos of really good times, which strikes me as quite odd, since I’ve had lots of good times along the way.
As I had my epiphany (and decided to quit surrounding myself with negative stuff and absorbing all that negative energy), it’s amazing how much “lighter” I feel. I still have more to do, but each item I eliminate things like this my life gets a smidge better, a tiny bit happier, a little sunnier.
I haven’t tackled the photos yet. I probably will, but for now I’m enjoying the effects of tossing those seemingly innocent looking objects — the “pretties” that people admire when they visit — but that represent something less than happy for me.
I’ve always considered photos sacred. Heck, I still have photos of people I dated in my teens. I never “tore up” or burned or tossed such photos. Of course, I usually still liked all those individuals after we went our separate ways… I had to become an adult to learn to hold a grudge, I guess. 🙂
But that is the psychology I’ve always had — photos are sacred. It’s only now that I realize how much of that philosophy apparently spilled over into my things — those objects sitting around and packed in boxes. And, I discovered how little of it makes me happy.
I can’t believe that so many of the things I own that are “artsy” are riddled with bad memories for me. What was I thinking?!?
I wonder how many other people hang onto things that make them sad or unhappy or depressed. I wonder how they justify their version of emotional self-flagellation. (I considered it a testament to my strength and fortitude, for instance, to justify keeping all mine.)
I’m a woman “of a certain age” and it’s kind of liberating because I don’t really have the urge to prove anything to myself — or anyone else. I don’t need reminding that I’m strong. I know this now. It’s nice.
I don’t want to be surrounded by negativity anymore.
My friends and family are surprised that I can “let go” of such cool things, such pretty things, such art. I think it’s like not touching a jelly fish — not eating holly berries — not dancing in a lightning storm. Sure all those things are pretty, they capture the eye, they sound like fun — but they are also harmful. I figure life is short and there are many beautiful things in life that aren’t psychological poison.
I think I’ll concentrate on those now.
I just have to finish discarding all these left-over reminders of when I was less sure that I would survive the tough times, when I was a little shaky about the outcome, when I was trying to keep my “eye on the prize” and muscle my way through a tough patch or two… or three. I’m getting past the time when I thought I needed those reminders — when I thought they were a good thing.
I can’t wait until I only see stuff in my personal space that makes me smile and want to hug myself — and all the rest of that “baggage” disguised as sentiment is gone. I wonder if that’s the main reason people who are minimalists, who live in tiny (and tidy) houses, who live simple lives are happier than people with more. I’ll bet there’s a connection there! 😉
How do your “things” reflect back at you?