The emotional ties to stuff.

There is the “mindless consumer”, which I am not, and there is “me” – a lost soul who finds some “things” aesthetically and emotionally gratifying.

I do love the “treasures” I find at thrift shops and garage sales.  But it’s not the same as mindless consuming, in my humble estimation anyway.

No, I’m not a “junk collector”, but I love thrift stores, consignment shops, and garage sales. I don’t collect any particular thing, but it’s both calming and thrilling to find treasures that would cost too much money brand new, and I feel good about re-using old (and often better made) things rather than brand new.

Like, for instance, muffin tins. Go to the stores and you’ll have to spend $10 for those mini-muffin pans. I’ve been finding them for $1 or less. But I don’t bake much…I plan to make “crayon cookies” for the girls and for treat bags on holidays for the nieces and nephews and classmates.

And books are another thing. I love buying used books and magazines. I found some great classics for 25 cents – it’s how I got A Wrinkle in Time, Anne of Green Gables and The Little Princess (to name a few) and a bunch of National Geographics (I love the beautiful pictures and stories and I used to pore over my grandfather’s NG’s as a child in the summertime when I went to visit him).

The discounted book section at Borders is a bad place for me to visit.

I am painfully aware of the emotional attachment I have to having things. I know there are losses and disconnections in my life that I fear I try to replace with “stuff”.

I had friends, in real life, once upon a time. Close friends I made at work, and close friends I’ve kept for 16-20+ years. But they aren’t close any more. I left the job and they drifted from me, or they got married and have kids and busy lives and they drifted from me, or have marriage problems, and they’ve drifted from me.

I placed 4 different phone calls on Monday.  I heard back from one and maybe, perhaps, I’ll get a followup call to schedule a park date….maybe.  Sigh.  It never used to be this difficult.

Many people might be happy to have one or two close friends. I had 4 really intimate friends, and a handful of relatively close but not completely confidante-type friends when I worked.

I had a VERY active social life. I was uber-connected to people. Not shallowly either, because that’s not how I am.

And now…I rarely see anyone and I have trouble making new friends from the pool I have to choose from around here.

I was recently told that one of my dear friends wives is intensely angry at me for interfering in their marriage problems. But I had a very good reason to. Now I stand to lose the friend I’ve had for 21 years!

But hey…there’s a new consignment shop that’s opened up…and I’m wanting really badly to go browse it.   Maybe I’ll find some new stuff I didn’t have before.

Sigh…

However, I am also a “messie” type of person, and a small house with inadequate storage, so I have to be aware of what I bring in and how it gets used. Sometimes things that seem like a good idea at the time do not get used for how I intended it. So it adds some clutter. Which then overwhelms me, then I jump on the old internet, seeking to connect with someone…and forget internal and external chaos of my inner and outer worlds.

And on top of it…the clutter keeps me from asking my daughters’ friends over.  My oldest daughter’s friends, a boy, commented once “boy, it sure is messy here”.  I was extremely embarrassed (but have I changed things since then? um….not really).   A little too hyper-focused on intellectual pursuits to keep up with the house.

I fear I am a closet hoarder-in-the-making. No…not that bad…really, I promise. But like the anorexic feels she’s fat, so too do I feel I am a hoarder of sorts.

And this deeply conflicts with my values to live simply, and the painful awareness that I have that consuming stuff is part of the collective problem in the U.S.

Am I much better than those who have shopping addictions even though I might pay 1/10 the cost of something?

I am aware of these things.  I just am not sure how to fix them.

And then I look at that house that was destroyed in the TN flood which was a wonderful house I’m sure – one I would have loved to have (because I love the idea of it but not the environmental and financial burdens a large house would be) but could not afford…and think of all that is lost…that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

I know that stuff can be a poor substitution for people.

But you know your “stuff” can’t hurt you like people can.  Your “stuff” won’t leave you.  Your “stuff” won’t find a better owner.  Your “stuff” won’t yell at you. Your “stuff” waits patiently for you to give it time and attention and will not make you feel guilty for neglecting it (too much, anyway).

I’m not close with my mother’s side of the family – my sisters and brother and mother and step-father.  Loyal ?  Yes.  Close?  No.

My friends were my family growing up.

I have a wonderful relationship with my step-mother and father, and some great internet friends but they are hundreds of miles from me.

The fact that I can’t be with the people I love because of circumstance and distance is agony sometimes.

Yes, really.  That much.

And sometimes…the “treasure” hunt, helps allay some of that deep pain.

In the dubiously “famous” words of “Dr.Phil” *groan, roll eyes*, I need to “get real” about some of the obstacles I place in front of me and try to figure out how to deal with the emotions I feel.

On the one hand, it was suggested to me that it might be helpful to compartmentalize.  And the other, it was suggested compartmentalizing is one of the sources of the disconnect between people.

And here I am, suspended between two opposing views…

Um….

Can you say “analysis paralysis”?  Yes, boys and girls, I knew you could.

Yes, I know.  I should be working on this, not blogging about it.  But it IS cheaper than therapy.  And I need some accountability.

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