I don’t know how it happened.  All I know is that what started out as a casual and fun adventure, suddenly grew into an obsessive love affair that I carried on for over 30 years.  I thought I had it all under control until I woke up one day and realized that I had been lying to myself.  For years, I had convinced myself that there was nothing wrong with my love affair but there was.  It was taking control of my common sense and it was time to end it.  Would I be able to?  Thirty years was a long time.  I had a lot of memories tied up in this affair.  Because it was so obsessive, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to say goodbye.  All I knew was that the time had come to bite the bullet and put an end to it once and for all.

During the past 10 years or so I tried several times to end this love affair.  I really did,  but then I’d see a picture or hear a familiar voice and I’d be reminded of all the joy my love would bring.  Before I knew it I was right back to where I was, obsessing over my love.  Who was I kidding,  I had no real intentions of putting an end to it.  I was hooked and I would probably remain hooked unless by some miracle I came to my senses.  That miracle happened a few weeks ago.

As some of you may know by now, I decided that as of 2020, I was going to surrender a lot of my old ways.  I was growing tired of holding on to many of the unhealthy things that had been plaguing me throughout life.  While I was able to control a lot of what I carried,  most of it was unnecessary to hold on to.  Little by little I was able to let go of the effects they had on me.  It became very liberating.  The one thing I just couldn’t let go of was this ongoing love affair.  To put an end to it was like ripping my heart out.  I was afraid that saying goodbye would mean saying goodbye to my joy as well.  I wasn’t sure I could handle it.

As luck would have it, I woke up one morning and decided it was time to part ways.  I took a deep breath, pulled myself together and proceeded to say goodbye once and for all.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, after all there were so many memories attached to my love.  

The first thing I had to do was admit that my love affair was obsessive.  Was it?  Yes, it was?  The next thing I did was ask myself was it necessary?  Maybe at one time it was but I could see that I no longer needed or wanted it to consume me.  The last thing I did was detach myself from any hold this unneeded relationship had on me.  I forged ahead, grabbed my trash bags and began to free myself from my obsession.  Yes, I confess, my love affair was with stuff.  What did you think, I was having an adulterous affair?  Do you really think I’d confess that in a blog?  You’re right, I probably would, but not in this one. ha,ha.

30 years is a long time to have a love affair with stuff.  Mine was extremely obsessive.  What started out as simple little shopping sprees turned into obsessive, compulsive, organized hoarding frenzies.  If it was out there, chances are I had it.  Even if I had no need for it I probably still had it.  I loved stuff.  I loved admiring it, buying it, sometimes actually using it, storing it neatly away and I especially loved giving it away.  If you came to my house and saw something you liked or needed chances are I might have another one stashed away somewhere.  You stood a pretty good chance of leaving with that item or anything else I thought you might like.  If I didn’t have a duplicate lying around somewhere, I might purchase another just to give away or I’d make a mental note of who liked what and down the line I’d offer it when the time was right.  I love the joy I feel when I give stuff away.  It’s as though a piece of me goes with it.

Now I’m also a realist.  I know that some of the stuff I give away might be taken just because I’m giving it away.  While that may tug at my heart I accept it.  I much prefer that what I give is used lovingly but that’s another thing I have to let go of.  I like bringing a little joy to people’s lives so if in that moment they smile then I’m happy.  I also know that my behavior and thought process on why I do what I do can become toxic and out of control.    

In what I have given away over the past 30 years, I could have furnished, cleaned, had all the utensils, dishes and pots to cook with, not to mention decorate for every season, another large house.   I could dress, accessorize, with jewelry and handbags and even send people on vacation with the amount of luggage I had.  Did I mention I don’t travel?  There was no feasible reason for me to even own luggage but I had over thirty pieces.  Are you feeling my obsession?    One would think I’d have empty space lying around after giving so much away.  One would be wrong.   I do not.  Every inch of space is full to its capacity. If I saw an empty spot, I felt the need to fill it.   Why?  Because I LOVE STUFF!  When I have no more room for stuff, I by stuff to store my stuff in.  (George Carlin did a great skit on stuff.  If you have never seen it, YouTube it.  It puts it all in perspective).  

Back to ending my relationship with stuff.  I grabbed those trash bags and started weeding out treasures I was holding on to.  They were my treasures, who was gonna appreciate them more than me.  They held my memories no one else’s.  Sure my kids or granddaughters might want a couple of things but certainly not everything. What was my need for holding on?  No need.  As I sorted through things piece by piece I felt a surge of freedom as I said goodbye.  I no longer needed to hold on to everything.  

Slowly but surely I am removing my stuff and the attachments I had to them.  I’ve donated or given away things to people I thought would enjoy them.  The standing joke is if you need something, come to me first.  I just might have it and I usually do.  The pickens though, are running low. 

My hope is to only keep what’s visible and then to slowly begin to part ways with that as well.  That part may take some time.  My obsession with buying stuff is coming to a surprising end.  My common sense is finding its way back to me.  Most importantly I haven’t lost my joy.  I plan to buy only what is essential from now on.  No more casual shopping sprees that can turn back into an obsessive love affair.  There’s just no need anymore.

To all my fellow lovers of stuff who are caught in your own obsessive love affair, take it from me, ending the obsession is such a liberating experience.  Believe me, if the queen of stuff can do it anyone can do it.  Not only does it declutter the home but it frees us from the burdens that haunt us unconsciously.  Deep down we know sooner or later we are going to have to tackle the most unnecessary, time-consuming, frustrating job we’ll ever have to do., ridding ourselves of unnecessary stuff.  We can’t hold on to things forever.  Whether it’s material stuff or emotional stuff, do yourself a favor,  invest in trash bags, close your eyes and do it.  You’ll be glad you did.

Bye, bye you thirty-year love affair.  Hello, peace of mind.  Next step, developing a love affair with cleaning.  Yeah, right!   That’s one obsession I’m sure I’ll never have.  

Debbie Arace

Married 44 years to my hubby whose purpose in life is to prevent me from getting through the “Pearly Gates”. Mother of two, Nanna of four loving granddaughters and retired secretary aka administrative assistant. I went to the University of Hard Knocks where I received my Doctorate. My thesis is titled: How To Survive Life’s Trials Without Killing Yourself or Someone Else. I live by the belief that when life throws you a curve, learn from it rather than use it against yourself. Faith and humor are my survival kit. Appreciate the simple things for they are the true treasures of life.

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