September 29, 2013

A Recovering Hoarder: On Letting Go (of People). ~ Eleanor Goold

I have a confession to make: I am a recovering hoarder.

This means I acquire and keep things that are no longer of any use.

Even as I child I would forever be stuffing old clothes and broken toys into already overflowing cupboards. Unfortunately, this unappealing habit has followed me through a large part of my adult life. Not only have I kept things of no value or use, but when we recently moved, I found things in our loft which I didn’t even know I had.

I fear I have also done this with certain people and situations in my life.

I have allowed some individuals to remain part of my life for fear of how my life might pan out without their presence. I did this even though I knew deep down they were not only not enhancing my existence in any way, but were actually having a deeply negative impact on it.

I recently found myself in a social situation where someone close to me was adding no positive input at all. In fact, they were doing quite the opposite. I always felt on guard and tense in their presence, as if I had to justify my actions; I never felt relaxed in their company and their lifestyle and attitudes did not resonate with mine.

Where once there may have been a connection, this had long since passed. But being the hoarder I am, I didn’t want to just let go.

I wanted to cling on to some false hope that all would be well and that a shared blood line would save the day.

So when it all turned a bit messy, meaning I was no longer happy to be on the receiving end of their constant criticism and passive aggression, and they were no longer happy for me not to defer to them in all situations, I found myself at a very low ebb.

I was sad and hurt because I had lost from my life someone who was once very dear to me.

This transition from loved one to stranger has been a very hard and bitter pill to swallow, but slowly I have come to accept what is. In times like this there is no point in continually mourning what one has lost. I appreciate that self-reflection and sadness is a very natural process that needs to be experienced, but only for a short while. We must not let it consume us.

Eventually, we must learn from the lessons we are being taught.

We must be grateful that the person or people were in our life, accept their gifts and yes, move on.

It wasn’t until I was changing some rooms around in our house that I truly appreciated how this dark period in my life was actually a brilliant opportunity to redefine my life and progress ever upwards and onwards.

It so happened that the room we were using as a bedroom no longer served its purpose— it was cluttered, at times uncomfortable and certainly not functioning the way it should.

It was dead space.

This led us to having a clear out and really redefining our space. Although some items of furniture were difficult to move, and effort and patience were required, the end result was liberating.

After a bit of a clean up, I really began to feel I could ‘move ‘again.  The mental blocks had been cleared.

It was not until this defining moment that I appreciated how free and happy I really was.

And this is exactly what I had done with my life: I had unintentionally cleared out the deadwood. Before this, I had felt like I was being carried downstream in the rapids but holding on to an old branch in some vain hope that the branch would somehow reverse the flow. Of course it didn’t.

To heal, I had to go with the flow.

From this experience I have learned that sometimes it is in the open spaces that we can begin to feel more fulfilled, free to move and express ourselves. I have learned not to be afraid to shed old skins or have a clear out. Not only is it natural and necessary, but it can also be hugely empowering and liberating.

If you find yourself with people in your life who no longer add any value, or make you feel negative all the time, then do yourself and them a favor—let them go. 

Don’t be a victim of the situation. Be the enlightened student. Be the tempered steel.  Move on. Move Up. Get rid of the ‘space invaders’ and set yourself free.


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Assist Ed: Julie Garcia/Ed: Sara Crolick

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Eleanor Goold