Guilt and sentimental attachment

One of the hardest things about getting rid of stuff I don’t use or need is that a lot of times, that stuff I don’t use or need was a gift from someone I care about and I don’t want to insult anyone by getting rid of things they gave me.

I’ve been carrying around a gorgeous glass chess set that my brother got me for Christmas when I was 12 for twelve years and I haven’t played a game of chess in probably five.  I just carry it around with me and stick it in a corner.

That’s just one example.

I have an old laptop computer my parents bought me when I went to college in 2006. I have every flower my boyfriend has given me, dried and in a vase and gathering dust because how on earth do you dust such a fragile item? I have ornaments and collectibles and stuffed animals and all manner of stuff and things that just get moved and organized from box to box, dwelling to dwelling.

But no more, I say!

I am taking an honest and frank look at the things I have.  And it’s hard, because when I start going through my Rubik’s Cube collection, my sister shrieks, “You can’t get rid of that one, I got that for you!” When I mention getting rid of things, my boyfriend comments, “None of my gifts, right?” When I purge my closet, my mother asks “Are you getting rid of anything I bought for you?”

I know I am not going to be happy in my new place if I have to take stuff just for the sake of having stuff.  What am I going to do with it? I have 500 square feet to work with, and that doesn’t leave a lot of space for knick-knacks and decorative items.  A few, yes.  All, no way.  I cannot fit those things into my new place.  My priorities have changed.  I want to live more simply, and I want to live for myself.  I feel like I have the burden of caring for other people’s gifts — things that I didn’t need in the first place and do not need to be happy — for the sake of the gift-givers’ happiness.  What’s up with that?

Side note: I am allowing myself one box of sentimental “stuff” that I am willing to store in my new place. One box.  If it’s too full, I will have to make some cutbacks.  In the box so far is a stuffed animal I have had since I was a child, a box of souvenirs from my dad’s travels to other countries, a baby blanket from when I was born, and some other things that I can’t remember and so probably don’t matter.

The purge continues!

6 thoughts on “Guilt and sentimental attachment

  1. Sky says:

    I’m with you, other people, especially family, guilt me into keeping stuff. I’ve started asking the gift giver if they want it back if they say something about me getting rid of it. They never do!! So, out it goes.

    • Caitlin says:

      Good policy! I have found that it’s mostly my own guilt attached to getting rid of things, though I find it’s easier to discard gifts I didn’t ask for over ones I did request. I feel like it’s more offensive to discard something that the person bought me because I wanted it… even though it may no longer fit my style or needs. Gifts are going to be hard!

  2. chrissy says:

    Yes, my mother in law does this, she is a hoarder, and is constantly giving us stuff, sometimes she is good and says if we don’t want it, give it back to her. But with other things, she sometimes asks where they are, and even get them for her to look at.. ARGH!

    I have thrown it all out now, if she asks for it, I say that it is in a box somewhere… nothing else I can do.

    • Caitlin says:

      It’s very hard! I haven’t had anyone ever ask where a gift was, though. I think people are just hard-wired to give STUFF. I’m planning on enacting a no-gift policy for Christmas, except some honest necessities from people if they ask. And if they don’t ask and just get me a bottle of body wash… then they can’t be sad if I donate it or regift it, because I never asked for it in the first place!

      Good luck with your mother in law🙂 and thanks for reading!!

  3. Samantha says:

    An old family friend would tell people who asked about gifts they had given to her that someone had admired it so much that she gifted it to them. Or that she had met someone who needed the item so she gave it to them. She always said this with a big smile on her face and a grateful attitude.

    If that person was rude enough to come up with more questions about it, she would say how **wonderful** it was that she was able to bring someone a little bit of joy in their lives because of your gift. And wasn’t that just fantastic?

    She was telling the truth. While she often gave her own stuff away, she also regularly donatedher gifts to church thrift stores. People she met would soon learn to buy her gifts that could be useful to someone down on their luck.

    A fine tradition that is carried on by many of us in her name.

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