My Possession Obsession Confession

Stuff. We’ve all got it. Big stuff. Small stuff. Old stuff. New stuff. Practical stuff. Why do I have that stuff. And I think it rules our lives more than we’d like to think.

I remember when my ex-husband and I bought our first place. It was at the same time that we were getting married, and we went from a small two bedroom/one bath duplex unit to a large, new construction two bedroom/2.5 bath condo. My biggest problem? The bathrooms. Two and half? I was both ecstatic and stressed about the possibility. We had been living together for four years already, but there we were registering for bathmats and soap dispensers.

When we moved from there, it was into a much larger (and older) house. However, we downsized in the bathroom department. Larger house, more bedrooms, one bathroom. What’s a girl to do with all her bathmats and soap dispensers in that scenario? Box them up and save them, of course, “just in case I need them”.

Many years later, we divorced and there was the inevitable split of possessions. Did I even know where any of those damn soap dispenser were? No.

Life events like a divorce can provide a great kick in the ass to getting rid of stuff you no longer need. You realize what you no longer need/want and, when the other person doesn’t need/want it, either, it’s easy to toss. Years after the divorce, though, I’ve been confronted more times then I would like with stuff that has just been languishing her for years.

To be clear, I’m nowhere close to being a candidate for the show Hoarder, but I do suspect I would have made a great Depression-era wife. A collection of unused candles (because what if the power goes out)? Check. An overflow of unused ornaments (what if decide I want colored lights again)? You know it. A plethora of paperwork from as far back as 1994 (I have no reasonable excuse for this)? I could wallpaper the entire house inside and out with it.

My live-in boyfriend has been amazing about it all. He’ll look at a box sitting in the corner of the guest room and ask,

“What’s this?”

“Umm…just a bunch of random stuff.”

“And do we need it?”


“This coupon in here expired in 2005.”
– uncomfortable silence –
“Does the box have to live here?”

“Mmm…I guess not.”

Thanks to his help, I’ve purged a lot of unnecessary crap. And that’s just what it is. Unnecessary. And all that unnecessary crap takes its toll on a person’s psyche.

In 2012 a team of researchers from UCLA published a study wherein they observed 32 middle-class Los Angeles families. One of the most compelling findings was that, in 100 percent of the families, the mothers’ stress hormones spiked during the time they spent dealing with their belongings. 100% 

And I know you’re relating to this right now, too. You know the box(es) that’s lurking in your garage/closet/spare room. You’ve quit seeing it for so long now because, when you do, you just get this overwhelming feeling of dread. I felt feel that way, too. Yes, I still have boxes. Sometimes it’s emotionally exhausting to go through it all. But one by one, they’re making their way to the thrift store or the garbage can. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I no longer have to keep the copies of cell phone bills from a company that no longer even exists or the Christmas ornaments that haven’t seen the light of day in over ten years.

“…in 100 percent of the families, the mothers’ stress hormones spiked during the time they spent dealing with their belongings.” Your home should be a place of peace. Your refuge. Your place to let go of the stresses of the day.

Do you want to reduce stress in your life? Start at home. What kind of stuff are you hanging onto that you’ve closed your eyes to? Pick one box, one stack of papers. Don’t worry if it fills you with angst. Just do that one. That’s all you have to do at a time. Believe me, from the now confessed possession obsessed, the release and peace you will recognize after the unnecessary is gone from your life is palpable.

~ Karen



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