Illadelph Bass-Life: Emotional Hoarding

by pronounced "ahhh" like a sigh

I’m a pack rat. I keep everything and anything because I think, “I might need this one day. Someone might ask me if I still have it and I need to say yes.” Does anyone ever ask? no. Do I ever end up really needing the stuff I keep? Not really. Sometimes a line from an old poem might be useful for a new poem but most often, I could up with something else fairly quickly and easily. I don’t really need all the things I keep.

This weekend, my brothers and my dad, cleaned out the storage closet in the basement. There were all kinds of things in there. A few of the items though long forgotten, were necessary storage, like the box filled with old vinyl records (Original Thriller album!!) and the barely used indoor grill. But most things (all my “stuff”) were just useless. A bag filled with old, unopened bills. A box of old clothes that even if they fit, I wouldn’t even think of wearing again, every laptop I’ve ever owned since 1999, a manila envelope stuffed with photocopies of old (terrible. awful. hideous. nauseating) prose and poetry. I can’t even tell you what else.

Looking at about 10 years of my life scattered all over the basement floor, I started thinking, “Why the hell did I keep any of this?” I’m sure at the time, I had a good reason but standing here ankle deep in old papers and “stuff”, I couldn’t think of one. I found the cord for one of the laptops and plugged it in. Interested to see what I was writing about during that time. I found a journal folder that I was keeping and read a few of the entries… is it possible to suffer second-hand embarrassment for yourself? Because I could barely read it, my eyes kept skipping down the page and scrolling, it was that humiliating.

I started thinking about all the things that I “keep” not just physically but emotionally. I’m carrying around guilt and shame from things that happened months and most often years ago. I’ve apologized and atoned and asked for forgiveness from the people I hurt (most of them) or upset but I realized that I hadn’t forgiven myself. Whenever I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see me, I saw “the thing I did” even if that “thing” wasn’t my fault or couldn’t really be helped. I’ve since done that and I’m much happier and at peace for it.

One of these days, I’ll get into hypomania, today isn’t that day.

I’m an emotional hoarder. I hold on to the slightest feeling or sensation or memory for dear life even when it only makes sense to let it go. Or if it wasn’t even really that important to me in the first place. I acknowledge that at the time, I didn’t “really care” but all of a sudden like a random hail storm, I’m bombarded by thoughts of a situation or more often a person or people. It’s annoying at best. It’s crippling at worst. Crippling might be a bit dramatic. What I mean is that out of nowhere, I’m gripped with this one thought and I analyze and turn it over in my head. Remembering every single detail down to what I was wearing on day one up until the last time. I’m not sure why I do it. I could be in the best possible mood (like I am now) but start to worry about something that I can’t at all change or fix or even just simply pick up the phone and say, “Hey, I was thinking about you. I thought I’d call.” The reasons I can’t do that vary from the person no longer being with us (RIP Peter) or the situation resulting in lost contact  and phone numbers have changed and emails seem cold and impersonal and honestly, I have no idea what I’m calling or emailing to say.

Today, I got an text from a number I didn’t recognize. I won’t tell you the area code and for some strange reason, I thought it might be from someone I haven’t heard from in awhile and I got a little excited and started to smile wondering if it was from this person. I texted back, “I’m sorry. This number isn’t saved in my phone. Who is this?” I was in the middle of class. The kids were reading over their plays but I kept picking up my phone waiting for this answer. When I got the text back about 5 minutes (felt like years) later, it was from someone I went to high school with that I randomly ran into a few weeks ago and I was disappointed. Not just “Oh that’s too bad.” disappointed but full on, “Wow. I didn’t realize how much I missed *insert name here* disappointed.” About an hour later, I got a missed call from a number in a different area code and again, without my permission, I let my mind say, “Maybe it’s from *insert number here*.” I caught myself and tried to talk myself down but when the voice mail indicator came through, I realized that I was holding my breath again. It was a fact checker from Glamour magazine calling to make sure that my quotes and bio were accurate. And I was disappointed. Not sad or heartbroken or even that troubled just… disappointed.

There’s no way to fix this. I really honestly wouldn’t try. I just need to “clean house” without benefit of Niecy Nash and learn not to hold onto people and emotions and memories that don’t move me forward. They only seem to hold me back. It’s crazy because sometimes, I can walk away and not look back and forget I knew certain people (blame my teflon heart) but others stick to my spirit like glitter and magic and all I can do is miss them until I stop. And even if it was for just a short time, they were there and I remember. And I need to find a way to stop. Period.

Eternal Sunshine Of the Spotless,