Why do we all want stuff? Barely anything is essential. Most of what we own just collects dust. After a while we forget about it, get bored of it, or we just need the space for something new so we chuck it out.
I’m guilty of this gluttony. I want things I don’t need. If I had loads of money I would probably have a big house filled with possessions. As a rule, these days our bank account is empty at the end of the month. Sometimes it is more than empty. A fact I try to ignore, but that gets a little more worrying each time our rent goes out.
Having minimal cash means I’ve got quite good at not wanting. As a natural cynic, it was quite easy to train myself into anti-capitalism. When I watch TV the adverts make me angry. Which is totally hypocritical as I’m one of those pointless marketing people. While my job is utterly meaningless, it is all B2B, so I get solace from knowing that I’m not conning any cash-strapped consumers.
When I was in Canada, I went to a mall after Christmas to get a few things I needed in the sales. There were literally hordes of people, flocking to the shops to perform what looked to me like Supermarket Sweeps (retro shop-based gameshow, Google it). They were just grabbing armfuls of stuff like looters. It was obscene.
I’ve made a big effort to un-clutter my life this year. I think having a breakdown expedited this process. I stopped being sentimental about anything from my childhood. I threw almost all of it out. I wonder if I will regret that one day if and when I feel more at peace with my past. But it felt good. It felt like purging. I could only see the horrible abuse and aftermath when I looked at those photos, drawings and keepsakes from when I was little.
Today we almost completed this task. We had some boxes and random stuff in our basement we’ve been planning to deal with for a while. It seemed to grow like weeds the longer we procrastinated. Eventually there wasn’t room for the ‘maybe’ boxes anymore. So we spent the whole afternoon sorting, bickering and getting rid of things. I wanted to use our basement as a gym for a while, and it’s satisfying that I’ve got that all set up now.
Although I have a car full of stuff for the charity shop, I feel like our life is more streamlined. We’re not tied down by a mortgage anymore and we could easily move home in one van load. I love the mobility we’ve gained.
The crappy thing I’m left with though is knowing I can’t dispose of memories. It doesn’t matter how much I physically throw out, I still can’t change how I feel. There are photos I can’t look at, but I know them. Most of them have gone in the bin, but I can still see them. I know those moments happened.
Almost every time I try to shut down at night I see his face. My brother, my abuser, aged just sixteen. That face haunts me. I want to smash it, I have bloodthirsty fantasies about beating the shit out of it. Not the man he is now, but the monster he was then.
I want so badly to carve him out of my story, but he’s still there. He still frightens me in flashbacks. I hear about him through my family. And I wish he had never existed.