I’ve been a hoarder my entire life, as far back as I can remember. Of course, it undoubtedly has to do with the way I was raised - my mom doesn’t believe in throwing anything away. Anything that no longer serves it’s original purpose should be set aside, only waiting for a new purpose to appear. Sometimes it never does, and when that’s the case, that’s what the storage closet is for.
I personally have always been hesitant to put things aside, simply because of the memories associated with things. Even the most seemingly insignificant item - a straw wrapper, a crumpled receipt, serve as a souvenir obtained during this life journey. They serve as a reminder of the steps we took to get to where we are today.
When I was in high school, I read an article in a magazine about letting go of these seemingly “sentimental” objects, for the pragmatic reason of, well, not having loads of junk. One thing it noted was that we should keep the things that make us feel good, that remind us of happy times, that serve as a symbol of the successes and victories in life. Why keep reminders of our failures? I didn’t necessarily agree with this idea. After all, we are who we are not only because of the highs, but because of the lows too. It is when we fall and bruise that we become sculpted into who we are, right?
It wasn’t until more recently, when cleaning out my computer, that I began to understand this idea. There are so many traces of things I’d rather not remember - not because I want to deny that these things occurred, but because they impacted me enough while happening that the scars, while healed, won’t be going away any time soon. The lessons have been learned. There simply isn’t the need for me to be keeping around reminders of these moments in life - sure, I’ll slowly forget the details, but what I do remember is probably enough.
Maybe this applies to more than the old Christmas cards we keep at the bottom of our sock drawer. Maybe this applies to those things in life we just can’t rid ourselves of, even though they keep hurting us. The habits and relationships that we know are unhealthy, that we know we would be better off without. Yet we keep them around, out of comfort and routine, or maybe out of fear. Out of the fear that once we throw them away, we won’t be able to go back.
We don’t need to go back. The past so easily gets in the way, and maybe it’s time to make space to let the future in.