Our two-year-old has been prancing around the house with her arms full of toys lately. Yesterday she looked at me and said, “I love my stuff.” She paused and then said, “I love your stuff, too, Mommy.” Endearing.
This morning while pretending her shoe was an airplane carrying her pig and his multiple drinks, she said to me, “Look at all my stuff!”
Just what am I creating here?
Last night as I was getting ready to bathe our daughter, D. made a romantic gesture by bringing champagne to the bathroom, offering me chocolate, and attempted to join bath time. I, realizing it while it was happening, had an inappropriate reaction. I was psychologically unprepared for the shift in plans, unable to accept the kind intention, and became uptight about the whole thing. I tried to make it work but could not handle the shift in the ritual and offered to get out of the bathroom. Instead, D. left, and we ended up drinking the champagne, each on our own.
The anxiety at the loss of control startled me. It’s just a bath, after all. It’s the kind of feeling I would have had at age 18 when my days were rigidly structured and any variance left me out of sorts. I’m not certain when the structure began for me, but it was at its height from ages 15-18 when my morning routine was chopped into 15 minute blocks, and I actually watched the clock to make sure I stuck to the schedule. 15 minutes for a shower, 15 minutes for hair and makeup, 15 minutes for coffee and breakfast, 15 minutes for bible reading and prayer, 15 minutes for… and out the door to school which was equally rigid in structure.
Change had to occur when I got to university where schedules vary greatly from day-to-day. The transition was hard on me in a number of ways and I cried myself to sleep more than a few times because I knew I didn’t have time to fit in the studying or sleep that I needed. Today I live mostly without an alarm clock, my schedule still varies daily, but I still have certain rhythms and habits I like to protect. What I didn’t realize until yesterday is how important some of those rituals still are to me. Our daughter’s bedtime routine is like a hameau de paix or a peaceful lull for me in which we play, talk, and cuddle before going our separate ways. It’s as much a part of my schedule as it is of hers.
I cannot authoritatively comment on the links between ritual and hoarding, but I do know that both schedule and stuff cooperate and intertwine to hold my world together. They both serve as anchors, points de repère, that guide me along, especially when I’m feeling lost or forget what I’m supposed to be doing. The challenge is to find coping skills when the other patterns get disrupted. Time, unlike my stuff, is always with me, but I clearly need more flexibility so I can appreciate and enjoy the lovely surprises around me.
Posted in hoarding identity
Tagged anchor, anxiety, bath, champagne, control, love, pattern, rigid, ritual, schedule, structure, stuff, surprise, time
This is the first rose D. ever gave me. I apparently preserved it in this baggie with a romantic post-it note he gave me and I randomly found it yesterday when looking for the missing piece of the rug. At least I’ve found my missing piece.
Yesterday we took several boxes and bags full of books, CDs, and DVDs to Hastings and came away with about $140 in cash for objects we no longer intend to keep in front of us. While walking through the store, D. and I had the same sort of impression. “Look at all of these books.” This type of place used to be a haven for me and books were and are precious objects of love. But all of this seemed like an unnecessary remnant of the past. I couldn’t help but imagine all of those books annihilated in the coming years, as everything becomes digitalized.
Of all my hoarding tendencies, collecting books is the worst. I accidentally purchased two copies of the same book from amazon.fr recently – a book no one but me will ever want to read in this part of the United States. I buy books almost compulsively because I need them for my research, I forget to read them, and I refuse to let go of them because I may really need them for my research. No Kindle or iPad can save me, yet. Small French publishing companies are fighting the “good fight” to stay alive and pressing the government to disallow e-books that might put them out of business. Larger companies like FNAC, however, are slowly coming to my rescue, and many Harmattan editions are available digitally.
Still, my books, the physical objects, remain. I am strongly attached to their presence and I refuse to let go. They will comprise the largest part of my moving expenses as I happily accept to sleep on the floor or use a cardboard box as a temporary table. I refuse to live without my personal library.
Posted in hoarding identity
Tagged attached, books, cash, CDs, digital, DVDs, FNAC, French, Harmattan, Hastings, library, love, objects
Yesterday I began to upload footage shot on mini-DV cassettes in 2005 and 2006 onto my computer. The most important parts, or at least what I remembered being there, were from a trip to Senegal in 2005.
Confronted with the images from my past, I first felt twinges of nostalgia for countries where I’ve had both love and joy. The shaking of my unprofessional hand, and the spinning images taken from inside a car as we drove by a baobab forest, however, left me somewhat nauseated. I had attempted to capture every moment, so as not to forget. Hoarding memory. What I remember of Senegal is quite different than what I see on that film.
And then the camera turned on me in a very long scene chronicling family visitation in the hospital after my nephew’s birth. My discomfort and pleasure holding the infant was apparent on my face and in my voice. It pained me to watch myself look up at the cameraman, my ex-husband, to ask him to take a picture. I saw how I looked at him like a child who needed to be ordered around. I saw in that brief moment the child we did not have together, that I miscarried. I heard his uncertain voice, tentative, like always. And then I easily edited him out of the footage. I removed the clip of me looking up, and I saved the film to give to my step-brother for Christmas.
What I remember of that day is nothing compared to the laboring over the film – the time it took to upload and the multiple trips back through it to properly edit the files together. My memory is now altered, skewed, and preserved differently, for me and for my family. My account, now fiction, is about to be disseminated as truth; yet, it feels more honest not to share that exchange of glances and few words that were likely unheard the first time.
Posted in memory hoarding
Tagged baby, child, discomfort, exchange, film, hoarding memory, love, memory hoarding, mini-DV, Senegal, view