On the loss of all we owned, someone commented to me, “You unburdened yourselves.”
True, although not on purpose. A lot of stuff we lost is better off as ashes, probably. I wouldn’t have chosen this method of decluttering/downsizing, but it worked. I don’t have to read that two foot high stack of magazines. We don’t have to sort through those three boxes of old financial information in the office. John doesn’t have to make files for that stack of stuff on his desk that he never knew what to do with. We don’t have to clean out and organize the garage. We don’t have to clean the house from top to bottom. I won’t have to stress out over where to put out all the Christmas decorations and it won’t take any time at all to take them down and put them away on Epiphany.
This forced unburdening gives us an opportunity to reflect on our relationship to stuff and how we want it to change or not going forward. And it’s confusing. John and I talk about it a lot. Are we supposed to be learning some kind of lesson from this? Is it wrong to like having things and to be attached to them? Should we buy as little as possible? We are both feeling reluctant right now to get attached to anything. Should we replace things–books, for example, or collectibles? Or should we get all new things? If the book isn’t the book I always had from my childhood, or the one that belonged to my grandmother, would it even be the same? I have spent so many hours sorting through the clothes that we saved over the years–culling the best garments, sorting them by gender and size. Since in retrospect all that time was wasted, does that mean I shouldn’t have been doing it in the first place?
So far, I find myself trying hard not to care about the new possessions we are acquiring. I let other people arrange my furniture. I told my sister to decide what pictures looked good where. I let a friend organize my entire kitchen. I look around this nice house filled with unfamiliar items and feel more like a lucky guest at a great hotel than someone in her own home. I feel afraid of committing myself to buying things that I might actually come to care about.
Is this a healthy detachment from material goods, or is it a symptom of trauma?