So this is my true confession #1 of psychological obstacles that keep me cluttered and disorganized.
(Please don't mock me. This is close to my heart.)
I never really thought I had a great need for abundance—and I still don't think I do. What I have is a fear of scarcity. Especially when it comes to consumable items.
I believe I get that from two main sources:
- While I grew up in plenty and never knew what it meant to go hungry, my mother grew up in the Depression. Her family really struggled for the basics. She knew what it was like to be really poor. I can remember her saying things like, "We better stock up, just in case we can't ever get [whatever] again." I also know that she has a hard time throwing things out because you "never know when you'll be without and wish you had it."
There were also all those starving children in China/Africa/Russia that I needed to worry about. That stale bread I want to toss might mean the difference between life and death to them! So because I can't toss it due to the huge boatload of guilt it causes to do so, I keep it until it's too moldy for even starving children to eat. Then I throw it out. (Multiply this by every single food item in my house.)
And it's not just food. It's everything! For example, I can't throw out a used file folder that is bent in half, with very rubbed edges, a small rip at the bottom, and a suspicious looking watermark on it. There are poor people all over the world who would love to have it! Someday I might be one of those poor people wishing I had even that poor excuse for a file folder to put my papers in.
My DH is not very helpful with this because he was very poor growing up, as well. He has some issues with hoarding. (I can see his issues because they're not mine. Funny how that works.) He doesn't like to throw anything away. He'll even eat the moldy bread! (Not really.)
Therefore, it's very hard for me to throw things out. I keep imagining situations in which I might need the item in question in the future and that I'll sorely regret tossing it now.
- My religion. What? What does religion have to do with it? Well, my church believes in Provident Living. (Yes, we capitalize it.) We believe we should have a year's supply of needed consumables, just in case. It's what God wants us to do.
And He wants us to raise our own food, sew our clothing, recycle old clothing into new items, and generally be wise and judicious stewards over the world's resources. So throwing out anything that could be reused or recycled—by myself or by starving children wherever—is tantamount to SIN in some circles! (Or at least, to the committee that lives inside my head.)
Also, I can't even count the number of times I've heard this quote during General Conference or in Sacrament meetings:
"Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.
(There are times when I really hate the person who coined that phrase.)
And while I agree with this in theory, do you know how dangerous it can be in real life? I have cabinets of cleaners and cosmetics that I've bought and tried but can't use myself for one reason or another, yet I can't just throw them away because that would be wasteful! Someone else might really appreciate them. And that's just one example!
Oh, and I thought of one more thing that falls in this category. I have this huge collection of books, teaching supplies, arts and craft supplies, toys, games and other items that I hold onto even though my children have outgrown them. I keep them because:
What if the world falls apart and we no longer have access to these wonderful things. I want to be able to have them around for my grandchildren or neighborhood children to use. I mean, all my neighbors are stockpiling food and clothing, but what about the arts? Literature? Emotional needs? How will we teach our children? Who is thinking about that?
Is that totally crazy? Am I just insane? Or do other people think about these things?
Some of this sounds really ridiculous. I mean, really.
And yet, I still feel incredible guilt over this whole issue and I don't know how to get over it or past it or through it or whatever. I don't know what God wants me to do—and that's very, very important to me. Do I collect books because He has inspired me to do so? Or because I'm nuts? Would He rather I do something else—like share them now? How do I know?
The thought of doing something "wrong" completely immobilizes me.