…are made of this?

How do you keep your memories safe?

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding And The Meaning of ...

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding And The Meaning of Things (Photo credit: Earthworm)

I started watching The Hoarder Next Door on telly last night, about five minutes before Lovely Boyfriend phoned for our nightly chat. One woman was obviously incredibly emotionally attached to her hoard, getting upset to the point of tears over an old, cardboard tissue box. I mentioned this attachment to Lovely Boyfriend, stating her argument as to why she hadn’t wanted to throw it out.

Now, LB is the least hoard-y person I know (apart from books, but I can’t argue with that one, having more than my fair share of them myself!). But the woman’s argument – that they didn’t make that pattern of box anymore – resonated with him. If it were his favourite tin of tobacco, he might be tempted to retain one or two for memory’s sake.

This led me to think about my “hoard” of memories underneath my bed. I have:

  • one box full of medical stuff – notes from my therapy sessions, books on BPD, records of appointments etc.
  • one box full of stuff from my children – blobby paintings, tissue paper flowers etc.
  • one box full of my stuff – notes from Lovely Boyfriend, letters from my Nan, theatre tickets and programmes etc.
  • One box full of my old school reports, photographs etc.

Memories (Photo credit: Prathima Pingali)

When the boxes start getting too full, I go through them and clear them out. It’s easier with The Porglet’s stuff, because there are only so many blobby pictures you need, and if I can’t remember which child drew it, or I can’t decipher what it’s supposed to be…choice made. But it’s harder when it comes to “my” stuff. My memories.

Photographs of me growing up, for instance. My Mum gave me a pile more this month and they’re waiting for a scrapbook. There are dozens of them, because my Dad loves his cameras and was always taking photographs. On holiday, dancing competitions, days out…all recorded for posterity. Do I throw some of them out? I mean, how many photographs of me in a kilt do I need? How many pictures of me on holiday?

And then we have the certificates and school reports; records of my achievements over the years. Do I really need to keep my Grade 1 piano remarks? My Primary 1 school report?

photohoardThe answer is that I don’t need to keep any of it. But I want to. I like photographs of me as a young child, because I’m smiling in them. My memories of my childhood tend to be negative (sorry, folks!) because that’s the way my BPD-brain stores information. So it’s nice to have proof that I wasn’t miserable the whole time. Besides, if I put them all in a scrapbook, it takes up hardly any space at all…

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with forming emotional attachments to stuff. It’s keeping it in check, I guess, as with everything in life. My memory, however freaky it can be (remembering names from holidays of 25 years ago), will start to fail me at some point. Both my grandmothers have suffered from Alzheimer’s.

And it’s also about making sure you keep your emotional attachments to the real stuff. There’s no point filming your daughter’s first birthday party for posterity if it means you don’t actually get to take part in it. There’s no point in appointing yourself “official photographer” for a night out, if it means you’re only observing the occasion, rather than participating in it.

So – I’ll keep my photographs and certificates for now, with all their attached memories and emotions, but I’ll also make damn sure I form some real emotional attachments to life as it happens.

camera madness

camera madness (Photo credit: deepwarren)


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