I do not fall into the 'hoarding' category, in fact, I detest clutter. I do not tend to hang on to useless items, and I don't generally become emotionally attached to my belongings. I am quick to donate, toss, or recycle items as often as I feel the urge. I don't necessarily feel the need to keep things because they were gifts, and my feelings aren't hurt if someone doesn't feel it necessary to hang on to gifts I have given them. Maybe this sounds crass, but I tend to cherish memories over belongings.
Clutter makes me nervous. In my own house, it makes my palms a little sweaty, my heart pound a little faster. Clutter makes me feel like my life is out of control, disorganized, a mess. I can't concentrate or breathe well when I am surrounded by an overabundance of, well, junk. I tend to feel like if everything is in it's designated place, then my life is in control. That's not to say that everything always go back into the same place, I am a continually rearranging drawers, furniture, fridge magnets, and whatever else I can get my hands on, so that I can achieve organizational utopia. Of course, I know that life with a little one (and a husband and a dog) gets messy -- and babies come with an enormous amount of toys, clothes, bibs, cups, etc. -- but I prefer my mess to at least be organized and in one designated area.
My husband would be quite the pack rat if I let him (which means I throw things away when he's not looking), and he would prefer that everything be out in the open, in piles, where you can see it, so you know where to find what you are looking for. I want things neatly stored away behind doors and in drawers, each item with others of a like nature. My empty hangers are stored (and color coordinated... no I'm not kidding) in the spare bedroom closet. My son's books are organized from tallest to shortest. Even my toaster is stored out of view when not in use, it drives me insane that I don't have enough cabinet space for all of my items to go into organized hiding. Believe me, I know this can be irritating. But my husband has gotten used to it and frequently asks questions like "okay, where's the toothpaste this week?" (for the record, it's always in the same cabinet).
This closet makes me drool.
I totally understand not wanting to constantly vacuum or dust or fold laundry -- I mean, where's the fun in that? But I guess what I don't understand is not being able to throw things away. On Hoarders, many of the featured homeowners have experienced devastating loss (of a spouse, child, parent, etc.), and just can't bear to lose anything else. Some have come from poverty and having loads of junk makes them feel like they've overcome their past. Some have come from such horrible poverty situations where they had nothing to eat, so they can't bear to throw away food, even if it has spoiled. I suppose I can understand some of that. But what I can't get is how it gets so bad. How does it get to the point of having only a small path available to walk and only one seat to sit in? I don't understand why it's necessary to keep every book, every gift, every paper bag, every button, every hat, every coffee cup, every purse, every pen, every envelope, every Chinese food carton, every expired prescription, every paper your child ever drew on, every magnet, every Christmas ornament, every tacky heirloom, every empty cologne bottle, every everything. It seems incredibly greedy to me to keep all of that stuff and not use it, when someone else may need it.
I am well aware that my generation is very 'throw away' minded. And I hate that. I feel like this mentality makes people toss away good things, including friendships and relationships. It's not great to throw away everything you don't love, but it is a good idea to donate and recycle things that may be useful to someone else (plus it's a tax write-off). You can also have a garage sale to reduce your storage of junk, and possibly make a few dollars. In your closet, if you haven't worn it in 3 seasons, put it in the 'go' pile. In the kitchen: broken, useless, or taking up too much room...it goes. It may be good to recruit someone who isn't emotionally attached to your belongings to help you sort and decide what to get rid of and what to keep. Think about what is really necessary to keep and what you could live without. Getting rid of junk could get rid of sources of conflict in your marriage. Getting rid of junk may make you finally able to breathe deeper and relax.
De-clutter your surroundings. De-clutter your life. And remember... you're In Good Company.