Some time ago, I wrote a post about my fear that one day my collecting tendancies will lead me to follow in my mother’s footsteps and become what can only be known as excessive hoarding. I wrote about my box full of empty card boxes and packs and my struggle between wanting to hold on to them for some sentimental value (a fairly clear early warning sign of hoarding) and my logical wish to just throw it all away. Someone commented that I should tell myself that I can do it, set a future date when it is going to happen, and then tell someone else my plan that can keep me accountable.
I often thought back on that advice in the months since that original post. Due to my fairly busy schedule, especially between Turkey Day and New Years Day (and the inevitable tax season that follows), I didn’t feel comfortable setting a date in stone because somehow I believed that if that date came and went without me throwing the stuff out, it might never happen. So I kept myself open to the “next time I have a few free hours and feel inclined to go through everything”.
Well, after some hesitation, that day came last week. It was a normal week night and my wife was at work. I had just sold a patch card on eBay and needed to find my really thick toploaders to mail it out. When I couldn’t find them right away, I once again had that thought of “man, I really need to organize all of this stuff and throw away my unnecessary junk someday. Someday. Someday… Wait, what am I doing tonight?”
And with that, I ripped into the large box that had recently become a mixing pot of all of the non valuables (read: all non-card materials). Without wasting time to allow myself to become sentimental, I started breaking down boxes and throwing out stacks of empty packs. I was going great, although I had to force myself to break down the cool boxes from stuff like Topps Luxury Box basketball and Playoff Absolute SSD football, until I came to my retail box of 1997-98 Skybox Z-Force basketball. It was full of individual and well opened packs from my childhood. As soon as I saw it, the quest to remain unsentimental was destroyed. I quickly decided that I would allow myself the guilty pleasure of keeping just one well opened (you know, when you are able to just barely split the top of the pack?) pack per product (or two plus a flattened box if it was a set that I hand collated so that I can put them into the set binder). But that’s it.
When I was all done, I had an extra large trash bag bulging at the sides with flattened boxes and styrofoam and a waste can full of empty packs and filler/decoy cards. I waited to throw them into our large trash can until the next night when I could show my wife that I was finally taking the step I told her I would take several months ago.
She was proud of me.
And I am proud of myself. It is a GREAT feeling to be able to get my entire collection into the bottom of the closet in my man cave. Before, I could get most of it in there but still had a massive CRT monitor box full of junk, most of which is now the property of my garbage collector.
If preventing a hoarding tendancy is another 12-step program, I have got to be on step 7 by now. And that is really encouraging.
If any of you feel like you have a similiar problem, really question yourself why you are holding onto the things you have accumulated. Ask yourself honestly if you miss them if there were gone. Talk to someone you trust (a spouse, sibling, close friend) who can appreciate your struggle but who does not share the same struggle (that is huge! My wife has seen the results of my mom’s hoarding so she can appreciate it, but it is not a struggle for her at all so she is able to be my voice of reason when it comes to questioning if I should keep or toss certain items). Develop a plan that is productive yet attainable. STICK TO THE PLAN. Do not be the stubborn person who refuses to part with your garbage. Take a stand. Scream if you must. And do something you can be proud of.