Monday, June 23, 2008

Is It Just A Man Thing..??

When John & I moved in together and relocated to Queensland we had some difficulties with the carrier that came to collect our container. Originally we had specified a date, then five days before hand they phoned and said that they had to pick it up in two days.

So 5pm on Friday was it...!!!

Two days...!!! That was three days earlier than we had you know how much can be achieved in three days of packing up a house..?? My house was already packed and vacated, most of our things safely in the container. I was exhausted after doing that single-handedly, and hadn't quite planned on having to pack up John's house too, most of which hadn't been done. He has so much "stuff"...accumulated over many years and most of which never sees light of day. It was hard work, really hard work and we were just exhausted. John has moved many times in his life but has never moved himself, a removalist has always done it so he really had no idea of how long it was going to take to pack.

Lunchtime on Friday comes and we had measured out the container and found we had a place for everything we wanted to take...fantastic.

Well, it was fantastic until the carrier showed up at 2pm instead of 5pm as arranged. The container had to go. We ran like lunatics to throw everything into it that we could...the driver was getting impatient and very antsy as he was due to be elsewhere. He showed us his manifest and sure enough, it said 2pm for our pickup...tried to phone the office but no joy, they had gone for the weekend it seemed. Eventually we could fit no more in the container, none of it was packed as we had arranged and we could not fit it all in...had we had the time to pack it properly it wouldn't have been a problem. Thankfully we remembered at the last millisecond to throw the trolleys into the container.

There was some kind of elated relief as the container disappeared around the corner leaving the detritus of our lives spread across the front lawn. A few calls later and we had a storage locker close to John's house so the next day or two was spent doing a final pack up.

Of course this left us with a problem...where to sleep..?? Kids were all deposited at their respective grandparents homes for a few days farewell visit and John and I hightailed it down the highway to Melbourne to stay at the Sofitel.

Reception staff were taken aback when we arrived to check in...we were filthy and I'm sure we didn't smell too good either. It had been a stinking 37C degrees (that's 98.5 for those still on the Fahrenheit scale). It was utter bliss to walk into our room, the cool of the room was just heavenly. A long bath with a gin & tonic in hand was the order of the day for me, then dinner at the restaurant while watching a storm roll into the city from the 52nd floor, just stunning. I loved that man so much for thinking ahead and making the booking...we had 3 nights there. We worked hard during the day at the house but to go "home" to the Sofitel and it's amazing view was just heavenly.

Fast forward 18 months to now...

Our things in storage arrived this week...we decided that yes, we would get them sent here and not have to pay storage fees any more, probably a fiscally prudent decision.

John started unpacking it on Saturday and my mostly tidy home just disappeared under piles and piles of John's lifetime of accumulated "stuff"...there is no other word for it, well, no other nice word for it anyway. I was too overwhelmed with the piles of it to do anything to was just taking over. I'm struggling with his need to hang onto so much of it, it's an aspect of his make-up that I haven't encountered before. John is (usually) a very practical, no-fuss's part of what attracted me to him...this just seems to fly in the face of that.

I understand that he is probably hanging onto a lot of it for sentimental reasons. For those of you who don't know, John's wife (and the boy's Mum) died 11 years ago...I have to be respectful of that but still...this goes waaaaaaaaayyy beyond that. I don't know what will happen to it when he is no longer on this planet, I can't see the boys wanting any of it.

I feel very overwhelmed, very much like my home has been taken over. Matilda commented last night that she felt like she was living in someone else's house (but was referring to our changing the living room around). She nailed it in one does feel like I am living in someone else's house. We talked last night about new curtains for the living area...need a trip to Spotlight to choose fabric...might also sew some cushion covers for the floor cushions and do a trip to Ikea for some bits & pieces to "lift" the room.

Meanwhile, I'm still coming to terms with the hoarding and inability to get rid of things. Is this a "man" thing..?? Do women do it too..??

Can anyone shed any light on the subject...if so I would be most grateful.


Tracy, mom2many said...

From what I have read and experienced it is something common among males, although my grandmother is a champion hoarder. For the boys, it's easy, I just give them a shelf and a special box. When those get full, they must purge. It gets a little tricky with the husband. Our worst fight was over a shirt too small for any of our children that said "this ain't no wiener roast"(his brother had given it to him in high school). I threw it away, apparently I should have had it auctioned at Christie's or at least framed and hung. When we need to purge the house now I get boxes and go through everything. If we don't have a place or a need for it, I put it in the boxes. He has 6 months to go through the boxes and the ability to take anything at all out of them and save it. If he hasn't in 6 months, they go off to whatever facility is appropriate. He also sees that I am as ruthless with my own stuff and I try really hard to put as much of his special stuff on display as possible. I want this to be his space too, I want him to be visible in our home but we have 10 people in 1700 sq ft. It's either 200 Keyboard magazines or one of the children, we can't keep both.

Chris is actually relieved when I purge his stuff once he realized I was going to be fair and respectful about it. It just overwhelmed him to think about purging it.

Good luck, this is one of those relationship milestones. Navigating it can be tricky, messy and may take a while but it can work beautifully.

kate said...

I am the hoarder in our family so yes, it is women too. But actually i have gotten a lot better in the past 8 years. Before we moved abroad, our attic was so packed that the ceiling was literally coming down in our bedroom. But i was forced to get rid of most of it (sentimentality notwithstanding) before our move & it felt really good after that was done. So i have been trying to keep it down to things we *actually more-or-less need* ever since. Our home now has a full basement so it is still pretty packed but at least it doesn't intrude on our living space. Without a full basement, i would have to rent a storage space.

Since he didn't go through it before the move, but moved all the stuff instead, i think you are mostly stuck with it. I think you might just have to rent another storage space.

Lynda said...

I agree with Kate - get another storage space - it's worth the price!

Lissy said...

I get scared I'll turn into one of those old ladies on those reality shows where the ambulance officers have to smash through walls of old papers & clutter to find the patient?

Since David has been unwell & I attended a Quest for Life Program (& reading through FlyLady tips) I think I am getting much better & throwing out so much stuff...I mean, how much STUFF do we need? & if I don't look at it or use it regularly - why am I keeping it? If it doesn't make me happy why is it stuff in a box?

David has a clean up in January - even the garage & was ruthless. It was scary - I thought one night he would turn into a total minimalist & there'd be ONE CHAIR in the lounge room with nothing else!!! Ha ha!

It must be hard when it is someone elses don't know what has sentimental value & what doesn't. Must be very hard.

Love you Kerrie, you are a gracious person!!!

Lissy said...

I didn't re-read through those comments...hope it makes sense...I guess you get the gist.

“I've been getting rid of some clutter — anything that doesn't serve a positive purpose in my life — and making room for things that feel happy to me. Because I get to make my life whatever I want it to be. I get to make the room feel however I want it to feel. I get to make the closet as full or as spacious as I want it. And, if I have more clutter to get rid of after Christmas, I'm not going to wait a year, or two or three to do it.”

Jan Denise