What is it with aspergers and things? Why do I get so attached to stuff, and end up hoarding? And, let’s face it, some of the stuff is useless, and cannot be classed as having sentimental value, or any other kind! And yet I still do it.
I didn’t realise that I did it until fairly recently. I thought that I was rather good at clearing stuff out, and keeping my home clear of useless clutter. I hate clutter, and chaos, and yet it seems to regularly follow me around, and I’m always amazed when it happens! I don’t mean to do it!
I have learned to override my instinct to hoard, and throw things away, otherwise I would now be living with piles of boxes, not to mention carrier bags, glass jars, papers, clothes, and just general miscellaneous bits and pieces for which I can find no use, but am loathe to throw away “just in case ...” Just in case of what? That there might be a sudden world shortage of cardboard boxes exactly when I really need them? Or, perhaps, all the carrier bags in the world suddenly become an extinct species?!!
I had a clear-out the other week and discovered, to my complete surprise, that the “few carrier bags, glass jars, and boxes” I keep, to be re-used and recycled, had somehow multiplied when I wasn’t looking: it was like they’d mated and had off-spring! I decided to throw most of them away, with the helpful guidance of my NT friend who told me what was a reasonable amount of carriers to keep, and talked me through whether I really needed the boxes and the jars (the answer was no!)
And then came the hard part – actually discarding them! It was like pulling teeth, or losing an arm: “Couldn’t I just keep these three jars that are really nice to look at, and which I’ve had for ten years, but not actually used, but if I try hard I’m sure I can find a use for them now that there’s the threat of having to get rid of them, PLEASE?!!” “And I really like this particular carrier bag, and that one, and that one is useful for heavy stuff, even though they’ve all been stuffed in this bag with the rest and forgotten about, and never used either, OH PLEEAAAASE?!” And the boxes: “I might move ... in a year or ten! Or the thing that came in the box might break down, and then how do I send it back? Okay, so most of them are for things that are now no longer under warranty, but they could be really useful ... Oh, okay, I’m just stalling for time!”
It’s weird, isn’t it, how attached to things we get? And try explaining that to a neuro-typical. Hell, try explaining it to yourself!! I’ve used the good old stand-by of it being because things, unlike people, can be depended upon: funnily enough I’ve had two computers conk out on me, not to mention hi-fis giving up the ghost, washing machines dying, lawn-mowers fizzling to a halt, etc,etc. And that’s just the major appliances! But the idea that they don’t require any emotional attachment from me is quite bonkers considering that that’s exactly what I do end up becoming – emotionally attached! And that’s even to the bloody carrier bags!
It’s worse when the thing I’m trying to let go of is something that has been of real use and value to me, but has now come to the end of its life – for that I feel almost as if I am abandoning a faithful old companion! I bought myself a new yoga mat a few weeks ago. I’ve had my old one for nearly seven years and I desperately needed a new one. I was very excited to get the new one. However, I am attached to the old one and was loathe to just throw it away in the dustbin: it just seemed so callous! If it were possible I would probably have a burial ground for all the things that I have to get rid of, and give a funeral service!
So anyway I put it away, with the idea that perhaps it might come in handy for something: I could use it for when I travel (er, “when?” being the operative word!) so that I don’t lose or spoil the new one. I told my friend. She told me I was hoarding again, and to throw it away. I dithered, but in the end I did it. I know she’s right, and I really don’t want to live in a house full of clutter so I know I have to keep on throwing things away when they are of no use, despite what my strange mad asperger’s voice tells me, and despite the peculiar feeling of loss I experience every time I have to get rid of something.
So basically I have come to the conclusion that I don’t know why I do it, I just have to accept that I do. And then I have to decide whether I want to keep on doing it, and risk being pushed out of my own home by piles of rubbish accumulating, or to change the behaviour. One thing I do think is part of it is that I have great difficulty in distinguishing between what is and isn’t important or of value, and so I have the fear that if I get rid of something it will turn out to be the very thing that I needed at some point in the future. In order to curtail this possible eventuality I then just want to keep everything. Fortunately I have been blessed with a friend who helps me with this stuff so I don’t have to struggle with making those kinds of decisions by myself. But even this does not explain the weird emotional attachment business, and perhaps nothing ever will. As the French might say, “C’est l’aspergers!”
"Do you believe in Magic?" asked Colin.
"That I do, lad," she answered. "I never knowed it by that name, but what does th' name matter? I warrant they call it a different name i' France an' a different one i' Germany. Th' same thing as set th' seeds swellin' an' th' sun shinin' made thee well lad an' it's th' Good Thing. It isn't like us poor fools as think it matters if us is called out of our names. Th' Big Good Thing doesn't stop to worrit, bless thee. It goes on makin' worlds by th' million - worlds like us. Never thee stop believin' in th' Big Good Thing an' knowin' th' world's full of it - an call it what tha' likes. Eh! lad, lad - what's names to th' Joy Maker."
From 'The Secret Garden', by Frances Hodgson Burnett
"There is no way to happiness - happiness is the way."
The Dalai Lama
"If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything."