Memorabilia, stuff associated with your past history, is loaded with emotional energy. Most people avoid clearing memorabilia. I find it in bags and boxes stuck in my clients’ closets, drawers and attics. I think memorabilia is avoided because people intuitively know if they start going through it they will mentally and emotionally review and re-experience feelings associated with their history.
Because everyone’s history was probably a mixed bag, filled with positive and negative memories, touching things that hold those memories will likely stir up a variety of feelings. Even though much memorabilia brings back positive memories, I think it gets avoided because mixed in with the things that bring warm memories and smiles to faces are things that stir up uncomfortable feelings like sadness, loss, regret, longing, and disappointment. That’s why memorabilia often stays in bags and boxes to be dealt with later.
I recently helped a couple tackle THAT room over their garage. It had been
a dump spot for decades. I was invited to help them get unstuck. The room held memorabilia from both sets of their parents as well as memorabilia from their own family and miscellaneous other things that had been dumped there. No wonder they were stuck! Everywhere they went they were going to run into something that would stir up feelings. And, everything seemed important, which made making decisions seem daunting.
Where to start? Some of the memorabilia had been there since 1995. It had grown roots! And, to make things more difficult, much of their memorabilia was small (like photos, letters, etc.). It’s easy to get overwhelmed when the quantity of little stuff seems overwhelming.
As I looked around the room, I looked for a place to start clearing. I was searching for an obvious block that if cleared would make further clearing possible. The best thing to clear would be something sizable, that if cleared would show real progress had been made. My eyes were drawn to a portable clothes rack right in the middle of the room. It was annoying because it blocked a view of the whole room. I asked permission to begin there. My client agreed.
When I consulted my client about the
contents of the rack I learned that it held the clothes of her mother who is declining with Alzheimer’s and dance dresses that had been used by her granddaughter. Both types of clothing were heavily charged with emotional energy, particularly the energy of loss. The mother’s dresses brought back memories of the way her mother was, how different she was than my client, and how different her mother is now than when she wore those dresses. The dance dresses harkened to a fun time in her history with her granddaughter, a time that has gone by.
The clothing held pieces of her mother’s and her granddaughter’s stories in place, and it also help the energy of loss in place. Touching and making decisions about those items stirred up feelings associated with those precious stories. My client shed tears as she described her mother to me. Those items had been stuck on that rack for years because it was easier to ignore them than deal with the uncomfortable feelings that they would stir up.
After telling me the stories associated with the clothing and wiping away
her tears my client decided to donate all of the clothing. Once the clothing was in donation bag and the rack dismantled, we were off and running. That rack was a block to getting started clearing that room. Once that block was removed and those first tough decisions made, my client was able to more easily let go of many more items rather quickly.
Do you have a memorabilia block? Feelings can hurt, but being held hostage by the fear of feeling uncomfortable feelings can keep you living in chaos and unable to get on with your life.
Take a deep breath. Tackle your memorabilia block. Then enjoy the benefits of releasing feelings that were anchored by those old things, and watch your life start moving again!