Things don’t make me happy.

I don’t need … things to make me happy.  A nice quiet place to unwind at the end of the day, beautiful views, a few good friends.  What else is there? ~ Nicholas Sparks

I chuckle as I look at the beginnings of this post.  First the title approached me all on its own.  Days later I found this quote which seemed to support the title.  Then I remembered Dr. Seuss’s “things” and I couldn’t resist bringing them along.  I think they lend levity to what could be a serious, even heavy, topic.  My love of Dr. Seuss grows day by day.  Who else has consistently encouraged children (and their parents) to make up a word that sounds right when you can’t think of an appropriate, existing word?  Love it!

Back to the topic at hand.  For several months I have been thinking about my years of accumulating “things.”  Why did I ever imagine I needed so much stuff?  And why do I keep things I no longer use? (I can honestly say I’m making progress on this one.)  When I moved here I was aware that one person didn’t need this much space but I  needed room for my stuff.

I spent a great deal of time alone when we lived in the mountains and I often got very lonely.  I would go shopping just to get out of the house.  And the house was so big that I could always find a new rug, a piece of pottery, a painting to enhance its appearance.  I occasionally bought clothing, but more often it was something for my showplace of a house.  It’s as if I were trying to fix a gaping wound with a band-aid.  (I got that last sentence from my oldest daughter.)  There was a hole in my soul and I was trying to fill it in all the wrong ways.

Now as I sift through my belongings I feel sad, embarrassed, greedy, overwhelmed, selfish.  I could go on with the adjectives without even consulting a thesaurus.  Suffice to say I don’t like who I was, but I’m now making positive changes.  I cringe when I think about those years and realize I could have been supporting several third world families on the money I spent on stuff.  What was I thinking?!

So here I sit in a house that is less than half the size of the previous one, yet it’s still big enough for a family of five or six.  (Talk about a carbon footprint!  Egad!)  I’m trying to bide my time until the real estate market rebounds so I can sell this place and find a more appropriate home.  I try not to think about the fact that the money could have been better invested since I truly believe I did the best I could under the circumstances and given the emotional trauma and pain I was in at the time.

I think I’m finally on the right track.  I consider very carefully before I buy anything.  I make better choices than I once did.  I don’t buy things for the house.  The house and I are becoming happier as the clutter decreases.  They say that it sometimes takes a jolt, a shock, even a tragedy to force a needed change on some people, so I guess they’re talking about me.  As I inch toward the person I really am, the person I’m meant to be, the trauma and pain continue to diminish.  One day, maybe I’ll be able to look back and thank D for this divorce.

Writing this caused me to cry a little, but not too much.  And now I feel better.  If you’ve read this far, thank you.

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27 thoughts on “Things don’t make me happy.

  1. Hi Tara. Do you know that you were the very first blogger to comment on my ‘brand new blog” way back when? You have a sweet spot in my heart just for that, but for other reasons as well. I remember over the months how often I thought, after reading your posts, that you clearly had your head on straight. (That’s an old-fashioned statement and I don’t know if it’s used these days.) I’ve admired your intelligence and your open-hearted kindness toward your stepsons and your ex-husband. When I first read of this latest speed bump, my heart ached for you. It still does. I say all this in order to say that you are wise beyond your years and I have great confidence in your ability to “find yourself.” As one wise old gentleman said to me after D left, “Some things just take time.” A cliche, I know. Just know that I’m pulling for you and cheering you on. Here’s a giant hug! Pat

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  2. I like this post… Just tonight, I was inspired to write about the emptiness in my life.

    I’ve always been somewhat of a packrat… I liked to collect and acquire. When I was younger, it made me feel grown up (when i was 12 i started collecting things for my first apartment). When I was married, the stuff gave me a sense of purpose… a sense of duty to maintain the home.

    Currently, I find myself with a deep desire to shed everything. I took no furniture when I left BF. I bought myself a twin-sized bed and 2 chairs (used, $20 for both). The less encumbered I am right now, the better… The clutter disrupts the clarity, and right now I really need to find myself.

    Best of luck to you as you do the same.

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  3. Regardless of the motive behind the shopping, look at the result. Besides that, you could afford to spend the money. If the things surrounding you now bring you joy, then sit back and enjoy them. You deserve to be around things that brighten you life. If they remind you of troubled times, get rid of them (sez Ms Simplistic Busybody).

    I know that you have actually lived the little saying I always kept on my desk. “The most important things in life are not things.” I know that the things around you never once became a priority in your life, no matter why you went shopping.

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    • Very eloquently put, Ms Simplistic. A lot of it still brings me joy, enough so that I hope the girls will want some things. If not, that’s okay. I guess I’ll figure it out gradually. I don’t have to rush into anything.

      Have a good weekend. I’ll be in ILM with the girls.

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  4. I read this far.

    When I was a teen, my mom got so sick of me living Spartan, she commanded me to have at least a mattress in my bedroom. I was so frustrated with her edict, I decided I’d put other stuff in there, too.

    I’ve tried to live very minimalistic most of my life, but life since my son was born feels so, so cluttered. We get rid of a couple of bags of clothing and miscellany only to bring it what feels like three more.

    Still, I am careful to consider my part of what comes in. We have more than enough already, and all the visual “noise” makes it hard for me to hear what’s real.

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    • Thanks for reading “this far,” Deb.

      I’m fascinated by your comments. Do you know what made you a minimalist in this consumerist society at such a young age? Maybe you’re just smarter than the rest of us. I find it refreshing and great news for your little fella. He will learn (is learning) early on what’s really important.

      You’re a wonderful girl, Deb. I can call you “girl” because I’m more than old enough to be your mother. 🙂

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  5. Hi, Pat,
    —you are such a wise woman.

    Less is more.

    I ‘ve discovered this much more after my sister…..

    One’s soul is not satisfied with “Stuff.” It is satisfied with memories, love, family, friends, poetry, & God.

    Did I say LOVE?!

    Xx Kisssss. xxx

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    • Thank you, Kim. You’re very wise, too. And as I said in a comment above, you got there earlier than I did.

      You did say love…and friends. I’m spending this weekend with old friends. Trying to take care of the important things.

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  6. There was a time when I could afford to buy anything and everything I wanted and needed. Now that my life is the complete opposite of what it once was, I realize that “things” do not matter in the long run, it’s people, love and family that do. I now focus on making memories with my kids, instead of buying memories…

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  7. I remember a time when my closest friend was “embarrassed” because she spent “too much” on a dress. (A classic, tasteful. well made dress, mind you, that could last forever and never go out of style.) She could afford it for the first time in her life, but it just didn’t feel right to her. I think I see that girl coming back to us…..

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  8. Hello again Pat. For years after my husband died I collected things. I think it was to fill a big hole in my life. But then when I downsized for the third (or was it the fourth) time since he died I decided to get rid of the surplus stuff. And I really felt much better after I did so. So now I have a small 1914 cottage for my small dog and me. No room even for visitors to stay the night – second bedroom acts as study.
    And please don’t beat yourself up about the way you used the money. It was there as a tool when you needed it. 🙂

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    • Hi Judith. Someone told me recently that it’s called “retail therapy.” Makes sense as it serves to temporarily ease the pain. Your cottage sounds just about right. I could use the second bedroom for my sewing machine.
      Thanks for your reassurance. It’s comforting.

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