“Keep, toss, van, storage.” I woke up chanting this litany and can’t seem to get it out of my head. The past week was an intensive clinic of going through all the stuff one accumulates after forty-some years of living, not to mention the fascinating accoutrements that come with raising a ten year old. There will be a boxes in storage devoted entirely to My Little Pony, dinosaurs and Doctor Who. At least the older one has his stuff back east.
I thought I had gone through the “hard stuff” and that what was left would be easier to pack. Instead I discovered I can spend an hour staring at my desk and not understand what I truly need. Stamps? Envelopes? Note cards? My fantasy of “Toss it all!” Was brought short by several discoveries of items that I wasn’t really *seeing* anymore. That funky paperweight? A first or second grade project, carefully wrought in clay and painted creatively by small hands. Not disposable. My ubiquitous collection of tins ended up revealing an astonishment of trinkets and treasures all to be examined and agonized over. Look, our sticker collection! Hey, haven’t we been looking for this thing? Shouldn’t we be keeping that stuff?
It was a nightmare.
I cried several times and literally ended up walking away flapping. I’m sure my sisters and brothers on the spectrum will relate to this, although it’s far from a usual stim for me. I’m more of a head-bopper, so I guess this was an improvement. I would love to tell you I was able to fight the good fight and push through, but the fact is when my friends came to help yesterday the desk was still sitting in disorganized chaos, and I could barely look at it.
The packing really didn’t improve after this. I had always believed I was something of a minimalist until I had to truly face my shoe, boot purses, and knapsacks collection. I know that my stockpile is *NOTHING* compared to some but damn, for living in a studio I have an impressive amount of accessories. My friend’s 14 year old daughter packed up my scarves yesterday and I’d swear I heard her counting under her breath in awe at some point.
Then there was my incredible assemblage of reusable bags, kept sorted by type and category. Insulated, non insulated, 100% cotton, woven recycled plastic, purse stuffers, large lined, small lined, nice promotional freebies, (not-so nice) cheap freebies, IKEA shoppers, Comic-Con swag grabbers… Bottom line is I was easily upwards of SIXTY. (I’m thinking we can fit three in the van. Maybe. But I really, really, really want more, like you know a good base of three cotton, one insulated, some little ones for other types of shopping and… Oh. Stopping now.)
At some point the apartment reached a “Piles” stage and stayed there. I didn’t die from shame however, because my friends and family know me very well. They walked in yesterday helped anyway without judgement or recrimination. In fact, I didn’t feel judged once, not even by myself. It felt wonderful.
I’m aware of being in the afterglow today and am trying to keep myself in its embrace. However I’m checked by the last memory of the day.
At the close of our evening, Ducky warmly said goodnight to the final two people to leave and then looked around quietly. Walking around together we paused at the space where his bed had been. I saw his face twisting up and asked what was wrong. He burst into tears and cried, “I can’t believe we don’t get to live here anymore…”
I held him and let him know it’s okay to be sad.* Then I tried to be cheery, speaking of adventures and the van (which he loves.) Next I reminded him that it’s not really anyone’s fault, it’s just business and no one is really out to hurt us directly.** I finally pointed out how wonderful it is that in spite of how awful things are, look at the wonderful friends we have to came to help. It was this final bit that brought him back. He sniffled and sighed, reminding me of a much younger self and then snuggled up to sleep with the dog.
After sitting with my evening tea, I realized that the inevitable is impossible to ignore with the evidence brightly glaring down. For him, the empty space finally made things real.
For me it had been the empty moving boxes piling up here and there.
I am completely powerless to alleviate any of this for him. The best I can do is to be a source of comfort and bolstering which is really hard while going through all the same feelings myself. Along with the incredible support I have from my amazing networks of friends like and family, knowing that you are reading this right now enables me move to the next indicated thing.
Thank you for helping me so I can help him.
*After giving him permission to be sad it is super important I not let him spin out of control. Right now meltdowns are just an inch away and as much as I would like to let him cry himself silly, that’s simply not safe.
**After realizing he was starting to feel victimized which gives him no power, I created a new narrative that helped him to navigate the feelings of loss without the terror of complete instability. I don’t know if it’s working as he still often speaks of the power dynamic between the rich coming after the poor but I prefer him to have a modicum of the idea that he is not being persecuted.