Starting your life over after fleeing abuse means that you are literally starting your life over from square one after abuse. I had nothing but a few bags full of clothes and prized possessions. This was very upsetting in many aspects, but also provided me with an opportunity. It gave me the opportunity to start over from square one. I had nothing but a few bags full of clothes and prized possessions.
I know, redundant, but hear me out. With only having a few things to my name, I could create a lifestyle and home that I really cherished. Did I want to start an eclectic home, rustic, traditional, modern, go minimalist, be extravagant, have all new things, have all collected previously loved items… what did I want?
Over the last few years, I have really been interested in minimalism and have been actively purging my belongings. Sometimes out of my own personal want and gain, sometimes the gain and want of another. But that’s beside the point. The point is, starting my life over was literally the fastest and best purge I’ve ever done in my life. Minimalism has never been so easy to jump into after growing up with a family who has hoarder tendencies.
When I was a teenager, the first real devastating death in my family happened. My Great Grandma Evelyn died. Sure, there were other deaths in my family before hers, but it was my GG’s death that really threw my whole world upside down and caused me an unmeasurable amount of grief.
Quickly after her passing the whole family drove up and met at her house and started to clear out her home for an estate sale and eventual real estate listing that was to come. It was a rough yet pleasant time. I got to see so much of my family that I never got to see, and everyone all at the same time! It was a family reunion that had us all laughing and crying for nearly a week.
As the great-grandchildren were also helping with the organizing to sell, we also had the opportunity to preserve our memories by taking items to start up our future homes when we move out of our parents’ homes.
I took many things, from her dish set that I’d asked for when I was a little girl, to water pitchers to oven mitts and her beautiful hand-painted pictures. There was so much stuff, and I wanted to keep it all. But I also wondered, why did one little old lady need this much stuff? She couldn’t have possibly used it all.
This was also my thought when I helped someone else prepare to move a few years later. This woman had a living room set stacked on top of a set she was currently using in her small one-bedroom apartment. Seriously, her little home was stacked floor to ceiling. Don’t even get me started on the expired food in her kitchen.
This brings me to my own parents. I wouldn’t want to call my own mom a hoarder…I think she’d prefer to be called a collector. If you know my Momma Bear, you’ll know she’s a fan of a famous mouse called Mickey. Also, she throws up Christmas when December comes around. Did I mention that she loves to collect blankets and plastic containers and cleaning rags and cups and… well, the list could go on.
So you see, there are several generations of influence that has set me up for a life of just not having enough space for all my stuff. I like stuff, it’s comforting, it reminds me of home.
Putting a Stop to The Cycle
It wasn’t until I moved in with Gregory’s father that I realized that I had also taken on the hoarder gene. I had kept so much… crap from my childhood and had to pack it all to someone else’s house. I realized that having so much stuff makes your house look like it’s crap. Because it is indeed full of crap. Not literally, of course. But seriously, I hated all the crap in our house.
This brings me to me starting over with nothing but a few bags of clothes and prized possessions. What were these possessions?
- Gregory’s baby box
- My Baby Blanket & G’s Button Blanket
- Family Photos
- Important Documents
- Camera & Accessories
- Broken Laptop
- A few of Gregory’s small Toys
- A few books for Gregory
- Moms Bead Box
- Grandma Faye’s Cookbook
- Grandpa Tom’s baby Silver Cup & Spoon
- Great Grandma’s Paintings
Thankfully me starting over didn’t require me to move out on my own immediately. Could you imagine going into a new rental space and realizing that you can make your house look pretty with paintings and photos but can’t sleep, eat, cook, or sit on a couch? I am lucky to have an amazing support system that includes friends and family that provided me a place to stay until I could gather everything I needed to move out into the world on my own with Gregory.
Gathering Things to Move Out
The basics were easy to think of, yet the most expensive to come by.
- Dining Table & Chairs
The rest was easy to think of and cost a lot to buy, when you add it all up.
- Pots & Pans
- Plates & bowls
- Cooking utensils
- Cutting board
- Other kitchen gadgets
- Toilet plunger
- Toilet bowl scrubber
- Hand soap and toiletries
- Bedding sheets & blankets
- Fire extinguisher
- First aid kit
This list went on when you wanted to get into the minor details. I had nearly a year to get myself sorted, and sorted I got, slowly.
Getting Sorted through Depression
I quickly realized when I had to buy all this stuff, that I didn’t want to. I put off buying things and prolonged this getting sorted stage because I was depressed and dealing with the fact that I just walked out of my marriage and became a single mom. I spent a lot of time zoning out and turning to Netflix and Youtube to pass the day and be somewhat entertained.
This actually turned out to be the start of me getting sorted; me being all depressed and becoming a couch potato. I would watch documentaries that would start to inspire me. YouTube videos that would introduce me to new ideas. I learned about minimalism, becoming environmentally friendly, becoming less wasteful, how doing these things can help your standard of living and self-esteem.
What Is Minimalism?
According to The Minimalist at www.theminimalists.com Minimalism is…
… a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.
You see why I took to this kind of lifestyle. I have listened to many of their podcasts over at the Minimalist and it makes sense to me. Plus, as a person suffering from mental health struggles, freedom from worry, guilt and depression sounds like the perfect way of living that I want to steer towards.
I won’t be a perfect minimalist, I may, but I don’t think I will. And that’s okay. My idea is to implement it into my life as thoroughly as I can while staying to true to myself and what matters most to me. So I won’t be one of those people who only have 100 items to their name.
Current Minimalist Lifestyle
So, here I am, well over a year since I restarted my life. Gregory and I have lived on our own for almost 6 months and I’ve got to say, I love my little bachelor suite built for two. It’s not as minimalist as I want it, but I am making progress.
I know, I started over with nothing and I’m not minimalist? How did I suddenly end up with too much stuff? It’s not that I suddenly somehow become a hoarder and have ALL THE THINGS. I’ve just got a great support system in place and have tons of help getting back on my feet. This has lead to Gregory and I accumulating a bit more than someone who would be considered a minimalist. We don’t have tons, but we have more than enough.
A Minimalist Lifestyle
So this is where I am in my minimalist/eco-friendly lifestyle journey. It’s been quite fun so far, and I am very excited to continue to learn more and keep myself surrounded by things that I love and are useful to me. I struggle with minimalism when it comes to Gregory, but what parent doesn’t want to give their kid the world?
Please share some minimalist tips in the comments if you’ve got some suggestions for us new minimalists. And if you’re not a minimalist, please continue to check back and join me on my journey to becoming a minimalist. I really hope to gain more focus in my life and more love for my surroundings. I want my home to be my sanctuary, and I’m thinking if I’m more minimalist than not, I just may be able to create said humble abode.