When I was little, my mom used to clean my room with garbage bags. She would go through and throw out everything that she felt I didn't need any more or was cluttering the place. Once, she threw out all of my stuffed animals at once, leaving a doll my grandmother made and a lion that she had made. Everything else was gone. She would purge my things every 3 months, when the urge to make me a better person in her eyes- i.e. a Sanitary person- struck, and she'd walk in with a trash bag and start working. The worst part was that if she was working this hard, we had to work hard too. She could not stand to see us just sitting there. But we could not help. We could not rescue our things. I say we, because this happened to my sister and my brother too, even though it was my room that she "cleaned" in this fashion most often. I felt paralyzed, because if I put things out of her reach, she got mad. If I cleaned something else, she got mad. If I did nothing, she would get mad. She would work herself to the point of exhaustion, and she would be angry, and I would be in tears, and it would be awful.
It's been, what ... 25 years or so since she last tried to clean my room, and thinking about this drives me to tears yet again. I have held onto anything and everything over the years, partly out of fear that some day she'll show up on my doorstep, garbage bag in hand.
This week, Jazz has taken the week off and is cleaning. The basement mostly, because he'd like to film there. He wants to paint while I run away to my annual family trip- paint the basement greenscreen green. This can't be done while I'm home, because I like breathing. But he is disappearing in the basement with garbage bags, and bags are piling high on the porch. I am trying very hard not to have hysterics, because I know that is pointless. There's a lot of shit down there (the basset didn't learn to ask us to be let out, and the Jack Terror went there often), in addition to decomposing boxes, strange moldy things, and disorganized wine racks that NEED cleaning. Honestly, I am grateful he is taking on this task. And I wish I could be more helpful. I did go to the laundramat with all of the cat/dog/couch blankets, and I am still tasting detergent. I do wish I could leave earlier so he could indulge in chemical warfare without my health worrying him. I know the house will be much nicer for all of this hard work- he's tackling the living room and entry way floor etc. while I am gone. But it's very hard for me to help.
I'm so neurotic at times. But at least we don't do this every three months. And I'm better now at letting go and paring down.