Saturday, November 5, 2011
STUFF Part Two - What a Long Strange Trip It's Been
Now I look back and I see that I have sometimes punished myself by taking all my stuff away from me. I may have justified it one way or another at the time – but that is what I was doing. I do have those self worth issues of any abused child, and guilt issues of any sexually abused child. I’m working on it. I’m a lot better than I used to be, and at least now I’m self aware, or I try to be.
When I left the abusive first husband I wanted out so bad that despite the fact we had been paying for a house together for eight years, despite the fact that either I or my mother had bought most of the furniture and appliances, despite the fact that I had worked almost every day we had been together, bought all the groceries, etc. he convinced me I owned nothing and had a right to nothing and further more, I was going to financially ruin him if I left taking my income. So I also paid for the lawyer for the bankruptcy to get him out from under all the credit cards he used to buy stereo equipment (he was an audiophile), his car payments (I surrendered my car), as well as paying for the divorce.
He made about 4x my income, not to mention what he earned selling drugs. I left the house behind - as he told me he had removed my name from the deed. A few years later I found out he had not - by learning that "I" had a foreclosure on my credit record. Oddly, I could not rent an apartment. He moved to another state and bought another house in less than a year. I still have credit problems from the foreclosure. Go figure.
I left with my books, my music, my clothes, and my dog. In a car I bought for $200 cash. I moved onto a ranch, where room and board was part of my pay. (The Breyer horses had been given to a friend years before to at least keep them in the hands of a collector – her abusive husband had burned the house down around her ears and my precious Breyers were a big lump of plastic in a dump somewhere). As upsetting as that was, I was more glad that she had gotten out without injury.
Books are my vice. I ended up paying for a storage, which held mainly boxes of books.
Suddenly, I was free. I no longer belonged to an abuser. I was earning my own living (I had been since I was about ten, but again, it was a long time before I realized that) and had money to go party and buy just about anything I wanted. Face it, I was a stablehand and assistant trainer and I wasn’t even earning minimum wage – but to me, I had a fortune. I could come and go as I wanted, eat what I wanted, wear what I wanted, and I was working with horses - my dream. All my stuff fit in the small bedroom in a single wide house trailer.
When I felt like moving or got a better opportunity or offer somewhere, I tossed everything I owned into that little old truck and took off. I did it several times – maybe just to prove I could. I started dancing and was making a lot of money – most of which I spent on other people. But if I wanted to move cross-country, I just packed my books, my clothes, my pets, and went. I bought new stuff at the new place and also developed a fondness for tiny furnished all bills paid apartments.
I got married again – to the wonderful young man who is still somehow putting up with me. We acquired stuff. We added old cars to our vices. Old cars, books, and he started buying horse models for me, as well as dragons and some other stuff. Moving across country was still doable but tended to involve a Uhaul. Eventually moving the fragile china horses was a weeks worth of packing alone. I was still prone to jettisoning anything I felt we could buy new at the new place. I thought we had settled down a few times, but nothing quite took.
We made it a habit to go through all our stuff a couple times a year using the simple Louise Hay commandment - If you don’t use it or love it, get rid of it.
After packing and moving cross country several time, all of my collections were pared down to a few remaining very special individual units. I switched from collecting fragile figurines to stamps and postcards. Books were still a vice. We no longer had the income for the old cars. Art and hobby supplies were probably the most bulky stuff. I had even finally allowed myself to be dragged kicking and screaming into the computer age. Computers, I have learned the hard way, need to be jettisoned every three years or so and replaced anyway.
A few years ago we reached something of a point of closure - with his family, with my old career, with his job, even our lease was up on the apartment. We stuffed everything into a small car, bought a tent, and took off. We pointed the car south and west, seeking someplace warmer. We left behind a small storage full of books and art supplies, and some computers and a few collectibles. A laptop went with us in the car. We drove around the Southwest until we fetched up at a place we thought would do for a winter.
We are coming up into the fifth winter here now...
Later, when I got tired of the storage people’s constant bullshit, we went back and gave away an entire SUV full of books, tossed the majority of the art and hobby supplies, and kept the things with inestimable sentimental value and a few boxes of books we held to be too hard to replace and too dear to release.
Which is why I know exactly which book I want in my suitcase if I ever get stranded on a desert island ;)