I was chatting to someone this week who said she and her husband was storing boxes of items in their house for their children. The boxes were preventing them from being able to use the area but their children couldn’t take them because they didn’t have the space.
I see this A LOT!
That person is only living in a temporary arrangement so she can’t take their stuff.There are many reasons that someone holds stuff for another person:
They want to sell those items but just haven’t gotten around to it.
They moved out, time went by and they have forgotten about them.
Interestingly, sometimes people don’t even know they have stuff at another person’s home.
The list goes on, but there is usually a deeper reason for these things being kept such as:
They don’t want to come back to the property because of unhappy memories.
There are sad memories in the items and they don’t want to go through them.
They have good intentions but didn’t follow through.
As a result the person just keeps storing them. In the times I have assisted mothers with this task, it appears they have a feeling of obligation to keep the items. My feeling is that they keep items for a few reasons:
As a way to connect to their children/person who’s stuff they are holding.
It can give them a sense of fullness (the excess items around them).
To feel needed by others.
Their home can be seen as a reservoir of love, history and safety.
They become the guardians of the family history making them the family leaders and a resource.
However, these things can take their toll on the person holding the items:
Their place becomes over-loaded, they feel restricted, unhappy, cluttered.
They worry they might not be able to remember so they keep more.
They feel responsible to support/protect other family members emotionally from the memories in the stored items (sadness/event/issues/person). They can end up holding onto emotions associated with the items being stored and not letting go.
You see, by holding these things for other people, not giving them their stuff and allowing them to choose what to keep and what not to keep, doesn’t allow people to grow, change and mature. Parents generally want to protect their children from hurts but by allowing people to find resolution in their own emotional journey’s they can develop strength and independence and become more mature and emotionally capable.
I usually come in at a point where the person is feeling too overwhelmed with the amount of items in their home. They might be renovating or moving house and just can’t hold the items any more. I support them to return the items to the owners, let go of unwanted items or store items more appropriately.
This is not usually a fast process and I work with all types of people at different stages to let go and grow.