My Greatest Mistake

>> Friday, April 2, 2010

Today's blog post is brought to you by The Crazy Hip Bloggers and their "Write Out Loud Wednesdays".  We will try to forget that today is not actually Wednesday and that this topic is actually from February 10th.  I am operating under the theory that "late is better than never" - at least in this case.  I fully blame my lateness in responding to this topic on my difficulty identifying what actually is my "greatest" mistake.  Sadly, I have so many to choose from.

For example, there was the day I allowed Santa Claus to give Toddler a CD of music from the Disney Channel, and I actually thought we would be able to listen to anything else again before I die.  Then we must also consider some of my choices in college roommates over the years.  One of my old boyfriends certainly belongs on the list.  I really should add my decision in 1992 to start allowing myself to keep buying used books faster than I could possibly read them, resulting in more books in my house than I can ever read in a lifetime, but I can't bring myself to acknowledge that day as a mistake.  Admittedly, the dinner I had the other night was a big mistake, but I can't imagine that any of these are truly my "greatest" mistake.

Someone could certainly make a credible argument that my greatest mistake was the day I did ... whatever the heck it was ... that got me on the hit list of Entropy and Chaos, starting off this lifelong struggle.  As tempting as this idea is, I think my offense to Entropy and Chaos must rank second among my mistakes.

My greatest mistake, believe it or not, came in two parts, sometime before I turned twelve.  Part one was when I gave away my stretchy-blue octopus toy.  (Remember those?  One kid held part of it, another kid held the other part, and together the kids stretched the darn thing across the room.)  Part two came when I decided, against my deepest desire, to give away my Star Wars Ice Planet Hoth playset and all my action figures except Yoda.  You see, my parents had instilled in me a commandment that I needed to get rid of all toys I hadn't played with in the past year, and all my toys had to fit within a few designated spots in the house.  The home of these two toys was my toybox.  I don't actually recall getting rid of the octopus, but I do vaguely remember my thought process in packing up the Star Wars set.  It was just ... time to part with it.  I was reluctant.  I pulled it back out to stare at it several times before packing it away again.  At the last minute, I rescued Yoda and kept him with me.  (Yoda has since been lost to wherever it is that small toys disappear to.)

Still, all these years later, I still lament parting with those toys.  No, no, it isn't because my Star Wars stuff ultimately became "collectors items".  I just ... miss them.  I still want to play with that octopus, and I want to assemble the Ice Planet Hoth on the shelf next to Darling Husband's Millenium Falcon.

I'm kind of nuts, I know.

Nonetheless, the greatest mistake was giving them away to needy children.  (Boy, that sounds cold, doesn't it?)  I don't even consider it my greatest mistake because I miss them, but rather because I have spent much of the rest of my life afraid to throw anything else away in case I might later regret it.  I indulged this unfortunate behavior for many years, paralyzed as to how to stop myself.  Even worse, my family quietly took advantage of what one of my sisters referred to as my "bag lady tendencies" by offering me old family treasures that they didn't want to keep but didn't want to get rid of.  They knew I would not throw them away.

After I got married, I knew something had to change, or we would drown in clutter and perhaps never be seen.  Certainly, we would never have children, because there wouldn't be room in the house for them.  Why?  Because I married possibly the only man on the planet whose ability to throw things away was worse than my own.

After much self-induced therapy, I have improved dramatically.  I am no longer at risk of backsliding when I face the cute trick of my family members who, once they learned I intended to part with something we might all have once loved, always asked me at least 3 times, "Are you sure?"  Yes, I am most definitely sure.  How many old couches of our grandparents does one couple need in a single family home?  (Said couch in question became starter furniture for my old intern, who was grateful for it.)

Yes, throwing out those old toys has left me with a lifetime of regret and self-punishment that I am ever struggling to get over.  I envy my middle sister's lack of emotional attachment to "things".  She throws out more in a given year then I have probably done in a lifetime.  She cares little for personal items beyond a momentary infatuation, and I must admit, I do not understand that sentiment at all.  How easy would it be to keep a house clean if you didn't care to keep everything you've ever owned?


Wait a minute.

Something has just dawned on me.

I am beginning to wonder if that thing I did to piss off Entropy and Chaos WAS the pitching of my octopus and my Star Wars set.  Maybe that is why they have haunted me as long as I can remember.  Maybe those two events are one and the same thing.

Could be.  Could be.


Susan April 2, 2010 at 1:22 PM  

One doesn't expect to have their defining moment at age 12. I'll keep that in mind when I consider forcing my kids to part with their outgrown toys. ;)

Karin Kysilka April 12, 2010 at 10:46 AM  

Yes, Susan, you do that. You never know what trauma you might be causing. (LOL!)

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