Some people have a hobby of collecting things. For instance, my dad was a junk collector and filled our garage with old furniture from abandoned farm houses. One of my brothers collected rare beer cans, and I cleaned house for a woman whose collection of kerosene lamps exceeded more than one hundred.
Aware that others collected things and I did not, caused me to wonder if there was something wrong with me. I collected nothing, at least nothing tangible. But, then I discovered I was a collector of harmful emotions, anger and resentment.
Sorting Through Our Stuff
Youthfulness is that brief period of time in our lives when we seem to have no fear, but also lack common sense. At eighteen, I moved away from home and though no job awaited me where I was going, and I had no idea where I’d live, I was not worried. I believed that I would somehow manage.
But, by moving away from home, I also believed that I’d find my happiness. I was fully convinced that it was my mother who made my life miserable and without her, I’d be happy. It never crossed my mind that my unhappiness resided inside of me and that no matter where I went, the source of my unhappiness, tagged along.
Arriving in Idaho, I moved into one of the rooms of a house I shared with a few other people. I unloaded the boxes from my car carrying in bedding, books and clothes. Unbeknownst to me, I also carried into my new residence, old anger, rancid bitterness and the shame of my father’s suicide.
Emotions that follow on the heals of a traumatic event such as a suicide, can collect in such a way that we are ignorant of their presence. But, they do have a way of manifesting themselves through behaviors such as anger and holding grudges.
It was not an easy task for me to sort through old emotions, but, eventually, I could no longer ignore them. They were interfering with my marriage and my family.
Like cleaning out a garage stuffed full of useless old furniture, or realizing our collection of rare beer cans is not worth the space they take up or deciding we really don’t need to add any more kerosene lamps to our collection, taking inventory of what we’ve kept and letting it go lightens our load.
For instance, my oldest son’s rebellion was the catalyst that caused me to consider my anger. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that the anger I unloaded on my son had actually been anger I’d kept in storage and was meant for my father and my mother.
It will always be a mystery as to why it took me so long to realize that I’d collected a storehouse of anger, but, when I admitted to my wrath and rage then I could finally let it go.
Why bother taking a closer look at what we collect? We may not be aware of our collection of harmful emotions, but when we take the time to inspect what we haul around, we might also be inspired to get rid of it and lighten our load.