Letting Go

No, not the maudlin ‘letting go’ one must deal with at the end of a relationship, or when a loved one dies; it is letting go of stuff accumulated over the years. See my post, Storage Implies Retrieval, for more information about my relationship with ‘stuff’. I am sure that cluttering disorder is in DSM-5 (the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) somewhere, but I have not looked it up; I do not think I’m a pathological case at any rate. I’m going to assume my tendency to accumulate things is merely who I am. Don’t get me wrong; I certainly do believe that mental illness exists.

Scope of the problem

I have already resigned myself to the fact that replaceable physical things with little personal significance, should be the first to go. However, I admit that I have some trouble giving away run-of-the-mill books, because: 1) who knows if physical books will be available in the future; 2) I can’t stand the idea of buying a ‘license’ for an e-book for reasons too numerous to mention here. But I digress…

For argument’s sake, let’s say that I resolved the issue of getting rid of things that are replaceable.

Why bring this up now?

We’ll be moving closer to our grand kids soon. My granddaughter, who just became a sibling, is growing up and with the new baby… well it would be nice to be in close proximity.

How is this topic relevant to this forum?

My blog is mostly about my experience with autism from the perspective of one with an older sibling who is autistic, nonverbal and low functioning. I believe that the dynamics of the relationships in my family, led me to require extra validation. Self validation was difficult, so some of my tendency to keep things, to help my memory. Having a thing from the past meant, that moment was real. I still have a strong attachment to things of the past.

In addition to mistrusting my memory, I have a tendency to view things in a negative light. This developed from a childhood coping mechanism. I know that I have had great and meaningful interactions with people during my life, but I tend to minimize them or even forget about some of them. I still have a hard time believing that people actually remember me.

The point already?

My point is how do I deal with the years of accumulated letters, greeting cards and post cards I received from family and friends. Not all of them are profound, nor do many of them say much at all. But they were sent to me. They were in a sense, affirmation that I knew those people at that point in time. It exists physically, in writing; not some nerve impulses ricocheting around in my brain, subject to modification by old age or a bop in the head. About 30 years ago, I got rid of Valentine’s Day cards given to me in kindergarten. You may laugh, but I still have pangs.


So I’m thinking of scanning these cards and letters into my computer. Even though I’ve culled some of the documents, it will take time to do this. Afterwards, I will still have the evidence without having to keep the actual letters. Does this sound reasonable? What about an electromagnetic pulse? Is the cloud secure? What about obsolescence of the data format? (I’m joking… a little.)

Feedback please

I would be very grateful to know if other siblings can identify with my particular idiosyncrasies. because of the dynamics in a family with a handicapped member. What I’d like to know is: 1) do you have issues trusting your memory? 2) do you have an attachment to the past? 3) is self esteem an issue for you?

I understand that you may not wish to give me feedback on this forum, but if you wish to follow me on twitter (@bruddajack), I’ll follow back and we can chat through direct message (DM). However, it may help others if you comment on the blog.

Thank you all very much.


4 thoughts on “Letting Go

  1. Hello Jack: As a child psychiatrist and sibling (brother with DD), I find this so interesting, and of course not enough time right now to really respond in depth. I have the opposite phenomenon- and I don’t know how much, if any, has to do with being a sibling and our family dynamic. I like to get rid of stuff. I hate clutter (not that my home is clutter free though). I hold on to some sentimental items, of course, but feel so much lighter and freed up when I have a good cleansing of stuff. My poor kids – have grown used to the occasionaly purgings- “oh, come on, you don’t need this anymore!” and boom into a garbage bag (often for donation) it goes. My parents are very similiar- they don’t clutter, they get rid of excess, their homes have always been clean and simple, but tasteful. I don’t like feeling encumbered by stuff. I like letting it go and the lightness that follows….

    • That’s great, Kristin. It would be nice to feel lighter and less encumbered. I suppose that is the inverse way of looking at getting rid of stuff (loss). There must be a balance point where needing some factor outside one’s self to bolster one’s self worth equals an inside sense of worthiness. Sentimentality and memory come to bear in my case as well.
      Thank you so much for your comment.

  2. My daughter has three younger siblings with autism. She doesn’t look after things because in her words “they get broken, damaged so what is the point” Mind you she is only 12 years old so maybe something to do with age as well

    • Your daughter has a great attitude. I hope she knows that there are others out there who are also siblings of autistic brothers and sisters. It really helps to know that. Give her best regards from a fellow sib.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: