The dreadful and inevitable finally happened since our basement had reached a ridiculous level of unorganized chaos. We finally broke down and took out the trash. My wife and I cleaned out everything from clothes to holiday décor to our keepsakes. I would open a box and find my high school memories. Then the next box would be full of things that I once loved, but no longer had a need to keep. The pattern would continue throughout the mass clean out. Once we were finished, I stopped, I took a deep breath followed by a sigh of relief as I looked around. Wow. We now have things that we only needed and things that we only wanted to keep around to remind us of our past. What had felt like an eternity of cleaning, was really just a total of three days. Our hard work was showing and we were super proud. But how did the basement get THAT bad? We always comment that “everything goes to die in the basement” when would we take something down there and drop it off- Out of sight, out of mind.
As I reflect back on our work over the last weekend, I see that cleaning out things that are not of use or of meaning to your life anymore is important. No, I’m not talking about dark, unfinished basements used for storage. I am talking about in our lives. Why do we continue to devote time and effort into relationships that have no purpose? Often, we get hurt, let down, and disappointed by someone we never imagined would do so. Yet, we continue to maintain relationships with these people. Sometimes we simply just grow in separate ways from people. It’s okay, it happens. People are in different places at different times and just grow apart.
I opened a box of high school memorabilia full of pictures, t shirts, funny notes from fellow high school friends, and so forth. As I cleaned out the box, things that had once meant so much to me, no longer held an important value in my life. All of the notes full of inside jokes were no longer funny. Without hesitation, I threw them in the trash. BOOM! It was easy and I didn’t even think twice about it. I talk to a handful of people that I graduated with and it’s not even on a regular basis. I’m okay with that too.
We tend to hold onto things that are no longer there. Whether it be people or inanimate objects, if you have no use and it’s not meaningful to you, don’t hold on. Don’t invest space and time into someone who doesn’t do the same to you. When you constantly devote 100% to someone who only gives you 10%, it sucks. It’s not healthy. And honestly, it’s a waste of time for everyone involved. And then we have things in our memory box put away our dark basements. That’s okay. I know that my high school band jacket no longer has a meaningful purpose, but it’s still valuable and it was important to me for four solid years. We have relationships like this as well. You spent four years together at football games or eating at Wendy’s every Thursday night or working on class projects. You see that they have gotten married or are expecting or just finished medical school. Although you weren’t part of their successes, you are still happy. Those relationships are okay to keep boxed away in storage.
The older I get, the more I realize the importance of purging, with both belongings and friends. If someone is not in your life to help build you up and make you a better person, to hell with them. Unfortunately, that goes for some of us when dealing family members as well. But at this point, the only person that I need to make happy is me. I don’t need to devote loyalty to someone who doesn’t appreciate me. Nope. My hands have been washed and I’m moving on. Just like the high school memories that once held value, the high school friendships that once held value have also been purged. Regrets? Nope, not one. I know who my people are and they make me feel happy, loved and beyond blessed.
And then there are people who use you to meet their needs or provide something to them without receiving anything in return – those people are dicks. Like just don’t come over and eat a free meal three nights a week but not answer my phone call when I’m broke down on the side of the highway and need some help. That’s not how this works. Don’t participate in some part-time bullshit. Tell them if they want convenience, then use a microwave. You can make a valiant attempt at repairing broken relationships, but at the end of the day they still end up broken – throw them out. We had a broken ironing board living in our basement. It was a nice ironing board but it would not fold down anymore. Guess what? We didn’t need it. It was broken and had been replaced by a new ironing board that works and does what it needs to do. I realize it is silly to compare a broken friendship to a broken ironing board, but why hold on to it? Duct tape can fix a lot of things…. But a friendship is not one of them.
After cleaning all of the “crap” out of my basement, it felt nice to have only exactly what I need. When I reevaluated my relationships, I see the small group of close friends that I have. I see that some things come in amounts of quality, not quantity- less is definitely more. It is important to keep the junk out and to take out the trash from time to time. If you have one-way relationships- purge. Don’t hesitate. Don’t waste anymore time. Simply just move on. And those relationships that make their way into your friendship basement to “die” and that are “out of sight, out of mind,” take that shit to the curb too. It’s taking up space in your life. Space that other things of value and importance can fill. The toxicity of a relationship can make you or break you. Don’t be scared to clean house… Keep your tribe, your gang, your circle, or whatever you may call it close and love them hard. Get rid of the junk that is broken, unrepairable and negative in your life.
Just purge. Take the trash out; Feel good about it.