For years, I have wondered what the hell is wrong with me. Other than the already established: depression, anxiety, just generally lost in this downward spiral that we know as life. But a few days ago, a realization punched me in the face and woke me up. I mean, I’ve known this for a very long time; over the years I’ve tried to purge negativity and chaos from my life that often comes in the form of people, material things, and even thinking. I’ve always known it was a burden to carry so much, but despite the many attempts, I never did quite fully understand what I was trying to do.
I don’t know how many times I’ve gone on a cleaning and purging spree of the contents of my house and vehicle, giving away dozens of trash bags and boxes chock-full of stuff to the Goodwill or a family member. I don’t know how many toxic people I’ve cut out of my life; how many new “ideas” or “projects” I’ve tossed by the wayside because it was all just too much to take on. And I can’t recall all the times I’ve abandoned or deleted online accounts. But I do know one thing that all of these other things have in common: I’ve done them more than once.
And I usually did these things when I was angry, or hurt by someone, or because I simply lacked confidence in myself to continue. Or I took on too much.
Well, right now I’m not angry. No one has hurt me. I have plenty of confidence in myself. Things in life might not be going in the direction I want them to go, but I still believe I can succeed, that I can change the direction and eventually find my way onto the right path.
But something, in particular, has really stuck out—and that’s the part that punched me. I have been living my life mostly to suit or please others; I have molded and shaped my existence to cater to everyone else around me, and have left myself out entirely. And every time I have purged objects or people, I’ve also subconsciously tossed myself out right along with them.
I believe one of the reasons I’ve had a shopping addiction was to fill holes in my life, the same way alcohol did for me between the ages of 13-19 and before alcoholism almost killed me. I quit drinking, but then just took up other bad habits in its place. When I could afford to buy whatever I wanted, that’s somewhat what I did. Not necessarily in the form of big, expensive items, but more-so smaller items that, of course, became big, expensive piles of crap.
But no more. This past weekend, I have gone on a very different kind of purging spree. Yes, I got rid of tons of stuff, but with a totally different mindset, something I never experienced before. And it tells me that I have finally—FINALLY—figured out what I’m trying to do: to live simply, for me first and others second, and in a way that I know I’ll never be able to revert back to the old me. Because I am done. I am tired. And I am awake, probably for the first time in my whole forty-five years of life. I am awake.
So, one of the biggest changes in my purge is that this time I parted ways with not just hundreds of books, but with books that I never thought I’d part with. Favorites. Books that had sentimental value. Books I’ve read more than once and can see myself reading again. Books from my favorite authors.
And these two separate piles are nowhere near all of the ones I let go. It’s only digital books for me from now on—and I will never buy a new book until I’ve read the last one I bought! No longer will I walk aimlessly in a bookstore and buy books I know I’ll never read though I’ll still walk aimlessly in a bookstore just to look because I love the atmosphere). I’m ashamed and angry with myself over the thousands of dollars I’ve spent over the years, just because I loved books. I could’ve put that money towards something I really needed, saved it, or done something with it for someone else who was in need—and God knows there are plenty of people in need. What right do I have to spend thousands of dollars on something like that when people are starving, homeless, running from bombs, or dying of cancer?
Now, before you get your panties or boxers in a bunch, I’m not talking about you, or covertly referring to you if you collect books or Blu-rays or shoes or gaming dice. I’m not here to judge you. I’m judging myself, and I have every right to do that. If you’re offended, that’s on you. Leave me out of it.
Anyway, the same with books, I got rid of so many other material things that I now need a smaller house. And I want a smaller house! It has been so fulfilling and cathartic to purge my home and Jeep of all this unnecessary clutter, that I actually feel lighter. My heart feels lighter. My mind—everything. I have no urge or desire to buy something I don’t desperately need, and the thought of spending even a dollar on anything unnecessary gives me a little anxiety. Even worse than the money I have spent on books, the amount I’ve shelled out over the years on various other things, is easily into the tens of thousands.
And I hate myself for it.
The worst part about it is that I’ve always felt like I wasn’t too wasteful a person, that, yes, I did waste money here and there on unnecessary things, but that I never did it “like other people do”, but that was a damn lie. And I see that now. I made excuses. It was OK that I bought this or that because I had a legit reason; it was justified. Bullsh*t. In some ways, I’m worse than “other people” because I made myself believe I wasn’t like them when it came to being wasteful, that I was “better” than they were. SMDH.
But my purge wasn’t limited to material objects, and, honestly, all that stuff was just a small piece of a much larger picture.
I don’t think I’ve breathed since the end of 2012. I’ve been holding my damn breath in my lungs for the past nine years. And I can’t hold it anymore. I have never been much of a social person. I lost the ability to trust or get close to others, or believe in others, many years ago when I spent my teenaged and young adult years abused, abandoned, lied to, raped, cheated, almost killed, and used for all manner of terrible things. I’m certainly no do-gooder saint, or even a person worthy to go to Heaven, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t an overly giving person, trustworthy, trusting, generous, and, dare I say it, kind and compassionate. Yes, I’ve done bad things; I’ve betrayed, lied, even stolen from others in my lifetime, but I think it’s safe to say we’ve all done something we regret and aren’t proud of. But after the birth of my third child, I left a lengthy abusive relationship and shut everybody out of my life who I had ever called “friend”. For fourteen years I associated only with family members, and people online who I knew I’d never actually see face to face. It was easier for me that way; to have “friends” I could keep at a very long distance and never have to interact with beyond a computer screen.
But even during that time, associating with others became a huge burden for me. In approximately 2009, I vanished from online, deleted my accounts and projects, and never looked back. I was able to give my books 100% of my free time. And then about three years later, I self-published THE EDGE OF NEVER and hit all the bestseller lists, and completely changed my life.
That leads me to why I’ve recently deleted my Facebook account with over 41K followers, Pinterest, all of my Goodreads accounts, and why I will probably also delete every other account associated with “J.A. Redmerski” in the near future.
But if you want to know the rest, you’ll have to listen to the continuation on my podcast in episode “I Did It – The Great Purge“, because this post is far too long already and my typing fingers are tired.