Hoarding and Holes

sidewalkI recently read the following passage in Meditations from the Mat; it addressed the issue of hoarding…an issue I know well:

“I don’t want more. I just don’t want to lose what I already have…It’s not that I’m a hoarder. I am a nonrelinquisher. I don’t want to grieve the loss of anything.”

I have always been critical—and fearful—of hoarding, to the point where some might say I have a mild form of OCD (just ask my siblings). I clean often and frequently scan my house for any signs that hoarding might be in my future. I have always prided myself on not being a hoarder since I recycle or throw out physical items that don’t serve me anymore. But it wasn’t until I read Rolf Gates’ passage that I realized something: hoarding isn’t just about holding onto materials items, it’s also about not being able to let go of people and emotions.

And so when someone I was holding onto recently exited my life again, I thought about my tendency to emotionally hoard. When we hold onto someone simply because we don’t want to mourn the loss of the relationship, it’s a temporary solution for a much bigger problem: the problem that we are hiding our Truth underneath our baggage. The truth was: it was time to clear away all of the old emotions, fears, and anxieties that were no longer serving me and tying me to false beliefs.

When I recently told a dear friend of mine that my emotional hoarding had pushed me back down into “the rabbit hole” once again, she sent me the following passage by Portia Nelson:

There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk

“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.”

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