Why I'm A Minimalist
Updated: Mar 21
[WARNING: This entry talks about mental illness, hoarding disorder (including hoarding of animals and resulting animal death), and bio-hazardous standards of living. Reader discretion is advised!]
My friends who grew up with me already know this, but I grew up in a highly-dysfunctional hoarder house.
How it got to that point was due to a number of factors, which are much easier to observe from the outside than being in the midst of the chaos that it was. To start, there were a lot of deaths on my mom’s side of the family, and she inherited a large sum of their personal belongings. Combine that with the fact that our house was entirely too small for a family of four (let alone all the excess belongings) , and that my mom suffered from at least 3 different, un-diagnosed mental illnesses that lead to impulse-buying and emotional difficulty letting go of said belongings.
Did I mention that we had cats?
From the way my clothes smelled when I went to school, you could tell for a yard or so that our house was full of cats…sometimes around twenty at one time. It got to that point because we couldn’t afford to get our female cats fixed, and my mom couldn’t let go of the resulting litters. I wouldn’t be surprised if our old house was haunted from the sheer size of the feline graveyard on the hillside in the backyard.
To say this upbringing affected me is an understatement. I am claustrophobic, and need to go out on a regular basis, despite being an introvert who is generally annoyed by other people. I am highly sensitive to fumes from chemicals, and easily get respiratory and sinus infections. Growing up with my wardrobe smelling like cat pee has made me hyper-self-conscious about the way I smell in all social situations, because I was bullied relentlessly for it. I will always have a threshold for messiness and filth that is above the majority of other folks, because yes, I was literally raised in a cat barn!
I was relieved of this hazardous living situation only after moving out of my mom’s place, after marrying into a family that had a much higher standards for cleanliness (my father- and brother-in-law are both ex-military). It took multiple cycles of downsizing and recurrent micro-living situations to get my belongings down to the essentials, and that has been my life since 2009.
(I am pleased to say my mom has gotten assistance with her illness since then, and has also pared down to the bare essentials; she has no intention of over-buying anymore, as she has gotten rid of pretty much all of the items she had trouble getting rid of in the past.)
These days, I have absolutely lost my taste for buying things outside of the essentials, even when it comes to my hobbies. I don’t collect things, I don’t invest in fandom paraphernalia or excess decoration (I literally don’t have room in my life for that). My art is 100% digitally created, and I write entirely in word-processing software. Though I game, all of the games I play regularly are in a virtual library, instead of hard copies on a shelf. My dad is probably spinning in his grave over it, but I’ve also opted for buying e-books instead of physical books to save room.
If I needed to move, it would probably only take a couple days to pack and move house, and I love that! I’m also conscious of what material belongings are most important to me, and I don’t allow room for anything outside of that to clutter my life.