Wednesday, August 24, 2011

More About Having a Yard Sale

I hate to have yard sales. I love to shop at them but hate to sell. This upcoming sale has gotten me very anxious. I am doing it with several women friends. I told them how I put stuff out and then change my mind and take it back in the house. One friend said she will keep a watch on me and try to stop me from doing that. Yesterday I went to her house and started taking my stuff back inside when she wasn't looking. I hid it in her garage to take home later.  I was ashamed of my behavior but I also couldn't control it.

I ended up taking back about a fourth of it.  I am terrible. Also, if someone likes something that I have put out, then I think I shouldn't have put it out. If that person puts it down and walks away from it, I grab it and put it back in the house. Or else I think I have put too low of a price on it if someone buys it.  I don't understand my strange relationship to my things but I think it has something to do with a sense of insecurity.

A friend is moving down here soon. A few weeks ago when we were talking on Skype she told me that she gave away her coffee table and she was feeling upset about it. I couldn't understand why. It was just an old coffee table. But now I am beginning to understand. It is because it represented security to her, permanency.  It was something she took for granted and was always in the room and when it was gone, the room was no longer the same. It had changed. Change is scary because it clearly shows us just how fragile things are here. There is NO security. There is NO safety.  But it is so easy to lull ourselves into believing that we will go on forever, doing the same things from one day to the next.

My little casita is a mess because of the things I am going to take over to the sale. And the mess makes me uncomfortable and insecure. The older I get, the worse I am about these feelings. Maybe that is why I haven't been doing any traveling since I moved here. Moving about means change and change is scary. The unknown brings out all my fears and insecurities. What if I am robbed or kidnapped or murdered? And knowing that these things happen, only makes me more anxious.

I hate to admit this but here is a story that is a very good example of this kind of fear. I was married to a wonderful man--when he was sober. But he started drinking more and more and he was verbally abusive when he drank. I kept hoping things would get better but they just got worse. He had bought this backyard garden table and chairs which I loved to sit on. So in my mind, this garden furniture kept me tied even longer to a bad situation. I couldn't bring myself to move out and give it up because it made me feel secure to sit on it in the back yard. Of course, that furniture was just a symbol of all my fears of being alone again and of the unknown.

Sometimes living in a bad situation is easier than having to risk change and the unknown. So we surround ourselves with nice things to make us feel secure and forget about the reality the bad situation.   I try to remember this whenever I hold on to things too long. When I buy large pieces of furniture I think of how I will be tied down with them. But of course I could always sell them in a yard sale, IF I could do it without all my fears flaring up and holding me back.

Things are just things but they hold so much power sometimes. I took an acting class in college and what I remember most is how casually the teacher treated the objects in the room. He pushed the tables and chairs aside as if they meant nothing. The relationships between the students were what was important, not the furniture.  I grew up believing that the relationships weren't as important as the furniture.  We were taught in our family not to talk about our feelings. We were taught to value things and spend our time taking care of our things, cleaning them, fixing them, etc.  Maybe that is the source of my insecurity when I start moving things around or selling them.

I think animals may have some of the same feelings. When I moved my kitchen table into my extra room and turned it into an office, Chico started going to the bathroom next to the table. He hadn't done that for a couple of years. I finally decided it was because he was anxious about the change.   We animals and humans are so fragile on this earth.  No wonder change makes us anxious. Most of the time it is best not to think of the larger picture, like death.  It is too hard to live with that knowledge all the time. We need to have routines and structure in order to feel that we are safe and secure, even though it is all just an illusion.  Again, having yard sales make me anxious on so many levels.


  1. If you get a chance, watch the George Carlin routine on "Stuff" It might at least make you giggle about fascination and obsession with things..

  2. Thank you for that link. Very funny..... I am going to put that link again on my blog. Patricia

  3. We all gave up a lot by moving here............and we dealt with the is just "Stuff"
    We cannot take it with for today.............don't sweat the small stuff............enjoy today.
    So deal with it!!!

  4. You have TOTALLY MISUNDERSTOOD my post.... If you don't take the time to think about what I have said, please don't bother to make nasty comments on it..... You are only showing your own ignorance. Patricia

  5. So ... from a pragmatic point of view, how much did you guys make?! I've had so many garage sales/moving sales, etc in my lifetime and it's always the same: price too low & it sells, I'm anxious about it & NEVER FORGET that sale. Price to high & have to cart the stuff back inside, I wonder what the heck I was thinking, why, it's not valuable at all! And yes, I've taken things back from a sale many, many times. Holding onto things. Does that come from our parents & the Depression? An interesting post, Patricia - as always. Thank you for making us think about things we often neglect to think about. Love... Gayle in PDX

  6. HI Gayle, Well you have said it in a nutshell..... Am I charging too much or too little???? I will tell you after the sale if I actually made any money or not...Glad to hear from you again. Your friend, p

  7. Oh my gosh. What you said hit home with me, and I SO needed to hear it! I now realize I'm staying (stuck) for all the wrong reasons. I need to get out of this relationship. It's bad on so many levels, and for years I've made excuses. Your backyard furniture reference opened my eyes. Thank you!!!

    And one of the reasons I've stayed is because I'll have to get rid of at least half my stuff. I won't be able to afford to house it when I move. And I say I don't want to, but I've let it keep me here.

    Oh Patricia you've done it again - spoken "just" to me! Bless you!


  8. Hi Barbara, Thank you for your honesty. I send you good wishes in making your decisions. I too have been stuck for awhile. I need to take my own advice. Thanks, Patricia

  9. Hola Patricia, Very interesting post. When we moved to Mexico we also had a huge yard sale, plenty of people asked me if I was upset about giving up all my stuff, I said no it is just stuff. Now that we are here I feel so free, with out all that stuff. When I buy things now, I really think about it, do I need it, do I want it, if I move will I want to take it with me etc. One would have to ask why are you having the yard sale, is it to make some extra money, free up space in the house, not using the items etc. Anything you own should make you happy or it should be useful. When we came back from CR and I saw how happy the people were with so little, I came back and started going through our house, couldn't believe what we had hanging around. Anyway, you will see Billy and I on Friday, maybe we will need some of your stuff. " The fewer the belongings the easier the journey "

  10. HI Cheryl, Thank you for writing. The yard sale turned out to be a lot of fun. I enjoyed seeing you and Billy. Maybe at our next sale you will have some things to put in..... I mostly wanted to free up space and get rid of my kayak and I did that the last hour of she sale.... So for me, it was a success.... Thanks for stopping by the sale...P