Category Archives: life

Speaking my truth

You want to know something.

I haven’t told the boys about my sister and niece yet. I know it’s been over two years.  I should have said something to them sooner, I know, but I was hoping things wouldn’t be this way.  For a long time I refused to believe these people were the same people.  I was hoping they would go back to the way they used to be.  Now I know it won’t.  Now I know what I thought it was, was not really what I thought it was.

When I have had to explain to them about not getting invited to sleep over, or go rock climbing, or go to laser tag, or get invited to great wolf lodge, or just come over and hang out; I explained all of that without ever telling them their aunt and niece no longer want to have the relationship they used to have with us. I explained to them they had done nothing wrong.  It was not their fault they were not being included in things.  I tried really hard for them to understand that the dynamic has changed without telling how or why the dynamic has changed.

It’s been hard. I am trying to keep things as normal as possible for them.  And when all else fails, I try to distract them.  Most times it works.  Sometimes, it doesn’t.  My boys have seen me cry.  My boys know how stressed I am.  My boys have heard me yell.  My boys have been the recipients of my emotional outbursts.  My boys know something is wrong.  They know things have changed but they still don’t accept things have changed.  My boys will still go to the store and pick up things in multiples of three.  They still include my niece when they pick out treats or get dinky toys or come up with adventures we should go on.  And the thing is, we still include my niece.  If there is an adventure going on, we will still ask if she wants to be a part of it, she is counted when they make valentines cards, she is part of all of their decisions.  My niece is still the first person the boys add to their invite list for things that are important to them.  I know this behaviour isn’t being reciprocated by the other people and trying to get them to understand that things have changed but it’s been hard.

I haven’t told the boys yet that once my sister and niece left, the boys fell off their radar. Once the boys weren’t in their direct vicinity anymore, they were forgotten.  In the hierarchy of relevancy to their lives, the boys dropped to the bottom of the list.  And now it is up to me to break that to my boys.

How can I do that? What do I say?

So I am going to tell them the truth. I am going to tell them to stop expecting things to be the way they were.  I am going to let them know they are wonderful, caring, smart fellas who are loved a lot by MIllhouse and I.  I will let them know, no matter what we will always be there for them.  And then I am going to let them know the difference between genuine love and being used for convenience.

It will be the hardest conversation I will have to have with my boys to date. And one I never in a million years would have thought I would need to have with them.

Other people’s perceptions

Do you know why I started posting about my sister at the beginning of February?

It was because before then I hoped for some version of a reconciliation. My sister never apologizes so I knew an apology would never happen but I hoped for some sort of olive branch.  Before February, I held on the slim chance that things could/would get better.  Then something happened and I realized that there was absolutely no hope for reconciliation.  She wouldn’t have sort any sort of epiphany and recognize just how her behaviour was hurting us.  I came to terms it wasn’t going to happen.  Not then, not now, not ever.

See on January 31st, my sister took my niece and her friends to Great Wolf Lodge.  She never even asked the boys if they wanted to go.  She knows the boys love Great Wolf Lodge.  She knows we always go together.  She knew that no matter what the state of our relationship was, I would find a way to send the boys because that is the one place they love more than anywhere else.  Last year, they got a pity invite to the GWL trip.  My niece inadvertently told me how they were planning a trip and after my sister had booked the rooms for her friends, booked the meal plans for her friends, organized sleeping arrangements and rides for her friends; she asked if the boys could go.  I am pretty sure the boys would not have gotten an invitation if my niece hadn’t accidentally texted me about the trip a week earlier.  But I arranged a room for my boys, and they were able to go.  It didn’t matter they had school, it didn’t matter we didn’t have the money, it didn’t matter that it was a pity invite at the last minute; it made my kids happy being included.  So I went ahead and did it.

This year, they didn’t get an invite. This year their aunt and cousin, intentionally and purposely excluded them from the trip knowing how much it would have meant for them to go.  They excluded them knowing just how much it would hurt them to know they were not welcome.  I have no doubt the boys’ aunt and cousin will say they didn’t even bother to ask them because the boys had school or because they didn’t think they would be allowed to go.  Both those reasons are pure BS.  The boys’ aunt and cousin know I would have pulled them from school to go, I had done it before and I would have done it then.  They know I would have found a way to send them, regardless of cost or ride or room.  The truth of the matter is, the boys’ aunt and cousin did not want them there.  To not even ask, for fear of the boys saying yes, tells me they were intentionally left out of the trip.

Any hope of reconciliation ended right then. To intentionally and deliberately hurt my kids in such a pronounced way tells me these people don’t care for my kids.  They never had and they never will.  If I needed tangible evidence that my family was just a matter of convenience, there it was, right in front of me.  This sort of conscious hurt shows me just how little my children’s feelings matter to these people.  It broke me down.  Just as reference, about a month earlier MIllhouse won a raffle at work and he got to go to a really fun hotel for the night.  We made sure to invite my niece.  We made sure to include her.  We would never have done anything fun without asking her to be a part of it.  It is just how we did things.  To have my kids blatantly disregarded when it came to something they both knew meant so much to my boys, hurt me to my very core.

I was done hoping and wishing and praying for understanding and I started writing. I started putting this out there so I could move on.  I let go of who I thought they were and what I thought we meant to them.  I gave up hope of fixing things and started working on adjusting to how things will be from now on.  There is no going back.

But like I said in the previous post, my sister isn’t the type to be in the wrong. Even though she is the one who deliberately excluded my kids, she can’t take ownership of her actions.  She doesn’t want to acknowledge just how malicious her actions were.  It’s not in her.  Instead, she needs to be the victim.  She will try to prove just how good of an aunt she is and how I am the one blocking my kids from seeing their cousin.

Two weeks after the GWL trip, my sister texts and asks if the boys could come to the car show with her family. My boys don’t like cars, they aren’t interested in the car show and we had tickets to Black Panther, so no, they can’t go.  Besides I believe the only reason they were even asked was because my sister’s partner probably suggested including the boys.  The week after the car show, another text, this one saying how my niece would like to hang out with the boys over March Break.  The boys are in camp over March Break, so they can’t hang out.  Three days after that text, my sister texts again.  This time asking if the boys can go to Comic Con the following weekend.  The boys have plans and can’t go, sorry.  My kids have plans and are busy and they are not going to drop everything they are doing because it is now convenient for other people to make time for them.

If I were to take the barrage of texts at face value it would seem as though, my sister and niece were trying really hard to hang out with my kids.  In reality, it’s not.  I don’t believe for a minute my niece actually wants to hang out with my kids.  I do believe my sister needs proof to show our parents how she is asking to spend time with the boys and we don’t have time for them.  All these attempts would be used as justification as to why she didn’t invite them to the GWL trip.  See even though they made no attempt to hang out with my children *prior* to their GWL trip.  They didn’t miss the boys *before* the trip.  They didn’t miss the boys when they were in our neighbourhood every Sunday, or when they would go out and do fun things or have sleep overs.  No, they didn’t even think about my kids then.  In fact, I believe they actively avoided the boys so there wouldn’t be a slip up like last time.  They didn’t see my boys because if they did there was a chance the boys would end up with another pity invite.  Now *after* the trip they are going out of their way to try to see my kids.  After their trip, they miss my kids and want to spend time with them?  Really?  It has nothing to do with missing my children and everything to do with making sure other people perceive them as the victim.  If they truly wanted to see my kids, if they truly missed spending time with my children, they would have asked them to go to GWL.

But they didn’t and now they need to excuse their actions.

Again, when it comes to them, my kids are just a matter of convenience.

The hardest lesson of all

Now after reading all these posts of how my sister has been treating my family*, you might be wondering why I don’t just severe all ties. She’s made it obvious she wants nothing to do with my family. She has gone out of her way to exclude us from every facet of the life she and my niece have built.

So why don’t I move on and just forget about her?

This is the lesson that I am trying so hard to get through and what I need the most help wrapping my head around.

I can’t move on and completely severe ties because my sister won’t let me. See my sister is very brave when she has no one to answer to. She is one of those people who have no qualms about being abrasive, aggressive, rude or dismissive to just about anyone. She doesn’t care if she comes across as a b*tch to most people. In fact, she relishes being known as a b*tch. There is one exception though, our parents. When it comes to our parents, she needs their approval. She can’t show them who she really is, instead she chooses to blame her bad behaviour on everything and everyone but her. She defaults back to being the victim. She lives for their perception that she is an innocent bystander, just collateral damage with no control over the situation. This means she will go out of her way to tell my parents how her behaviour is a result of my wronging her in some way, then she doesn’t have to take responsibility for her actions. She selectively omits things she has done, and places she has gone so she comes across as innocent, absolved of all wrongdoing. I am the bad guy and my parents make me feel as if I am responsible for everything that she does or says to me. I fully admit, my parents have a strong hold on me. I don’t crave their approval the way my sister does but I would like them to see this situation is not my doing. Constantly being blamed for a mess I didn’t create has been mentally draining.

Here’s what I mean.

My parents have been travelling since mid – December. Prior to them leaving, my sister and niece would come over every weekend. During those visits, they would spend time with the boys. In the eight weeks since my parents have been gone, my sister and niece have come by to see the boys twice. Once for Christmas and once when my sister needed to use the bathroom after she got her eyebrows threaded** a couple weeks later. Two times in eight weeks. Not bad right? She lives over an hour away, so coming by once a month is pretty good and I agree it would be if she wasn’t visiting weekly when my parents were here or in my neighbourhood every weekend. See she comes to the same neighbourhood the boys are in every weekend but has only come to see them when she needed to go to the bathroom. With all that being said; I know she made no attempt to see my children when she has been in the neighbourhood for the past eight weeks and because of that, I have begun purposely making plans with my boys so they don’t realize their aunt and cousin haven’t been by to see them. I try to keep them busy so they don’t realize the people they are so used to being around, are purposely not coming around anymore.

All of this will change when my parents come back because she will come see them every weekend. Which makes sense since my mom feeds her and she is in the neighbourhood every weekend anyway. The only difference is when they start visiting every weekend again; I will still continue to make plans with my boys and not be home when they are. This is when she will play the victim. She will tell my parents how I am ruining the relationship between my niece and the boys because I am taking my children out while they are there. I am making plans with my boys and not including my niece. SEE!! She is justified in not including my boys because I don’t include her daughter. She fails to mention the eight times (and counting) she has been in the neighbourhood and failed to even attempt to include my boys.

My parents will then turn around and tell me about how I am mistreating my sister and niece.

Boom! I am the bad guy again. In order not to be, I have to sit quietly and take the blatant disrespectfulness, accept the way my boys are being treated and not stand up for my boys or myself because if I do; I am in the wrong.

In short, she plays my parents against me.

Now I know all this sounds dramatic but I can assure you it’s not. This is what happened last year. Last year my parents were travelling for about seven weeks and in those seven weeks there was one attempt to see the boys. While my parents were here, she and my niece were heavily involved in the boys but as soon as my parents left so did they. She made sure our parents got the impression she was heavily involved in the boys lives but as soon as they were not around anymore, she made sure to exclude us. She was in the neighbourhood a lot but she never came by but when I called her out on that, it was somehow my fault and she fed the same story to our parents. It’s all about the perception that she is present in the boy’s lives, but as soon as our parents live, she doesn’t carry on the charade any longer.

That has been the hardest part. It is the part I cannot come to grips with yet. As hard as I try, I just don’t see why I need to be painted as the bad guy. In my sister’s world, she is never at fault for anything and she doesn’t have to take ownership over anything she does. She has her reasons for wanting to severe ties with my family. She has made a concentrated effort to ensure we are completely eradicated from the life of my niece or herself. She has made it known her friends are of greater value to them, than my boys ever were. My family was a convenience she used until we weren’t convenient anymore and then she discarded us at her leisure. These are all truths that are quite obvious. She admits this in every time she walks into my home and does not even say hello, every time she disrespects my family, every snide remark towards us, every text message she fails to send, every phone call she refuses to make, every picture she doesn’t post or post she makes in secret, every time she laughs because she has argued my seven year old into tears over a game, and every exclusionary action she takes. She just won’t admit it to our parents. And because she won’t admit this is the life she wanted, we are the ones continuously being beat me down. Do you know how hard it was on the boys last year when my niece and sister were around every week while my parents were here and then suddenly they disappeared as soon as my parents left? What it took for me to convince my kids they had done nothing wrong and they weren’t at fault for the lack of interaction. These people drain me emotionally and test me mentally. And it isn’t fair. I didn’t choose this. She did. She just won’t take responsibility for her actions.

*and these are just the tip of the iceberg. So many other things have been done and said but I digress as these were the tipping points for me.

**during this visit they stayed for twenty minutes, used the bathroom, tried to pay my son for making them a sandwich (!!) and tried to facetime my parents (because they need to perpetuate the illusion of caring, you know).

In case you were wondering, an attempted visit was made to their city. In the past we would drive out to the city where they live once every couple of years. It’s in the Snow Belt. The highway has no lights. And it is over an hour away. We have no reason to go so we didn’t go. But since they moved out there, Millhouse will make the drive out there every couple of months. Millhouse drove out to their home the weekend after Valentine ’s Day. They weren’t home. When Millhouse texted them to let them know he was in the area McDonalds and he had left the Valentine’s the boys made for them on their front porch. The response was “thank you”. That was the end of it. It wasn’t “where are you / we can come meet you / are the boys with you / come back and come in for a minute”. It was thanks because they were busy doing something they didn’t want us to know about and they weren’t going to make time in their day for Millhouse or couldn’t even be bothered to find out if the boys had come out to see them. They won’t tell our parents that part though.

Lesson #3 – Reflections

These posts all have a common theme, I expected my sister to behave in a certain way and she didn’t want to.  I believed she was a certain way but I didn’t see her for who she really was.

I feel so stupid for believing she was who I thought she was.  I should have seen her for the person she truly was.  I can’t be angry at her because she has always shown me who she was, I just failed to see it.

I am disappointed in myself more than anything else. More than anything coming to terms with all the feelings I am going through makes this whole process even harder.  I held my sister in very high regard.  I saw her as someone I could count on, someone who I could lean on, someone who I could confide in.  I ignored all the times she was selfish, self-concerned, mean, vindictive, hurtful and cold.  I wrote those off as anomalies but that is who she was/is.  I shouldn’t have just accepted her behaviour or dismissed it or even worse defended it.  I should have known better.  And because of my poor judgement, my kids are paying the price.

I really wish it hadn’t taken me years to see who she really was. I should have realized sooner my family was just a convenience to her.  People she could use and abuse at her whim.  I wish I hadn’t enamoured my children to her.  That is my greatest regret.  The pain they feel; the hurt, confusion, self-doubt, all of it is my fault.  They haven’t done anything wrong.  They shouldn’t be made to feel as if they are not as appreciated as the other people in her life.  I gave her that kind of power over them.  As a parent, I never should have done that.

I have to state, emphatically, these posts are not about bad mouthing my sister. The purpose of these posts is to help me.  She is who she is and living her life as she sees fit.  I am not here to convince anyone of anything.  By writing down the things she has put me through, put my boys through, it is helping me come to terms with the state of our relationship now.  And what it will be like in the future.  I need to remind myself to be more selective of those I trust with my children’s emotions and this is how I remind myself.  Rereading the posts reminds me not to fall victim to pity visits and half-hearted attempts at a relationship with my boys.  I recognize them for what they are.  What’s done is done.  I can’t change that.  I can just make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Lesson #2 – Sharing should mean caring

I try to live by the motto: “do unto others as you would want others do unto you”.  I am far from perfect.  I have all sorts of flaws, and I recognize this.  I don’t try to compete with other people and I try really hard not to compare myself to other people.  What is for me, will be for me, and that’s it.  At times it is hard but for the most part I really try to treat people like I would like to be treated.

That’s why when my sister and niece lived here, I would try to include them in just about everything we did. Even before my boys were born, I would include them in all sorts of things.  Millhouse would joke that he had two wives because my sister and niece were part of our unit.  I would bring them along wherever we went, even if it was something they didn’t have much interest in.  An experience is an experience and they should be shared.  When Maks came along, he joined in on the adventures and finally so did Mats.  Even when funds were tight, I would try to take all three kids to do and see things.  I wanted them to have shared experiences.

Then my sister and niece left and that stopped. There were now separate experiences that didn’t involve my kids.  At first, I couldn’t understand it.  I just didn’t get why they were doing these things my kids would like to do but purposely not asking the boys to join them.

That’s where lesson number two came in.

And unfortunately, lesson number two is exactly the same as lesson number one. I was expecting her to do something she did not want to do.

When I reflected on how she behaved when she was here, it all made sense. Sharing experiences is something I would do.  I would take them along on adventures but that was never reciprocated.  In fact, they would go out of their way not to include the boys when they went out with their friends.  They would make their plans without telling us about them and we would only find out they were off to do something fun as they were walking out the door.  When Maks was old enough to recognize they were going out, he would ask where they were going and most often the answer was “out” or “places”.  When he pressed them, that’s when the true destination would come out and nothing else.

When they left, things got worse.  One particularly hurtful time was when my sister sat with my niece and her friends, in front of Mats and made plans to go rock climbing that afternoon without either of the boys.  I spent the afternoon explaining to the boys that they had not done anything wrong, and it was not their fault they were not invited to go rock climbing.  I actually called my sister out when this happened and her response was “she knew we wanted to go but we didn’t make the plans to go rock climbing so she made them.”  She full well knew the boys wanted to go but because I didn’t make the plans, she wasn’t going to include them and she didn’t.  I guess she realized she ticked me off because after the rock climbing incident, she stopped talking about all the things she took my niece to do.  She just made her plans in secret.  That’s even worse.  There is this permanent shroud of secrecy around everything they say or do.  Some things come out in passing or by accident but most of the time they just pretend as if they are not purposely excluding the boys and by doing that it shows me they know exactly what they are doing.  That’s the worse.  It is premeditated.  She is purposely hurting my kids and is very aware of just how her actions are impacting my kids.  I know she took my niece and all her friends to Great Wold Lodge last week.  The boys were not invited.  They weren’t even asked.  She showed up two days later for a twenty minute pity visit with them.  Of all the things she has ever done, that was one of the most hurtful simply because she knows how to hurt them.  I tried really hard for them not to find out about that trip because if they knew, it would break their hearts.

My boys deserve better.

I have learned my lesson.  My sister is very willing to take the things I would give.  She will take and take and take but she will never give.  She will not hesitate to break my children’s hearts.  I cannot allow to hurt my children like this anymore.  I have sweet, caring, smart boys who need someone who will love and respect them.  She doesn’t want to do either.  If she did, she wouldn’t go out of her way to do things that she knows would hurt them.  I won’t give her that power over us anymore.  I will not allow her to use that power anymore.  She will never get the opportunity to share an experience with my kids again.  I can’t give her the opportunity to hurt them anymore.

Lesson #1 – Don’t do it again

When I look back at my relationship with my sister, there were all sorts of signs that she wasn’t the person I thought she was.  I just failed at recognizing her for who she was.  It was as though I had googles on and I had this distorted view of her personality.  Then when she moved out, the googles fell off and I was seeing who she was for the first time and I didn’t recognize that person.  When I talked about her behaviour with other people, they were not surprised at the things she was saying and doing because she had always behaved that way, I just never saw it.

And that is why when she said and did the things she said and did, I was surprised, hurt, bewildered, flabbergasted, angry and confused.  It’s taken a long time to process these feelings.  For a long time I held onto the hope that the person I always believed her to be would reemerge but that never happened, simply because the person I thought she was never existed.

When she and my niece first moved out, I expected the boys to be invited to a sleepover relatively quickly.  The boys were expecting to be invited to a sleep over.  They were so excited about it.  It was one of the things that made the idea of my sister and niece moving away easier to process for the boys.  They took some comfort in the idea of these sleepovers because the idea of a sleepover reinforced the belief that they weren’t really severing connections with my niece.  She had been a part of their life for every day since their birth, and now she was going away.  And that was hard for them to understand.  By adding in something fun like a sleepover, the sting of the separation did not hurt so bad.

The invitation never came.  Not once.  Summer came and went.  Weekend after weekend passed.  We were hearing stories of my niece’s friends spending nights on end but the boys were never asked to spend the night*.  The year went on and there was never an invitation.  Even when the boys asked to spend the night, she would tell them they couldn’t stay that night, they could come another night.  It’s been two years now and the boys have never been asked to spend the night.

Not of it made any sense.

Then I realized (quite recently actually) what I was expecting her to do wasn’t what she wanted to do.  She was the person who would tell me she would only babysit my boys if I bathed them, fed them and put them to bed.  If I happened to not bathe them, feed them or put them to bed before she started watching them, she wouldn’t do any of those things.  There were times when I came home late to find out that she let the boys have chips and candy for dinner and they were still awake.  Making frozen chicken nuggets, a sandwich or ordering a pizza was just too much work.  I had to either make food or buy food and leave it because even though she was capable of making them dinner, she wouldn’t.  She was the person who told me to make sure I bring food to her house because she wasn’t going to cook.  Just like that; “don’t expect me to cook when you’re here, make sure you bring food”.  She wanted to do the bare minimum.  I had to fend for myself and my kids.  She isn’t like this with everyone.  It’s just with my us.

This is when my mistake became evident.

Having a sleepover is something we would have done.  We would have invited my niece to spend the night before anyone else.  We would have invited her over because we would have wanted there.  We would have tried to keep her and the boys connected.  We would have tried.

Now I see things for what they really are.  She wanted the separation.  She wanted to do the bare minimum when it came to babysitting my kids so why would I expect her to invite them to sleep over at her house.  A sleep over will never happen, it was never going to happen.  It was something that was promised in vain, with no intention of following through.  It was said to keep the boys quiet.  Make them the promise so they stop asking but never follow through on it.  Hopefully in time, they would forget.

I just wish it didn’t take me two years to see this.

At this point I wouldn’t let the boys sleep over even if a sleep over request were to materialize.  It’s been two summers, being asked to sleep over now would be the result of outside intervention.  It would be something she did because she had to, in order to appease her perceived obligations.  it is not something she wanted to do because if she wanted to do it, it would have happened two summers ago.

*apparently she asked my then eight year old in passing if he wanted to spend the night one weekend about a year and a half ago.  No specifics were ever given, “just you wanna spend the night here one day” kind of thing.  He said he would but she had to ask me.  She never asked me.  It was something she said to keep him quiet.  I only found out about this three months ago.

New Year, New Blog

Yes, I know the new year started 25 days ago but I figure it’s better late than never.

This blog has always been a reflection of what’s been going on in my life. The blog has never really had a focus.  It was just a hodge podge collection on everything in my life and I have always tried to be as forthcoming with what I have been going through.  Sometimes that can be hard because a lot of the things in my life involve other people and I want to keep them as anonymous as possible.

But things have been going on that have been really hard to process.  I have been internalizing a lot of things and I just can’t do it anymore.  I need to stop keeping things in and start to articulate with has been bothering me in the hopes that actually getting things out will help me process and eventually come to terms with all the feelings I am experiencing.

This blog has always been good for that.  So I am going to get personal.  I am going to let you into my head.  And that is something I have always been careful about doing but it feels like I don’t have a choice anymore.

There will still be stories about my boys, my job and other random bits of my life.  In addition to all those posts, there will also be posts about how badly I have been hurting for the past two years and the people who have hurt me.  Those will be the most difficult posts for me to write but those are the ones that I need to write.  For some of them I am going to make myself share what’s been going on.  I know it would be hard and that’s where I ask for your patience.

Bear with me.

I am trying to heal myself.

I have a notebook

Unfortunately I am not using it like I should. Most days there are things I need to remember and I used to be able to say to myself “don’t forget to do this” and I wouldn’t forget to do it.

Not anymore.

Now I forget. I walk away and start doing something else and whatever it was I was supposed to remember gets forgotten. So my fantastic idea on how to build a salad or some new way to organize the closet gets lost somewhere between here and there only to be thought of again weeks later when I will probably forget about it later on in the day. It really is quite bad. So I got myself a pocket notebook that I can use to write down all the things I have to remember and now I have writers block.

I have nothing to write down. I am subconsciously preventing myself from using the book. I had this grandiose plan of having a notebook filled with random bits of knowledge and ideas in which I could refer to later on. It would be a physical reminder of all the great things I am capable of coming up with during the day. But that just isn’t happening right now. I don’t think it has to do with me admitting my memory sucks, I know it sucks, hence me relenting and getting the book. There is more to it than that.

What the more is, I am not sure.

The Garage Sale That Wasn’t

So the plan for June was for me to have this mega garage sale. I was supposed to dedicate a weekend and clean out all the junk.  I am the first to admit it was an ambitious plan given all the stuff I have and I am not surprised that the garage sale didn’t end up happening.  I have been purging and purging and purging but there is still so much more stuff I need to go through.  It seems like there is just so much stuff.  And I keep finding random things as well.  I found toys, socks, roland drums available at Musicians Friend , baby blankets and so much more.  I just can’t believe just how much stuff we have accumulated over the years.  I have this tendency to save things in case I need them at a later date but I have to stop that.  It just causes me to have more garbage than anything else.  I also need to figure out better ways to store things.  I have things piled and stuffed into closets and I need to stop doing that.  I need to organize my closets otherwise in a couple of months I’ll be in the same position again.