A few nights ago, I had one of my reoccurring anxiety dreams. This one was embedded in a different reoccurring dream where aliens are invading and I need to move quickly to survive. In this dream, it’s night out and I can only see the spacecrafts from a distance. The night is blazing orange and red from the explosions and I can see the massive ships by silhouette. I know this is the end of the world as we know it and that my wife and I need to get out of there. We don’t have much time, so we quickly start packing what we need for the pets and us. Except in the middle of all this drama, I am suddenly overcome with fear and anxiety over my suitcase.
Yes, the world is about to end, and I can’t move because of my suitcase.
It’s loaded with all sorts of shit that I don’t need. I don’t remember packing it myself, I just found it in that condition. It has everything in it from dresses I wore when I was eight, to brightly colored plastic building blocks I used to play with at my grandma’s house when I was little. There were stuffed animals, tons of worn-out clothing, papers I wrote in college, books that I couldn’t open, broken jewelry, ugly hair clips, loose photographs that were bent and torn, candles, chipped mugs, old greeting cards, notebooks, and old cassettes and VHS tapes with the tape pulled out and completely useless. All of it was old, useless, shit that would not help in the event of alien invasion. In the best of times, this would be useless shit.
In my dream, I’m paralyzed by it. For a long time, all I could do is look at it and feel despair. When I was finally able to move, I started sifting through it to see if I could find anything that would help us. But there’s nothing. Not a thing in there was worth anything. I can’t even pick up the suitcase, it’s so loaded down. I started hyperventilating, because I know we needed to get out of there, but all I can think about is how I can’t move the thing and even if I could, there’s nothing in it that we’d want.
In the waking world, I’d just go grab a trash bag and shove a few things that we needed into it. A change of clothes, some food, water, toilet paper (never forget that), soap, some pet supplies, and BOOM, out the door! But dreams don’t work like that. My subconscious was trying to belabor a point; I’m carrying around a lot of baggage that is weighing me down. SHOCKING! It didn’t take Carl Jung to figure that one out. The life of me, my spouse and my pets are in the balance, and I can’t move because I’m carrying around a colossal accumulation of mental and physical crap I should have let go years ago.
I finally decided to not take anything and we jumped into the car. But it’s too late, we’re about to be consumed by a firestorm. I woke up after that. I received the message loud and clear; start letting that stuff go.
I’ve worked extensively over the past few months to get rid of the mental baggage. I’ve dug deep in the dirt to confront the old demons of bullies, illness, bad jobs and heartbreak. But in addition to the mental baggage, I did accumulate a lot of physical junk. These are mementos, jewelry, stuffed animals, old school notes, knickknacks, clothing – tons of clothing – and stuff I simply do not need. Over the past few decades, the stuff has added up and it’s taking over my life. Since my transformation started back in April, I’ve gotten rid of several boxes of stuff, but not nearly the amount that I need to throw away. I find I’m having a lot of trouble with the reality of it. I’m giving myself one week to clear out what I don’t need. I’ve realized that unless I give myself firm deadlines, I just don’t get it done. I don’t know if it’s fear of losing something I think I might need later or fear that I will throw something out that held meaning for me once. But it’s quite clear to me that whatever relevance these items once held for me, they are holding me back now. And it needs to end.