The Thought Hoard and Letting Go

I wish I could let go.


That’s the mantra of my life. I wish I could let go of all the little things. The things that:

  • Occupy my mind
  • Hold me back
  • Prevent me from living in the moment
  • Distract me from joy
  • Fill me with sadness
  • Fill me with anger
  • Fill me with fill-in-the-blank emotion
  • Make me resentful


I wish I could let go.

I’m not a hoarder of things. I don’t stack tissue boxes up in piles. I don’t accumulate and store. I don’t hide away in a mess of junk.

But I am a hoarder of thoughts. Mostly negative ones. They eat at me, gnaw at happiness, until I can’t ever fully enjoy what I’m doing or where I’m at. I get mad at myself for being this way, but maybe it’s my way of coping. Maybe I take comfort in the negative self-talk. It’s the way I’ve been my whole life. It’s routine. In a childhood without structure, without order, maybe these thoughts are at least my old reliable. The one thing I could always count on. Thoughts like these:

  • You’re ugly
  • You’re stupid
  • Don’t say anything, lest you prove yourself to be stupid
  • Don’t attract attention because someone might say something mean to you
  • Why do you even try? You won’t ever be good enough.
  • Everybody hates you
  • Did I mention you’re not good enough?

For a long time, I thought these ideas originated in my own brain. That I conjured them up due to insecurity after being made fun of one too many times at school. Fueled by feeling the compulsion to lie about trivial things because that’s the behavior I saw modeled at home. “Sorry, you can’t come over. My parents are remodeling the house,” and “Of course, I take showers, not baths because our shower totally isn’t broken,” And “Of course I like the things you like even though I’d never heard of it before.” I was/am insecure because of school teasing, yes, but more so because of things my mother said.

The negative self-talk thoughts I mistakenly assumed started in my mind actually began as things that left my mother’s lips:

  • I wanted to get contacts in the sixth-grade because I felt like the glasses I wore were causing breakouts around my nose. After getting contacts, my mom said, “I thought you said getting contacts was going to make your skin better?” She laughed, because that was oh-so-obviously not the case.
  • I wanted to tell her something about my day, life, whatever and she was too busy to listen. Had to watch the same rerun of the same show for the ten thousandth time first because she hadn’t seen/heard every last little bit of the other times. She hadn’t watched it “right.”
  • I did everything wrong. Nothing I did could ever manage to measure up to her impossibly high standards. Seriously, if a coaster in the living room was an inch too far from where she wanted it, I’d screwed everything up and pretty much ruined her damned day.
  • When Matt and I started dating, I told her that he was my boyfriend. She smirked at me and said, “Does he know that?”

That last one really hurt. So I sold it as a short-short story to One-Forty Fiction. At least there may be profit to my pain. Ha-ha.

So yeah, things my mother said stick with me. They’ve bored into my brain and I can’t shake them no matter how hard I try. I’ve collected them, sorted them, and catalogued them. The hurt and pain and ugly words make up the hoard inside my mind.


4 thoughts on “The Thought Hoard and Letting Go

  1. I seem to have the same problem with hoarding negative thoughts. It’s taken me a lot of conscious effort to let things go. And then I have to fill up the space the negative things were taking up with useful, positive things. It’s a long road, but I hope you can get past things. Thanks for your words!

  2. Staci Stokes

    OUCH!!! That last one about your boyfriend was quite the grand finale of hurtful things. It actually stung as I read it. I pray that you will someday be able to let go of these horrific events that eat away at you. You are absolutely beautiful Brenda and are gifted with such an amazing talent to write. Embrace the wonderful person that you are because all that nonsense you’ve endured is not about you and who you are. It’s about those insecure people who don’t like who they are.

  3. Hello Brenda–my father was a hoarder who I’m quite convinced had something called obsessive compulsive personality disorder, which is not the same as obsessive compulsive disorder, despite the similar names. The way he did things was always the only ‘right’ way to do things and your mother’s attitude sounds uncannily similar, so it might help you to look that up. I know the DSM-V is putting hoarding in its own category, and I don’t recall now what they were going to do with OCPD, but the criteria for it should be easy to find online. There’s also narcissistic personality disorder, and especially the patterns narcissistic mothers commonly have. Learning about those helped me quite a bit.

    Here’s the wikipedia for OCPD:

    Don’t let the preoccupation with perfectionism in the definition throw you; despite being kind of counter-intuitive, hoarding is about perfectionism of a twisted kind. Because with a lot of hoarders if they can’t do it right they won’t do it at all. And since there is no such thing as perfect, or there is never enough time to do something completely right, that means nothing ever gets done, cleaned, fixed, or thrown away.

    Anyway, reading about OCPD helped me immeasurably.

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