The things they (literally) leave behind...

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by TheWalrus, May 11, 2016.

  1. TheWalrus

    TheWalrus I Am The Walrus

    If you have followed my threads, I have stepped back from my relationship with my daughter for now. It is mutual, for the first time. Before it is has always been on her side, with me waiting and even actively attempting to reach out.

    Here is where I am curious if others have had this happen and how they handle it. She has left several personal things at my house. Things I would "think" she needs. She has done this in the past. Left her entire life at my house like I am a free storage building. Last time she left it over a year, even though it was not where it would be protected and was slowly going to rot. I repeatedly asked her to come get it, warned her it would be no good. I finally just cleaned it out - then six months later she came asking for it and was pissed because I got rid of it.

    Now I am stuck (again) with her stuff. I have asked her about it a couple of times and she has blown it off. I know a big part of it is because she is transient and just floating wherever on whatever couch. And now we aren't really speaking at all. I have had this stuff for about 6 months. I have no idea what to do with it all. If I do nothing, she will leave it here indefinitely. If I donate it, she will no doubt come around completely pissed that I gave it away. And I don't want to contact her because (a) she won't come get it and will have nine kinds of excuses why and (b) I don't want to open that door to her. Part of me feel she doesn't even care about any of it, but it is a control thing.

    Have any of you ever just been stuck with their stuff? Had them use you as free storage to freeload their belongings? What do you do? How long do you hang onto it?
  2. savior no more

    savior no more Active Member

    The first time my son went to Residential Treatment Center (RTC) for 18 months I kept his stuff here. He had way too many clothes as I babied him and bought him nice clothes. He liked to have nice clothes to make up for his lack of esteem. When he went to the Halfway House last summer after he was released from jail I took a lot of it to him then. Most of it was promptly sold for drugs within two weeks. What little he has left I have put in a box and put in the store room for his extended stay in prison that will be coming up soon. I do this probably to have hopes that someday he can claim it and have a life.
    I have an idea your daughter leaves her stuff there subconsciously to have a connection.
  3. DarkwingPsyduck

    DarkwingPsyduck Active Member

    The truth is that her belongings at least have a fighting chance if it is left with you. Since coming to Reno 3 years ago, my twin sister has been arrested 4 times. EVERY single time she is released, my aunt has to buy her a brand new wardrobe, as she has literally nothing. Next time she is arrested (which is only a matter of time since she has an active bench warrant), we will take all of it we can find, and set it aside somewhere. It hurts my aunts feelings that she is so inconsiderate, but this is what addiction does to a person's priorities.
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  4. savior no more

    savior no more Active Member

    Addiction is the key like you say. My brother for years would lose everything and at Christmas he would get some new clothes. My son would lose stuff and it really hurt my feelings at first. Also, I think people tend to respect things they have had to work for and take better care of it when it is their hard earned money.
  5. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Though our situation is different (Miss KT and I are now close), I have an entire bedroom full of her junk. She moved away five years ago. Hubby has hoarding tendencies, and has added to the disaster with his items, so I pulled the curtain (no door; she tore it off the hinges and threw it at me several years ago) and ignored.

    I finally began tackling it this spring. The prom dresses went to the Cinderella Project, to be cleaned and given to girls who can't afford to buy one. The yearbooks and the karate uniform/belts went in a box to be given to her when she has a house to put it in (they're in a small apartment). I also learned that she was too damn lazy during high school to get up and throw things in the garbage. I admit I was tempted to ship her empty lotion bottles, Snickers wrappers, a crushed box of tampons, a broken ponytail holder, a single sock, etc. that I pulled out of the closet, but my better nature prevailed.

    I would go through the stuff, pack up what you think will be important to her somewhere down the line, give away or trash the rest of it, and move on. Do it for closure for you. Hugs.
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  6. Kalahou

    Kalahou Active Member

    One question is -- do you have room to keep some stuff in a place that will not inconvenience you too much? I did have some space I was willing to give up for a while to keep some of my son’s things.

    When I asked my son to vacate our home last fall, he left with his stuffed backpack (as usual), but I knew he would never get to moving himself and things out of his room anytime soon. I knew that to get him out , that I would have to be the one to clean out the room and remove his things. ( I would have to do it myself … FOR ME … for my own peace and sanity). I told him I was getting a small storage shed and would set it up in a corner of the back yard and would put some of his things there. He asked if I could get him a space in storage facility and pay the first month and then he would take care of it after that (?? Yeah ! right ! ??). I said “no”, I would put it in the storage shed in the yard, and he could always move it anytime / anywhere he wanted. Well, I thnk I did a good job, put it all in there all neat. And then I never said another word.

    The first time he came back to it, he said -- Wow! Nice ! I think I can live out of here? (“uh …. Nooooo!”)

    He periodically came back to get stuff out of the shed until he went to jail this past January. Since then, I've not thought much about the stuff in there. Out of sight / out of mind! I sometimes get a passing concern that the things will eventually not last there forever, since the shed is not climate controlled (we live in a quite warm tropical climate.) But it’s out in a corner of the yard, not in my way.

    Although in my clean out, I did trash and give away a lot, I did not want to trash it all, since he will likely need some of the things, and I certainly don’t want to lay out more money to be buying new clothes / shoes and all, when he has too much already. I think he is glad I have his things here for him (?) How long this will last, I don’t know. I’ve only had the shed out there 6 months now. If a time comes that I don’t want it, I will re-consider.

    My “grands” come to stay here every other weekend , and sometimes they will ask to go in “Daddy’s cabin” to see some of his things they remember, or tape up a picture or a card they made. Maybe it helps them to keep their Dad in mind (?), as they haven’t seen him lately.

    I guess maybe it is free-load storage, but I am willing to do it for now, and I am still hopeful (in some far corner of my heart) that a new day of change may come around, and it will be helpful to have kept some of the clothes and things.

    However, in your situation, if you don’t have space to store anything, that is another situation altogether. Because if I didn’t have the out-of-the-way space, I wouldn’t want it all in my face everyday / throughout the day to remind me of him and his difficulties. I wanted him totally and completely out of the house. But I had to do a lot of the work myself.
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    Last edited: May 12, 2016
  7. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    We went through Belle's things and kept a very few select items she might want. The box they're in is about 18" x 18" x 12". Sheets and comforters went to the local pet shelter, trash and junk was thrown away, furniture and books were put in a yard sale and later donated. We will do similar with Pat.

    Belle was gone long enough that she did not remember most of it... And the things she took with her were stolen.

    If it bothers you - let her be angry. SHE left the stuff behind, you were just reclaiming your home.
  8. TheWalrus

    TheWalrus I Am The Walrus

    The first time she did it, no, I didn't really have room and that is why it was in a place that didn't protect it from the elements. The agreement was for it to be temporary. When it began to literally go to rot and I could bear it no longer, I went through and discarded what was ruined and donated anything that wasn't.

    I have gone through all personal, sentimental items and have them boxed in plastic totes, marked, and tucked away. I am sure they will remain until my death. I don't even know if they are things that will mean anything to her and those things I do more for myself than her.

    The things she has left now are all clothes. Tons of clothes. They are more of an inconvenience than anything. Like Darkwing pointed out, she wouldn't even have them except when she had her accident, I scrambled around and got them. She would have left them behind but I couldn't do that. Then it became assumed I would keep them for her. Yes, she has the addict disrespect for her things just like people. Most things are broken, left behind, pawned, forgotten without a care. I quit buying her nice things a long time ago and switched to practical or useful.

    I hate confronting her things every time I open the closet, yet I don't know what to do. I cannot imagine just leaving my things scattered hither and yon without a backward glance.
  9. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    We never got around to thoroughly cleaning out my son's bedroom, so sentimental things were still out...but the plan was to box them up, label them, and store them like you did. Same with clothes. The plan was to go through them, wash as needed, and stick them in a tote (if they are the right size and in decent condition otherwise toss/donate). Of course, it's a bit different with a young man; all ratty jeans and t-shirts and he doesn't really care what he wears anyway. But I, personally, would pack them up and stick them away somewhere if there is space to do so.

    But that's me.
  10. PonyGirl65

    PonyGirl65 Active Member

    You can't imagine the look of pure terror on my face the day my husband came through the door carrying a TV, assorted other items, and my GFG31 came in with his guitar....I was like "No. Nooooooooo" but that was more about I didn't want him moving in to our home at that time ;-)

    I have a rented storage unit, and those items were placed out there. Just recently, I was called out to the County Jail to pick up the items left there when he transferred to State Prison. I went. Pair of shorts. Tank Top. One sock. (ONE?!) Two books. And many, many, many letters & envelopes from County Gov't....

    I washed the clothing and folded it up. Put that with the books into a plastic tote (where I am also collecting extra towels & sheets) and am storing it in a spare bedroom.

    I don't mind keeping the few things.

  11. Sister's Keeper

    Sister's Keeper Active Member

    If you have boxed up the sentimental items, good, keep them, donate the rest. If she is mad, she is mad, but if they are clothes that have been there for that long she obviously doesn't need them.

    When we donate we donate through Purple Heart. It is a veteran's organization, and they take household items, too. The best part is that you just schedule a time on the internet, but the stuff on your porch, and they come pick it up.
  12. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    This one is too sad for me to post about too much. But this is what I think I know about keeping their things for them. It is true that their things get lost or broken. When we see what it is we have been storing, or what's been left in their rooms or storage buildings, we wonder at how valueless it seems. Like one of us posted: One sock.

    Stuff like that. Most of it dirty or old or broken. Tossing it feels like we are reclaiming order in our own lives. What we are really doing when we go through and try to figure out what to save and what to toss is grieving. And it is very sad, and hard to do.

    How could this be the memorabilia of a life?

    But when the kids do come home, and when they go through their things that we did save, that we did that for them matters. Invariably, there will be something that I didn't know to save. But still, it matters that someone cared enough about them to cherish their things for them when they could not.

    To make that effort.

    It matters that someone loved them enough to do that.

    I am not saying we need to keep one sock. Or mostly, the broken things. But I do keep things for them that might have some emotional value. As one of us posted, stackable plastic bins do not take so much room. Over time, I might go through the bins and thin them out. Clothing that is ratty or torn, I do not save. At first, I do. After a year or two, I don't save any of the clothing. Or the furniture. Or the broken things, unless I know that item has been chosen, has been saved, each time they needed somewhere safe to keep their things.



    I agree. The connection is to us, but it is to themselves, and to the hope they had for themselves and their lives when they acquired these things, too.
  13. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Yes. Not a lot. But yes.

    My son leaves his garbage around. It is hard to not react to his stuff because we feel, I feel trashed by him. So does M.

    We do not feel like free storage. We feel like we are forced to live with his garbage, almost excrement. That is not fun.

    I hang onto it forever, in black garden trash bags. Maybe 1 or 2 bags. Until four months ago I did. Then I donated the clothes. And then felt bad, because he came home and needed clothes. I felt bad.
    I agree with this. Your daughter wants a way back. She wants to feel you are taking care of part of her.

    I remember my mother gave my sister my room after I went away to college. (It was not like I did not ever come home. I did, at that time. When I expressed to my mother that I felt bad, she answered, what did you expect that I would keep for you as a shrine?

    I guess I did.
  14. TheWalrus

    TheWalrus I Am The Walrus

    It is all clothes. I had to wash every single item because I had to go retrieve it from her house. Her meth house. They smelled so bad that I couldn't bring them in my house until they were washed. And going through her house? The most horrid experience of my life. The clothes are stored in suitcases in a closet but every time I open it, I am confronted with the memory of going through that house. Sometimes I just avoid that room completely.

    But on the flip side, if she does this as a way to keep an "in," I feel guilty if I discard it. Even though I am distancing myself from her for now, there is always a possibility, regardless how small, that can change. In her mind she may need an "in." She will always have that if she is willing to change.

    So how do I reconcile the feelings? The stress of confronting her (literal) baggage over doing something that may unintentionally make her feel discarded?
  15. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Is there any place you can put these things that you won't be seeing them all the time? Attic crawl space? Basement? Garage? Hidey-hole under the stairs? That way would enable you to keep them and yet not have the constant reminder. You could really store them and just totally transform the room into a different space. Or maybe a relative could hold on to them, if you have a sister with a big empty basement or something? Just so you can say, "If she needs them, she can have them." but you don't have to be seeing them.
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  16. TheWalrus

    TheWalrus I Am The Walrus

    No attic and my "crawlspace" would not protect it from weather/critters. That is what happened the last time - we put it in the crawlspace when she said it was temporary. I have no relatives close and I cannot imagine asking someone to hold onto it. I can only imagine the look I would get because it is "just" clothes, but what I had to go through and witness to get them gave me a look into her life that I never wanted to see, never want to see again.

    So I feel "stuck." I have no doubt she will leave this here for another year or longer. And so they sit...
  17. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    You may not have an attic, but do you have access to the area between ceiling and roof where the roof trusses and insulation is? I've known people to lay boards near the opening, across the roof joists, and use that area to store boxes of stuff. Just a thought.

    I'm sorry. I know how much this is bothering you. I had a good long while when I hated my son's room. His stuff in there - I just wanted to burn it. He'd punched holes in his door, so I couldn't escape it - it was there every time I walked down the hall. We eventually got that door replaced - Jabber tried to burn it, but they do a good job with fire retardant on those!
  18. TheWalrus

    TheWalrus I Am The Walrus

    I do have access to that crawl space and that may be a good idea. It is just insulation so I would have to see if it would sit on the cross beams. It is so sad how little is left of her life and how little value she puts into it. I know a life is not made up of things, but to me having my own home, my own bed, my own possessions and my own routines is a huge part of where I get my sense of security. It would not matter how much or how little I had - I cannot imagine walking away from it without a backward glance. It is like she has no connection to anyone or anything.
  19. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Just reading along. It really is sad how our d_c's can just walk away from their belongings. I gave up holding onto things for my son years ago. Like you I held onto a bunch of clothes. The first time when my son got out of jail I told him I had all his clothes. Here I thought he would be grateful, instead he went on about how "those clothes aren't my style anymore" Seriously, when did jeans and t-shirts go out of style??? Then, he wanted me to go out and buy him new clothes that were his style "gangter pants" I call them. I refused.
    The next time he went to jail I did not go the group home (where he was court ordered to be until he got caught stealing again) to collect his clothes. He didn't appreciate my efforts the first time. Well, straight out of the Difficult Child handbook, he berated me for not going to get his stuff and clothes.
    I told him I was not his personal storage unit and that if wanted to keep his "stuff" then he needed to stop getting in trouble.

    Several years later after husband and I moved to the Midwest, son was finishing up at a half way house and transitioned into an apt. He did get a job (and actually held it for 6 months). He needed everything for his apt. so I went to Goodwill, Big Lots and garage sales and got everything from a toaster to towels. I shipped 4 big boxes of stuff to him. Oh he was so happy! Like I said, he held his job for 6 months but wasn't paying his rent and got evicted. Everything I bought for him was left in the apt. When I told him I spent a lot of money getting that all together for him he told me, "the landlord say's he'll hold it for 30 days so if you want it, come and get it" Sure, I'm going drive 16 hours one way to pick the stuff up.

    I had a few more episodes over the years (don't get me started on the guitar) but eventually learned that my son as I'm sure with many others do not appreciate or hold the value important of having things in their lives.

    The only thing I can offer is this, if you have a place you can store her stuff where you don't have to see it then hold onto it but if you don't and it's causing you to be upset then it needs to go.

    ((HUGS)) to you Walrus.
  20. TheWalrus

    TheWalrus I Am The Walrus

    It is almost symbolic, the holding on of the their things. As though we hold onto the values they should have, everyone should have, in the hopes they will one day be willing to receive them.

    I have a feeling my daughter will do the same, Tanya. She has set me up for damned-if-ya-do and damned-if-ya-don't situations more times than I can count. If I hang onto it all, I can easily see her laughing at me for keeping clothes she would no longer want and had totally forgotten about. Then her lack of gratitude and ugliness for what she would see as my ignorance would hurt. But if I go ahead and donate it so it would get use, I could see her blowing up on me for doing the wrong thing AGAIN. It would be her tirade and verbal assault that would hurt in that scenario. I have had it go each way several times so it is often a lose-lose deal more often than a win.