“You’re not packing these!” I shrilled at my mother as I removed the seven chargers for phones that she no longer owned from a moving box. She snatched them from my hand and tossed them back in, asserting, “I might need them. If not, I can sell them at a yard sale for a dollar.” This scenario repeated itself 823 times as we boxed up the miscellany (think food containers with no lids and bags of wash clothes I’m certain we used in the ‘70s) my mother had accumulated over the years in preparation for her recent move.

When it comes to physical stuff, I am much more of a thrower outer than a keeper. I get rid of everything. High school yearbooks? Gone. Letters from the boyfriend who broke my heart in 1984? Tossed (well, burned actually). That pair of skinny jeans that didn’t fit my not-so-skinny back side? Ditched. I’m afraid to tell you this one because I fear you’ll think I’m a heartless monster, but…those “works of art” created with beans, macaroni, and toilet paper rolls by my children? Yea…long gone.

My purging obsession comes back to bite me on occasion when shortly after disposing of something I find myself desperately needing it. Or worse yet, when my husband desperately needs an object I have discarded unbeknownst to him, and I find myself frantically searching on eBay for an identical replacement. The first time he inquired of a “missing” item, I directed him to the Goodwill where I had dropped it off, but that seemed to make him angry. So now I keep quiet, employ distraction techniques worthy of a master magician…and pray for expedited shipping.

So why do I have such a hard time ridding myself of the rubbish I carry around on the inside? Just like the clutter my mom is not sure what to do with but isn’t ready to let go of, my mind, too, holds on to things of questionable value. The difference though, is unlike the markers that only work when you lick the end of them and the sporks from Bojangles, the junk I hang on to can cause real damage. Even so, I open my mental junk drawer daily and sort through its soul-sucking components: memories that are better left in the past, all my “should have’s” and “ought to be’s,” lists about what I deserve and what I have missed out on, and the burning question of “What is WRONG with me?” that lights up in my mind like a blinking beacon.

Opening that drawer is a killjoy—it makes me feel as if I’m stuck watching a movie of my worst moments play over and over. So, while I’m not a fan of new year’s resolutions (the guilt from not sticking to them typically winds up in said drawer), it is time to purge the jumbled mess in my head. Like those obsolete phone chargers taking up space in my mother’s drawer, I’m going to toss the emotional debris spilling from mine. Yes, it will be much harder to box up than the stuff at my mother’s, and I’m certain I won’t be able to donate it…but maybe mom can get a dollar for it at her next yardsale?

~Dana Nieters