I have a hard time letting go of things. Intellectually, I know that they're just things. But I can't help but feel like they have emotions.
As long as I can remember I've thought that inanimate objects had thoughts and feelings. When I was little I thought the car's' door open' alarm was it trying to talk to me, so my mom would leave the car door open to pick up our mail and come back to find me "singing along" with the car. I was trying to learn its language, talk back to it. Whenever my mom would make me choose which toy I wanted more, I would feel bad for whichever toy got left behind. I imagined its feelings of loss and rejection. I would want to cry because I felt cruel leaving it behind. The last time I went to an animal shelter was heart shredding. I could feel the loneliness radiating off those dogs and there was nothing I could do to help them.
My empathy for objects has diminished, but it's still there. And now it always comes with a dash of self hate because I'm an adult and I should know better. But I don't. Not really. I'm trying to be kinder to myself about it. Animism is a valid belief in a lot of other cultures, and feeling shame about emotions you automatically feel has never helped anyone.
Clothes are usually the hardest because they're so close to us. They're right up against our skin. They serve us, they protect us, they keep us warm. They help us show the world who we are and who we want to be. One of my teachers defined performance as someone standing in front of a group of people and saying "This is something I want you to know about me, this is something I don't want you to know about me." Clothing is our daily performance. They tell the world who we want to be. But they also give away the things we want to hide. What size and shape our bodies are. How much money we have. How clumsy we are. How well we take care of our possessions. Clothing holds so much.
When we buy something, we have expectations about that thing. The small way it will change our lives. "I will wear this and look like someone who is....." fill in any applicable word. When people give us clothes, they have the same expectation, and they carry our feelings about that person. I have clothes that were handed down from a frienemy and every time she said they looked good on me, I would feel protective, like she was about to rip them off me like the sisters in Cinderella. Most of my clothes are given to me by my mother, so there's a lot of baggage there. It's not all bad, but if my mom bought me something, or made me something, it's MUCH harder to let it go, no matter how little it suits me.
I'm getting rid of things based on the Konmari method, now. It helps a lot. She talks about objects having feelings and helped me reframe my thoughts about getting rid of things. She says it's just releasing those things so they can go be useful for someone else and that helps a lot. She also tells you to keep or throw out things based solely on your intuition. It doesn't matter how long you've had it, or how often you use it. The only thing that matters is how you feel about it, the first moment you pick it up. It's helped to eliminate the pro/con thought process, and I don't have to try anything on.
But it also means that some of the things I threw out, were things I'd used a lot or had for a long time. And I felt bad letting them go. They'd worked so hard for me, and served me so well, how could I let them go? It's embarrassing to admit, but it felt a bit like ending a relationship that wasn't working. So I held them. And I thanked them. I told them what a great job they had done and how they'd go on to help someone else right now. But it was still hard.
And I still have so much more clothing to go.