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Purging! The Courage to Get Rid of “Heirlooms” Tainted With Bad Memories

Like a Norwegian Atlas, Michael stood on the townhome balcony, his arms fully extended above his head. In his hands, he held the family heirloom glass-topped coffeetable. It had pride of place in his childhood home and had followed his family to every home they owned in MN, WI, AK, NE. When the table was given to us, my new mother-in-law had shaken her finger in my face and given me a lecture about “taking care of it.”

Now Michael stood poised to condemn the “precious table” to the dumpster beneath the balcony and I watched, fascinated but puzzled.

He stepped backwards, stepped forwards and hurled that table to its doom. He didn’t drop it. He didn’t throw it. He didn’t toss it. He hurled it with a passion I’d never seen before.

It exploded in the dumpster in a shower of broken glass and timber.

Then Michael turned and re-entered the Living Room, a pleased expression glowing on his face, rubbing his hands in a  satisfied “That felt good” manner. But it would be one household move and three years later before he finally confided why the table met such a shocking fate.

You see, it was tainted. All the bad memories, all the horrible things he witnessed or personally endured in his childhood home were tied up in that table as if it had absorbed all the Evil in that home. It was replete with memories he usually keeps “locked in a box” at the back of his mind.

The drunkenness. The wife beating. The smell of vomit in the mornings. The frequent accusation of “thatlittlesonofabitchstolemykeysagain” as his father searched for items he drunkenly misplaced. The vicious beatings. The thump of fists and the whizz of the belt buckle. The death threats if he ever told. Michael’s bruises slowly fading from purple to green to yellow. The weird sounds coming from other rooms of the house. The fear of creeping downstairs to use the bathroom at night. The constant heartburn that caused Michael to vomit every day when the schoolbus dropped him off at his driveway and ruined his esophagus for life. The fear, the terror, the grief, the anger.

That coffeetable had witnessed everything in that hell house and reminded Michael of years he’d rather forget. With a shower of glass and timber, Michael destroyed it and severed yet another link to his parents.

I thought he was brilliant. Courageous and brilliant. But it would be four years before I began to follow his excellent example myself.

Look around your home now. Your furniture, knick-knacks, glassware, dishes, wall art, jewelry, clothes, heirlooms. What items make you cringe? What items instantly conjure bad memories of narcissistic (or other) abuse that you’d rather forget? What physical items are tainted?

Now let me ask you this:

Why do you still have them!?!

Oh, I know, I know. Maybe you too had a cautionary finger waved in your face when the precious family heirloom was passed down. Maybe it’s guilt. Maybe it’s monetary value. Maybe the next generation isn’t old enough to receive and value the heirloom yet. Maybe you know your mother/grandmother/{insert family member here} will check on said item because they do every time they visit. Maybe there’ll be Hell to pay if they don’t find it having pride of place in your home, poisoning each shining hour.

C’mon! We’re better than this! Are we going to let Michael get away with having all the courage and moxie and gonads of iron!?! I don’t think so! 😉 He’s thrown down the gauntlet and I, for one, don’t want to have less courage than my husband! (I actually found an old email where, during the height of June bug season, I refused to exit the house and he paraded back-and-forth outside bawking and flapping his elbows, laughing and mocking me for being “chicken.” I’m proud to say I refused to budge. Dejunking tainted items is one thing. Having June bugs land on the back of my neck quite another!)

In my case, necessity was the mother of dejunking and two birds were killed with one stone. I had so many possessions that were utterly tainted and we badly needed the money. So in 2016, I put the first tainted item up on eBay: a beautiful Egar Berebi one-of-a-kind red-and-gold costume jewelry necklace that my father had given me. It was in the shape of an urn and had Helen of Troy’s face on one side and one of the thousand ships that her face launched on the other.

How could you be so heartless, Lenora!?! Such a precious gift from a loving father with cancer!

Actually, it was emotional. Even if Mom had picked out the item with her usual unique sartorial taste, the urn had the common thread of the love of History that my father passed down to me. I can see him now. I’m maybe nine years old. It’s Saturday night. Story night! Dad has one hand deep in the popcorn bowl while the other emphasizes the story of Helen of Troy he’s telling me for the first time. He always was a bit of a raconteur, an art form I adore to this day. “Tell me a story, Daddy.” There’s nothing better than stories!

Other than that, I hated that necklace. I never liked it. For one thing, it was uncomfortable to wear. For another thing, it was red. I hate red. But oh no! Dad always made me wear red for professional pictures because “you look good in it.” Well, I don’t feel good in it and the smile I’m wearing in all those pictures over all those red sweaters was forced.

So I sold the urn necklace for $50 and it was a great relief. On the one hand, it helped to pay off the lawyer I had engaged to fight my parents. On the other hand, I no longer have to see that damned urn every day in my jewelry box.

That sale started the ball rolling! Soon I was selling everything tainted by narcissistic abuse — much of which had been secretly dejunked onto me by my mother anyways because, I suspect, it was also tainted for her! What’s good for the goose is good for the gosling!

I sold my first Hopechest item, a lead crystal candydish from East Germany gifted to Baby Me by my narcissistic Granny. It went to a friend whose kindness is unstinting and who later paid for over half of the cost of Michael’s Enchroma glasses. (You know who you are, V. A big Thank You to you and to all the readers who donated!)

I sold the 3-generation Alana Stewart brooch me, Mom and Granny all “supposedly” have. Uh-huh. Mom’s was gone long ago. Oh wait. Is that s’posed to be a secret!? Like the lavender necklace from Granny Mom gave me and I also sold? And the pink pearls everyone is passing around and no one wants. Ooops. Did I just spill the beans!?!

But there was one item I posted on eBay with the same vigor Michael put into hurling the coffeetable. It was my Graduation Ring. A cushion-cut sky-blue topaz ring…that filled me with sadness every time I wore it.



Why? I’ll tell you in Part 2! Click here!

Purging! The Courage to Get Rid of “Heirlooms” Tainted With Bad Memories

Lenora Thompson

Lenora Thompson is a syndicated Huffington Post freelance writer and food blogger. Her readers call her the "Edward Snowden" and "Wikileaks" of narcissism because of her no-holds-barred-take-no-prisoners approach to writing about narcissism. “Narcissism Meets Normalcy” is the real-life, ongoing story of her healing journey from being held “hostage” by a multi-generational, cult-like narcissistic family. It's gritty and real, bloody and bruised, humorous and sarcastic. Lenora Thompson considers herself a “whistleblower,” shining a spotlight on narcissistic abuse so others can also claim their freedom and experience healing. To learn more about Lenora, her husband Michael's heroic battle with Pulmonary Alveolar Proteinosis and to read her writings about food, please visit Thank you!

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APA Reference
Thompson, L. (2019). Purging! The Courage to Get Rid of “Heirlooms” Tainted With Bad Memories. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 13, 2019, from


Last updated: 13 Aug 2019
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