"How to decide how much to take with you?"

One of the complications of getting out of a toxic living situation is figuring out what to take with you.

A friend of mine has hit the "seriously thinking about getting out and starting fresh" stage, and is a bit overwhelmed by everything. She's in a position of being able to take some furniture with her, but deciding what and how verges on paralyzing.

I suggested that she break things down into three categories:

  • A -- things that are non-negotiable, like certain clothes, heirloom furniture, medical equipment such as CPAP machines, etc.
  • B -- things that she would prefer to take, but in a pinch can be left or sold. This would include things like the spare bed, an extra dresser, some clothing, etc.
  • C -- things that can be left behind such as self-assembled furniture, clothes that don't fit, dishes, etc.

After setting those categories, we started going through each room and sorting things. There were some surprises, but she felt that it gave her more control over the turn her life is taking. Once she had a basic idea of what she would be bringing with her, she was able to think about moving, storage, and even the size of living space she'll need to look for.

Breaking it down into manageable chunks is key. If you are toying with the idea of getting out of a toxic environment, even if it seems like a pipe dream, try this as a thought exercise. You can't get in trouble for thinking (assuming that "malignant telepathy" is not a thing that you are dealing with, since we're not in a movie.) You may even find making a mental list of this nature a source of comfort.

It should be noted that the lists do not have to be big things. Many are in the position of being unable to take anything but what they can carry in a rush. In that case, the A list may have to fit into a backpack or large purse, B list if you can take a suitcase as well, etc.

It should also be noted that this can, and initially should, be done as a thought exercise only. There is no pressure past any you put on yourself, and thinking gives you time to plan so that if an emergency situation arises you are better prepared to act.