How a Decision I’d Felt Fine About Suddenly Felt Wrong

WaLk the Goats

A lot of my childhood stuff was discarded over the years, but neither I nor mom ever discarded Sad Baby.  Plush in all parts except the face, she had a zippered-pouch in back cradling a music box.  The soft body, with lilting musical tones, was a comforting snuggle.

The plushie eventually made her way from the east coast to California, her cloth frayed and worn, the music box long dead and disposed of. I washed her face, aired her out and alternately displayed her on my bed or stuck her in the garage.

Years passed. Sad Baby had been in the garage a while when a desire to declutter arose. My decluttering urges loop around regularly. Each time, something that survived the last cycle, does not make the current cut.

One de-clutter tip I’d read was to take a picture of an object cared about but no longer wanted. It would keep the memory without having to store the thing.

I looked at Sad Baby. “It’s time,” I thought. “Time to let go of you.” Sad Baby had been mine for 55-years.

I took a picture, tucked her into my trick trash, and she was gone.

Sad Baby comfortably lived in my memory. I didn’t miss her. I was content with my decision.

Until…I wasn’t.

Bubba and I were having dinner with friends. As we ate, Jack talked about a Raggedy Andy doll he’d cherished as a child.  He’d held onto it into his adult years, but somewhere along the way Andy had been lost. In the absence of the doll—lost without intent—Jack felt a longing.

He wanted to replace Raggedy Andy. With the internet and eBay, he started his search.

“And I found him!” he said.

He excused himself from the table. When he returned, he held a version of the Raggedy Andy from his childhood.  Jack was smiling.

In that moment, observing his joy at tangibly reconnecting with a childhood memory, one of my characters suddenly wondered, “what have I done?”

I had been content with getting rid of Sad Baby. Suddenly, I wasn’t.

“What kind of person am I,” this character thought, “who can so casually throw out a beloved doll from childhood? Jack would never do that. He treasured his Raggedy Andy so much he sought to replace the one he’d lost.”

I didn’t want to feel distressed. And yet, here I was.

It was a fascinating moment. Had I never heard about Jack and his Raggedy Andy, I assume I would have remained at peace with my decision to get rid of Sad Baby. Or maybe I wasn’t at peace, and Jack’s story aroused that doubt.

The thing is, I didn’t think I had lingering regrets about the choice I’d made. And yet, when I observed my actions relative to Jack’s actions, feelings of distress arose. I respect Jack. If I didn’t, I likely wouldn’t have reacted the same way. But because I do, looking at my choice relative to his, I suddenly found myself feeling as if I’d made the wrong decision to get rid of Sad Baby; that I’d done some aspect of life wrong. It was a feeling I experienced in that moment, assessing my actions relative to his.

It made me wonder how often I scan the social landscape and make internal assessments—often unconscious—about the choices I’m making and how I’m doing relative to others; was that a bad choice or a good decision? I’d love to think at this stage of life I’d be able to look within to know who I am. But given my reaction to Jack’s Raggedy Andy story, I’m clearly still looking outside myself for clues.


Photo source: Walk the Goats


21 thoughts on “How a Decision I’d Felt Fine About Suddenly Felt Wrong

    1. That they are, Fiery. Touching those inside answers happens; and when it does, the feeling is of calm. It’s one reason I write; to touch it more often. To tease apart the “relative self” from the answers that exist beyond that self. Words are insufficient.

      Even knowing that, the self-relative-to-others continues to guide much of my experience of life. Whether I like it or not. Less so as time passes, and as I muse (and write) about things, but that “relative self” Self continues to scan the landscape about how to “be.” And it’s basically relative to others.

      Thanks for your comment, especially about the writing. Means a lot. 💖💖

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Fascinating question to ask yourself. I agree with Fiery, the answers are within. And often come from contemplating what went wrong, then not doing it again. Easier written here than done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My intellect is good at giving me reasons I could/should do something differently or should/could rspond differently. It’s good to have that, to learn should I face something similar again.

      And, for me, part of my exploration is looking at both the “thing” that happened (getting rid of Sad Baby) and the inner, unpleasant, agitation that arose. They’re related, and separate. I find myself turning toward the inner response, and the character(s) that arise, and less toward the “thing” that appeared to trigger the response.

      By becoming aware of the character and maintaining some distance, I’m able to experience their response almost as “separate from” “me.” They respond, but they aren’t “me.”

      As you and Fiery said, the answers are within. I agree; that inner something, greater than the characters, allows the characters to have their responses without embracing their response as a reflection of “who” I am.

      Words fail! No wonder there are a gazillion philosophy and spirituality books out there😜.

      Thanks for reading and for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah this reminds me of my Dead Ted (
    I don’t know why we feel the need to hang on to our childhood things, yearning for a simpler time maybe? I can’t chuck out Dead Ted but I also don’t yearn for my babyhood!
    I don’t think you did the wrong thing, you did the right thing for you at the time. Judging your actions by Jack’s experience isn’t the way to go. I could make the point that if Jacks Raggedy Andy was SO precious he wouldn’t have been so careless to lose it, and replacing it on Ebay for a copy, is maybe a little wierd for a grown man. (Sorry I’m sure he’s lovely! 🙂 ) Also, who the hell makes a SAD baby?? Or gives one to a kid, that’s child abuse!! 😀 Good job letting it go! XX

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Fraggle, your post cracked me up. It was the most deliciously mischievous way to make me feel better by letting me know I have a “weird friend” and an “abusive parent”! I feel better now. I think 😜❤.

      I love your Dead Ted post. And I love that there’s a joy he still brings you, stuffing-less and all.

      The character who decided to part with Sad Baby was good with the decision. And is still good with it. And there’s a certain other character that feels differently. Truthfully, that’s my experience in life with a lot of things: being of two (or more) minds about stuff. Learning to recognize that–and accept it–is where I think peace and acceptance lies. For me.

      Thanks for your comment. It really did delight me 😘

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Questioning myself feels like my default! Sometimes I wish it didn’t happen so much. But, it does. I like to think that putting it down in words softens my resistance to that trait. If I resist it less, I’m more at peace with it. Love your support. Thanks.


  3. Nathan

    Whoa. What a powerful post. I suddenly had memories of stuffed animals of my own I’ve lost over the years. Crazy how these things can have so much meaning for us. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes I’ll find something that was stashed away in a box from long ago. I had totally forgotten it. Until it reappeared. And then, once seen, I couldn’t part with it. What’s THAT about??? You’re right, crazy meaning thing. Thanks for your comment.


    1. Nope. She went into trick trash and into the dumpster. All I have left is the photo. There’a bit of melancholy I don’t have “her” anymore, although the truth is, she was living in the garage for years. Not exactly treated as a valued possession.

      Yeah. For me, much of this experience was how unaware I was I needed/wanted some validation of what I’d done. Had Jack shared a similar experience of parting with a beloved childhood doll, I would’ve received my validation. Instead, I got the opposite. It made me suspect this happens, in my life, regularly, just not as obviously.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This was an interesting story of nostalgia and second-guessing. I “miss” many things from my childhood, but as an Army brat had to learn to dispose. I treasure the memories, knowing that they’re incomplete and inaccurate. We all go through doubting our disposals, but I hope you relish the freedom from possessions that came with the photo/discard process. I wish I had taken photos of some thing before getting rid of them!

    Next baby you get — make it a Happy One!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s funny but had I disposed of the doll when I was younger (along with a bunch of other stuff) it would’ve been fine. Part of the distress was tied to how long I’d kept her before finally pulling the plug. Time factored in. Interesting.

      Yeah, when you move a lot, things get purged more regularly. Like it or not.

      Love your advice to get a Happy doll next time. I agree. There’s a blog post in the works about her existence in my life in the first place! Stay tuned.

      I enjoy your comments. Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You made me cry. I had Poop Head Smith, a Teddy Bear I left on the Staten Island Ferry as a little girl never to be found again. I was careless my mother said, even though she and my Aunt tried to find him, calling even the Coast Guard that was stationed in New York Harbor at the time.

    Many choices I’ve made have been careless ones. This piece has made me think. I’m sorry you were sorry, but the other thing I know is we can be very hard on ourselves. One’s Raggedy-Andy isn’t necessarily someone else’s Sad Baby. Very evocative essay.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The comments here, and posts about others’ bears and stuffies, make me realize how powerful those comforting stuffed creatures were/are. Is there a part of us that remembers them because of the comfort they provided in our past, or a plaintive wish they could provide a similar comfort in our present?

      We can be hard on ourselves. In prior years, the distress I felt that night at dinner would have really grabbed me; it would’ve been amplified way more than I actually experienced it. I would’ve identified so deeply with it that it would have felt crushing; dark. For me, being able to note my distress without being suffocated by it was a big difference. Yes, I was sorry, but I wasn’t destroyed. Does that make sense?

      I just pictured a beaker of clear water. In the past, my distress would’ve been like adding blue dye to the water and watching the clear water all turn blue. This time, it was as if the blue dye got added to the water, but rater than impacting all the water, it was contained in a small capsule. The blue capsule floats in the larger water of “self” without turning spilling its impact over to the larger “self.”

      As I said above, words fail. Thanks for your comment and for letting me know my post made you think.

      Liked by 1 person

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