An issue with controlling stuff

Some people collect stuff, some hoard stuff, I control stuff.  I’m not talking about events and people – I’m talking about all those things, clothes, knickknacks, cars, etc, that you collect in life.  I’m usually happy to lend stuff out or let people use my stuff (reluctantly at times, I’ll admit) if they ask.  But take my stuff without asking and my brain screams "thief" and if anything goes wrong, it’s not an accident, it’s your fault. 

I still haven’t forgiven a roommate ten years ago for borrowing my brand new shirt (with tags) without asking, washing it and shrinking it.  If she’d asked I might have said yes (I can’t really tell now), and I wouldn’t have blamed her for the shrinking.  Now it’s totally her fault.  Even 10 years later.  (She didn’t apologize – ever.  Probably because I was so mad.)

Take my power cord at work without asking?  And not even offer to give it back that day,  so I’m stuck scrounging for a spare so that I can use my laptop that day?  I may act nice but my brain is screaming "thief" and my internal image of you is forever tainted.

And if you borrowed something from me and haven’t given it back yet, I know.

So obviously this is my issue.  I say obviously, because while you could argue that the people in the stories above – one ten years ago, one last week – were rude, I think the anger I feel towards them is way out of proportion with the crime.  But I haven’t had to deal with how I feel about people borrowing without asking because usually the people around me figure it out pretty quick and are very careful to ask before borrowing.  I’ve only ever had one roommate issue (the one above.)   But now I live with someone who lends and borrows freely without asking.  (I thought for sure his parents would kill us the first time they were out of town and we "borrowed" something but they seemed quite ok with it when they got back.  For the record guys, I still feel like a thief!)  And he’s someone I’m supposed to share all my stuff with.  And I’ve got this issue.

So the way I understand psychology, you are supposed to think back to some childhood event that caused this.  Did someone borrow something precious to me without asking and never return it?   I can’t think of one.  I do know that I never would have borrowed my parents’ stuff without asking.  And I never wore any of my sister’s clothes or even listened to her music.  (She never wore my mine either.)   

Hmm.  Maybe it’s a sibling thing.  If you have siblings are you more likely to want to "control" your stuff than if you are an only child?  My dad always talks about defending the food on his plate – he had ten brothers and sisters.  On the other hand, the guy I live with is an only child.  And my stepson was an only kid for six years and he’s got no issues with anyone borrowing any of his stuff.  To the point that I wonder if he’s got issues.  But he’s healthy and I’m the one with issues!

So I’ve got this issue with controlling stuff and I’m trying to work on it … (Does that count as an apology, Frank? 🙂