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Sustainer vs Destroyer

In Greek mythology, Fate has three aspects who manage a mortal’s thread of life. Clotho spins the thread, Lachesis measures it, and Atropos cuts it with her shears.

(I was introduced to the Three Fates via the fantasy series, The Incarnations of Immortality. Book 3 was among a handful of  thousands of books I’ve read that left an enduring imprint.)

Similarly Hindu culture presents the Trimurti of Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Sustainer, and Shiva the Destroyer, or Transformer.


I am Lachesis. I am Vishnu. I can keep things new like nobody’s business. I keep the factory sleeve on a new phone until the screen protector I order for it arrives. I kept socks from college drill team for 20+ years until one got a hole in it and my husband ridiculed me into throwing the pair away (both of them; what a waste). I still play the flute and piccolo I got as a Christmas present while in middle school — both are in excellent condition in their original case. An entire corner of our crawl space is devoted to boxes for blow dryers, crock pots, laptops, hand vacs, car DVD players — just in case I ever want to return the contents to their original packaging (why? I do not know).

I am a sustainer. I keep things new for years,  decades. Cars, clothes, electronics, furniture, dishes, books, STUFF — they all last a loooong time and I take great pains and pride to make that to happen.



I live with a Destroyer. There is a Shiva, an Atropos in my life. Car doors get scratched and dented. Hallway walls get gashed. Clothes get torn — ON PURPOSE. Shoes last a month if I’m lucky (obsolete not for size but for mud or holes or being secreted into the giveaway bag). Gadgets, sundries, bikes, instruments, jackets, electronics are !finished! in one way or another after months rather than years.

destroyer mind blown

I’m going mad thing-by-thing. The function of Transforming sounds possibly acceptable, but Destroying makes absolutely no sense to me. (I get that Nature needs worms and fungi and decay as part of the renewal process, but here I’m not seeing much renewal around here). Does it make sense to you??

I may have to concede that a Sustainer simply can’t win against a Destroyer.

Which are you: a Creator, a Sustainer, or a Destroyer? Do you regularly deal with someone at cross-purposes to you? If so, HOW??


This post is part of #MicroblogMondays? Whazzat? A post that’s not too long. Head to Stirrup Queens to join the fun.

Lori Holden, mom of a young adult daughter and a young adult son, writes from Denver. She was honored as an Angel in Adoption® by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

Find Lori’s books on her Amazon Author page, and catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.

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15 Responses

  1. Looks to me like you have a bit of obsessive/compulsive going on there with all that stuff saved in its original boxes:-) Not something to be proud of. Maybe your destroyer partner is trying to tell you something by finally throwing some of it out.

    Both my husband and I are a mess and tend to keep stuff forever, but not keep it new. Stuff wears out after a while if you use it, and we do tend to keep things beyond the point most people with the money to replace them would. My car is a mess, full of dents, old bumper stickers, but it still runs even though the plastic inside is cracking and it is no longer nice. We keep things but do not keep them new. We could really stand to destroy more old stuff but never get around to it. I have always admired neat people and wish I were one, but never got the knack at all.

    1. Yeah, maybe it’s an obsessive/compulsive thing. Maybe it’s overkill to aim to sustain as I do, to feel pride in doing so. Likely my destroyer partner IS countering my tendencies in some way. And like Cristy says below, destroying can be much more fun than preserving.

      But when I sell an item (like my old Samsung phone that got a second life with a mom and her teen son last week) it is nice to be able to present it in good condition and in its original packaging. I see it as a nice touch. If I have to give up a bit of crawl space, I’m OK with that.

  2. I’m a cross between a creator and a sustainer. I like working me my hands to make new objects and I’m certainly a neat freak. And the saving box thing makes complete sense to me as I store items I don’t use often in their original boxes.

    That said, I am now living with 2 small destroyers. Particularly the young male. I’ve lost count on the number of times I’ve repaired books, patched clothes, cleaned scribbles off walls and undone chaos created in under 10 seconds (why does it always take longer to put back together?). The sad part is I think they are both having more fun than I am in their roles. Sigh.

  3. I love the idea of a Sustainer! My husband always calls me a Hoarder, which I find insulting and inaccurate. I Sustain because I hang on to things that still have usefulness or could have a use in the future. I don’t have a Destroyer in the house, other than my gross cat that is currently sneezing snot everywhere (thank goodness the home study is done, because ew). I don’t know what to label Bryce, as he is a Scandinavian minimalist thrower-outer. A Clearer maybe? Sustainer. Totally going to steal that.

    1. Okay, some of my things are like new, except my car which is fairly disgusting. Bryce was in the process of getting rid of things I’d been keeping in a bin when I read this and I think I was kind of hoping that this was more of a justification for my keep-everything habits as opposed to keep-everything-new. Although a lot of my stuff is in very good condition! 🙂

  4. This was an interesting read. Being a Hindu, I can relate with the Hindu mythology. I am not able to think whether I am close to Brahma, Vishnu or Shiva. At the same time, this brings me to the point that the factories which manufacture goods, clothes etc are like the God Brahma because they are the creators.

  5. Finally, after a long long time I was able to leave a comment on your blog successfully today. I had been trying to do the same over the last many months but every time there used to be a message that my comment is a spam. Probably, It had to be the mention of Gods to put everything into right place 🙂

  6. Kali and Durga, the two sides of the feminine. 🙂 I think we are all like this: the nurturer/sustainer, and the mad destroyers. I sustain to the best of my ability, and then I lose my shit completely.

    Oh, how I miss my yoga class! 🙂

  7. A usual Lori, your ability to frame things in a different way is just so good and well put and thought provoking. And allows me to realize a dichotomy in my life that I had not been able to fully form. So, I too am a sustainer, though not as meticulous as you are. I have been wearing the same pair of ski socks since my feet reached adult size, so something like 25 years and they were a hand me down when I got them. And I am an environmental engineer. Using every bit of life of something matters so much to me. The “life” of some of my child’s toys is 5 minutes, literally 5 minutes (sometimes less!). It kills me. I would find myself stressed out about how my child was using his toys. And scolding him. I try my very best to let that go since that is not the world he lives in at the age of 6. I look for ways to preserve his care free joi de vivre and yet instill in him the importance of not destroying things for his own pleasure and for the sake of the world. Ha! Too much to put on a little guy. And so I breathe, and pull out the trash can (gasp!!!!)

  8. I’m…a combination of all 3, I guess. I create when I cook or knit. I sustain family mementos from art to furniture to clothing. I also sustain the relationships more than anyone else in the family. But, if you asked my husband (who is also a combination, but really only of sustainer (mostly) and destroyer), I am all destroyer. I drop stuff on his hardwood floor and make dents. I spill things (like red wine, on our beige couch). I crack things into the walls and doors. I bang up my car (which is 10 years old, btw).

    I, too, have to restrain myself from interfering in my child’s destructive tendencies – she is pretty much a sustainer, though, so it’s not terrible.

  9. As much as I know destroying plays a role, it would gut me. I have such a reaction to what I perceive to be waste. I am a sustainer. I’m a keeper of things “just in case.” I’m a recorder. I can’t imagine ever destroying things when I know how much work it takes to sustain things.

  10. Ooo, that Piers Anthony series looks amazing! I’ll have to check it out soon.

    Before I met my hubby, my apartment was extremely neat. About three seconds after he moved in, the place exploded, and every place we’ve lived in since has had a similar result. After 28 years, I’m still not sure how we’re managing to live together. *grin*

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