Hoarding (Draft From August)


I stayed up way too late last night watching TV, and I got sucked into watching Hoarders.  Now, those of you who know me should have explosively burst out in laughter at the irony of this.  I, who have spent the past year and a half living an episode of Hoarders, was watching it on TV.

It was strangely cathartic.  I was able to let go of some of the pent-up emotions and hostility I felt toward my family.  The people on the show were like charicatures of my family, telling the story of our familial dysfunction in less than 10 minutes of total air time.  I really, truly identified with the people trying to intervene and encountering all the twisted psychosis that is hoarding.

And then I realized something else: I have been trained to hoard.

I can see the potential the value of junk.  I see that something could be useful, and I have been trained to think, “What if I need that later?”

I can see the sentimental value of the least important mementos.  I can hoard.

And I was beginning to fight it, in my own, small way.  Before all the craziness, I had a huge garage sale at my house, and we cleaned out boxes and old packing material that we just might have needed if we wanted the item in its original packaging.  Hey, I knew that a lot of things had value to collectors, and they have more value if they are MIP (Mint In Packaging).  And, who knows?  That car seat just might need its original box someday, right?  Wrong.

Fortunately for me, I had been fighting the hoarding disorder for a while.  I was starting to give things away, sell them, throw them away, or recycle them.  I was trying to declutter my life and make things better for my kids.  But I wasn’t there yet.  I hadn’t really mastered it.  I was still holding on to things for which I had no foreseeable need.

And then the craziness.

The year and a half of clearing out a hoard built over at least seventy years.

And there are still boxes we’re going through.

And some of them are mine.


Update November 2011 –

It’s funny, but I’m still in that place I was three months ago.  I still have boxes, heck, I still have another house with stuff in it that I need to go through.  Man, this weekend sounds like a good ole time to get crackin’ on getting that stuff out.

On the plus side, in those three months, I have figured out how to go through my kids’ folders and *not* save every piece of their work as some sort of tribute to their early genius.  I pull out the best thing, the most original thoughtful thing (if there even is one), and put it in the school memories binder with their name on it.  Most of it just slides straight into the recycle bin.  Good artwork goes on the refrigerator.  Old artwork gets recycled – or possibly granted binder status.  It’s a lot healthier, and I’m a lot happier.


4 responses »

  1. You are truly inspiring. It’s so great to read your blog – makes me feel like I can actually do something productive with my madness.

  2. I love watching Hoarders. It makes me want to clean. I have been storing some of it on my DVR for when it gets really messy around here and then I watch a bit to get my CrazyCleaningFrenzy on.

    I love the phrase “gets granted binder status.” It makes me happy.

    I’ll come help you clean out the other house over spring break. Do we have an overlapping weekend? I’ll bring trash bags, gloves, and some timers. I can’t clean without timers.

    • Oh, that would be divine. And I like you well enough that I might just try to get the house finished before Spring Break so that you wouldn’t have to live up to that promise. But, wow, that’s an amazing offer. It warms the cockles of my heart.

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