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True Confessions of a Hoarder (part 2)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The kind of hoarding going on in my house is actually pretty acceptable. Many people would not even call it so. In my neighborhood, most people use their garage for storage and not for their cars. Many people buy, build or rent storage units (it’s a plus in real estate). We live in a time of plenty and that’s what makes my level of hoarding actually acceptable and even somewhat normal.

Several days ago, I spent literally hours watching the extreme hoarder shows. On the surface it is so hard to image how someone's house can get to the point where you walk on trash, allow your plumbing to go out and simply refuse to throw anything out. Even though I have trouble throwing things away, I insist on cleaning up. So, at first I had a hard time associating my issues with theirs.

Then I began to think of where I am now and how I got here. When I go through old papers, I find things that should have been thrown out years ago. Flyers, advertisements, receipts, even long-expired coupons. How did I overlook that? Why didn't I just throw the flyers or coupons away. Why would I spend so much time, energy, resources and money storing and moving such insignificant things?

Well first of all, life is overwhelming. We try to cram so much in our day to day life that we often lose track of things. So many times I have put something down and almost as quickly forgotten about it as I quickly moved to the next issue. The other day I bought something at the store, brought it home, still in the bag, and set it down. Then I went on to my next mission in life. Several days later, I remembered my purchase and went on a hunt for it. I found it, in its original bag, sitting on a chair in the living room, where I had set it down and where nobody in the house even noticed it. Inside the bag were a few other things I'd bought, also not missed. Even though I don't have mountains of stuff, it was still pretty easy for me to misplace the bag. And as I look around I realize that I easily look over things daily as I have for years.

Another reason is that I have become adept at putting things into storage without even knowing what they are. The great thing about moving in the Army is that people come in and pack your things for you. The bad thing about moving in the Army is that people come in and pack your things for you. I remember one of my moves from a three story house in Germany. Three packers, one on each floor, and me. When my belongings arrived at the next duty station in another part of Germany, I had no idea what was packed where, but it had to be delivered to my FOUR story home. Yes, four stories (basement, 1st floor, 2nd floor and loft). Again with just me! I was given a day or so to unpack and then I was back at work, boxes still lining the walls of each room. After work, I would come home to try to clear away some of the clutter, but it didn’t take long for me to locate the essentials (uniforms, kitchenware, linens, toiletries, electronics.) The rest slowly became either furniture or storage. And the next time I moved, I still had no idea what was in many of the boxes. But this time I was a single parent moving with a child, Since then many of those boxes have been cracked open, but sadly never unpacked. So many times I have opened a box and just decided that I didn't feel like going through it and I pushed it to the back - again. This is why years later, when I finally go through it, I wonder why I ever packed, stored and transported a box full of insignificant "stuff". Boxes that include bits and pieces of my life that should have long been thrown away. Flyers, ads, coupons, old invitations, cards, bits of ribbon, socks with no mates, hats that are now discolored and misshapened, and clothes that don’t fit.

So I don't have globs of dog hair in every corner. And I don't walk on a layer of fast food styrofoam containers. I don't have piles and piles of brand new, never-worn clothes and shoes lining my hallway or filling every spare room. But I do have boxes of papers, I no longer need. I have things that I have bought and forgotten and bought again. Never used and never opened. And I have bills and receipts and magazines and books and instructions and notes and other papers that should have long been thrown out. And that makes me no less of a hoarder than people who reach out in desperation on reality shows.

My accomplishment this week has been to cut down on some of the paper clutter in my bedroom. Thankfully, it has not taken over any other room of the house. What is amazing is how many places, IN THE OPEN, you can hide things. And I am also amazed at how quickly incoming mail becomes historic. My goal by the weekend is to clear off the surfaces: night table, dresser and desk. A place for everything. Everything in its place
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  • BELLEFAITH42
    great post. Doesn't it feel like such a weight is lifted as you take these things out of your house? I have been doing the same thing with the boxes in my basement that we moved 2 years ago and have never unpacked. put 4 bags of trash out on garbage day this week as well as a TON of cardboard and paper for recycling! Phew!
    3415 days ago
  • SNARDEESNIFF
    This is really food for thought, Rhoda.

    I can relate to your experiences in moving. My husband and I have moved quite often in my adult life, but usually have moved ourselves. The only time we had movers, we moved from a warmer climate to a cooler one, in the fall. When we got to our new apartment, it was quite cold. Our bed had been placed by the window, and there was a small space between the glass and the window frame. We were exhausted and it was too late to get a handyman to come out & fix the window. We needed blankets badly. I went looking at boxes and found a LARGE one labeled "Blankets". Upon opening it, I found ONE blanket on top and the rest of a box full of all kinds stuff!
    I know I did not fill or mislabel that box. I may keep too much junk, but I do know how to label a box of of various junk as MISC!

    One other funny thing. I recently learned that my brother-in-law has 31 boxes in his basement--papers, canceled checks, magazines, etc. from my father-in-law's house in Florida. (They are very neatly packed, mind you.) The funny part is that my BIL inherited my FIL's house when he passed away 27 years ago! And my BIL has lived in his current house in NC for about 7 of those years.
    Aren't we silly people?! emoticon
    3419 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/1/2011 12:28:05 PM
  • MAKI34
    I admire your bravery in letting us into your life. I wish you the best and hope you accomplish your goals!
    3421 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5519689
    A great post; I can definitely relate. Way to go on taking positive control!!
    3421 days ago
  • IMTCDZ
    You have some good posts on here. I watch most of the different hoarder shows that are on TV these days. I've lived in the same house for the last 23 years. I always thought if I would move (what a nightmarish thought)at least I would get rid of some of the junk I have stashed away. Now your posts make me think maybe that wouldn't happen. Most people wouldn't think of me as a hoarder either but I know how out of control the "stuff" is at my house. It weighs on me. I have trouble making decisions about what to discard and what to keep. Not so different than some of the people on those shows. The thing I have going in my favor is that I don't bring much in anymore, my house isn't that cluttered (I hide it well), I'm not a sentimental hoarder and I'm well enough to keep it clean. Good luck to you with your decluttering...I like those clean surfaces too. I'll check your blog out every now and then and maybe you (and Spring) will inspire me to do some decluttering too.
    3421 days ago
  • ITISDONE
    This is a great post. Keep up the good work! emoticon
    3421 days ago
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