Confessions of a hoarder!
I’ve always collected stuff. My mother had a lot of stuff. Every now and then things would get passed on to charity shops of someone who might find an item or two useful but in general much more stuff was coming into the house than going out.
One of my mum’s hobbies was trawling round secondhand shops and finding interesting treasures and fairly naturally I suppose I took up the hobby but brought back all sorts of things. I bought anything I liked the look of (perhaps animal ornaments), things that seemed to be a real bargain that I thought I might use sometime, and probably worst of all stuff for projects.
As a would-be crafter with a strong imagination I thought I would someday do this, that and the other with all these items. The truth is most things are still there years later just as they were on the day they were bought.
When my financial situation was better I also bought many new items.
I was totally unable to part with so much but because I could every now and then shift actual small van loads of items to charities I really didn’t think I was a hoarder. This is despite the fact that every room in the house has tons of clutter in it. I have to shuffle round things and I have far too much furniture too.
Things got out of hand due to mother’s illness
My mum became quite ill a number of years ago and I looked after her. This was when things really began to get out of hand. My only outlet was buying from shopping channels on television. It gave me a real lift and the same old “I’ll be able to do that someday”.
I knew things were getting out of hand but just thought it was because I had health problems and a lack of time. A friend insisted I was a hoarder, which I denied adamantly, thoroughly convinced that I was right. They even ‘threatened’ me with contacting Stelios, but I did not want to go down that route. Then one day recently I suddenly realised I am and have been a super hoarder for years. The stuff that I cling onto mostly for emotional reasons (and of course all the other clutter) had become a terrible burden. How I wish I had realised this many years ago. The clutter has got in the way of so much of importance and at the end of the day they are only things. Had I kept my possessions to a few I could have been enjoying the far fewer things that really matter, that are useful and bring back happy memories.
Now I face a daunting task. I am beginning to clear out a lot more now, but it is a slow process and quite a painful one. There is a lot of regret involved in not doing this earlier (or better still not having started in the beginning). However, I am hoping that as the house gradually clears I will feel more positive about the whole experience. I am hoping my mind will clear along with the house.
I wonder at the fact that I really could not see the situation for what it was. How does that happen? Anyway I’m sure I’m going to have quite a task on my hands but at least I have finally faced up to the truth of the matter, so that’s a starting point anyway.
Well done – you’ve made a start!
Admitting “I am a hoarder” is a huge step
I found it a bit sad to read that you had let yourself slip into the hoarding habit, but I can promise you you’re not alone. I find the whole subject quite scary, and it’s probably because I’ve got a bit of a tendency to hold onto things far more than is good for me. Of course, I’m not a hoarder (but then again, don’t they all say that!?). The main thing is you’ve been brave enough to admit to yourself “I am a hoarder!” That’s the starting point of recovery.
As you pointed out, hoarding is often linked to emotional issues, and when you have other problems on your mind (illnesses, dependent relatives, etc) then it can easily get out of hand.
I can only commend you for making the break. You’ve made a start and you’re working your way through the clear out, and I imagine it’s not at all easy for you. Letting go of things you’ve clung onto for so long can be a painful process.
This would be a good time to seek help. If that friend you mentioned is still around, perhaps he or she could be coaxed into helping you? Actually, your friend might well be eager to help, since getting you free of this situation was what he/she wanted all the time, right?
So don’t be shy (or embarrassed) to ask. There’s a good chance help is at hand, and with two of you working on this thing it could really take off.
I wish you the very best of luck. And I’m sure, now that you’ve started, you can get your life back on track. Just be sure to keep up the momentum!
PS You may find it helpful to visit HelpForHoarders, a site set up by Jasmine Harman, who was embarrassed by the clutter at home, caused by her mother’s obsessive hoarding. There is a very helpful forum on her site where people can share their experiences with hoarding, and getting over the problem.