My mother is a hoarder. She was a hoarder long before reality TV made it “a thing”. When I was little I simply thought there were too many people living in too small a space. In retrospect, I think that kept things in check. Once mom and dad’s nest should have been empty it began bursting at the seams.
It became difficult for me to spend long stretches of time in my parents’ home. I found the sheer visual weight of stuff overwhelming. Voluminous piles loomed around me like prison walls. And the sight of stacks stressed me as I thought about the work they represented. I found it hard to function normally within the confines of clutter.
Hoarders view the clutter differently than non-hoarders. The stuff seems to represent a sense of control over life. The collecting seems to alleviate the sense of a void. The gathering and the having apparently sooth anxious feelings.
Unfortunately, the effects of the collecting have the opposite effect on non-hoarders. So many things in too small a space make life feel out of control, oppressive and stressful.
The piles and stacks begin to build walls between these two types of people. The walls feel impenetrable, dividing people who love one another. The stuff keeps people at arm’s length while close, healthy relationships are what will ease the uncomfortable sensations that lead to hoarding.
Love can heal the wounded heart, but that heart must first find courage to tear down the walls. Without the stacks and the clutter the path to comfort becomes clear.
For my Wm. Morris project this week I reflected on the difficulty of my mom’s hoarding for her children as I sifted through boxes of her records and papers I brought back from a recent visit. There were too many for our shredder so we burned them in the fire pit. Going through the stacks of paper inspired me to destroy records of our own that were outdated as well.
What we needed was a nice bag of marshmallows to go along with the bonfire!
My Simple Moment for this week.
I am also linking up at the Lightning Bug for a post about something which makes us proud. I have not always been understanding of my mom’s hoarding especially when faced with one of the three houses my siblings and I cleaned out after she left. In the past few years as I have experienced anxiety first hand I have learned compassion for her. That understanding has bridged the gap bringing us closer. Of that I am quite proud.