Being a Hoarder is in my Blood, and Driving my Wife Crazy

For the longest time I thought that a hoarder was something you saw on a television documentary, or on the news. An elderly person died and in their house was every single newspaper they’d ever owned, since the 1930s. Perhaps a house was full of garbage, and it made the news. Nothing about the poor souls that lived there, just mountains of junk, to the ceiling.

When my mother passed away, my sister and I, and my father to a certain extent, had to come to the realization that our mother had been a hoarder. Now, not a sad hoarder like those on television… just a regular hoarder. She kept everything that could possibly have had any sentimental value.

She kept her clothes from when she was a child, back in the forties. She kept all her books, including her childhood books. She kept EVERYTHING.

Since she was so organized, we never noticed. We didn’t grow up in a house full of newspapers or garbage, it was pretty normal, no visible accumulation anywhere. It’s only when she was no longer there to manage it all that it became apparent. I don’t think she had a very severe case, but it was definitely persistent throughout her life.

She’s been gone for over a decade, and my sister and I still deal with the aftershocks, mainly a warehouse full of stuff that we have no need for. I am gamely listing things on eBay and Kijiji, trying to get rid of stuff, but it’s a long, difficult process, fraught with emotions at every single item I handle.

I’m afraid that I suffer from the same condition, although I am certainly more willing to admit it than my mom ever did, certainly because of the influence of my wife, who sees all this from an outside perspective. It just seems that no matter how much I sell or dispose of, there is more that comes in; it’s a constant, uphill battle.

I’m better than I was; I don’t collect empty prescription pill bottles anymore (although I find them strangely useful), and I’ve come to see my crazy mess with somewhat fresh eyes.

The Lively Dollar

It is said that feeling distress about possessions, of feeling overwhelmed or embarrassed, is a symptom of hoarding, and if that is the case, then I’m definitely a hoarder. Having anyone but family or very close friends over at home is difficult and requires an inordinate amount of stress and organization to pull off.

With the other classic symptoms of hoarding, I seem to do better; I am able to get rid of possessions, but only so far through selling; throwing out items is still very difficult, but I guess that at some point the junk that’s left will be just that, junk, and nobody wants that.

What helps me is realizing the pain, stress and feeling of being overwhelmed that my compulsion imposes on my family, particularly on my wife. She doesn’t have to deal with that, and it is something that I am able to fix. It’s not easy.

I also have young children; I don’t want, hopefully far into the future, to pass away and leave them a house full of junk that they have to deal with, just like I have to deal with the warehouse now. I am glad to have so many cherished family items, but it would have been nice for my parents to do some pruning before giving us the keys to the warehouse.

As I get to writing the blog more and more, my efforts in getting rid of all that stuff will become more apparent; this website is about money, making it, saving it and putting it to work, and selling all those items will be an additional source or revenue that I will mine for a long time.