This afternoon I watched “Hoarders” on A&E. I had seen the beginning of it a few weeks ago and recorded the episode. It is a show about hoarders who are at the brink of some major crisis because of their hoarding. It isn’t an intervention show really, but documents what they are going through.
In this episode, there was a young family who was going to have their house condemned by the city and their kids possibly taken away if they didn’t clean up the mess. There also was a separate story of an older woman who hoarded food. She couldn’t smell the stench, or associate the flies in her house with the possibility that there was rotting food underneath piles and piles of stuff.
The first thing I took away from this was how the people had a hard time parting with things because of their “value.” The man in the young couple had 5 or more empty fish tanks that he had decided he could part with. But then he changed his mind when he found out they were going to be thrown away. They had value to him. The woman with the food got almost nothing done because she argued about the value of the food that needed to be thrown away. She peeled the top layers off of what seemed to be a completely rotten cabbage and found a very small amount in the middle that might have been edible (if you hadn’t seen the rotten part). Chicken stock that had been expired for more than six months was too valuable to her to throw away.
I also struggle with getting rid of things because of their possible value. Ebay can be a wonderful way to get rid of stuff, but it can also prevent you from getting rid of things right away because you “might” get something for it. Then they sit in your home for even longer. The organizer helping them said something like “Does this item fit into your picture of a happy home?” This struck me. I have a vision for my game room/office. I have a vision for my master bedroom. I even have a vision of what I wish my garage looked like. These things are blocking this vision. They don’t have value; they are sucking the beauty out of our home.
My other reaction to the show was to be thankful that at least I’m not as bad as they are. But as I’ve said before, I could be. If you saw my master bedroom, there may not be rotten cabbage, but there is clutter EVERYWHERE.
The young family’s hallway was covered completely a foot deep in clothes. There are times when my dirty laundry covers our small hallway. I may have a great excuse of having sorted the clothes into piles with the intention of getting it all washed, but after a few days, sometimes after more than a week, that excuse loses its validity. My family has had to walk on top of clothes to get through there. More than a few times.
I may not have a rotten pumpkin in the midst of my kitchen clutter, but I can remember a time when I thought my sink had gotten some permanent funk down in it. My kitchen stunk so badly. I poured baking soda down the sink. I think I even poured bleach down it. The stink was still there and I despaired that something horrible was wrong. Then finally, I washed the dishes that were piled high in the other side of the sink, and the stink was gone. Immediately.
I can’t think, “At least I’m not that bad.” If I let myself think that, I will lose sight of the vast amount of work and habit-building I have left to do. I’m not saying that I can’t be proud of myself, but I have to realize that I have a real problem. It is probably the same problem, but on a different level, that these people had. Going along in life pretending like it isn’t a problem hasn’t worked for me. I have to be honest, and make a change.