I’ve spent much of my life being pulled between the the drive to hoard and the desire to organize and clean. One of my biggest dreams growing up was to have a nice, big house where I could entertain people and tastefully display my collections. That dream has come true for me, though years of hard work on myself and my stuff (and support from my wonderful wife). Unfortunately, my hoarding instructor (Mom) is still at it. Her combination of denial and acquisitiveness have damaged her relationship with her husband and her children. My sister won’t take Mom’s granddaughter to her house. Several years ago Sis devoted a week of her vacation time to trying to help Mom organize and see the gravity of the situation. Tears came out as she told Mom, “It’s just not safe here for a little girl–she could get into one of the rooms full of stuff and pull a pile down on top of herself, and it would be very difficult for us to get in to help her.” Mom said, “Well, I don’t think I have a problem…” and changed the subject.
So this blog isn’t about how I’ve had total victory in helping my family overcome the challenges of hoarding. However, my personal victory has come from years of self-reflection and study, and by sharing my story, perhaps I’ll help another hoarder reprogram their behavior so they can create a better environment for themselves and their loved ones.
Being a blog which allows comments and guest posts, I am also hoping to learn from others. You (yes, you!) are invited to send me your pictures of rooms full of clutter, before and after pictures of your desk, living room, dining room, garage, top dresser drawer or whatever project (big or small) you are working on organizing and cleaning. Here you’ll find both support and encouragement. Denial and pathetic excuses, however, will not be met with sugary reassurance that it’s “all OK.” This is a place to come to get real, to change your behavior, to state your goals and report your progress. It’s also a place for people to come to share their stories and challenges, whether it’s with your parent’s hoarding, your partner’s obsessive-compulsive shopping addiction, or your own clutter issues.
I know from experience that it can be helpful just to be heard, to share your thoughts and feelings. This is particularly the case when the hoarder you’re dealing with is in denial and can’t or won’t see the mess right in front of them.
I’ll be reviewing the Hoarders TV shows including Hoarders episodes on A & E and Hoarders: Buried Alive on TLC. We’ll review Compulsive Hoarding treatments, from counselling to psychiatric medication. Perhaps we’ll even create a community that can come together in the real world to help people tackle their messes!
I’ve chosen the pen name Dewey Decimator for this site. I like puns, and this one refers to the library system of organizing (Dewey Decimal system) and the need for decisive action in getting rid of stuff. I of course have a “real” name and a “real” occupation–hoarding is just a personal interest because of growing up with Mom. I’m trying to protect her identity more than mine. I welcome you to leave comments with a made-up name as well. It doesn’t matter to me, the important thing is to encourage you to share your experiences, ask for help, or just get things off your chest.