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Old 07-30-2013, 11:52 AM   #1
CanadaSue
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Default Kimberly Rae Miller, author of Coming Clean, haunted by years spent in squalor with hoarder parents

***For months, Kimberly Rae Miller would wake in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat and itchy.

She had been dreaming about her childhood — the fleas she used to pick off her clothes, floors covered in animal feces, the sound of rats scurrying around behind piles of soggy newspapers her father couldn’t throw out, the blinds that were always drawn.


Kimberly Rae Miller, who wrote the book 'Coming Clean' about life with her hoarder parents..Though she’s now a successful independent writer and actress in New York — with a clean apartment all her own — the nightmares are the byproduct of growing up in a household of hoarders.

Between her freshman and sophomore year of college, she swallowed a handful of pills to escape the shame — and couldn’t tell doctors why she had tried to end her life. Even after her childhood home all but burned down because of the hoarding, her parents kept repeating the cycle after every move, after every purge...***

More at link:

http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/07...arder-parents/


I think I want to read this... but I'm not sure. I grew up with a hoarder. Unless you lived that way as a child, you have no idea... Turns out my SO did as well.

You can't count on genuinely clean clothing for school & Gawd help you if you try to do your own. Hoarders have some weird perfection thing going which often stalls them from even minimal tidiness. "If I can't clean something PERFECTLY, I'm going to wait until I can." Inevitably, nothing gets done. If you, as a child, so much as THINK about doing your own laundry or other cleaning - Gawd help you.

You can never have friends home leading to social isolation or being known as the 'weird kid'. If you're not the most adept with social skills, that certainly doesn't help.

Other hoarders do everything they can to avoid facing or dealing with their hoard. They're out a lot, on the phone or constantly talking about: "Getting organized soon. I just have to... or I need to..."

It's maddening, to put it mildly.

You grow up & leave home, then have to try & learn normal household maintenance skills because you've certainly not been taught. Adult children of hoarders often become hoarders themselves. Or conversely, they become minimalists. Some manage to find a middle ground.

Whatever the outcome, we adult children of hoarders often have uneasy relationships with our stuff. "Do I have too much of xxxxx? Do I have enough?" I find if there seems to be too much, I start feeling a wee bit claustrophobic. Granted, part of that is because we genuinely live in a small place. With my step daughter having moved out, we found we had a lot of newly cleared space. We've moved a lot of items, gotten rid of things we genuinely didn't need, (& in many cases forgot we had!) & I felt more... free? Best part of that is I've gained a lot more RATIONAL storage space for my winter stock up.

We don't shop for 'stuff' - clothing, etc. often & when we do, we're careful. Do we really need something? Or are we caught up in the small rush you can feel obtaining something new? I won't lie & say it's not exciting to buy something new or new to us. When you don't shop often, damned right it's fun to get something new & nice! But we almost always go together - checks & balances... just in case.

The hoarder in my family shops constantly & by shopping I mean buys new, buys at flea markets, garage sales, hits the freebie sections. She claims it makes her feel good. It might but that only seems to last a few hours. It seems more to be filling an emptiness. Flatly, she can't afford it, has no room for anything & her shopping is along the lines of: "If I always look like I can afford something new & different, I'll appear to be more successful than I really am." She's not fooling anyone.

We've got our place to the point where twice a week, we can do a 'major' cleaning - dust, vaccum, wash floors, scrub down the bathroom & kitchen & every day, tidy up behind ourselves. Maybe because of the hoarding background - we both genuinely derive a great sense of peace from that. Anyone can come in any time for any reason. When we sit & relax, we're not looking at work that needs to get done.

I've not seen much written material from children of hoarders & as the article points out, the effects on them still need a lot of study & documentation. If the study of haording behaviour is new, then surely the study of the effscts on families is lagging.
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Old 07-31-2013, 09:12 AM   #2
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I can't even imagine what it would be like to grow up in that environment. My hubby has mild hoarding tendencies.. and I was surprised to notice that the few Japanese homes I've been in seem to as well. (perhaps because living space is small and throwing things out costs money.. you have to buy a special sticker and set up a day to have it taken away) . I'm always fighting collected clutter, and would have to sneak and toss stuff when hubby wasn't around. Never failed though that if I tossed something he hadn't touched in a year the next day he would ask about it!
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Old 07-31-2013, 11:10 PM   #3
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The author grew up in an environment worse than mine & I know I felt a terrible shame about our home, my appearance. Self esteem? What self esteem? Stuff mattered more than we did - that was the clear message being given daily.

The ironic & frustrating thing was... stuff was poorly treated. Our hoarder would shop or obtain freebies, bring stuff in from the vehicle, (maybe), & it just... SAT there, for days, weeks, months. It wasn't put away, collected dust & bugs but if you touched... heaven help you.

Even now - the excuses for not dealing are many. "I'm going to repair that." "I thought this would be a perfect gift for xxx". That person lives 4,000 miles away & the object in question is not age appropriate, not needed/wanted & would cost more to ship than for xxx to buy locally. "I'm a collector - this stuff is VALUABLE." Stuff is rarely as valuable as the hoarder believes, especially in a poor economy. And for any value to hols, items have to be kept clean & properly stored, should be catalogued... The desirable collectables change over time, hard as that is to hoist aboard. Go to the local online auction sites here & what formerly were fancy dishes with places to make you gasp - good Spode, Royal This & That, etc. now can barely be given away. The young aren't into it. I have Inuit art that would have fetched a pretty penny 20 years ago but not anymore - few are into that kind of thing. Thankfully I only have a dozen or so small pieces & no intention of selling them. Books - my hoarder is heavily into books & paper. "I might want to read that some day." Yeah, if the piles don't collapse on you, trapping & killing you first.

I spent years flip flopping between letting things go way too long before dealing - paperwork, filing, errands, certain housework I hated, to doing things almost before they needed doing. It's been tough finding a balance & sometimes I go off kilter, leanbing towards the overdoing. Today was a good example. There was a lot I had to do, I ended up behind schedule & fighting through an anxiety attack. I fought it by doing paperwork & filing. The anxiety is gone - too tired to be anxious - LOL & I got a ton of 'optional' paperwork/filing down... the stuff along the lines of "someday I'd like to..."

I would have stopped sooner but got caught up in a phone call with the family hoarder. She's also a Charter Member of the Disease of the Week/Hinky Remedy Club. She can't/won't see that most of her health issues would disappear or be ameliorated if her home was livable. All year, she's complained about increasing back & joint aches. Then I found out she was sleeping on an old air mattress in her LIVING ROOM, in some corner. She's hoarded out three bedrooms. When I suggested sleeping in a BED on a MATTRESS where she could move comfortably might help.. then it was the mattress's fault. Too old. She was going to buy a really expensive mattress! Someone closer to where she lives talked into something more reasonably priced & she got her mattress & box spring with memory foam topper. One little problem. The new set is balanced precariously in her kitchen, blocking access to her back door. It can't be moved upstairs & the old set can't be removed because of the hoarding. Can't clear any of the rooms because there's no room anywhere else to put anything & she won't throw anything out. I can't deal with the frustration.

So I do paperwork & files... & purge the odd piece of useless/outdated paper I can pounce on.
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Old 07-31-2013, 11:48 PM   #4
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My Mom did not start out as a hoarder. It started after Dad came home from the service and started driving a delivery truck. He asked Mom where his arctic long johns were. She had given them away, thinking Dad wouldn't need them. After that she started keeping things. I'm still dealing with her stuff and she's been gone since 1995. Before she died I asked her what I should do with all of her stuff, she said it was my stuff now, deal with it.

I dealt with most of it back then but I'm still working on it. I now realize that DH and I may have to move into an apartment some day and I want to pare down the stuff before that time.
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Old 08-01-2013, 12:26 AM   #5
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I've always found the stuff hardest to deal with is family stuff. Items children made at school, old stories they wrote, projects where they got excellent grades. Adorable items of tiny clothing, old stuffed animals. Sometimes it's too emotionally loaded to easily deal with. An easys solution is give, (the now adult!), kids THEIR old stuff to deal with. But keep a few things...

It's so damned EASY for stuff to pile up when we work, are busy with growing families. What sane person wants to waste a minute they can be resting, playing with kids, getting some spousal time, sorting through icky old paperwork?

Luckily with a few exceptions where health/safety is at risk, these things can be done at a slow pace.

I love the Fly Lady web site. It's positive, encouraging & the idea that you didn't make a mess overnight so expecting an overnight cleanliness miracle isn't realistic is bang on. SAhe speaks of taking baby steps, of establishing ONE new clean/tidy habit at a time & working on that until it becomes a real habit, a real part of the routine.

Her approach to taking control of your homje & clutter easily applies to most other areas of life - approach slowly, in small steps - not too many changes at once. Get comfy with changes before intorudcing new ones. It was a light bulb moment for me a few weeks ago when I realized everything she says about cleaning/organizing can be approached to so many other aspects of life but they can.
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Old 08-01-2013, 04:29 AM   #6
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I went with my mother to an elderly neighbors home once when I was a kid. The house was a tiny country house with newspapers stacked along the walls all the way to the ceiling. There was just a tiny path to walk thru the house, it was a fire hazard for sure. That was my first exposure to hoarding but I didn't understand it, I just wondered why they had all the newspapers. When the couple passed away the house was just torn down, I think the papers were holding the house up!
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Old 08-01-2013, 07:36 AM   #7
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I think I must be a bi-polar hoarder. I will keep and collect and amass for years and then go crazy and get rid of tons of stuff. I finally quit keeping track of how many boxes I was flattening or how many bags of garbage I was filling to take to the dumpster at work earlier this summer. And I still had a TON of stuff for a yard sale. And when that was done, I got off the porch and just swept anything not breakable into bins and boxes and took it straight to the thrift store and made them take it, even though their drop off area was closed.

My hoarding cycle was finished for another 7 years.
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