I was raised by hoarders. My father was raised by hoarders, hard working people who didn’t have much and saved every little scrap of anything, because there was a chance (even if it was a slim one) that it might prove useful someday. My father was one of six children. Some of them developed hoarding tendencies. A few developed something much sadder and darker and very hard to live with.
My mother was not raised by hoarders. Quite the opposite in fact. Everything in that set of grandparents’ house has a spot and that spot is dusted almost daily.
When we were young, our mother kept a very clean, very tidy, very uncluttered house. We even have pictures to prove it. My dad (notice how I switch between calling him my dad and my father … I do the same thing with my mom, momma, mother … but that’s a conversation for another day) was allowed to keep “his junk” in a huge metal building in our backyard. A building that right now is literally cram packed to the ceiling with who knows what. My brain can’t even process the thought of cleaning that out (also a conversation for another day).
My mother developed hoarding tendencies soon after she started taking Prozac. A mixture of just not giving a shit about much and searching for something, some little trinket, some candle or new nail polish or item of clothing that would make me happy. None of it made her happy, but it did put the family into debt and had the added bonus of junking up the house.
I was NEVER a hoarder before Paxil. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER!! I kept my room as clean as I could when I lived with my parents and after we got married we cleaned our house all the time. I refused to live with junk or dirty or grossness. The nights of standing in the driveway holding a flashlight while my dad dug through garbage bags of “good stuff” my mom had tried to sneak off to the dump were just too vivid and heartbreaking.
Then along came Paxil and the emotional numbness that came with it. I was too young and uneducated about possible SSRI side effects to understand what I was slowly doing … repeating the pattern of my mother. I bought things just to buy things. When we didn’t have the money to pay for them, I charged them. Stuff to decorate an already full house. Bottles and bottles of nail polish (over a hundred before I realized what was going on). An entire hall cabinet FULL of body washes, shampoos and conditioners. Closets full of clothes that I never wore. Anything to try to bring me a little bit of happiness at that one moment.
I’m doing really well right now. Really well … but I’ve noticed that I have bottles of stuff I’ve never used and I don’t check to see if we’re out of something before I buy more. This freaks me smooth out. I refuse to go back !!!
So the new goal is to Dehoard (not a word? don’t care) the house. I won’t buy more lotion until every bottle we have is used. I won’t buy more nail polish until I’m down to 5 bottles (and I’ve even been “marrying up” colors to make new colors out of almost empty bottles). No more shampoo, conditioner, face wash, face masks, hair products, etc. until we use what we have.
I have declared it to be so. You know I’ll keep you updated … and I encourage you to do the same in your house. Put it all out on the bathroom counter as a visual reminder if you have to. Trust me … that works.