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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hoarders, part 1

Have you seen A&E's Hoarders? I saw some friends chatting about it on TimeSuck Facebook and was immediately curious. We don't get cable/satellite here, but I've been watching episodes on the website. They put up a new one every week.

I suspect the show was started for shock value, to make you wonder how anyone could live like that. But I cried all through the first episode I watched, because I could totally relate to the hoarders. I looked around my house and wondered if they might be coming for me next. Realistically, my house is not nearly bad enough for them. But to me it seems like it is! Then, I thought of two different relatives for whom they probably OUGHT to come. But don't ask for names, 'cause I'm not interested in incriminating the guilty. (I probably shouldn't even have gone there. But if you know who I'm talking about, you know who I'm talking about.)

I don't think I'm entirely a hoarder. I do not (or should rather say no longer) have the problem of always acquiring new things without getting rid of the old ones. I just can't get rid of the old stuff. This problem has caused me to be stuck in an organizing rut lately. Lately being the last, oh, 4 or 5 or 30 years! I can get 2 or 3 rooms COMPLETELY CLEAN, only to have all the other ones go to pot. I can't ever seem to get caught up, because by the time I can get back to the piles of homeless stuff, they have been picked through, pulled at, strewn about. Moved somewhere else. Fallen over onto the floor. You get the picture. Not to mention all the toys that get strewn everywhere while I am paying attention to my stuff instead of my children.

So I get mad. I get frustrated. I get discouraged. I get depressed. I get to hating myself. I go hide my head in a silly Facebook game. All the while The FlyLady's words "You cannot organize clutter - you can only get rid of it!" float around quietly in the back of my head. (Side note - apparently sometime since I stopped getting her emails 4 or 5 years ago, this phrase was modified to "You cannot organize clutter - you can only organize the things you love!") But I couldn't just get rid of things. I couldn't even tell you WHY I can't get rid of things, but there is something there, some idea (or ideas) buried deep in my belief system, that keeps me from throwing away or even giving away most of the stuff.

The more I thought about this, the more it bothered me. Why should my mistaken impressions, or worse yet somebody else's, rob me of multiple hours every week that I could spend doing something else? I have much better ways to spend my life than to keep picking up the same piles of stuff that get knocked over, or need to be moved so we can use the space they're occupying. It's like my FlyBaby friend Erin said, "I don't want my kid to grow up hearing, 'No, Mommy can't take you to the park today. I have to move this pile of crap from over here to over there.'"

I thought and thought and thought (and even prayed a little. Though not enough. Another story of my life I intend to change) about why I cannot just say, "Oh, I haven't used that in x years, it's OK to get rid of it." I desperately wanted answers, but no amount of introspectiveness brought them out of hiding.

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