Hoarders and clean freaks

This past weekend my mom came over to help me weed. I didn’t ask for help, she just saw the need.

It got me to thinking about something that I couldn’t place which was bothering me. There was an in-congruence in my thought patterns. My mom is one of the hardest workers I know. Yet she has one of the messiest houses I’ve ever seen. How conflicting the thought was in my mind. I always thought that hoarders were lazy. But are they?

My parents are the biggest hoarders of magazines and papers. They still have a phone book from the 1970’s from a different city that they lived in out of state. They have stacks and stacks of papers that litter the living room floor and all available counter spaces.

My parents kept almost all of their clothing since they got married. Their closets are full of old clothes and jackets. It comes in handy for me when I am going to a costume party.

My mom hoards food. Her cupboards are stocked full of canned goods. All of her refrigerators and freezers (they have several) are full. The refrigerators always smell like rotten food. It is very important to check the dates on items before you eat them. The freshest foods are in the grocery bags that line the dining room floor.

Thankfully for me, my mom kept every school and personal journal documenting Matt’s life in great detail. It has been very helpful for me in writing my book. I don’t think that I could be writing as powerful and moving of a story without her help.

Their hoarding always suffocated me. It was hard to clean the house. The counters were so full of stuff that there was no place to move anything in order to clean it. Then you just put the items back on the cleaned areas. I always felt like I was emptying the ocean a tablespoon at a time. It stirred within me feelings of hopelessness.

My brothers and I are not hoarders. It bothers me when things are cluttered. It fills me with despair. The strange thing is that my parents feel the opposite way. It causes my mother emotional pain to get rid of things. My mom threw out my brother’s baby blanket when he was in his 30’s. She cried and lamented about it for days even though my brother didn’t want it. She tries to get rid of things but it is very upsetting to her.

Sometimes my mom will clean out the cupboards and closets. Instead of throwing things away, she gives them to me. Recently she gave me a bag of my dad’s old worn out socks. It is a little easier for her to give things away then to throw them away even though she must know that is what I will be doing with it.

It is hard for me to understand how my mom’s feeling are tied up in useless things.

It must be very hard for my mom to see her house in the shape that it’s in. She is embarrassed to have anyone over. I wish I could understand. Yet I am glad I do not.

I feel guilty for my mom’s help around my house when she needs it more than I do. It’s overwhelming to try to help her. I would just come in and start throwing things away and she couldn’t handle that. I know, I’ve tried. I feel like my hands are tied. But I know that my brothers and I are going to end up throwing most of the stuff away or getting rid of it someday.

I need to be careful in my own life so I don’t end up on the opposite spectrum. I have a tendency to be a clean freak. Dirt and clutter stresses me out. I want everything to be clean, neat, and organized. But I try not to let it control me.

I also have relatives that are clean freaks. We once went camping with my Aunt Jan. It stormed out and we ended up huddling in my aunt’s garage freezing because we were too dirty to be allowed into her house. I also have an uncle that would host parties and follow his guests around with a vacuum cleaner. I’ve also witnessed him on his hands and knees scrubbing the bathroom floor while guests were over.

I don’t think people at either extreme seem happy. I tolerate uncleanliness when guests are over. But it’s also kind of funny that I picked this topic to write about as I am freaking out about cleaning my house and weeding everything this week to have a perfect house for my son’s graduation party.

But since I grew up in a house of clutter and hoarding, I realize if people really care about me then they are willing to overlook some slight imperfections.

My psych eval (25 years later) part 1

Alissa was referred for psychological evaluation at this time by her therapist…Alissa has a long history of outpatient treatment including an inpatient hospitalization at the end of December of 1992. Alissa has utilized a variety of medications including: Prozac, Pamelor, Anafranil, and is currently taking Wellbutrin. Alissa was referred for this evaluation due to concerns about her OCD and possible ADD.

The family system includes an autistic brother who has proved challenging for all family members. For a time period Alissa functioned as the caretaker for the brother…Alissa has had a difficult relationship with her father. The father reportedly has several indicators of a possible psychiatric disorder. Alissa’s mother will spend many hours a week working.

Alissa has had depressive and suicidal symptoms starting in the fourth grade…Throughout the meeting with Alissa it became apparent that she has had serious psychiatric symptoms for many years. Her condition is quite serious and of a chronic nature…At the time of this evaluation, she had reddened hands which she attributed to dry skin. Due to the OCD, this examiner speculates that the hand condition does reflect excessive hand washing. She stated that as a younger child she would wash her hands frequently, including before and after eating, and before and after using the bathroom.

Symptoms that Alissa currently endorsed include checking to make sure that she has turned off the lights on her car. Due to the distance involved it is a major inconvenience for her to go to the classroom building at college to the parking lot to check on her car. She did go to this extreme measure and when she got to the car realized that she had turned the lights off even though she was not consciously aware of doing so. At other times she will have to check numerous times to ascertain the exact location of her purse. At home she counts a short flight of steps constantly whether she is ascending or descending the steps. This seems to be a strongly ingrained ritual. This examiner believes that there are other examples of obsessive/compulsive thoughts and behaviors that Alissa is not acknowledging at this time…She does describe the checking behavior in terms of feeling she “has to” check.

Yes, it is true that I was very depressed at a young age. I remember people telling my mother that they have never seen such a young child so depressed before and that I needed help. But there weren’t many programs available to special needs siblings. I felt incredibly alone and disconnected from my peers. I started seeing a therapist in my late teens.

It was especially hard in grade school because my autistic brother was in the same school as me. They had a special ed room that was shared with the library. I don’t know whose dumb ass idea that was. It was never quiet in the library, although we were told to be. That probably made my brother’s behavior all the more shocking.

When I would go in for library, my brother was oftentimes flailing around as if he was possessed inside of the big ‘naughty’ box they put him in that was located between the classrooms. This caused my classmates to point, snicker, and laugh. It made me feel angry, sorrowful, and ashamed. He was MY brother. It was very painful.

I think I developed rituals to help me cope, to feel like I had an iota of control over my life. The hand washing ritual started when I was in middle school after I was almost attacked in the parking lot while I waited in the car for my mom to finish up with her support group for parents of special needs children. The support group was held in the library and sometimes the library closed before the meeting was done and I would meet my mom in the car. That hot summer night I felt like I was suffocating in the locked car while those guys tried desperately to get in. It was so hot, but I didn’t dare open a window. The car handles were dirty. I felt dirty. Hand washing made me feel clean and cleansed.

You would think that I would have issues with libraries or books. Sheesh!

I like to have clean hands, but I haven’t obsessively washed them in decades. I like things clean and I like to feel like I have control even if I don’t. My parents are hoarders. Our house was always chaotic and messy.

It’s strange how I can be obsessive without being addictive since they seem so similar. But I don’t want anything external to control me, yet sometimes the internal things still do. Sometimes I still have to check things..

To be continued…

 

Life on the high C’s

I spent the last couple of days in supervisor training for work. For the class, we took the DISC personality assessment.

If you are not familiar with it, it goes a little like this. The D’s are the dominant type, that is why the D is the first letter on the assessment. The I’s are second because they sold the idea that they should be. They are the chatty, loud, and persuasive type. The S’s are the agreeable people, they are happy being wherever you put them because they are chill. Then the best is saved for last, the C’s (you know where I rank). The C’s are the type that follows rules and makes sure things are done right.

I am pretty sure that I was raised by two high S’s. You would think that it was an incredibly peaceful environment almost zen like. Sometimes I wonder what my parents were like before I was born. Did they sit around meditating for hours in perfect harmony? I’s sure that all fell apart after I was born. Then within the next 5 years my three younger brothers were born. The second born child, Matt, is severely autistic and was violent at times.

What happened to the strong S’s then? What happened to the peaceful people that went wherever the wind would blow them?

My dad shut down completely. He became depressed and silent. When the silence became too loud for him, he would roar. Then he would retreat into silence once more.

My mother turned her gentle supportive good-natured self into a D. It was unnatural. She hated it. She had to become forceful and direct. She confronted people. She became the ferocious mother bear with an injured cub. I feel like through this she really lost who she was because her hand in life forced her to be someone she was not.

Maybe it is no surprise that I am a high CD…if I were to break it down I am probably 80% C and 20% D.

To tell you the truth, sometimes I try to disguise myself as a S. Growing up in a house of S’s sure makes it easy to do. I know the language even though it is not my own. I even own a wide variety of bohemian clothing. Sometimes I pretend to be someone I am not so I don’t scare people off right away.

Seriously, who likes a high C or a CD mix? Who likes the rule follower?? Who? Oh, and I don’t follow just any rules. I certainly don’t set my cruise control at 55 mph in a 55 zone. Seriously, I don’t want to be controlled by cruise control! The D in me always urges me to drive faster. I don’t have time to drive slow!

I follow my own rules. It is very important to me that everyone in the house turns off the lights if they leave the room. Did you turn off the lights? Sinner! You are wasting electricity. My husband says, “Alissa, how much electricity do you think your hot tub uses?”

How many people like the blunt, direct truth delivered sometimes without tact? Who likes a stubborn rigid all or nothing thinker?

How many people like it when I clean up after them when they are not done eating or using an item?? Oh, I won’t accept any help either because I am the only one that does things right. Then I get mad that no one helps me.

How does it feel to walk with mud on your shoes in a cleaning freak’s house? How does it feel to watch your neighbor run 20 miles around the neighborhood on a Saturday morning while you watch TV in your pj’s? Does it make you feel just a little bad about yourself?

I continuously have a harsh task master in my head chanting the mantra ‘Get it done! Get it done! Get it done!’ at all times. I can’t sit still without thinking about the things that I need to do.

I never miss a workout when I just don’t feel like it. My calendar is booked through October.

Sometimes I am as jealous of your ability to relax as you are of my drive to accomplish challenging tasks.

My intensity, my discipline, my drive sometimes repels more people than it attracts.

Good thing for my sense of humor!

That’s my real life navigating as a high C.

I absolutely love being me!

 

 

 

 

 

29. What people misunderstand about me

Day 29: What do you think people misunderstand most about you?

Let me give you a brief overview of what I told you about myself so far…

I am moody.

I have a tendency towards melancholy.

I overthink and worry too much.

I am honest, sometimes too honest.

I seem to lack genuine compassion or sympathy if I think you caused your own problems.

My life is all about structure, schedules, routine, practicality, organization, detailed planning, and control. I lack all sense of spontaneity.

I am stubborn and resistant towards change.

I am a clean freak. I don’t ask others for help, yet complain when I shoulder all of the work.

I am so highly motivated and hard working that I often make others around me feel bad.

I am a perfectionist with very high standards.

I don’t listen to the advice of others. I could care less about doing what others want me to do and fitting in.

I have a very intense personality, especially under stress.

With that being said, I can see how you could misunderstand that I am a drag to be around! I come across as shy at first, but I really am a lot of fun! Seriously!!

There is never a dull moment when you are with me. I am eccentric enough not to be boring. I am up for just about any new adventure. I have a quick wit and a great sense of humor. It doesn’t matter if we are friends or strangers, our table will likely be the one filled with laughter. I absolutely love making people laugh and play the part of comedian.

Just this week, my employee and I were reminiscing about our grandmothers. Just as she was on the verge of tears, I was able to bring her to tears of laughter. She said that she really likes that quality in me. I have the ability to have deep meaningful conversations about serious issues that end in tears of laughter..

I didn’t always play the part of comedian. Previously, I played the part of serious and overly responsible first born. My baby brother was the clown. The funny thing is that over time, our roles flip flopped. He has become more serious and I have become more of a clown. I am not sure how or why this happened…

I don’t know how it happened, but I am going to celebrate the fact that someone with an anal personality can be such a smart ass. Nothing but wise cracks here. Better keep it clean though…Ha ha ha ha… Just the clean freak in me, no pun intended!

Now get back to work!

 

1. List 20 random facts about yourself

Ok, not only will these be random facts, some of them are downright weird…

1. I am left handed.

2. My blood type is AB. Not only do I have the rarest blood type, but I am the universal receiver baby! That means I don’t have to feel guilty about my fear of needles.

3. My personality type is ISTJ. Everyone in my house has a different personality, however we are all ‘T’s’ meaning that we are all thinkers versus feelers. Which also means that our house is full of debate versus drama. Lol.

4. I have incredibly good hearing. This has given me a natural ear for music. It also means that I wake up when a pin drops at my neighbor’s house.

5. I have the rare ability to voluntarily control my tensor tympani muscle. This means that with concentration I can close my ears off to sound without covering them. This has been a great gift when I can’t handle the sound of people loudly chewing.

6. I am a texture person, not a taste person, when it comes to food. I can’t stand eating onions, mushrooms, cooked green beans, shrimp, or chewy meat because of the texture. But, maybe, if you put these items in a blender I would like them.

7. I am a first born.

8. I ran in two marathons.

9. I have a Bachelor’s degree in something totally unrelated to what I’m doing now.

10. I have been with the same person exactly half of my life.

11. I have been married for 19 years. We have also been business partners for half that amount of time.

12. I found my first gray hair at 27.

13. I have 3 teenage children.

14. I love doing laundry, but hate dusting.

15. I read the whole Bible cover to cover.

16. I am double jointed and can touch my thumb to my arm.

17. I have 3 brothers, but no nephews.

18. I have 2 nieces, but no sisters.

19. I have a black thumb.

20. I like to clean.

Wow, that was a little harder than I thought it would be! 

Please comment if we have anything in common…..

 I’m thinking if we have zero in common, you have already moved on to another post…

1 to 5, casual reader…

5 to 10, follower maybe getting emails every time I post…

10 to 15, new best friend….

15 to 20, when can you move in??…..

20 or more….Wait, is that humanly possible?? Twins separated at birth?? Nope, that negates number 7 then…Lol..

Thanks for reading (putting up with me)! 

Road trip

Angel and I decided to go on a little road trip.

Tomorrow is Angel’s freshman college orientation. Then we are heading to Wisconsin Dells for one full day at the water park. We are ending the road trip with my cousin’s wedding in Milwaukee this weekend. 

It was a long and fairly uneventful several hour drive to Angel’s new home. We saw the smallest little Bambi come out to us in the middle of the road without hitting it. We saw Amish children working in their gardens while the Amish men were working their fields with several large horses. I saw a very large man cross the road to get his mail in shorts. Little images stick in my head from the road. The men at the first stop and go light holding signs asking for change for a burger wearing better clothes than mine. The waitress at the restaurant who exchanged numbers with my daughter because they would be attending the same college together for the first time in the fall. The rest was a blur of people, places, and things but mainly fields. Field after field as we wound through small towns.

I left a list behind. A list of things that I do. Chores that need to be done on certain days. I entertain this fantasy that the others can’t live a few days without me. You would be proud of me, I let go of perfectionism when it comes to chores. I let the kids help out. I give them chore lists. I also implemented a cooking rotation. The kids get to pick out the recipe, shop for ingredients, help make the food, and clean up one day a week one kid at a time. I have given up a lot of control.

I remember a conversation with the mom of Alex’s first girlfriend. She told me that she does not allow her children to do anything because they don’t do it up to her standards. No laundry, no cleaning, and absolutely no cooking. She said that she was OCD that way. I thought about the words she said for a long time, in fact longer than the relationship lasted. I thought that I didn’t want my kids to end up marrying someone that didn’t know how to do anything. Then I pointed the finger back at myself because I really was the same way. I never wanted my kids to do anything either because it really wasn’t perfect enough. How is that going to prepare them for the future?? It doesn’t. So I decided to let go.

I give them chores and I look the other way when it is not clean enough. Sometimes I rewash the dishes. Some of my kids seem to realize that their lack of cleanliness bothers me. Sometimes they do a crappy job in hopes that they will no longer be asked. But it doesn’t work that way. 

I think that everyone will survive just fine without me for a few days. After all, they will be living a long adulthood without mommy being there to clean up their messes. 

I am planning on enjoying this road trip and spending some time with my daughter as adults all alone on an adventure…

Seeing beyond the surface

Last weekend my aunt Jan found a body in the lake in front of her house.

I have always had a love hate relationship with my aunt Jan.

My aunt Jan is bossy, critical, and controlling. She demands that things are her way, she doesn’t ask.

When I was a young girl, we used to have family reunions. Every year aunt Jan would pressure me into playing volleyball with the family even though I told her I didn’t want to because I sucked. Then I would play horribly and she would yell at me for sucking. After that happened several times, I had a “negative attitude” by refusing to play.

Games were played by her rules. I remember a few years back being involved in a family board game when she just announced out of the blue that the game was over. We were right in the middle of the game! It really made me mad, but she packed up the pieces and put the game away.

Every year at Christmas time, she demands that Angel and I sing Christmas songs. “You are singing and you are singing right now”. It makes Angel rather angry. But for some reason, I don’t protest or rock the boat by being disagreeable despite hating being told what to do.

Aunt Jan is a clean freak.

Several years ago a few members of our family along with Jan rented a large tent camping site close to her house. In the early morning hours a freak storm popped up. We packed up our camping equipment then huddled dirty and wet in her garage. She would not let us into her house to use the bathroom because we were too dirty.

She recently hosted two bridal showers at her house. She told the guests that they were not allowed to wear spikes because it would wreck her floors. There was no clutter and not one item was out of place. She made it known that children were not welcome. Children make messes. Both times my oldest daughter (17) was invited, but my youngest (13) was not. My youngest cousin who is also a teenager was not invited. This caused a lot of hard feelings.

Unfortunately, my aunt seems more concerned about the state of her house than she is about her relationships.

You may be wondering, like my husband and daughter do, why I don’t just tell her off. Nobody’s perfect. For all of aunt Jan’s perfectionism she is far from perfect, but we love her anyway. Sometimes I need to look beyond the surface of what I see to what I know. For all of Jan’s negative personality traits, she has some really good traits too. 

Aunt Jan is one of the most compassionate people that I know. She has a big heart for those who are suffering.

Out of my mom’s four sisters, I think that Jan was the one that helped my mom through her hard times the most. She spent a lot of time listening to my mom. I could tell that she truly cared. She didn’t turn away when my autistic brother Matt had some of his darkest days like a few other family members did. I saw that she was there for my mom when she needed her the most. For that, I will always be able to overlook some of her annoying quirks. 

A few days ago, someone left flowers on aunt Jan’s doorstep. I can’t imagine how horrifying it must have been for her to find someone’s body in the lake in front of her house. When I was there earlier this month, the lake was cool, calm, and beckoning. It didn’t look capable of taking a life. 

Sometimes our eyes limit what our mind can see.

 

 

Ending the holiday season

I didn’t tell anybody this earlier, but I started the new year off on the wrong foot. We had a couple of friends over for New Year’s Eve. Everything went well and the last people left at 1:30 AM. Paul and I finally made our way to bed around 2. At 6 AM, a noise woke me up. Somewhere between 2 and 6 AM, our furnace went out. The house temp was under 50 degrees. We ended up having someone come out at the crack of dawn on new year’s day receiving holiday pay to fix it. It was a rough start. 

Today we took down our Christmas tree. I put all of the decorations back in the crawl space and dug out all of my old journals. I don’t know how quick I will go through them to be honest with you. I always have a rough time this time of year with the lack of sunlight. Even though I take massive doses of vitamin D, my thoughts and emotions tend to be dark. Just thinking about the past can bring me down on the sunniest of days….so this month might be light and fluffy like the winter snow. Talking about the winter snow, Paul and I were able to get out and cross country ski for the first time on the skis that we bought last winter. What a workout! Sure made me feel out of shape, especially since we saw a friend of ours there and he did two laps to our one. 

Yesterday I told you that we were going to one last Christmas party at my uncle’s who happens to be a clean freak. Well, I am embarassed to say that it was me this year that made a mess. That’s right. After being at the party for about a half an hour, I cracked open a bottle of beer. I took 3 sips and proceeded to spill most of the bottle everywhere. It went down my shirt with a majority of it landing on my pants and their off white carpet. I greeted relatives coming to the party looking like I peed my pants. My uncle said I could leave behind some money for the carpet cleaning. I am glad he was just kidding. Or was he? He didn’t freak out though like the story I heard of when my cousins accidently knocked over his fish tank. Other than looking like a complete idiot, the party went well.

Our staff party a couple weeks ago went great too. We took our employees to a painting class. It was so much fun. And I didn’t suck at painting. I was happy to be average. Out of the four of us that went, not one single person between the ages of 30 and 52 ever painted on a canvas before. Checked that off my bucket list and would love to do it again. 

Other than that, I have been trying to upload a video of my daughter and I singing. I haven’t been successful at that. I will probably figure it out by July. Geez. We sang our Christmas songs at the party yesterday. Every year my aunt insists that we sing. My daughter moves people to tears with her singing. She wants to spend the summer singing and performing on tour. She is auditioning to do that next month. When my cousin heard that, she was bummed out because she wanted Angel to sing at her wedding this summer. Angel just sang at my brother’s wedding a few months back. Angel and I have very similar voices, except that hers is well trained and mine is not. I used to be the one asked to sing at weddings, now it is her. When did she become better than me??? She used to ask me for advice and now she tells me what to do. I listen to her because she is right, but can’t help but feel hurt that I am no longer wanted. I am happy that she has had so many opportunities that I didn’t.

Sometimes it is hard for me to accept this whole aging thing. 

One last Christmas party

This afternoon we will be going to one last Christmas party. It is for my mom’s side of the family. Unlike my dad who was an only child and only grandchild on one side, my mom comes from a very large family. We usually get together twice a year as a group. Collectively my mom’s siblings are hard working, average (not eccentric), and slightly neurotic.

The uncle’s house that we are going to today would fit into the above category very well. I am not sure why year after year they host the family Christmas party which usually attracts between 30 and 50 family members. My uncle is an extreme clean freak. I have never seen any clutter or anything dirty or out of place. Last year during the party, I saw my uncle on his hands and knees scrubbing the bathroom floor. I have a sneaky suspicion that my autistic brother may have missed the target. Years past, he has followed around his guests with a dust buster, vacuuming crumbs or any speck of dirt that they may have dragged in.

Last year we were at his house for the Packer game. When the game was over, he asked his guests if he could get their coats for them. The game is over, now get the hell out! His wife kindly suggested that he take the dog for a walk. After he got back, he seemed to calm down a little. I have another aunt that is also a clean freak. We went camping with her one year near her house when a huge storm came up out of nowhere. We were wet and cold. We ended up huddling in her garage. She didn’t want us to come in her house because we were too dirty. I guess that explains why I am slightly neurotic. It’s a family thing.

When we all get together, everyone is best friends. There is some animosity over some people getting more family heirlooms than others when their parents passed away. I imagine that this would be very hard to do fairly. One other thing about my family, they are very competitive when it comes to playing cards. I wouldn’t recommend a potential spouse of the cousins to join in a card game. Winning trumps being kind to each other in this one area. My mom just found out that her brother refused to go to my brother Mark’s wedding this past year because a couple of years ago he passed in a card game when he should have picked. God forbid!

I’m sure that we will have a good time today. Just stay out of the card games and don’t make a mess. Other than that, they are the nicest people that you would ever meet. There is a lot of laughter and fun.

Hoarding, clutter, and cleaning freaks

I am knee deep in fall cleaning right now. I thoroughly clean my house twice a year, once for spring and once for fall. Spring cleaning is the big event of the year where I scrub the whole house with a toothbrush. Fall cleaning is more of a hairbrush clean. I used to thoroughly clean my house after every season, but I really hate dusting. Talk about a useless task! I dust everything and within a half an hour new dust takes over. Then I sneeze for 3 days.

I threw out and donated many items to the point of guilt. I come from a very long line of hoarders. When we sold Aunt Grace’s house, we moved everything into my grandma’s house. When we sold grandma’s house, we moved stuff into my parent’s shed. Now their very large shed is full. Time to build another shed! We did get a large dumpster for my grandma’s house which was emptied 3 times. We made multiple trips to Goodwill to the point where they didn’t want any of our crap anymore. Did you ever hear of anyone getting turned away from Goodwill for over donating? Yeah, me neither.

Yesterday I went to my parents house and watched them struggle to maintain their property. There was a pipe that was leaking into the basement. Mom took me downstairs to look at the damage. There was some water that pooled around food items that expired in the 1990’s. I feel overwhelmed at the thought of cleaning it all out someday. My mom has always been a food hoarder which she attributes to growing up poor.  She has 4 freezers and 2 refrigerators. The cupboards are full of mostly expired food. There are grocery bags sitting on the floor with new food. Downstairs the situation is worse. Multiple peanut butter containers that expired in the 90’s, homemade canned food items from the 80’s, glass containers full of stale grains, corroded cans, juice separating in bottles.

My parents also hoard other things like cars, magazines, paper, newspapers, clothing, blankets, wood, books, movies, old toys, candles, soap, empty jars, tools, and parts. My dad collects electronics, broken parts to fix other broken parts. The floor and chairs are stacked with papers. The dining room table is never clutter free and neither is the kitchen counter. Nothing is thrown out even if it is expired, broken, or useless. Paul’s mom and step-dad are hoarders too. They have 2 refrigerators in their small kitchen. One doesn’t work and is used for storage. Both of our parents have given us some of their junk which we throw out for them. Thankfully Paul and I share the same motto of when in doubt throw it out. Looking at my kids rooms, I think we may have a few future hoarders on our hands. 

As a clean freak, the clutter overwhelms me. I can’t breathe. I feel a lonely emptiness in a room stacked full of clutter. It rises within me a feeling of absolute despair which I cannot explain. It feels hopeless. I want to throw everything away. I want my house to be clean, but no matter what I do it still feels dirty and messy.

A few years back, my brother Luke and his wife brought her sister to my parents house with them for the weekend. Luke’s sister-in-law told my brother that my parents house was so messy that she would never stay there again. Luke told my mom. This started a big fight with a lot of tears and stress from my mom. Luke was hoping that my mom would throw things out like he does, but instead they built another shed. My mom gets very attached to items and needed a lot of moral support to throw out my brother’s baby blanket a few years ago when he was well into his 30’s. We also did not want our old baby clothes for our children. Why do items attach so much hurt for the people who don’t want to part with them and the people that don’t want to keep them?

I have helped my parents countless times in the past. It is so overwhelming to me. It is like emptying a lake with a cup. I feel guilty for not helping them more. I’ll be totally honest, I can’t handle it. It elicits such a strong negative response within me that is unbearable. So I scour every corner of my house. After cleaning I still see all of the streaks in the windows, all the stains on the carpeting, the little yellow rings that don’t come out of my sink and bath tubs, the grease that lingers around the oven, the little spots on the walls, and the cracks in the linoleum. Will we ever be free from cleaning or hoarding? Will we be forever haunted by earthly treasure or trash?