at the new house
How do you come back from being a hoarder, packrat, filthy slob, pig, messie, messmaker, disorganizer, whirlwind, crusty, squatter, punkrock junkyard maven???
THROW ALMOST EVERYTHING AWAY.
Also moving into a nicer house which is not in so much disrepair is a good idea. My last house I rented was dismally undermaintained before I arrived- carpets coated in cat urine, walls in grease. Holes in the walls, cracks running top to bottom, water heaters that hardly worked, leaks, cracks, windows that never closed, no baseboards, and more…
The new place is not the hilton but DAMN is it a ton nicer in comparison. The owner is a nice guy- who takes care of the place. The floors are clean. The walls are bright and happy. I have hot running water at all times. And the rent? NOT ALL THAT MUCH HIGHER.
Also. I got rid of a bunch of things, moving in. So I now have more space. I have less piles. I am not all the way unpacked but I am really close to it and it feels GREAT. My house is so much calmer, this place is so much better. I’m content.
last spring at the old house with a friend
I used to really have a major problem with hoarding. I lived in very squalorous conditions again and again. Part of it was, yeah, slumlords and poverty- but the rest was ME. I struggle with maintaining my little bit of new order every day. It’s really difficult sometimes but I know that the minute I let up on it I will be back to level 3 mayhem and chaos very quickly. It added a lot to my depression, it made life harder for me than it needed to be, but getting out from under is really not as easy as just getting rid of stuff. There’s a lot of mental squalor to deal with too and that is way more difficult.
From years of having nothing I learned to hoard. I learned that if I had something that meant something to me it might go away…
My parents had me really young. My mom tried her best but I think that taking my things away when I misbehaved was a bad choice; I don’t think that she had malice in doing this but man did it ever have repercussions for me in my adult life. I’ve had to re-learn to cherish and maintain my belongings, to think of them as MINE and not as temporary…to take care of the things I own instead of viewing that as pointless because anything could be taken away, be gone, at any time.
a friend poses in front of part of my junk collection
My mom didn’t grow up rich herself so I do not blame her or think that she knew any better. Man I am a decade or more older than she was when she was raising me and I still wouldn’t do half as well as she did…but this one thing, above all, changed the way I live, and I still fight with it, still try to stay conscious of it, still am learning that objects and tools and belongings can have meaning and can be kept under control.
For me that is the root of my squalor and hoarding.
Years after that I was broke all the time- I needed many things and didn’t have them. So I got into the habit of taking what I could when I could get it and saving things for later. not always the best habit, when it gets out of hand. Thrift is fine but there are limits.
I’m a member at squalorsurvivors and I found some of the ways they support each other to be really helpful to me when I was trying to start changing this. Taking pictures of a messy area showed me a lot; there’s a tendency to just stop seeing a mess that you see every day, the way a pair of tinted sunglasses soon loses its color effect…it becomes something that you are inured to and can no longer see with your own eyes. So photographs helped me a lot.
Also techniques like starting with ONE thing. Just one. Not cleaning a room but cleaning off a small area in a room. The notion that I should let others into my environment to see it as motivation. Asking others for help…just even talking about it.
buying more junk for the junk collection
All of it helped.
I’ve talked about this a tiny bit here but not in so much depth I don’t think. I mean now they have like “hoarders” on tv…and I see a lot on the internet about it…but really it’s hard to admit to and hard to come out of. I find people that allow the cameras in really brave, regardless of the result. There’s an underlying terror to living in squalor- that someone will knock at the door. I still have the startle reaction to a knock on my door but I am trying to overcome that, more and more all the time.
Anyway just rambling. Having a sick day, so I thought it was a good time to write some more.