Hello, My Name Is Heidi And I'm . . .  

Posted by Heidi

Ever watch that show Hoarders? I caught my first episode during summer reruns and thought it was fascinating television. By the time the new season premiere rolled around, I was hooked. Since then I have come to a conclusion and it ain’t pretty: I’m a compulsive hoarder in the making. Or perhaps I am one as we so-to-speak (there’s nothing like a good case of denial to get the ball rolling like a wad of tin foil added to and added to over the years ‘til it’s good for nothing but a potential hole in the floor—just in case one might need to peel off an ancient piece and use it to store your ABC gum for future use).

For years I have hoarded books (if I read it and even mildly enjoyed it, I saved it for my now-real-but-once-fictional daughter—sadly, she’s only interested in books about vampires), dolls (for same daughter who couldn’t care less), pretty dishes (ditto or is that trio?) and Christmas decorations (an example of such is the photo of the cute house I bought after Christmas last year and need far, far less than a hole in the head provided said hole is to facilitate the much needed lobotomy) (plus, daughter hates clutter AND Christmas) (sorta--she just hates the music and the cluttery decor) (the present part she likes just fine) (too bad she’s not getting much of that this year) (do you get the feeling my daughter and I are like two ships passing in the night?) (sigh).

As one can imagine, this has kind of killed the appeal of the show for me. Now I watch it (cause I hafta) with a pit in my stomach and a mingled expression of horrified fascination and self-pity. I gaze around my little home and suddenly that pile of home school materials that dwells on the living room floor (it has no home of its own) takes on a sinister appearance. The small mountain of bagged items that were once eBay fodder but have little chance of selling this season/this year/‘til the cows come home due to the economy that I can’t bring myself to get rid of because they might have sold for big money once upon a time looks like a pile of pure denial. The papers and other minutia, worn out and homeless, that litter the kitchen counter resemble nothing more than a pile of trash. (It is a pile of trash but let’s not split hairs.) Even the dog, splayed on the floor like a tacky, white(ish—she needs a bath) fur rug, seems like something that really oughta go.

The important distinction here is that people become hoarders due to/via their anxiety, something which I seem to have more and more of each and every day. Now, THAT I can get rid of (or not. Whaddya think? Any takers? I hate to think of it going unwanted and wasted. It really should have a good home. Ah, nuts, maybe I’ll just hang onto it . . . just in case. You never know when you might need it.)

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at Wednesday, December 16, 2009 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

26 wise, witty and wonderful comments

I, for one, love that Christmas house you have there.

I am afraid to watch that show. Although, I have gotten much better in the last few years due to moving so much. I am much less afraid of throwing out and giving to Goodwill. Still....I might need it someday...

December 16, 2009 at 1:29 PM

So I was doing email stuff and saw this pop up on my reader. I love that Hoarders show! It is awful and delicious at the same time. I am in the middle zone as well. I wished I had married a clean freak, but then it would be me on the receiving end of the screaming. So.....we just cope. When I was helping my Mom move this Fall, it was very inspiring to come home and clean out myself. I am an ebb and flow kind gal. Things collect until I can no longer take it and then I go through a major purge complete with rental of a dumpster (which is the ulitmate in beaing a hoarder right...like you have reached the point where trash cans cease to be useful).

Currently, I have three laundry baskets that are in rotation from being dumped on my bed to find something to wear for the day and then being dumped back in at night when I go to bed. I totally get the anxiety. We are looking for a box of gifts that my MIL sent super early because she was leaving for Christmas. It is frustrating. We even thought about hiring one of those organizer folks to come and help us get control of our home and come up with some system. We will see. When did this become a therapy session? Hope you are feeling better.

December 16, 2009 at 1:33 PM

I was cleaning a young friend's house recently and they have 40(!!!) gravy mix packets because they just kept picking one up each time they got groceries. AND THEY DON'T LIKE GRAVY! When I suggested she bag them up and I'd drop them at the food closet (along with the thirty cans of Cambell's chicken and noodle soup she despises). You would have thought I was suggesting she murder her neighbor.

Anyhow I went home and looked at my own chaos with renewed distaste. It's outta here!

December 16, 2009 at 1:49 PM

By the way, I love this post.

December 16, 2009 at 1:50 PM

Wait--I don't watch TV so until now I didn't know hoarding was a bad thing. You mean that big pile of laundry on the counter downstairs that has been there forever, and the boxes and boxes and boxes of seminary stuff that has spread from the living room to the dining room, and all those containers of vases and table cloths I have used for various parties over the years is NOT normal? I am going to have to give this some thought.

December 16, 2009 at 1:54 PM

My husband is a borderline hoarder. I used to sneak things to DI when he wasn't looking but he caught me getting rid of a stereo that had been in our garage for 8 years because it didn't work and you would have thought I'd killed someone. He always plans to fix things or thinks he might use them "someday". You should see our garage. UGH. I should make him watch that show.

PS~my daughter and I are complete opposites too. It's so sad. She's fluffy and girly and I'm....not.

December 16, 2009 at 1:55 PM

Now this was interesting to me because I always thought my mom's hoarding was because of her parents who hoarded -- because of their life experiences, etc. But now you've got me thinking...does my mom hoard because there is a hidden anxiety -- something deeper that she's not dealing with? hmmmm Got me thinking.

December 16, 2009 at 2:00 PM

Oh-I am not a hoarder. Can't stand clutter and "stuff" in my life. But I do have about a gazillion books:)

December 16, 2009 at 2:40 PM

Jenny--it's true that sometimes people hoard because of experiences they have had--such as living through the depression, or parents who did--or having been really poor--but it is still anxiety, the feeling that if you get rid of it, something bad will happen. Sue--I'm the fluffy one (as if one couldn't tell). Linda-no, that sounds totally normal to me! Jami--renewed distate--ha! Love it! Katie--you have no idea how much better about myself you make me feel. :) Lara--you are a girl after my own heart!

December 16, 2009 at 2:41 PM

I like that show too. It is really interesting to watch. I love that house too!

December 16, 2009 at 4:18 PM

The hoarders show is so addicting but I also have that feeling in my stomach sometimes when I watch it. For example, will my kids care that I saved every art project they did, do I really need to still hold on to my high school math tests etc.

December 16, 2009 at 4:20 PM

I haven't seen it, but I'm wondering if I can get my mom on it! Is it anything like Clean Sweep? That isn't on any more.

Your comment on it being a cause of anxiety makes me wonder. My mother is addicted to the home shopping network and never, ever throws anything away, unless forced by her insensitive and stubborn daughter. (Oh, yes. That would be me.) From where does her anxiety stem?

December 16, 2009 at 6:48 PM

Hey! I found the presents. I was just about to take a knee and ask Heavenly Father about it and then I thought of one last place to check. It was there. Woo hoo.

For me, the anxiety is just having too much to do. I am really good at starting something and really bad at finishing. Maybe I have commitment issues? I have a lot of unfinished projects that collect. For my husband, it is paper! He writes things on bits of this and that and each one must be saved forever and possibly bronzed in stone. For me, it is hot spots like right by the door. I just dump the mail there. I pay bills through our computer, so I barely ever open the mail (unless it is money or a car). There it sits, collecting like leaves on a windy day.

My kids are starting to take on our bad habits...so I know I need to change. In fact, I cleaned my son's room one day and he had a heart attack because he can't sleep in a clean room. So yes, you will be seeing us on that show one of these days...minus the petrified, squished dead cat.

December 16, 2009 at 8:59 PM

I really struggle to get rid of stuff, and I'm married to someone who throws away indiscriminately (he once threw away a shopping bag that still had a brand new swim suit and cover up in it). It's frustrating for both of us, but at least it helps maintain some sort of equilibrium.

December 16, 2009 at 9:23 PM

I've only just heard about hoaders and I'm pretty sure I couldn't watch it. I tend to be a hoarder myself.
And BTW, I'm with Lara. That house is darling!

December 16, 2009 at 9:27 PM

My parents hoard. They have a huge room full of boxes of stuff they might use someday: several sleeping bags, tents, misc cast offs from their now grown 5 kids, yarn, spools of thread, etc. It looks absurd. But to them they are all treasures.

Then I look at my own garage and see...yes, probably similar stuff, just a few generations younger.

I, too, have an Ebay/Craig's List box that I keep thinking I could sell for big bucks.

All the time, I have a knot of anxiety in my chest and loathe the clutter surrounding me.

Tomorrow morning I just might make a change. :) Thanks for the inspiration to do it.

December 16, 2009 at 11:30 PM

I'm the hoarder, nat is the purger. But we actually have a project ongoing right now to clean out the basement and garage!!!

filling up trash sacks is very liberating :-)

December 17, 2009 at 6:23 AM

I get anxiety when things start finding homes on the floor. I can barely stand it. My whole house is quite minimal, with no real clutter anywhere, but for some reason the master bedroom is getting closer and closer to a hoarder's vacation home. Maybe because I know only my husband and I will be in there so I can kind of hide things...

December 17, 2009 at 7:00 AM

I have the pack rat tendency & recently I have declared war against it.

December 17, 2009 at 10:53 AM

I hoard boneses.
Lotsa, lotsa boneses.

December 17, 2009 at 1:25 PM

You're so awesome, I love your writing! It felt really good when we moved to get rid of stuff, now I look around everywhere and think, nope I would throw that away! haha

December 18, 2009 at 11:32 AM

The urge is itching now. I want to purge. I love it. I'm married to a hoarder.

the worst is when he finally decides to get rid of something and he picks the one I like. Grrr.


Wrap your arms around yourself and give yourself a big hug from me, okay?

December 18, 2009 at 12:49 PM

Aw, I`m sorry you see that in yourself, hun. I can imagine how it would feel because I come from a long line of hoarders and I`m terrified of becoming one. To the point I often throw away things I should perhaps keep. I`m married to a hoarder though and between the two of us we manage to keep our house on just this side of normal. I`m planning a trip to the thrift store soon though that will tip the scales in my favour - mwahahahah!

December 18, 2009 at 2:22 PM

(This is Thora - I'm signed into my husband's account)

I think I struggle more with the cleaning part of housekeeping, than the hoarding, but the problem is, at a certain point it almost becomes the same - hoarding trash? Not exactly, I just never quite get around to taking care of it all....

Also, I was laughing over the dead, petrified cat, and mentioned it to my husband, Avram. He told me how on his mission some missionaries brought over a dead, petrified cat (he's not sure where they procured it from), and they proceeded to stick the cat on the edge of the dumpster of their apartment, with it's paws on the edge of the dumpster, and it's head peering out.

According to him, this was really cool, and it looked like it was about to climb out at any moment (if it weren't dead. And petrified.)

I know this added nothing to the discussion besides aren't we all glad that we don't live with male missionaries?

December 18, 2009 at 5:13 PM

Thats a lot how I feel when I watch get-out-of-debt infomercials... and I do believe that you are a hoarder of parenthesis' (sp?) as well!

December 20, 2009 at 10:37 AM

I don't really consider myself a hoarder, but I am a pack rat. I'm always afraid to throw something away, cuz "we might need it someday" I guess I have a little of my grandmother's great depression thriftiness in me.

December 21, 2009 at 8:14 PM

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