In my last post, we established that I am not an expert or certified in any way when it comes to hoarding. I’m not a professional organizer or someone who deals with other people’s hoarding in any way. So, what makes me qualified to write about this illness?
I’m confessing right now (as I often do) that I am a hoarder. That is my qualification. I have struggled for years to acknowledge and deal with my hoard. I’ve gone from having hundreds of stuffed animals and toys as a child to having hundreds of items I can’t even recall. I’ve gone from having floor to ceiling piles and trash everywhere to my current state of chronic messiness followed by purging endlessly. While I am attempting to go a lot more minimalist than how I’ve lived before, I am in no way “cured” of hoarding. It’s an ongoing battle.
I’ve been trying to control my hoard since 2009. That was my breaking point. I was broke, unemployed, and living in a non-functional house. I had little pathways to and from rooms. I didn’t use my kitchen much and I was constantly stepping on things. Now, my house wasn’t packed tight like what you see on any of the hoarders tv shows, but it was pretty bad. The worst part was that I had several animals living with me at the time as well and they were not in a healthy environment. I didn’t tend to have vermin luckily. I think flies were the worst of it.
Since 2009, I’ve moved countless times. I’ve been homeless living in my car. I’ve gotten on my feet as recently as August 2016. All this time my stuff has tied me down. From 2014 it’s been easier to purge. Living in the car made purging easier. I had no job but had to pay for the storage unit all of my stuff was kept. I went from a 10×10 to a 5×5. Then, things changed and a family member needed help. I moved out of my car and we moved into my current residence. I got a job eight months later and here we are. In general, I can afford most things I want. I shop often. Amazon is a great and terrible thing.
I discovered that living in a regular house with a fairly disposable income is a dangerous thing. My belongings have increased and I often lose the floor to my room. It drives me crazy. I often use excuses like the fact that the room I live in doesn’t have a closet, which is a real problem. But I also still have far too much stuff. There is still a lot of stuff I own that I never use and many things I’d like to use but don’t have room for.
Every week my goal is to purge even a few things. Buying things doesn’t help either. I justify the incoming stuff with the excuse that it’s replacing bad quality things with better quality things. This is technically true – when I remember to toss the bad quality things. A lot of things I buy are storage related. For example, I am a dvd collector. I have several thousand. I bought a dvd storage case. It holds about a thousand dvds. Ninety-nine percent of my dvds are now stored in it. There are a few that I have kept in their cases for various reasons. It’s mostly because they are collector’s editions. So, I do see this particular buy as a good investment.
There are other buys that are mostly unnecessary. These are the ones I struggle with most. I try to give myself a week to think about a purchase before committing and hitting the Buy button. Or, I’ll put the item in Amazon’s wishlist and often forget about it. That helps. Though there are still a number of things coming into the house that shouldn’t be. Thus, my hoard of possessions grows.
My ultimate goal is to have just the right amount of stuff that I’m not overwhelmed but also am not deprived of things that make my life easier and enjoyable. It’s a fine line to walk between extreme minimalism and having the right amount. I will probably never be an extreme minimalist. There are far too many of my things that I enjoy having but may not use every week (or even every month). My hobbies are a good example: model kits, crocheting, artwork, my keyboard piano…. I haven’t touched any of these things in two months but I’m not willing to get rid of them and that’s okay. They bring me enjoyment when I use them and that’s the important thing.
So what qualifies me to talk write about hoarding? The fact that I am a struggling hoarder myself. I’m not perfect. I haven’t “beat” hoarding. Every single day is a struggle. Every time I shop I must ask myself how the item I’m buying will affect me if I don’t buy it. Sometimes, I’m able to put that item back. Other times (more often than not), I still purchase that item. I’m not some person who has all of the answers. I’m still searching for the right ones for me. My only goal is to maybe accidentally pass on something that may help you as well.