I’m on a decluttering spree again. Sure, the house is much better than it used to be, but it’s not enough. All the stuff I have to take care of just gets to me. The clutter, always creeping up on me. It makes me feel as if I’m slowly – very slowly – choking to death.
And even though I got rid of several bags and boxes of stuff again, it’s still not enough. Sometimes I secretly wonder if it’ll ever be enough. Will I ever find peace in my own home?
So today I’m gonna be candid and tell you what it’s like to live with a hoarder.
Let’s start with a picture of how it was. After we’d already done a lot of decluttering.
Yes, it was that bad, and even worse. Also, let’s not forget about the garage where he used to store the “treasures” for which he found no room in the house anymore. We finally managed to clear that out back in November 2013.
Then of course he’s been renting storage somewhere closer to home ever since giving up that garage. To store even more useless stuff. He spends good money each and every month to store what’s basically just rubbish.
Meanwhile, our attic is filled with so much stuff I cannot fathom how he ever manages to find anything in there. The ventalition system hasn’t been working for the last decade (which is about as long as we’ve been living in this house) and probably never will work again. I still have no electricity in my bedroom – and quite frankly, I’ve given up hope of that ever happening.
His bedroom is an accident waiting to happen. Literally. We cannot clean in there. It’s nigh impossible to open the window, and as he never bothers to pull up the blind, it’s not only always smelly in his room, but also dark.
At least I managed to conquer the mess in the rest of the house. More or less, but it’s an ongoing struggle and I’m so tired of it. Is it really too much to ask for, to live in an ordinary, organised house? A clean home, where I won’t always have to pick up after someone else?
I have to admit, I often find myself dreaming of moving out into a place of my own. A place where I won’t have to keep up with all that stuff. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Clean and uncluttered would suit me just fine.
I look at pictures of minimalist interiors and cannot help but feeling envious. I want that too, but unless I move out, I’ll never have it. Never.
And then there are those that try to tell me it’s really all just my own stupid fault.
Why, thank you mister Ron Alford, for being so helpful and understanding. I’ll be sure to tell my spouse to give you his money so he can finally get rid of all the stuff he doesn’t even want to ditch. Ever.
Really. Telling a victim – yes, a victim! – of a hoarder that they have actually enabled the hoarding is akin to telling the victim of an abusive spouse that the abuse is really their own fault. Because they enabled and allowed it.
The truth is quite different. I’d wager that most people who get into a relationship with a hoarder don’t even know about their partner’s hoarding tendencies until it’s too late.
They may, like me, find out when they unwittingly throw out one or two of their partner’s completely worn out t-shirts. You know, those old grimy things that won’t get clean anymore no matter what and have frayed edges and the odd hole here and there. That kind of worn out.
And then their partner finds out and all hell breaks loose. He’ll yell and scream, bang doors, throw random things (though strangely never his own!) around, and threatens to harm you.
I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a pretty scary experience and one you never, ever, EVER wish to repeat. So you try to merge into the background and promise yourself to never get him that angry again.
Then, when you have children, you fear for them and their safety, so you try to please and placate him even more, while he takes over your house, your wits, your self esteem and eventually your entire life.
That’s what it’s like. So don’t come telling me I allowed and enabled it. I did no such thing. I simply tried to survive as best I could. Just like the victims of those miserable excuses for human beings that beat their partners up. It’s really not all that different.