In my journey of healing myself from my hoarding habits, I’ve found a few things that worked and a few things that have not worked. So far, one simple rule I made has been the most successful. That is why I named it my Number 1 rule to stop my hoarding and clutter in my house. It’s simply: “I need more things going out than coming in.” That’s it, very easy! It’s basic math really and holds a lot of truth. These past years in my house, I had way more stuff coming in and hardly anything going out. It’s time to reverse that equation. And to do that, I must restrict my shopping. All the impulse buying, yard sales, Facebook Marketplace, the Sharing Table and freebies had to stop. That’s what I have been doing and it’s working! I have three completely cleaned rooms now. Currently I’m working on my fourth room. If you’re a hoarder and you want to give this a try…I would start with something as simple as ten things going out versus one thing coming in. Don’t pick things that are very sentimental to you, I don’t care if it’s 10 pieces of paper. As long as you grow the habit of getting rid of things in your house, more things are still going out than coming in. Even if all you can handle is five things going out versus one thing coming in. Baby steps still move you forward and even if you are walking slowly, at least you are not walking backwards.
November and December is a season of charity and giving. Everyone seems to be more open to service and helping the community during this time. I participate in two charities now in November. The first one we packed snack and toiletries bags for Robin’s Nest. That is a local shelter for runaway or troubled teens to live and be safe. The second charity is Operation Christmas Child. We pack shoeboxes filled with toiletries and toys for children all over the world. Charity is really therapeutic for my hoarding. It helps me see the good in letting go and giving to others in need. As a hoarder I hold onto things because I feel anxiety if I let it go. On the opposite spectrum, I feel joy of letting go if I know someone else is being blessed by it. I feel such a love come over my heart when I know I am doing good for the community. It is this transition of joy replacing anxiety that is helping me heal from my hoarding.
We recently just had our Fall/Winter Sharing Table at our mom’s group. It’s a wonderful way to declutter and get new items you may need! Each mom brings in outgrown clothes or items from their children (or themselves) They put the items in the designated area so it’s organized. At the end of the meeting, we get to “shop” for new clothes. All leftover clothes go to charity. Ironically, I run the Sharing Table and keep it very organized! So I do have the capability of organizing my home! But it teaches me a great lesson when it comes to hoarding: it’s better to give than hoard. Sounds cliché but the joy of giving replaces the anxiety of letting go.
In this confessional, I am going to explain why it’s not a good idea to throw away a box of junk behind the hoarder’s back. It will backfire on you if you think you are helping them. It feels the same as a person sneaking into your wallet and throwing away your $100 bill. You feel disrespected and now you don’t trust that person anymore. Now I know you’re thinking a $100 bill is worth way more than a box of random crap. But to a hoarder, it feels the same. We overvalue all of our stuff.
Value is determined by how important an item is to a person. A hundred dollar bill is worth a lot and a lot of people attach value to it. A box of random crap, most people don’t attach a high value to it. But not the hoarder…the hoarder had over-valued their box. So it feels like a lot of money to them. Plus if they find out that you threw that out, they are about to go into a panic attack of which box you threw out. It doesn’t help, it actually makes things worse. If you want to help, be encouraging, be patient and be empathic. The hoarder has to be ready to change!
When I watch the show “Hoarders” on YouTube, I am shocked at the comments people leave. I want to address a few of these vicious comments. The first one is, “How can this person choose their stuff over their family members?! They are awful people.” I am here to explain my heart to what is actually happening inside of me. As a hoarder, we are not choosing our stuff over our family members. I am choosing to avoid the overwhelming wave of anxiety that is hitting me when I am forced to throw something out. I am getting defensive because why does my loved one want to trigger this panic attack that is overtaking my body. Why are they making me choose between them and this tidal wave of emotional pain of letting go of this item. I am feeling almost literal pain because I have over attached myself to this item. I have such an high value on this thing and it feels like you are throwing me out. If you love me, why are you making me choose? You are suppose to love me, you are suppose to be on my side. These are the things I am thinking. But am I explaining that to you? No. I am in defense fight or flight mode and I am saying, “THE ITEM!!!!” Because if I know I can keep the item, the panic attack goes away. I am not choosing you over the item. I am choosing to stop this pain as fast as I can. This is how the neurons in my brain are firing right now. I just want people who don’t hoard, understand what is going on in my mind. If you have a loved one who does hoard, try to be a little more empathetic with them. If you see them starting to get defensive, tell them it will be okay. That they are not the item, they are so much more! And you love them and understand how this might hurt them and you will support them during this healing process. The hoarder needs to be ready to part with their things, just like the alcoholic wants to stop drinking.
I love watching those Time Capsule Wardrobe videos on YouTube. Some girls can have 10 articles of clothing and make 20 outfits out of them for the entire season. I am not one of those girls. I have a true time capsule wardrobe because I have bins of clothes from 2008 in my basement. It’s so unorganized that I decided to make a parody of myself showing a “Hoarder Capsule Wardrobe.” I feel like this is part of my healing process. I am at a point where I can joke about my habits while changing them into more minimalists habits. My goals are for this time next year: I’ll be able to have a true time capsule wardrobe for Fall 2019!!!
I decided to give a partial reveal of what I look like. It has been brought up by a few people that I should show my face. Then people can identify with me better. But I’m still too vulnerable to show my face to the world! I’m not ready for the harsh judgement hoarders get. I am getting better with letting go of my stuff. I even have two completely cleaned rooms! Once I get most of my house cleaned and feel free of my hoarding, I will give a full reveal of who I am! But for now, I feel more comfortable with a partial reveal!