From hoarder to home-free!

Originally posted on April 6, 2014
Let’s face it; dirty laundry exists. There’s some that needs dry cleaning; there’s some that can take the regular cycle; there’s some that requires the gentle cycle. Should it be “out there” for just anyone to see or know? I guess that’s up to the individual. Some laundry items are dirtier than others; some are more intimate than others. While the grass-stained baseball jersey drying on the line may be a badge of honor, of a game well-played, the dainty “unmentionables” may be better being hung in the privacy of the bathroom!

Of course, the human equivalent of dirty laundry is the “dirty little secret”…the skeleton in the closet, so to speak. And let’s face it, just like the dirtie undies, everyone has their boney friend. It may be some addiction, some less than savory character trait, some socially-frowned-upon mindset, some contrary political ideas, some history of negative behavior (past or present), yadda yadda. I am assuming that in order to love ourselves, we must love our bones as well (those within us and those within the closet). By owning it, by acknowledging it, by coming to terms with it, we can acknowledge our whole person, and move into the person we are meant to be and life we are meant to live.

Among my skeletons (because like enjoying a rich dessert, isn’t it better to savor these 206 bones deliciously, one at a time? I think Hannibal Lecter would agree 😉 ) is the fact that at one time, I was a hoarder. Clever, isn’t it, that the phrase “at one time” makes it sound like it was so far in the remote past….yeah, no. Up until about, oh, February of 2014. Yep, an addiction quite recently licked (and proudly so).

What creates the hoarder? I honestly have no clue. Just because one is an addict doesn’t make one an expert on addictive behavior; just because I’ve had a certain compulsion doesn’t mean I can explain it’s impetus. I think, similarly with other negative traits, the root cause of the behavior is as individual as the person who has it. I think part of it for me was, I felt more value by doing for others, and taking care of others, than I did of myself or taking care of myself. Whatevah. I’m not a shrink!

Anyway, trust me, there are health impacts with this. Not only the obvious physical health impact (anyone seen “Hoarders” on television? Yeah, try climbing through bags and boxes and piles of stuff and NOT crash and burn at times! Let alone the impact of dust and stuff!), but emotionally also. The more clutter around you, the more you get used to it; thus, you “need” it, and feel even more socially awkward outside of your cave. Yet, you are also incredibly isolated, socially, because who can you invite into your cave? Yeah, no one! (trust me). As someone who is naturally less social than most, I thought it impacted me less than it really did; but as I have decluttered recently, I realized how much I had also isolated from my family and great friends who I truly do love and am close with.

So, decluttering is truly a life-changing experience. It is emotionally overwhelming, physically taxing, and financially stressful! Once you are in the dumping mode, ya get rid of a bunch of “stuff” (aka, crap!) that you think you needed at some point in time, that you think you were attached to. Guess what? You “need” a lot less material stuff in your life than you think! But if you get too much into the dumping mode (like I did), you do sometimes end up getting rid of stuff that you really did kind of need! It’s been a period of multiple alterations, and adjustments, and cleaning and purging and remodeling and dumping old stuff and acquisitioning new/repurposed furniture and stuff. Recognizing what didn’t need to be held on to and remembering why some things are meaningful and have sentimental value. I’ve been back in my home for a few weeks now (after spending time at my sister’s home while the remodeling/construction zone of my condo was under way), and I’m still not used to how it is….it feels like being in a hotel or something, so fresh and clean, and putting things back away, putting pictures back on the walls, going back through collections of books and music, movies and collectibles, remembering who gave me what, and where I was when I purchased this or that….it’s like the proverbial “life flashing before your eyes”, where you are recalling a lot of past memories, both good and bad. As with other changes in life recently, I’m choosing to keep the good, ditch the bad….and if it had a bad connotation in the past, there’s no rule that it can’t change to a good one now!

Still some finishing touches to do in my wonderful and comfortable home. But already, life and the approach to it has changed. I’ve gone from a point where no one had been in my home in years, and the curtains were permanently closed to the world, to a home that my family, my nieces, some friends have already been into, and the blinds remain open all day so that anyone outside can see that there is NOTHING to hide in here! This skeleton is not only out of the closet; it’s chillin’ out in the yard catching a tan!! (And MONDO thanks to my incredible family and my good friends who have supported this entire endeavor with strength, love, humor, understanding, and a great swift kick in the butt when needed!! I adore you!!)

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