Hoarding is often triggered by a traumatic event. I believe I know what triggered mine. The birth of our younger daughters. Not that the births themselves were traumatic, but the years that followed were.
Our two younger daughters are severely developmentally and physically delayed. They have a rare genetic condition that resulted in roughly 2 dozen hospitalizations for our middle daughter and right at 3 dozen for our youngest. I basically had round the clock nursing responsibilities for several years, and I never got enough sleep. Our youngest was so sick that she was essentially a 4 year old infant weighing in at 21 pounds and not able to sit on her own. I was doing daily tube feedings, breathing treatments, wound care and diaper changes that in a hospital setting would normally be split between several nurses on a daily basis. This was my normal, and I still had 2 other children, a husband and a household to care for.
Most people looking at our lives thought we were so strong, and I suppose in many ways we were. We had no choice. Our children depended upon us, and they were our number one priority to be sure. When we got the news that our second daughter was going to have numerous health issues along with unknown developmental struggles, Mom thought I was joking or not dealing with things, because of my reaction. After crying for a very short while, I pulled myself up by the bootstraps and said, "Well, we can't put her back! Time to get on with life!"
While it was my way of dealing with things at the time, I wasn't really dealing with anything. I was simply stuffing my feelings. I realized a few days ago that I had never allowed myself to admit that it has been excruciatingly hard at times. I had been stuffing my feelings all these years, because I was afraid that admitting it has been extraordinarily difficult was saying that our daughters have been a burden to us and that I didn't love them.
Although things have been formidable for us over the years, we have never considered the girls a burden. Loved ones aren't burdens. And we couldn't love any of our children more than we do to this day. It is physically impossible, and we have been blessed beyond measure by all of them.
Finally being able to admit things have been trying at best on good days has given me such a release of stress. In fact, when I went to the doctor today, my blood pressure, which is normally very good, was 18 points lower than typical and even better than good. I feel the best I have in years, and the most optimistic than I have in . . .shoot. I can't even remember! I have a peace that I am going to make it.
In the meantime, I think of something our second daughter said for years during difficult situations. Because she had watched us move and carry box after heavy box during our move, she knew it was beyond normal. It was hard! And when things were demanding for her she would say, "The box is heavy!" followed by a really big sigh. When one of us were having a particularly rough day, she would sympathetically ask, "The box is heavy?"
Yes. The box is heavy.
It's also been worth carrying.
Compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder that is just beginning to be understood. As a hoarder, I have acquired things over the years with a specific purpose in mind at the time of the acquisition, used some of those items for their intended purposes, forgotten the goal for different objects, but now that I find that they have outlived their purpose in my life I am struggling to rid myself of those same things.
You can read the start of my journey here.