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.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

If I had my druthers...

The other day, my friend Susan asked me, if I'd rather be a hoarder or have a neat freak problem. I've been thinking about it ever since. Obviously, I'd rather not have either, but that wasn't the question. So..

Honestly? I'd rather having a hoarding problem, if I had to have either, although I sometimes think I have a combination of both. I at least have some of the OCD issues that a neat freak has, or I wouldn't alphabetize my spices or have to sort hangers. Yes. I alphabetize my spices. They're easier to find that way!

I don't mind my inlaws too much. I really don't. I've gotten to the point that I can disregard the majority of things that bother me about them. I hope they would do the same with me, but I think I bother them more than they bother me, but I digress. I've written before about my inlaws and how they don't exactly like me. I'm the complete opposite of them in so many ways, and I'm sure that has a lot to do with it.

My mother-in-law is a neat freak. No doubt in my mind. Everything has to be in it's place immediately after it's been used, which is fine and dandy and easy enough to do when it's just 2 of you in the household. (We have a really hard time implementing that one, though!) She never seems to relax when we're there. Even when she's sitting down, she looks around for whatever else it is she needs to clean and never seems to really be 'in the moment'.

I want to be able to live in the moment and actually enjoy my kids and my family. I want to be able to relax and be with them. And I do a fairly decent job at that. But I was also brought up knowing that I was supposed to get my chores done before I was supposed to go play. So even though I can relax a little more than my mother-in-law seems to, I too suffer from trying to figure out what I'll be tackling next on my ever growing to-do list as well. However, I can allow myself to just enjoy being with my family.

When my parents met my husband's parents, my father-in-law introduced his wife as 'the best housekeeper in the world'. Which is great. I'm glad he's proud of her. However, my dad always introduced my mom as his wonderful wife and talked about how she was the best mother us kids could have. Both Mom and Dad had experience with hoarding in their lives. Daddy collected little things that didn't take up as much room as what Mom collected, though. And both of them did a good job of keeping things neat, in spite of the fact that they had a lot of stuff. Still, when outsiders would blame anyone, they'd blame Mom for the boxes or the knick knacks that were displayed in the house.

Personally, I don't think it's anyone's business whether or not my parents had a lot of knick knacks or boxes stored in the house and garage. It was their lives and their home, and they had the right to do with their possessions as they saw fit. They loved each other and us kids with an intensity that is unrivaled. We were not well off, but I never knew it as a kid. Seriously. I didn't. My parents did an amazing job of making ends meet even when there was much more month than there was money. There was always room at Mom and Dad's for friends and loved ones who came in from out of town. They made room. And people felt welcome. And loved.

So if I use these the examples of neat freak and hoarder, I'll go with hoarder any day of the week. My husband doesn't introduce me as the best house keeper in the world, and I'm totally okay with that. But he does introduce me as the best mom and wife he or our kids could ask for. In spite of the hoarding and the clutter. And while people may be uncomfortable with the mess in our house, they know that, if they're in our home, that they're welcome. That they're loved.

For now, that's going to have to be good enough. Eventually, I hope to find my equilibrium and find a happy balance between hoarding and neat freak.

The scales are starting to tip, and I'm good with that.


  1. I alphabetize my spices too. IT MAKES SO MUCH MORE SENSE.

  2. My husband alphabetizes his CD's and albums (yes, we still have a LOT of vinyl)! He also saves a lot more stuff than we need. Interesting. He has been great about getting rid of stuff these past few years. I know, for some reason, all the "stuff" makes him feel safe.

  3. My husband and I are each a bit neat freaky about certain things. We've both had to let some of it go, especially since we now spare the house with two small, very messy people.

    Beautiful post.

  4. "But he does introduce me as the best mom and wife he or our kids could ask for"

    And that is far more important!

  5. I would much rather have my husband brag about what a good mom/wife I am then how well I scrub our tub.... LAME! I also know someone that has extreme OCD and her daughter (3 years old) gets panic attacks and they thing its because of her moms clean freakiness, bc she just can't relax enough to have fun.... Doesn't sound fun to me. At all....

  6. I read a plaque in someone's home once that said, "Clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy".

    I think I have it backwards though. My house is tidy-ish, but don't go in the bathroom! I can never keep up with the mess my boys make.

    Thanks for dropping by and extending your sympathy for my embarrassing memory--you shouldn't feel sorry for me though, it was completely self-inflicted!


  7. I'm a Type-A neat freak and Hubby isn't. That's about as balanced as the Ponderosa is gonna get! Heeehehehe! Too bad we all can't swap a little of this for that and equalize our lives.

    God bless and ya'll have a wonderful weekend!!!


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