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.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

We have to bribe the trash man.

Every trash can we own is full. We have 6. Plus we have 2 huge bags of trash besides them to go tomorrow. *And* we have two boxes full of flattened boxes that also need to be picked up. So we are going to get a 6 pack of soda and pack it in a bag of ice or something, so they'll pick everything up for us. It's amazing what a 6 pack can do to help out in times like this.

I tried getting a picture after everything was out by the street for pickup, but it was raining, and it was dark, and I couldn't see, so I missed one can and one bag. Can't do this every week, though, we'll go broke buying pop!

It rained today after I got back from my appointment across town, but I was feeling pretty good, so I decided to work on the porch after it stopped raining. It was fairly cool outside compared to what it's been. It was in the low 80s vs the high 90s and low 100s. But the humidity was really high, because of the rain, so it felt hotter than it was. I don't like the humidity, but I love the rain, so I'm not complaining.

Hopper helped me out today by literally dragging the full garbage cans and boxes up to the front of the house where the trash cans are and bringing the empty cans back one at a time. She loved being helpful, and I so appreciated the extra pair of hands. It's amazing how much more one can accomplish with even a small amount of assistance at times.

I worked on sorting 3 boxes that I'd sorted before several years ago. One box was full of stuff I was going to keep to either sell or keep for our future grandkids. One box was full of stuff I was going to sell on eBay or Craigslist. The other was full of things I was going to donate to a local thrift store. I knew there were toys in some of the boxes, but I was a bit surprised that all 3 were full of toys, and I wasn't prepared at all for the memories that flashed when I saw them.

Some of the decisions were easy. If the toy was a soft toy, it automatically went in the trash. Even the full set of Simpsons dolls I'd gotten back in the late 1980s when the show was brand new, and our oldest was just a tot. I think I was hanging onto them more, because they were sentimental than anything, but when I was going through the box, I realized I never really liked them that much anyway. They just brought back memories of Bugster when she was tiny. But I still have those memories of Bugster when she was tiny, and that's enough. I can deal with that.

So I put what the former me would have done aside, and I tossed them in the trash. It took a few minutes, but I did it. I actually even got them back out for about 30 seconds and wondered why I was doing that, and I put them back for good. Wanna know what I would have done in a past life...a life that was mine before January 2010?

I'd have sorted them all into their own bag. In my head, I would refer to it as, 'The Simpsons Bag' with capital letters to give it the respect I felt the memories deserved. I would have thrown anything Simpsons related into the bag, whether it was the soft dolls, the Maggie hand puppet, the Bart windsock, the little rubber figures or the pack of 10 Simpsons posters that was still sealed in it's original plastic but had a tiny bit of water damage on the corners. Then, I'd obsess in my mind about all I had to do with each and everything in the bag.

I'd have to wash the little rubber figures really well in soap and water. I'd use a toothbrush gently on them, so I didn't scrape too much of the paint away. Then I'd soak them in bleach water for at least an hour being careful not to touch the paint while it was still wet, in the hopes that they'd still be the right color once they dried. Then I'd gently remove them from the water, rinse them, and put them on a paper towel to dry.

I would have to take the dolls, the puppet, and the windsock and vacuum them first. Then, I'd start the washer on the gentlest cycle and a cold water wash. In my head, I'd be screaming that it really needed to be hot to make sure it killed any bugs that might be living in them, but then I'd justify not using hot water, because I'd be using bleach anyway. While the washing machine was filling, I'd need to get the puppet turned inside out as much as possible, and put each doll in it's own pillow case and tie it shut. Then I'd wait impatiently while the washing machine did it's job. When it stopped, I'd grab the first pillowcase I saw, untie it, and check to see, if the eyeballs were still all intact. I'd be irritated as all get out, if they weren't because I knew I wouldn't get any money for them the way they were, and I'd just wasted all that time.

Then I'd try to figure out what I needed to do with the posters. I wouldn't hang them on my kids' walls, because they wouldn't even know who they are. They'd just know that Mom hung posters on their wall, and that I got irritated when they tore them down and ripped them to shreds, because they were bored. So I'd try to figure out a friend to give them to. I'd probably ask at least 4 people, if they wanted them. When they all said that they didn't want them, I'd throw them in the box to go to the thrift stores, because after all, they were still in the original plastic. Surely, someone would want them, even with the little bit of water damage in the corners. Besides. I had to give the responsibility to someone else. I would realize that it was more than I could handle to throw them in the trash myself, even though nobody would want them, and they were damaged anyway.

And all of this flooded through my mind while I was sorting the boxes. And I realized I am no longer the former me. I am me. I'm living in the now, and in the future, and I want a new life for us. A new life with fewer complications, because we have way too much stuff around the house to handle. So I threw them away.

The funny thing is that it paved the way for me to throw almost all of the other stuff away as well. We're talking a 3'x2'x1' box, an 18"x18"x18" box, and a 1'x2'x2' box of toys. And what I kept would fit in a 1'x1'x1' box. So I did pretty well. But it wasn't just a simple thing. I sorted through each box thoroughly. Every single item was in my hand or in the dustpan for me to sort through at a quick glance before tossing them in the trash can.

I found it incredibly difficult to toss the little figures that come in fast food meals, or that they got from the treasure chest at school for doing such a good job. Almost all of them could be washed and bleached. And someone could have used them. But I don't have the time to bleach all of them. They would have been in the girls' bedroom when I cleaned it out a few months ago, instead of out on the porch, if I'd had time to do it in the last several years that they've been outside. I couldn't give them to someone else and expect them to bleach them, because I wouldn't forgive myself, if a child got a hold of one of them without the parent's knowledge, and they got sick as a dog from them. So I tossed them all!



I picked out the magnetic letters and numbers that go to toys that had been in their bedroom or are in the pod. I can bleach them. And I will. But they go to toys the girls will still play with. Toys that are educational, and ones I don't want to have to pay for again. They're electronic and cost too much to replace. There were less than a dozen such magnetic letters and numbers that I saved, so they take up very little room, and it won't be too time consuming for me to bleach them.

However, I found myself picking out Legos to bleach. Not the little tiny ones. I hate them. They're so small, and they hurt so much, if you step on them. So I only picked out the medium-sized Legos. I stuck them aside in the bag with the letters and numbers. However, since I've been in the house, I've been thinking about how I won't be able to get into every nook and cranny with a toothbrush, so if there's any dirt in there at all, it will probably stay there, and no amount of soaking in bleach will actually dislodge the dirt. And then there's that thing with the unsuspecting child getting sick from it going in their mouth. So I've decided I'm just going to toss them in the trash. They can be picked up fairly cheaply at thrift stores, anyway. Plus, I'm not sure, if the girls will even play with them any longer. So I'll be tossing them the next time I go out on the back porch.

I did find the little die cast airplane with Grover at the controls in one of the boxes, though. It was part of a set that we had when Bugster was a little girl. She played with the Big Bird dump truck the most, but she loved the little airplane, too. I haven't come across the dump truck since the girls' room was cleaned. My friend said she never came across it, either. So I decided I was not going to throw Grover away. I'll bleach him with the letters and numbers. I think I may just keep him around. He doesn't take up that much room. Besides, I think I can allow myself to keep a few things.

The last thing I kept for myself I really kept for me to play with our future grandkids. I don't remember what they were originally called. We called them 'Mr. Man'. There are a few different ones with different outfits. There's the cop, the fireman, the thug with the stocking cap. I've never seen anything like them before or since I bought them. They're rubber balls about the size of a golf ball with 3D noses and faces on them. They're absolutely adorable.

There's a little rubber car that goes to the set. There's a rocking chair and a bed. And they live in a these little round houses that sit atop one another. If you move the floor aside, you can attach the elevator to the top of the building, and crank them all the way up to the top floor. I just love them. And I played for hours with Bugster with them when she was little. And I want to play with Bugster's babies with them someday, too.

Since they're all rubber, I can safely bleach them and know that they're clean. The best part of it is that the houses were all in a heavy plastic bag with a real zipper that had held bedding at one time. So they weren't exposed to all the stuff that everything else in the boxes were. I'll be able to just wipe them off and not have to soak them in bleach, which is good. They have paper scenes that would peel off, if they were soaked, so I'm glad they were protected.

At one point, I came across a lot of Scooter's crib toys. It killed me to get rid of them. But there was just no way that I could get them clean enough to trust that they'd be clean enough for a child to use. But Scooter used them for years and years on her crib, because it took so long for her to sit up. She was in her crib until she was 5, because she couldn't even sit up until 2 weeks or so before her 4th birthday. So they had a lot of memories associated with them. And it killed me to throw them away. Thankfully, Scooter had gone inside to watch TV for awhile right when I got to that box. I'm so glad. It would have devastated her to see what I was throwing away.

So. There ya have it. Today was good. I got things done in less than 2 hours today that I couldn't have done in a month, had I attempted it 7 months ago. It was physically and emotionally exhausting, but I'm so glad to have gotten it done. I'll not miss a single thing that was thrown away today once the trash is picked up tomorrow. It will just be a part of my past.


  1. Wow! You have been getting alot done. I have a question. You call yourself a hoarder yet you talk about bleaching everything. I watch the hoarding shows on tv and the ocd shows and it just seems contradictory. I like that you are able to just toss stuff. I think this would be the best way for me to de-clutter. My biggest problem is what to do with all the stuff I don't want/need. I am really stuck there.

  2. How do you have SIX trash cans? We only have one here!

  3. middle child - When our youngest was little, she was very ill. She was hospitalized a couple dozen times by the time she was 4 and then about a dozen since. She just turned 17. So bleaching or using rubbing alcohol on their toys became an obsession with me, because I was terrified that, if I didn't she'd end up in the hospital. And these toys have been out on the back porch where they've been exposed to who knows what in 7 or 8 years or however long they've been out there. So I couldn't bring myself to let the girls play with them without cleaning them thoroughly first.

    As far as being able to just toss's a battle every single time. It's not as easy as it seems. I go through the entire thought process (like with the Simpsons things) with almost every single thing I throw away.

    I call myself a hoarder, because I know I am one. I've watched the shows and can identify with so many of them. I used to have a near nervous breakdown, if someone tried to help me clean up or threw something away without me knowing it. Even now, certain things evoke a strong physical reaction when I throw them away. I've had to have my husband take the trash out immediately for me, so I wouldn't go through it and retrieve what I've thrown away on several occasions.

    Honestly, I think that the younger two girls having so many medical, physical and developmental issues not only contributed to me being a hoarder, but they've also held it in check to a certain degree. I've always been afraid of being so bad that someone would threaten to take our children from us. I love them more than I love a single thing in my house, and if it meant the thing or the kids, the kids would win out each and every time. But I have no doubt whatsoever that I'm a hoarder.

  4. BN-They're little. They only hold one full black trash bag or two to 3 white ones each. I have a picture I'm trying to send to my account, so I can post it, but my phone's taking forever. I'll probably post the picture of the cans tomorrow. was a lot.

  5. Wow - you HAVE been productive!!! Congratulations!


  6. Wow What an exhausting proccess that was for you before! That was very enlightening to me and would I am sure be to many. So much more work for you to keep or store these things than to let them go ,speaks volumes

  7. I'm so impressed with all that you've been doing. (Sorry I'm not commenting much... I've been busy.)

    That was quite the thought process that you went through with the Simpsons - it's got to be very emotional and emotionally exhausting to dehoard. I'm proud of you!


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