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, September 2, 2010

I give up.

Feeling a bit better today. I didn't have to be on two different kinds of pain medicine to keep things under control. This is a huge improvement over the last few days. I'll gladly take it. I hate when things are out of my control. Especially when I've been making so much progress and then ... nothing.

I've always had control issues. For as long as I can remember.

*I alphabetize my spices - it makes it easier to find them when I need them.
*I sort my canned goods according to size and content - makes it easier to see at a glance what I have.
*I have a compulsion to sort hangers. That's why I now have nothing but white ones.
*I have found that I can't help but sort our new dishes as I take them out of the dishwasher to put them away. The stacks from bottom to top: stripes, purple or purple w/polka dots, flowers, topped off with green or green w/polka dots and repeat. The only ones I don't worry about are the dessert plates. They're tiny. Only about the size of a saucer. Maybe even smaller. But we don't have an even number of them, so I can't sort them evenly, so I don't even bother. But we have 12 of each of the other pieces, and I can't help it. I tell myself I do it, because I want them to wear evenly and not have one pattern wear out more quickly than any of the others, but I think it's just that I have to control over them. It doesn't take a ton of time like the hangers did. I have a routine, and I follow it, and I can do it rather quickly, so it's really not a big deal.

However, for years we went without a dishwasher. So when we bought our house, I was so thrilled to get a dishwasher. I'd wanted one for years to help lighten the load. However, the load never seemed lightened. The dishwasher never seemed to get the dishes clean. So I would spend hours each week making sure there wasn't a speck of dust on them before loading them in the dishwasher. There could be grease. Just not specks of food, because they'd end up in the bottom of the glasses, and I'd have to rewash them. It drove me nuts. I also noticed that there were always soap bubbles in the bottom of the dishwasher when I opened it up which always surprised me, because I only used about 1/4 the amount recommended.

It dawned on me that maybe I wasn't giving the soap enough to work on. I mean, our dishwasher was expensive. It was a good machine when we bought it. The best in our price point, at least. But we never had clean dishes. I often used the dishwasher for a dish drain. I mean, if I was going to spend almost as much time rinsing and soaking all the food off the dishes before sticking them in the dishwasher, I may as well just wash them by hand. Right?

Like I said. Hours. Each. Week.

I told you I have control issues.


The next step was hard for me to take.

I stopped rinsing everything off the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Granted, I put them on a longer wash, but I'd done that before, and the dishes hadn't come out clean. I expected no less this time. To my utter amazement, the dishes came out clean.

It took awhile for me to give up control over the dishes completely. Even though I'd seen the results, I still couldn't quite believe it. For a few more weeks, I'd rinse the dishes sometimes or do them by hand. Other times, I'd throw them in the dishwasher on an extended wash and still not quite believe that they were actually clean.

A few weeks into my experimenting, a friend sent me the following article. It talks about how using too much soap in your dishwasher or washing machine lessens the life of the machines considerable. I've always used less soap than called for, because we have a water softener, and you don't need to use as much when you have softened water. However, the article also addresses the very thing I'd discovered on my own. That dishes get cleaner in the dishwasher, if you can allow yourself to give up control and just let the dishwasher do it's job.

I'm still a control freak. I probably always will be. But I am so glad i gave up control over this particular thing in my life. It has saved me countless hours. Hours I can use to dehoard the house.

So glad I gave up.


  1. It's tough to let that go! I still cringe when I put something nasty in the washer, but I know it's for the best..Kinda like swatting your kids.."This is gonna hurt me more than you!"

  2. I think you're doing a great job!!! I've seen so much of myself in your posts, but I obviously let go of a lot(!) a long time ago :)

    Happy weekend!


  3. And giving up control over the dishwasher is another way of dehoarding.

    Great job!

  4. Every step counts , and giving up control of the dishwasher is a huge step. Its about learning to trust that you don't have to control that one thing , then you will find another and another to let go of in time

  5. Wish you'd made this discovery back when the dishes were my chore! Bahahah just kidding, love you mom, I'm proud of you!

  6. Wow. What a terrifying internal struggle. It looks to me like you are so aware of yourself though, I applaud your honesty and your progress.

  7. I have this issue I just cannot put dirty dishes in the dishwasher..... Even as I type it, it sounds crazy....

  8. It sounds like you are a recovering perfectionist! But your ability to realize when you have a control issue, and to let go, is a very good sign. More than half the battle is not just letting go of stuff, but not taking anything more on-- stopping the frantic acquisition of not just things, but projects. Good luck and congratulations on the progress you've made!


Welcome to The Closet. Feel free to take off your coat, hang it up, if you can find the space, and sit a spell. I just love your visits. :)