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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Scooter finally went back to school this week after having been sick all last week, and Hopper started her day program again, so I am trying to get back into a routine. It's been easier said than done, but then again, it's also only been 2 days. And I'm trying to do the caffeine withdrawal thing again, without much success. I can't seem to do an extended hospital stay for the girls without getting hooked on soda again. I think it's because I'm afraid to sleep at the hospital, because I'm afraid the nurses will miss something I might catch. 

I know. 

I'm a control freak.

A control freak who's addicted to caffeinated pop once again.

It could be worse. I could be drinking a 6 pack or a 2 liter bottle a day, but I'm drinking less than half that. The rough thing is that I'm not sure, if I am going to try to get it out of my system before I get through my mountains of paperwork or not. It is what it is. I either will, or I won't, and I'm not going to stress over it.

The paperwork, on the other hand, is a totally different monster. I will be stressing over it until I get it finished, and I've got to get it done as quickly as possible.

Well, that's not entirely true. 

I just need to find the girls' birth certificates and social security cards. So if I find them, I can take a breather from the rest of the paperwork, if I need to.

So I worked through some really rough boxes tonight. I only got through two of them, and although I feel accomplished, it wasn't easy. Although the first box was easier than the second.

The first box had an assortment of paperwork. There was everything from old water bills to telephone bills that spanned several years, and bank receipts. It also held old hospital and doctor receipts as well as school papers, art projects and notes from each of the girls.

It was fairly easy to sort. If the art projects didn't have a name on them, and I couldn't tell who had done them, I tossed them. I saved some of the hospital and doctor bills/notes, if they had vital information on them, so I can scan them. For the most part, things were either thrown in the trash into the shredables, and almost all of the few things I saved will be scanned and then tossed.

I have to admit I felt pangs of guilt when I saw some of Hopper's papers in there. The school papers that I decided not to save weren't really the issue. It was the pages upon pages of her notebook papers that I threw that gave me pause. While I was going through them, to make sure there wasn't anything I was going to keep, I pictured her as a little girl piling all her special papers that she was so very proud of on top of Mom and Dad's piano stool.

For a moment or two I physically felt the same panic I used to feel when I would pick her papers up and put them in a box to hide them from her. I always felt guilty picking the papers up and taking them away from her when she wasn't looking, but if I hadn't we'd have had papers piled to the ceiling years ago. There was just so very little she ever asked for that I felt bad taking one of the few things away from her that she enjoyed so much. I didn't feel like a very good mom, for sure. And all of those feelings came rushing back tonight as I was going through the boxes. 

The feelings of unease carried over into the sorting of the second box. I absolutely abhor boxes like this one. It was a mix of paperwork, little toys the girls loved, necklaces, bracelets and mouse turds. There were a couple of tins in the box that I didn't save to use, but I did put with the scrap metal to recycle. And 90% of the stuff in the box went in the trash or in the shredables, but that doesn't mean it was easy to sort the stuff out.

The toys were plastic. I could sterilize the toys. I actually set them aside to do exactly that for awhile. There was a little change in the box as well, so I did clean it with an antibacterial wipe and put it in the piggy bank. I figured it was cleaner than the vast majority of coins in the piggy bank once I got done using the wipe on it, so that was easy enough. It's not like anyone will be handling it with any regularity anyway.

I found a copy of a letter Hubster's great grandfather had written in the 1890s that had been translated from Swedish to English after he'd moved to the States from Sweden so many years ago. There was also a snapshot of me and Hubster out at dinner when we were dating and a grouping of pictures that came out of a booth where you put quarters in at a mall to capture the moment. Bugster is holding a 3 month old Scooter on her lap, and the baby is wailing. Hopper is over to Bugster's side, and is laughing hysterically at the noises coming out of Scooter's mouth. It's a precious picture, to be sure, and I'm very glad I found it.

I also came across a 110 camera with a built-in flash in the box. I'll stick new batteries in and try to take the last couple of pictures on the film and then get it developed. I have no clue what we'll find when we get the pictures back. It ought to be interesting.

Most all of that was easy, but I really struggled when I came across the necklaces and bracelets. There was a really cute necklace with wooden hearts and wooden spools on it that I had just loved on the girls. It had a white heart, red spools, and a blue cord, and it was just adorable. I came really close to trying to figure out how to get it clean, so I could let Scooter wear it. She's really into jewelry, and she'd have loved it.

I mean, I could have soaked it in bleach water to make sure it was clean. The bracelets, too. One of the necklaces had definitely been made by Hopper or Scooter. It had all sorts of wacky, fun, colorful beads on it, including a pacifier bead, and I could have gotten in clean enough for the girls to wear again. And then I remembered all the beads we have downstairs just waiting for the girls to make new necklaces and bracelets, and how I really didn't need to save any of them. 

I probably would never feel comfortable enough to let the girls wear the bracelets and necklaces, even if I thought I'd gotten them clean enough. I'd likely just store them somewhere allowing them to make me feel guilty for not doing anything with them and not giving them to the girls and they'd sit there waiting for me to get to them. Someday. So I took a big breath, and I threw them in the trash.

Then I looked at the handful of toys I'd set aside to wash. I'm not sure what I'd have done with them. I probably would have bleached them til no color was left in the plastic all the while telling myself I was saving them for Bugster's babies. That she might just want to keep them for her little ones to play with. But she's going to want to buy toys for her little ones herself. She's not going to want toys that had mouse turds on them and she's not sure are clean enough for her babies. I don't want that for my grandchildren, either.

And then I realized the hoarder part of me was trying to take over. It was trying to make my decisions for me. To keep me feeling insecure. To keep me hanging on. To control me. 

So instead of waiting to deal with the toys Someday, I decided to deal with them now. Today. I threw them all in the trash, and although I have a slight residual feeling of panic, they're gone, and they're not coming back. 

I'll count it as a victory. 

A small victory, but a victory, nonetheless.

And it didn't happen Someday. It happened Today.


  1. That is a massive victory. I am so proud of you, I really am. Don't give up but do take as much time as you need. You have done amazingly well, you really took control of that hoarding voice!!


    Ps I gave up fizzy juice (I was on min 2l a day) a few years ago. I'm back on it a bit now, but am planning on stopping. Two things 1) Go cold turkey and 2) Fizzy water.

  2. This seems like a huge step for you. I hope you are giving yourself credit for what you did and not beating yourself up for almost keeping the stuff. It seems to me you are working really hard and making wonderful progress.

  3. I don't see it as a small victory.(I know, you're lying awake at night saying to yourself, 'gosh, what does Mental really think?')
    I think you're amazing.

    And I love how you share your whole thought process. I so understand.

    You really are inspiring.

  4. Way to go! You're really making progress, and I know it's hard. Keep going!

  5. Hi Judy from down-under in Australia, from a fellow-partly-cured-hoarder .... who stills has the thinking patterns associated with 'collecting', but finds that I can now 'use' my new-found skills of 'awareness' to evaluate any 'acquisition' I 'consider', and determine if it serves my new life to have it .... I am very impressed with your 'blog site' [have only found this link tonight], and will take time soon to back read some more of your journey ... please know that I applaud your decision to chronicle your efforts in such an honest, and humorous manner; I wish you all the best, for your whole family, and hope that you continue to create your dreams, cheers, Paul

  6. Sounds like really tough going ! Yay for you ! you did well

  7. That sounded really difficult, but you're right, it was TOTALLY a victory! And in your own words, "it didn't happen Someday. It happened Today." I am so proud of you. :-D

  8. This was a HUGE victory! You're doing so well! I love how you can articulate exactly how you feel and how the hoarding feels. You are awesome! Now, go look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you are AWESOME!

  9. You should have a read through this blog

    It is inspiring to see how someone can live so happyily without stuff.

  10. rainbowmummy-Thanks for the support, the advice and the link. I know how to give up the 'fizzy juice' as you put it. I am just dreading it enough I know I have to be mentally prepared for it. LOL I hate the headaches I get and the exhaustion I feel. The worst was when I gave it up after having 2l+ every day for over 20 years except for when I was pregnant. I never drank it through my pregnancies, but I couldn't seem to stay away from it when I wasn't. I'm hopeful, though. The longest I went without it was 3 years. I'll get there again. :)

    Jojesek-Thanks. No, I'm not beating myself up for it. Just trying to process it all. It can just be frustrating to me when I come across stuff like that and I struggle with getting rid of things. There are times, I wish I could just toss it all and never look back, but I'm not there yet. Don't know that I ever will be, or that I truly really ever want to be, but sometimes it's a wish. :)

    Ami-You know, I really DO lay awake and wonder what you think. ;O) And thank you for your constant support. It means a lot. :)

    Mikey-Thanks. I'll keep on keepin' on. Promise! :)

    Paul-It's so nice to meet you. Thank you for your warm words, and I wish you the very best in your journey as well. I've followed you on your blog, and I look forward to reading more of your story. :)

    Fern-It was difficult, but I've dealt with harder in my life. I just have to remember that, so I can keep on with the constant forward momentum! :)

    Thank you, Crystal. :) Procrastination has such a huge appeal when I'm not wanting to deal with something. Trying to break that habit. :)

    Unfortunately, you owe me for a new mirror, Portia. It broke when I did what you suggested. ;O)

    I sincerely thank each and every one of you who have commented, and even those who have never commented but read my blog and are rooting for me. It has helped so much knowing I'm not alone and that I have support from so many to make it to the end of my dehoarding journey. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. :)

  11. Judy, it is not a SMALL victory, it's huge. Even people who don't struggle with hoarder anxiety issues have issues trying to sort through their children's childhood treasures. So you sort of had to deal with a double-whamy and you did it. So bravo! And give yourself so much credit. Being a control freak is an ongoing battle of the wills, and clearly, you are winning! Booya! Say it with me Judy: Booya!...feels good right!

  12. Well, it's taken me two whole days, but I've finally finished reading your entire blog. I must say that I've enjoyed every single post. It's been like reading a chapter book - a biography, and it's wonderful. You definitely have the gift of writing and getting your feelings on paper. Thank you so much for being so honest with us and sharing your journey. You have helped me tremendously with thoughts that I've had about myself, etc.

    You are amazing! Pat yourself on the back. You have made HUGE HUGE strides since you started your journy January 2010. I'm so proud of you and will be reading every post from now on to keep encouraging you on to your goal. HUGS to you and your precious family!

  13. That Swedish/English letter you described is just the type of thing that the hoarders on Hoarders are so afraid of losing when strangers start ripping through their belongings. There are valuable things underneat piles of not-so-valuable things, I know. It is inspiring to read how you are tackling your things!

  14. Sandra...Booyah!!! And yes! It sounds and feels fantastic! :)

    Carolyn, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. In talking with you, I feel like I've known you forever. :) And as much as I need to keep my mind on the goal, I need to look back occasionally at the start of the race, so I might remember where I started. Jan 2010 seems like a lifetime ago!

    Kelley...thank you for understanding. If it weren't for pictures, letters like the one I rescued, etc., I'd willingly burn all the paperwork and not even take the time to go through it all!


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