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.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

How do I know, if I'm a hoarder? Pt 3 - Perfectionism

I'm a perfectionist. You may not know it by looking at my home, but I am. In fact, I've been working on this post for 4 days now trying to get my thoughts into words. Trying to make it perfect.

Once again, I think I'm trying too hard.

Growing up, we were taught to do the best we could at anything we attempted. To give it our all. If you do your best, you can take pride in your work. You can be proud knowing you gave it your all, and your effort will be rewarded. 

You know the old adage... If you can't do something right, don't do it at all. 

When I was a kid, I thought that meant I had to be perfect. And when I wasn't perfect, when I didn't get something right, it meant that I was wrong. And I equated 'wrong' with 'naughty'. With failure.

My parents wanted me to apply myself, and rightfully so. Kids should apply themselves. Thankfully, my parents were not stage parents who pushed and pushed wanting me to be perfect. I was the one who wanted to be perfect, and I made things so much harder on myself as a result.

Even though I got good grades in school, I would be so disappointed when the grade on my paper was less than an A-. When I would get a B+, I always chided myself for, if I had only applied myself a smidgen more, I could have gotten an A. Disappointment doesn't describe what I felt, if I got a C on a paper. I was traumatized. Report cards were even harder to handle, because I could never quite get straight A's. I'd get all A's and 1 B one quarter and the next I'd have brought the B up to an A while in a different class my grade slipped to a B. It was maddening and disheartening.

School wasn't the only area where I had perfectionism issues. I didn't like art, because I couldn't seem to draw or paint anything that resembled what it was supposed to. As much as I loved to sing, I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket with the lid duct taped on tight, if my life depended on it. So I didn't sing where anyone could hear me.

Shortly before Bugster was born, we bought my sewing machine. I loved it, but I was so afraid of making a mistake and having my project not look good that it took me months to sew the only baby outfit I ever made. I made plenty of baby blankets and curtains and the diaper bag and bumper pads, but they were fairly easy things to sew. They were straight lines for the most part. Plus they stayed in the nursery. If I messed up on a baby outfit, people would see it when she wore the clothes. People would be able to see my mistakes, so I just never made clothes.

The list goes on and on. 

It carried over into my life as a mother. I needed to be a perfect mother. It felt so personal when one of the babies cried. I just knew that it was, because they didn't love me, because I wasn't a good mother. I would be so embarrassed, if one of them spit up on their new clothes. I mean, if I was a good mom, they wouldn't get their clothes dirty, because I would have kept them from getting sick.

By the time life became so overwhelming with hospitalizations and the different medical needs the girls had, I was exhausted. Not only couldn't I get ahead on the laundry and housekeeping, I couldn't keep up on the daily stuff. It didn't matter that what I was going through as a mom was not typical, and that the only way for anyone to really keep up with what I had going on was to have extra help. I felt very, very imperfect.

In the meantime, I still had to make sure the clothes were all folded and put away without wrinkles. (Wrinkled clothes have always made me feel like a failure). The towels and sheets had to be folded exactly the same way each and every time. The dishwasher needed to be loaded, but it didn't get the dishes clean, so I had to pre-wash all the dishes before they went in the machine

When I started getting so overwhelmed I couldn't keep up I stopped trying. I started living the, 'If you can't do something right, don't do it at all' to the fullest, because I didn't know how to do it any other way. As a result, all sorts of stuff piled up. Papers didn't get filed. Clothes didn't get sorted out of the main laundry when the girls outgrew them. Forget about getting the clothes sorted. I couldn't even keep up with keeping them clean. Dishes didn't get done in a timely manner, if I didn't have time to wash them all before the dishwasher was run.

I couldn't do it. I was a bundle of nerves, and depressed enough that I struggled with daily life.

And once again, I was a failure.


  1. ((hugs))

    Nothing else to say.

  2. I asked my therapist if I was a Hoarder. She said no because I had no problem getting rid of or giving away my stuff. Wonder what she'd say if she saw my house.

  3. Never a failure.A girl who's plate was too full? yes, and lots of other things to overwhelm you , but never a failure. And look where you are now! a Huge success!

  4. Ami, Thank you. I can always use a hug. :)

    Middle Child, I'm not sure what to say. I haven't been to a counselor about my hoarding, but I know 100% that I am a hoarder. I can't make the determination for anyone else. Not that you asked me to. :)

    Fern, Thank you so much for your support. I really appreciate it, and I know that I am where I am now due to the support I've received in this journey. Thank you. :)


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