I'm doing homework again. The other day, I started watching Hoarders all over again, starting with season 1. I realized I've been slipping into some of my old hoarding behaviors, and I just don't want to go backwards. I think the habits may be surfacing due to stress, but I'm not entirely sure. I know that my dehoarding has definitely slowed over the last few years, but the last few years have been very stressful, too. And while the dehoarding had slowed down, I wasn't actively hoarding anything. I just wasn't getting rid of things like I had been there for awhile.
But last week things changed.
I'd gotten the last yogurt out of the case, and as I was tearing the box up to fit it in the trash I noticed that there were Box Tops for Education on the carton. I know I've got a gallon bag of them floating around the house somewhere, and I know that they could bring in a few dollars for a local school, so I figured I'd start saving them again. So I tore them off the carton and figured I'd just go back and trim them down with scissors, so they'd be neat. That old perfectionism thing rearing it's ugly head once again.
But when I'd torn the one off the carton, I'd torn the corner of the BTFE off. If I was going to trim them to be neat, I'd also need to tape that one back together. So I just tossed them on the counter with the thought of getting the scissors and going back to them right away. But then the phone rang, or I had to help one of the girls or something else took my attention, and I forgot about getting the scissors. I'd remember the scissors every time I went in the kitchen, but I'd never actually get the scissors. So they just sat there. For a week. And in that week, I noticed every other BTFE on every other item we buy that carries them. And I found myself searching them out with my eyes, so I would remember which products had them, so I wouldn't forget to cut them off and save them.
And I found myself getting stressed over it, because I noticed some of them had expiration dates on them. And what would I do, if I spent time to save them up and then dropped the ball by letting them expire. And was it worth it in the long run? Yeah. I think they're probably worth it for someone who doesn't have a hoarding problem, but I realized it wasn't worth it for me. Heck. After this year, we won't even have anyone in school anymore. So after a full week of it sitting on the counter calling me names, and calling my name, and making me feel guilty for not getting the scissors and tape, I gave myself permission to throw the Box Tops For Education in the trash. I gave myself permission to not be responsible for saving the local school through little coupons on boxes.
Twas small victory, but a victory nonetheless.
But while I was basking in the glow of snatching that small victory from the jaws of defeat, I was snapped out of a fog that I hadn't even realized had descended upon me. I noticed a light bulb I'd set aside last week when I changed the one that had burned out. I'd seen a couple of cute little crafts using old light bulbs that I thought would be fun to do when I ran across them, and I'd set the bulb aside. You know. For when I could get to it in my spare time. I mean, I could make all sorts of adorable Christmas ornaments out of them, but the one I really thought was inventive was where you take the filament out of the bulb and turn it into a vase. Cute!
And then I realized I didn't have just one light bulb set aside. I had 3 of them that had burned out at roughly the same time. Except one was on my kitchen counter, and was on the big television armoire we'd turned into a pantry a few months ago. And all of the sudden, I saw really sharp shards of glass cutting Hopper and Scooter, and I decided that light bulb crafts are not in my near future. They take up too much space to save at this time, so they're gone. If Bugster wants them for crafting, she can have them and can pick them up this weekend. If she doesn't, they will go in the trash.
And then, out of the blue, I remembered the laundry basket of unmated socks that was still sitting downstairs waiting for me. It's been waiting for me for 3 years. That's long enough. So I tossed my hoarding issues aside and went through the basket. I found about a dozen pair of socks, saved a few socks that we'd purchased relatively recently that I knew the other half of the pair was around somewhere, and then I threw the rest in the garbage. I think there had to have been between 150 and 200 single socks in there. I didn't take the time to count.
There were 2 socks - 1pink, 1 light green - that still felt new, and soft, and unworn, but I didn't remember when we'd gotten them. There were actually 3 different colors, but I'd found one full pair of blue ones, and for some reason, I didn't keep the 2 singles. I tossed them out with the others. And wouldn't you know it, but a few hours later, I came across the other pink sock under a piece of furniture in Scooter's room.
I knew I could go out to the garbage and retrieve the mate and nobody else would ever even know. Besides, I knew it was the last thing I'd put in the bag, so the sock would be right on top. And just like the Christmas tree tin that called my name from the trash that cold winter night over 4 years ago, the little pink sock was trying to get my attention. From outside. In the trash can.
I've been fighting the urge to dig the little pink sock out of the trash and reunite it with its mate for the better part of the day. It was so unfamiliar to once again feel those physical symptoms I felt that night 4 years ago when I threw that tin away. And then I remembered that it was just a crew sock. And Scooter doesn't like that length of sock nearly as much as she likes knee socks. And she has plenty of socks in both lengths. And I realized that we can always buy another pair, if she needs some. I mean it's not like it would bankrupt us.
Besides. I need to do the homework. It's worth the cost of a pair of socks or two, and it's way cheaper than therapy. I just don't want to slide backwards down that slippery slope I so carefully climbed a few years ago.
Granted, I still have a long way to go before our home is completely dehoarded, but I'll get there one day.
I just have to do my homework.
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.