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, March 31, 2011

Everything in moderation. Even moderation.

Isn't that hysterical? That was my fortune in my fortune cookie last weekend when we celebrated Bugster's 24th birthday. I just love it. It's so fitting considering the struggles I've had moderating my own moderation over the years. 

I can't believe our first little baby is 24 already. Wow. How can that possibly be when I remember having her as plain as, if it were yesterday? I have so loved being her mother all these years. Every single bit of it has been worth it, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I am so very proud of our daughter. Bugster is an amazing person.

Speaking of amazing people...Mom is a machine. She's like the Energizer Bunny. She just keeps going and going and going and... I am so grateful for all the help she's given me. I've been trying to talk her into staying even longer, but I don't know how successful I've been. I guess we'll know by Monday, since she's supposed to go home on Sunday. 

Mom has spent the last few days working in the study. There's still a lot to do, but she's made it so much easier for me to get things finished up in there when the time comes. She dusted and stacked and sorted and tossed, and I appreciate it more than words can say. It's a workable project now, and I will get it done as soon as possible. I still need to get the taxes done, so I'll do them first, but I'll definitely make it a priority and get it done.

Right now, I need to get busy. I've got place to go. Doctors to see. Things to accomplish. In other words, I'm busy. I just need to remember not to be too busy. Then again, I need to remind myself to be busy enough.

Everything in moderation. 


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Regrets. I've had a few.

So. The weather is not conducive to Mom going home this weekend as planned, so we have another Christmas Miracle headed our way!

This has seriously been the best Christmas ever

Also, the pressure is off, because the in-laws won't be stopping by after all. The Hubster doesn't have any time available to take off work, and Bugster can't miss out on her externship, so they decided they'll just see us this summer.

I've been working on the laundry for the last several days. Mom made the comment that I'd done more laundry than a laundromat sees in a month, and while it wasn't quite that much there was a lot of laundry. I lost count of how may loads I did, but there were at least 50 loads just in the last week.

I washed everything from sweaters to backpacks to coats to gloves and mittens to baby clothes to baby socks, bibs and blankets. Then I sorted them and either put them away, put them in storage, gave them to friends, or bagged them up to be donated. In fact, I dropped off 23 bags of clothes and gently worn shoes and 2 boxes to the local thrift store.

I will never have to deal with them again, and I couldn't be more relieved.

It's hard work.

Not the laundry itself. Well, I suppose doing 50+ loads this last week hasn't really been easy, but I do enjoy doing laundry, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been. But the laundry that is so hard to deal with is the stuff that tugs at the heartstrings. It's hard to say goodbye. 

Like the sweatshirt that I made when Bugster was little. I made one for The Hubster, myself and each grandparent. They said "Bugster loves ______!" with the blank filled in with Gramma, Grampa, Mommy or Daddy. I have hung onto ours for the last 22 or 23 years. Bugster will be 24 next week, so we've had them since she was just tiny. And yesterday, I took the step to cut Hubster's sweatshirt up, threw the front of it in the trash and put the rest in the rag basket. 

It was so hard to making the decision. I felt like I was throwing away a piece of Bugster's childhood. But once the decision was made, and the deed was done, I felt liberated. 


That is until I started sorting through the baby clothes and blankets I'd saved back for Bugster and Bubster for their babies should they want to use them to try and pare them down. Some of the decisions were easy. I saved the beautiful knit baby blanket my sister had made for Bugster and some beautiful little outfits that both sets of grandparents had given the girls. Most still looked new.

But I got rid of a couple of other beautiful hand-knit blankets that were given to us when Bugster was born that we never used. Our girls have very sensitive skin, and some of the yarn used to knit the blankets was just plain itchy. I didn't use the blankets on the girls, because I didn't want to make them miserable with itchiness, but I didn't know how to get rid of them. After all, they were given in love, and somehow, getting rid of them felt like I was throwing that love away. Dismissing it. 

Still. I did make the very hard decision to give them away.

And then guilt set in. Guilt over the fact that the little things still looked new. Guilt that I hadn't let them wear the outfits often enough for them to even look worn. But they were all so special to me, that I saved them for 'special occasions'. The problem was that it never seemed like occasions were quite special enough to wear the outfits, so some of them had only been worn once or twice before they were outgrown. 

The regret weighed heavily on my all day long.

To top it off, my arms ached from missing the babies they used to hold. I can't seem to wash baby clothes without feeling and smelling the little ones who used to wear them as though they're still asleep in the other room waiting for me to rock them and hold them and love them.


It's been a rough week emotionally. But I made it through. 

I'm down to only having 2 loads of laundry left from the huge amount of clothing that had been in the storage pod. The other 2 loads I have waiting to be run are towels and dark clothes that are clothes that we currently wear. It's hard to believe that after 10 years or so of trying to sort through the laundry that seemed so impossible, I'm almost done. 

For the first time in over a decade, I will finally be caught up on laundry when I go to bed tonight. I will have 9 empty laundry baskets and 2 empty hampers in the laundry room. At least 4 large boxes that had held laundry that have since gone out with the trash, and there are at least eight 18 gallon totes that once held dirty laundry that are now stacked awaiting their next purpose. 

I've been stretched mentally and I have survived. I have not been incapacitated by emotions like I have in the past. 

It is a small victory, but it is a victory nonetheless. 

I'll count it as a win.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Another Christmas Miracle.

When Mom came down to help me with my surgery back on December 1, she planned on going home before Christmas. I jokingly told her that I'd be praying for snow, so she couldn't go home. Then, I promised her that I wouldn't tell her, "Yay! A Christmas Miracle!!" when the snow would keep her here. 

Well, the snow didn't keep her here the first week or two. The infection I got post-op did, though. And since it wasn't the snow that kept here here, I teased her that it was a Christmas Miracle. We've had a lot of Christmas Miracles in the last several months...

There's been the infection. And the snow. And logistics, because sometimes there are just scheduling conflicts with the person who is supposed to meet us to take Mom the rest of the way home, because meeting someone almost 350 miles away takes coordinating schedules. There's The Hubster's back injury. And then there's Mom's generous and sacrificing love and her wanting to stay and help me get as much as possible done while she's here. 

And so, we've experienced yet another Christmas Miracle on St. Patrick's Day. 

Mom is staying one more week to help me finish up as much as possible before The In-laws get here the week after next. They're driving through after visiting The Hubster's brother's family down in Florida. They want to stop by and see the progress we've made and to visit us. 

I'm stressing over it. Because although I know Mom and I have kicked butt getting things done since she's been here, and that Hubster and I kicked butt before that and got tons done, I know it's not going to be enough. Plus, this whole thing makes me feel like I'm back in high school and working really hard to study for a test I know I'm never going to pass, even though I always passed all my tests in high school with flying colors.

I feel, however unrealistic the feeling may be, that they're coming for an inspection. Like landlords. Like we owe it to them somehow to have our house in order. I mean, that's one of the major benefits of home ownership. You no longer have to answer to someone else about what color you paint the walls or how long the grass has gotten.

You answer to yourself. 

And that's what this journey has been about all along. It's been about us owning up to and processing exactly why we are where we are in this situation. And somehow, up until now, I haven't been stressing over it. I've been working on things. Processing things one at a time, and dealing with the what, why and how of my hoarding. Because it's my hoarding. It's my problem. And I'm proud of the progress I've made. I've done an amazing job. I'm not finished yet, but I know I will get there.

I am taking back ownership of the situation. Of my feelings. I refuse to be stressed. To be judged and graded as though I'm completing an assignment in high school for a very harsh teacher. If it's something that happens, then it's on those who do the judging. It's not on me. 

Mom and I will get as much done while she's here as possible. Not because there will be any sort of test. Not to prove anything to anybody else. We will accomplish as much as possible, because Mom is staying to help out of the goodness of her heart. And because not accomplishing anything, when that's why she is staying and giving us another Christmas Miracle, would be wasting that miracle.

And miracles should be appreciated and relished. 

Not wasted. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

One more week...

and I'll be back. Mom goes home next weekend. We thought she would be leaving yesterday, but we were fortunate enough to have her one more week. We're making good use of the extra week, and we've made huge progress. My back and every fiber in my body can attest to it.

Mom has been helping me get things as ready as possible for this summer when Bugster and Bubster have their official wedding ceremony. We're hoping to have out of town company come and stay with us, and Mom knows how much pressure I've put on myself to get things presentable. I just want things to look good enough that I feel comfortable when company arrives.

We have one more major project to tackle before Mom goes home. The dreaded study. It's the paperwork hub of the house, and it is nothing short of a disaster. There is far more in the study than just paperwork, and it's going to take some major sorting to get through it and make it presentable. 

There are other things that we'd love to get done, but I'm okay, if we don't get to them. I'd rather get the study finished than anything else. Mom would also like to help me get the craft area downstairs sorted, but I can do a lot of that on my own once she goes home.

Yesterday, we worked on the living room. It's the only room we've worked on so far that has only taken one day to do. It's because it was in the best shape so far, because The Hubster and I had gotten it finished up before Mom got here. It's amazing how roomy and cozy it looks this way. We're quite pleased with it, but the muscles are still protesting this morning from moving furniture.

The Hubster went in last Monday an epidural steroid injection in his lower back. He's had mixed results. For the first few days after the procedure, he was in even more pain than he was before he got it done. Unfortunately, that can happen. Thankfully, though, it is starting to work, and he's more comfortable than he's been since he hurt his back almost 2 months ago. He's going to go in for another injection in a couple of weeks. The doctor seems to think that having 2 injections in such a short order tends to work better than waiting to get the second one after the intense pain kicks up again. We're hoping it works.

We're heading over to Bugster and Buster's house in a little bit. Frank is going to be playing the guitar we all got him for his birthday, so he can show us what he's got. We're looking forward to it. We won't be over there very late. It's going to be hard enough to get the girls up in the morning and get them ready for school with the time change. They'll be going to bed as soon as we get back home. 

That's about it for now. 

I'll see y'all soon!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Socks, socks, everywhere and not a pair to wear.

I've been busy. I'm making progress. Except when it comes to blogging and I hit the wrong key in the dark and lose my entire post. 

:::heavy sigh::: 

We finally got the remaining clothes sorted and most washed that I've been working on for the last 9 or 10 years. That included washing three basketsful of socks. 

Yup. You heard that right. 

Three basketsful. 

That's a lot of socks. 

My wonderful mother, who is still at our home and helping me out, sorted socks. Lots of socks. She sorted. She matched. She mated. All kinds of socks. Teeny, tiny socks from almost 24 years ago when Bugster was a baby to little ruffled socks Hopper and Scooter wore with dresses when they were little to socks that were left here when Bugster moved out of the house to socks that have just lost their appeal. She sorted socks without mates and socks without soles. 

We dumped them out on Scooter's bed to get an idea of how big a pile of socks Mom had paired up...

And they lived happily ever after.
They seemed happy. They bounced around and chattered. When we listened very closely, we could hear the socks whispering that they were so glad to have been reunited with their solemates after all these years. There was much rejoicing.

When all was said and done, and the socks we were keeping were put safely away, there were more socks left in the baskets than we kept. I'll keep the 3rd basket of unmated socks until I get through the rest of the boxes that came in from the storage pod. I'm bound to be able to find mates for some of them in the boxes.

We will likely donate the mated ones from the bed that we didn't keep to a battered women's shelter where they will hopefully help someone out in a time of need. The cherry on the top of the sock pile is that we won't ever have to wash them again or scavenge for mates. They will be out of our house forever!

And there will be much rejoicing!