Hoarding

**TRIGGER WARNING; Please read with cautious.**

This is kind of an awkward topic for me to discuss, not because I myself am a hoarder, though I will admit I may have some hoarding tendencies. I mean, I have an entire dresser full of random miscellany that some people would probably ask, “Why are you keeping this stuff?” Some of it is books I bought for research that wouldn’t fit on my bookshelf because of how tall they are. Some of it is coffee mugs I can’t use until I move into my own place again. And some of it is random collectibles from my childhood that you can’t find anymore and I can’t bear to part with it. However, all of these things have a place that is out of sight and not cluttering up my room, and I know what’s in each drawer respectively. I have obtained my father’s OCD about organization and I can’t stand a lot of clutter so my room is fairly organized with a minimal amount of chaos, and I do get rid of things from time to time. Like the half a dozen scented candles I’ve never burned that were given to me and I can’t use often because of my mom’s allergies.

That being said, my mom is the total opposite, though her hoarding hasn’t yet gotten to the point of looming towers of stuff and a foot of garbage, etc. But she has a crafting room which used to be an office downstairs. Her crafting stuff has spilled out into the rest of the basement in various locations. Now, her stuff is semi organized because I have tried on multiple occasions to help her sort and organize everything so it has a place in the crafting room, or the large “playpen” which is just like a wire crate on wheels. Yesterday, I was helping her clean again (this being probably the third or fourth time) and I wanted to start small, since I recognize her hoarding and I’m not sure she does and I didn’t want to push too hard because I know it’s not something she can necessarily control. So I decided we would start with the bookshelf, because it’s full of books I’ve never seen her read. Most of the religious type books did leave the room and she’s intending to donate them to a religious organization just two hours from us. Which is good; I honestly wasn’t expecting her to get rid of those. She also found a bunch of books and supplies that went to our local elementary school. I was also watching her go through huge stacks of paper detailing various crochet and quilting patterns, deciding which ones to keep. Now, she did throw a bunch away, but she also kept a few that I separated into two binders for her, one for crochet and one for quilting.

What really bothered me, though, was the fact that she wanted to keep what I estimated at being around 20-30 hardcover books on quilting. I’m not a quilter. My mom is fairly new to quilting; I think she’s made two or three quilts, with help from friends. I couldn’t understand why she wanted to keep ALL of these books and her excuse was, “They have a bunch of cool patterns in them.” My first thought was, “That’s not a reason to keep ALL of them when you have so many other projects to do.” (Although, having read through this again, I realized I might have 10 or so books on writing and improving my writing craft). One of mom’s projects is the “confetti” quilt. -_- She has a small bag of random, tiny, tiny bits of fabric that to a normal person’s eye, looks like garbage. It’s not usable because it’s so small. It’s her bag of “remnants” and I don’t know why she wants to keep them other than for this quilt she hasn’t even started yet. It almost felt like she’s afraid she’ll run out of projects.

But she also has at least 40 projects going on right now and between her job, my grandma, and her work at home like dishes and cooking, she’s stretched pretty damn thin. And I’ve been trying to help out more so she has time for these projects. I’ve done their laundry the last several times. But the thing is, she’ll start a project, leave it for a couple weeks because she’s too busy, forget she has it, and then start on a new one entirely. It’s maddening. So I’m going to try something with her, and we started it yesterday, where I have her make a list of her top five quickest, or highest priority projects, and she’s only allowed to work on one of those five projects at a time. When she’s finished all five, she can add five more to work on. I’m not sure whether it will work, but she’s made the list and agreed to it, so we’ll see what happens. And I’m a huge fan of this to-do list idea; it works great for me and I try not to fret when I don’t finish everything on the list (usually my lists are for daily accomplishments). So I will try to be patient with her, and I know that in starting to sew myself, I can see how this becomes a dangerous and slippery slope, having been in the store picking fabric twice already. But my plan ideally is to use fabric she already has before going to get more, because my mentality is do I need this right now, and am I going to use it right away?

To the untrained eye, her crafting room looks like chaos. To me, it still looks like chaos, but chaos that has been semi organized by me. As a whole, it’s still not ideal, but for now, most everything has a place and it’s not as all over the place as it was. And that’s a good start.

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Author: Valentina Wolfe

A self proclaimed nerd, anxiety sufferer, and lover of all things Final Fantasy, Legend of Zelda, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter. Enjoys writing, listening to music, reading, and gaming in my spare time. Also hanging out with one or two close friends.

3 thoughts on “Hoarding”

  1. Tread lightly in these waters. One small step in the wrong direction and she will spiral out of control. Hoarding is a very real mental disorder and it couples with anxiety and depression, both of which I know for a fact your mother has. Be very careful and respectful. I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal to just get rid of stuff, but she has imprinted emotions and herself onto those objects. They are a part of her.

    As for the starting a new project after forgetting a previous one. I do the exact same thing with stories. I will start one and then completely forget about it because life gets in the way. I have a whole bunch of unfinished stories. I also have project ideas I may never actually get to.

    Also, I have said this before and I will say it again, dear, you’re not a hoarder. You’re far from it.

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  2. I intend to tread lightly. I’m starting to understand it in my own way. Her fabric is like my story stuff. I have piles and piles of papers with story stuff stored in various places, plus dozens of notebooks that have stuff in them and that are also empty.

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  3. Twenty books on the same subject is not that many. Be careful not to apply your standards to your mother. It’s a good idea to help her remember started projects so she could finish them, that will make her feel good. But I’m not so sure about the bit about not being allowed to do something until something else is done. This feels like control by external forces. Just remember that the best intentions pave the road to hell. You have good intentions, just be so very careful as to how painful it is for your mother to walk on the road they are paving.

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