Friday, August 9, 2013

Hoarders scares me: A lesson in staying in touch with your parents

Whenever I need to motivate myself to do some cleaning, I watch an episode of Hoarders. That show scares me. It is the only show I watch that I consistently yell at the people on it. The trapped children and the passive, semi-abused family members get to me every time.I understand that hoarding is a disease, but since I am not even a pack rat, I can't completely wrap my head around the mentality that stuff = joy/safety. But watching the show always makes me think about the things I hold on to and why.

I moved around a lot when I was young, so every few years I would have the chance to go through all my belongings and purge them. Now that I've lived at one address for a few years, I make it a point to go through my stuff once a year. And I make sure that I do it in front of my son.

I think that emotional attachment to objects is a learned behavior. Thankfully, my husband feels the same way. We let our son watch us donate items and encourage him to go through his own possessions.

Of course there are things that we still hold on to. But those are the things that go on display, the items that we tell stories about and the objects that we want others to see.
This past time we purged through our house, I took a close look at the stuff that was still packed in the original moving boxes we brought into the house. If we hadn't touched it for three years, did we really need it?

Probably not.

Yes, there were fun discoveries (that's where the light timers were!) and funny finds (I'm embarrassed by the cassette tapes, especially when my son asks about them and I have to explain them).

But back to Hoarders. Watching the show reminds me of some scary homes I visited as a child. I've been in friends homes that weren't at hoarder status, but looked like they were on the way in a few years time. I have family members who constantly ask me if I want things - everything from furniture to decorations to old clothes. I always say no, and they always look disappointed. But I'm glad I say no. The objects come with too much responsibility.

One final thought about Hoarders. Go check on your parents. They are probably holding on to your stuff and you should get it out of their house.(Sorry, Mom. I'll come and get it now.)

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