Monday, June 14, 2010

Die, junk, die!!!

I am the 21-year old daughter of a 62 year old hoarder. My mother's behavior is tough for me to classify - most of my life I used the label "packrat" or "keeper" because I didn't know what else to call it. It wasn't just that she didn't mind the house being a mess of value-less things which junked up every living space of our relatively small home - she was in a hugely different mental space than anyone else in the family. Despite my urgings she could not, would not talk about the junk, who it belonged to (90% her), and what to do about it. At first I was young and angry. I tried all the worst tactics, shame, guilt, etc, to force her to change. I couldn't stand the constant sense of claustrophobia in the family home. I moved out at 18 to get away from it - even though my boyfriend at the time became increasingly abusive, even that seemed preferable to the immense stress of living with a hoarder. I wanted a nice, clean, minimalist life. I wanted to know exactly where everything I owned was. I wanted my papers to be in order. I was angry with my mom for hoarding, angry with my brother for his apathetic complicity, angry with my dad for his impotence.

Now I'm older, wiser, and determined to whip this house into shape, one room at a time.


  1. God Bless you! I don't have the patience. Growing up our apartment was a great source of shame to me; constantly coming up with excuses as to why we couldn't play at my house, sections of my bedroom cordoned off (for piles of mom's clothes and shoes), etc. The older she gets, the worse she gets. She now lives in an enormous house and about 1/2 of it is presentable. The rest is filled with junk. I couldn't get out of there fast enough, and get far too angry to visit more than a couple of times a year and stay exclusively in the 'public' areas. My husband and I are expecting our first baby in a couple of months and we are going to have to have 'the talk' with my mother: baby is not going to her house once she can crawl. She could swallow a penny, or a button; she could get scratched on a hanger that is on the bottom of a pile of junk in the den; she could get bitten by a rat if she got into the piles in the garage. It's horrifying, shame-making, angering and sad.

  2. Hi, I am also the daughter of a hoarder, although my parents have now passed away and I am in the nightmare phase of having to clean up after them. I have just started a blog myself to deal with the insane emotional havoc it's putting me through. It's been really helpful for me to read other people's blogs, too. Thank you.