Tuesday, November 5, 2013

It's Official - My Mom's a Hoarder

I've written several times before about my mom's hoarding tendencies: about how the stress of trying to help her de-clutter her condo gave me shingles; about how Randy Frost's lecture helped me understand a bit about how my mother's perfectionism, indecision and hobby all fit into her disorder; about how hypocritical I find her materialism; and about how to her, getting rid of anything represents a lost opportunity, a lost memory or both. But before Sunday, I never really classified my mom as a true hoarder. I thought of her as borderline, quasi, a semi-hoarder. But recently she crossed the line.

For a long time, Mom has shown 10 out of the 10 signs/symptoms of hoarding, as described by the Mayo Clinic. Her motto has long been "more is more." The editor of a decorating magazine recently wrote that "the passion for acquisition - plus discernment - can make our surroundings unique, beautiful, and memorable." Elsewhere I've read about the "art of things chosen well rather than often." But this notion of curating isn't possible for Mom. It doesn't matter if she doesn't need something, if it is broken, if she already has 6 things that are practically identical, if she doesn't know what it is (like that odd little knife-shaped tool that was Daddy's and that she insisted on keeping and put into her purse), if most people would consider it trash, or even if she doesn't really like it - if she owns it, or someone is willing to give it to her for free, she wants it.

My parents' house had long been cluttered with odd bits of stuff stashed here and there, defying any real sense of organization or aesthetics, and when they moved from their huge house to a two-bedroom condo, things got worse. But because even the new place was fairly spacious, my mom's collection of junk was fairly well contained. Since my father died, though, I suspect that things got worse. In the process of packing for the move, my siblings and I found her craft stuff scattered everywhere - not just in her studio but in the kitchen, bathroom, and everywhere else.

The real change, though, is that in her new place, she has PLANNED to store boxes in the shower and elsewhere in her second bathroom. Knowing that that's her plan, and that she will have more boxes than she is willing to admit, the plethora of stuff will undoubtedly take over other places, too. This is the first step toward losing functionality just to hang on to more junk. Just frightening.


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