“I’m a collector.”
A repeated mantra among hoarders. There is a line crossed between collecting and hoarding, as hoarding makes your home unlivable and interferes with your daily tasks. You can’t sit on your couch because of the pile of papers or eat dinner at your table because you’d have to move your tools, phonebooks, what-have-you somewhere else? Your stuff is interfering with your life. That characterizes a large part of my late childhood and adolescence.
My brother told me that during a recent visit to my father’s house, our dad asked him if there was anything he wanted to have. My brother said that stamp collecting with my dad was one of his only happy childhood memories. My dad apparently replied that he wasn’t sure if the stamp books were still intact because they were somewhere in the rubbermade bins in the back yard (covered by a tarp), and some of them had holes in the bottom from mice or rats chewing through them and were probably now moldy. Here the hoarding has ruined the one thing it set out to protect.
My dad is a collector, my brother is a collector, and I used to be (and likely still am) a collector. But what are we collecting if it turns our happy memories into rot?