Every day I bicycle past a hoarding house. It has a run-down camper parked in front and two other cars that seem not to work. The front yard is littered with large machinery type objects and at least three rusting wheelchairs. I can see in the front windows: there is stuff piled up 3/4 to the top. It’s a nice neighborhood with homes worth near the one million dollar mark on the same little street. This one looks like a leftover.
Yesterday as I was bicycling along, I noticed a trailer on the back of one of the cars. On that trailer, a newish looking treadmill. I smirked uncomfortably. No space in the house for a treadmill and likely no one will use it. I’m sure they got a fantastic deal somewhere. Today, the treadmill remains rusting in place.
Once upon a time, I also got a great deal on a treadmill. I bought it third-hand, and D. helped me bring it home. I used it maybe three times. I always had an excuse for not using it: primarily, if I was going to run I should be running outside with the dogs. I didn’t run with the dogs. It went into the garage to make room for our baby. I sold it very easily but 4 years later and for half what I paid for it. A wonderful machine for the right person. For the hoarder in me: junk. Space filling stuff. Accumulation. Debris. A reminder of what I should be doing but wasn’t.
Oh dear hoarder, I know you will not stop. So I watch daily as the pile grows. I imagine you picking through your neighbor’s continually growing trash heap. I wonder if it feels good to not have space, to feel the weight of those things anchoring you in your spot, if hoarding is essentially an anxiety disorder – a need to be physically hemmed in.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged accumulation, anchor, anxiety disorder, debris, heap, hoarder, junk, need, picking, pile, stuff, trash, treadmill, weight
Last night as I was getting ready to bathe our daughter, D. made a romantic gesture by bringing champagne to the bathroom, offering me chocolate, and attempted to join bath time. I, realizing it while it was happening, had an inappropriate reaction. I was psychologically unprepared for the shift in plans, unable to accept the kind intention, and became uptight about the whole thing. I tried to make it work but could not handle the shift in the ritual and offered to get out of the bathroom. Instead, D. left, and we ended up drinking the champagne, each on our own.
The anxiety at the loss of control startled me. It’s just a bath, after all. It’s the kind of feeling I would have had at age 18 when my days were rigidly structured and any variance left me out of sorts. I’m not certain when the structure began for me, but it was at its height from ages 15-18 when my morning routine was chopped into 15 minute blocks, and I actually watched the clock to make sure I stuck to the schedule. 15 minutes for a shower, 15 minutes for hair and makeup, 15 minutes for coffee and breakfast, 15 minutes for bible reading and prayer, 15 minutes for… and out the door to school which was equally rigid in structure.
Change had to occur when I got to university where schedules vary greatly from day-to-day. The transition was hard on me in a number of ways and I cried myself to sleep more than a few times because I knew I didn’t have time to fit in the studying or sleep that I needed. Today I live mostly without an alarm clock, my schedule still varies daily, but I still have certain rhythms and habits I like to protect. What I didn’t realize until yesterday is how important some of those rituals still are to me. Our daughter’s bedtime routine is like a hameau de paix or a peaceful lull for me in which we play, talk, and cuddle before going our separate ways. It’s as much a part of my schedule as it is of hers.
I cannot authoritatively comment on the links between ritual and hoarding, but I do know that both schedule and stuff cooperate and intertwine to hold my world together. They both serve as anchors, points de repère, that guide me along, especially when I’m feeling lost or forget what I’m supposed to be doing. The challenge is to find coping skills when the other patterns get disrupted. Time, unlike my stuff, is always with me, but I clearly need more flexibility so I can appreciate and enjoy the lovely surprises around me.
Posted in hoarding identity
Tagged anchor, anxiety, bath, champagne, control, love, pattern, rigid, ritual, schedule, structure, stuff, surprise, time
Thinking about this blog last night, I felt a sense of sinister sadness in the posts that does not reflect my actual life. The subject, however, is weighty. While I consider myself a generally happy person with a very blessed life, much of my childhood to which these objects and images are attached is a dank blue memory. Some moments are yellow, few are golden, and generally speaking my memories are dingy, grainy, black and white, with my own past commingled with my imagining of my mother’s childhood. Somehow I feel I’ve lived her life in another manner although she has never, not once, indicated I’m taking a different path for her.
So while my present is actually filled with vibrant living, everything attached to this blog is heavy. I think I can dredge up moments of the past, bring them to the light, and leave them here so that my reality may be lighter than the past. For me it is thoughts of my imminent future that sparkle.
It is not without a certain nostalgia that I write about objects, but each one is melancholy in its own rite, anchoring me too much, emblematic of what I’ve already left behind.
Now on to finding ways of expressing that lightness that comes with the freeing from things.
Posted in weight of things
Tagged anchor, black and white, blue, dingy, grainy, light, melancholy, memory, mother, nostalgia, stuff, thing, weight
I’ve been wading through The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera and one thought has come to rest upon me. Some people are heavy. Others need stuff to weigh them down. Especially when they’ve become untethered.
Can hoarding be a symptom of that weightlessness that causes discomfort? The uneasy feeling once our favorite anchor has given way?