Tag Archives: tuck in


Among the numerous bad television shows I watch at night in search of the perfect somniferous effect is an occasional episode of Bravo’s Bethenny Ever After. As much as I realize it’s a dumb reality show, I like Bethenny. She’s honest, says what she thinks, is a bit quirky and tough but vulnerable. She also has the occasional snippet of insight that sticks with me. A couple of weeks ago she was telling her husband she doesn’t want to be the “crazy one” in the relationship. Just because he had a so-called “normal” family life doesn’t mean that he is normal or that her detachment from (his) family is abnormal.

In the episode that was on late last night, Bethenny said her OCD was kicking into high gear and she was feeling stressed about all the food her nanny haphazardly left in the refrigerator. At the same time, she declared her love of her ten or more bottles of juice on the top shelf of the fridge. While I’m skeptical of Bethenny’s understanding of OCD, she had a few insights that have stuck with me. She recognized that she was the one allowing her home to become this way and was careful not to blame anyone else’s carelessness for the clutter and stress. Then when she began her lingerie purge in her closet, she said (slightly paraphrased from memory), “I don’t understand hoarders. For me it’s about control.”

Bethenny was purging her closet to have control over her life – exerting control over her stuff, yet I have always understood that hoarders feel the same way. It’s true that the stuff can take over life and relationships, but stuff is the thing that can be (or is perceived to be) controlled. Those objects invited into the home, however piled up they become, are objects of possession that we have chosen to keep or save. Unlike people, the stuff can’t just get up and walk out on you (unless, of course, the cockroaches take over).

This is really a think-piece… but in the end, perhaps, one purges for the same reason another hoards. It’s all about having control of one’s environment even when it is dangerously out of control. Hoarding or purging are both ways of protecting self. One erases and removes to create space or distance, the other collects and crams and piles to tightly tuck themselves in.



ancestral hoarding

I jumped down the rabbit hole of my ancestry on Saturday in almost obsessive fervor as I whizzed past the 1600s ancestors I’ve known about down to the kings of England, princesses of France, to Charlemagne, to Clovis and back even further to latinized named kings of the West Franks until I arrived at rock-bottom, 6 AD.

I come from one of those families that has thoroughly documented that infinitesimal piece of DNA that represents our surname. It was not difficult to link to the first known ancestor in England. As I tracked back his wife, though, I started to wonder just who these people were to cause records to continue back so far. For a moment D and I thought I’d end up at a priory in England with Tom Hanks proclaiming me the last ancestor of Christ. Almost relieved when the lineage stopped in “Austrasia” near the supposed time of Jesus’s birth, I couldn’t help but wonder why all these people, not likely really linked to me genetically, were populating my head. I suddenly felt a swarm of community around me as the names filled my genealogy program with pages of cross-referenced data.

Last night I began the ascent into D’s lineage, and although I didn’t get far, I did come out of the search with a few ships’ passenger lists with his father and grandfather’s names on them. I went to sleep late last night, my head foggy and crowded, and throughout the night awoke with thoughts of being tucked in by the hoard of ancestors. Somehow this knowledge is comforting – to know these names, so easily forgotten, providing a trail of a past, even one we can only imagine is real. I felt comfortably enmeshed in this web of stories, on the tracks of others who have done the research before me, leaving my own notes for some who may wander down the line later on. What else might our ancestors have passed on besides changed names, nationalities, homelands and numbers of children?