Hoarder trauma

It has been a difficult few days for me. As I prepare to leave my place of work I have had to face the task of emptying my cupboard and storage boxes. Days one and two were spent in mental preparation with a few token gestures towards the impending sorting such as throwing away pieces of paper with scribbled writing on.  I couldn’t decipher what I’d written (though I did spend several minutes trying but admitted defeat when my attempts came up with possibilities such as ‘spine put in every banana, do it today!’ I wonder if that job ever got done). On day three I started with a system – a pile for definitely keep, a pile for definitely go and a pile for ‘not sure will look at again later’. This proved not to be particularly helpful as the third pile contained almost everything from the cupboard and boxes. I tried the same system for a second time but again the amount in the third pile far outweighed that in the other two. At this point Happy and Jolly (not real names but real descriptions) looked into my room and seeing them prompted an outpouring of emotions from me and a description of the hopelessness of the situation I was in. I almost immediately regretted this as they began questioning my motives for keeping various items, not just those in pile 3 but also in the definitely keep pile. They used the stealth of lions to corner me. I could not convince them that one day I would need the small piece of black card to mount a photograph on or that I would get round to reading the leaflet about French resources that I got in 2010. Each time I held up an item, ready to justify keeping it, Happy and Jolly responded with “bin” “bin” “BIN”. I felt the panic of a zebra, knowing that I was being outrun. After I’d refused to bin a few items and put them in the keep box, they started asking me what was in the keep box, demanding a precise answer. When I couldn’t provide one they went in for the kill “See if you do want that piece of black card you won’t remember where it is, you don’t even know what’s in the box”. I politely informed them that actually I was fine sorting my own things out and didn’t require their help. They left with a handful of bits for the bin.

By day four my anxiety levels were rising. Frodo would not be happy if I took lots of stuff home and as I am trying my best to get rid of stuff at home even I could see this wasn’t a good option so I had to dispose of stuff. At work, this is the time of year when everyone has a clear out and trips to the recycling bin added to my nightmare. Clearly some people have no compulsion to keep things which might be used one day. Surely they will need scrap paper, tatty books and cardboard boxes, not to mention 5cm long pencils which might be useful if by some chance there is a pencil shortage and felt tips, some of which might work even though the three they tested didn’t. It took great resolve for me not to rescue some of these discarded items (well I did take a few books which I intend to take to the charity shop). My satisfaction at not adding to my stuff was short-lived because a colleague ‘kindly’ brought me ex-display posters because she “couldn’t throw them away”. I will keep these not because I think I’ll ever use them but because someone gave them to me. On day four I was joined by my room mate who is successful in limiting his stuff to what he currently uses and he has a working area that scores 10 for orderliness. When I shared my predicament with him and pointed out pile three, his response was “Chuck it, just chuck it”. This suggested to me that he was oblivious to the complexities of my inner turmoil so I continued my quest without drawing his attention to it again. Several hours later he observed that I wasn’t getting very far because I was “moving things from one place to another”.  I managed a weak smile and refrained from unleashing my pent up anxiety on him. He came very close to being astounded by me screaming “So what!” “I don’t care!” “I can move things about as much as I like!!! What’s it to do with you?” 

The day at work ended with a very small ‘not sure will look at again later’ pile and a half full bin of stuff I’d chucked. The boxes of things to keep are in my car boot and will stay there until Frodo is out and then they can join the other stuff in the garage. He’ll never notice.

The only thing that has caused me concern this week apart from trials and tribulations of clearing out my cupboard is being shunned by two work colleagues, who I’ll call Ronnie and Ellie. One drizzly day I passed Ellie walking to work and without hesitation I pulled up in my car and offered her a lift, which she accepted. We indulged in some pleasant chit chat on the short journey and as we parted she thanked me for the lift. The next day, a sunny day, I passed her again and once again stopped and offered her a lift. She pointed out Ronnie who was crossing the road a few yards away and said she would walk with her. Of course I immediately said Ronnie could join us. My offer was rejected. Yes, rejected. Ellie said something about nice and sunshine and lovely day to walk. I was taken aback and wondered if I’d misheard so as Ellie and Ronnie met up on the other side of the road I waved across to them. They waved back and then kept on walking! Later when I saw them at work I brought up the subject and they were keen to reassure me that their actions were nothing to do with me personally but that they liked to walk. Ronnie actually came up with some complicated reason that involved not realising it was me until I’d driven off. I am shocked that someone would choose walking rather than five minutes in a car in my company. In an attempt to prove how outlandish their behaviour was I began asking other colleagues what they would have done in the same situation. Bizarrely “walk” was a common response. In fact it was the only response other than one person who giggled nervously. However,  I was reassured when I asked myself the question – I pretended I was someone else – and got the answer “Get in the car with you, definitely”. It was said with a big smile too.


About stephanieroseishere

My life is amazing on a small scale and I can make it sound super amazing! It is unlikely I'll ever climb Mount Everest but I often navigate the mountain of stuff that accumlates at an alarming rate in various rooms in my house. My household consists of me, my OH (Frodo), my two daughters (D1 and D2) and my son (Son). Recently I read this somewhere “If I make someone smile today then my day has been worthwhile” or something like that. By writing this blog I hope to make many people smile but if only I read it I’ll be smiling anyway. I would love to get your comments and will endeavour to respond to any I get.

5 responses to “Hoarder trauma

  1. I know this blog post makes light of hoarding but I’ve been reading quite a bit about it and just wanted to acknowledge that it can have a huge impact on people’s lives. My relatively low level hoarding behaviour is sometimes a nuisance for me and my family but I can see how easily it can cause a lot of difficulties. Just in case anyone arrives here by a search engine (which is highly unlikely) looking for some understanding, I do empathise.

  2. Great how you spot how the small stuff can make the best read- I’d rather read your account of clearing your workspace (which, by the way, is exactly how I approach the clearing up process) than some “and then after I saved a native Amazonian tribe single-handedly, we all went sky-diving while drinking mojitos” kind of stuff. Cheered me up, ta.

  3. I would most likely have said “Bin it” too but I would definitely have accepted your kind offer of a lift Rose. x

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