17 September 2009

Are We Hoarders? Not Quite



I want to elaborate on a comment I made in this post about having traits of the hoarding personality. We were closer to being hoarders 10 years ago when we lived in our tiny rental house. There were at least two rooms in that house that no one could walk into because the floors were covered. Once we bought this house, we made a conscious decision to change our ways and we were ruthless in paring our belongings down to only the items we really would use. We didn't even bring any of our furniture to this house, opting instead to start fresh.

Nowadays, I would say that we are recovering packrats, which in my mind is a few steps below hoarding. We probably have more stuff than we need, but it is all contained. I'm not the best housekeeper, but I've gotten pretty good at the day-to-day pickup and the cleaning of the bathrooms and the kitchen. My problem is that I never want to tackle the hidden clutter: the closets, the junk drawers, under the beds, the garage. Those spaces are like the beast at my back, bearing down on me. Every once in a while, the pressure gets to be too much and I tackle one of the areas, like I did with the kitchen the other day. It takes me much longer than it would take someone else, but if I give myself permission to let it take as long as it's going to take then it is easier to get started.

ABM and I hold onto items for different reasons. He likes to buy things like dishes and keep them for a special occasion. I keep reminding him that "someday" is today. Those Coca-Cola glasses that we got at the dollar store aren't that fancy; just use them already! I have trouble throwing away things because I think that someone else in the family is going to be upset if I get rid of them. For instance, I was cleaning out the junk drawer and thinking, "Is this C1's favorite pen? Is that the back to one of the TV remotes? Do we need these screws for something?" If I lived by myself, I probably would have dumped the whole drawer in the trash without sorting. We are trying to let go of these tendencies to keep ourselves from falling back into our cluttered past.
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