Tag Archives: becoming a hoarder

Woodstove Going and . . .

our furnace is on the fritz (part is on order). This has meant that things in the living room have been majorly upset; a good thing. I’ve been whittling away at the bedroom a bit at a time, but the living room needs it too.

Had a friend over for tea last week, that got the table cleared off, which also needed it. Unfortunately, this meant the downstairs table was cleared off just in time for the colder weather (in an unheated house), when the inclination is to eat in the warmer rooms, upstairs! Backwards, that’s us.

So today started with me trying to make waffles. The waffle iron surfaced during the table clean out, for a long time I didn’t know where the waffle iron was, then the cable was missing. Found that. Thankfully I had marked it with a bread tag! (Do you use bread tags to mark things? I’ve done it for years, way before I ever saw a pic of such on pinterest!)

The waffle iron needed to be cleaned & seasoned, (it had been cleaned before it was put away, but the outside had gotten sticky somehow) so no waffles. Decided I was going to make pancakes instead. While looking for a missing ingredient in the canisters, one package of hull-less barley came open in the bin — another cleaning project.

My day, if you’re counting, before breakfast consisted of cleaning projects: the wood stove area, the waffle iron, and now the canister, sigh. At this point, DH took over and made pancakes. I finished cleaning/organizing the tools, etc. that had been used on the wood stove, so DH could put them away when he got there. He dealt with the barley (at that point I was still going to be the cook). And I put dishes away.

Almost every day now, when I put something away, I make a point of culling what’s stored with it, at least once a day. This has yielded a bunch of stuff, and the wagon is pretty full of things culled this way: a time card rack (factory type), a brass lamp shade, tape tins, etc. stuff — that’s going away, today (didn’t yesterday, stayed home, cleaned and wrote mostly).

The culling sort makes me almost miss the counting thing: combining stuff in the pantry, filing papers or tossing them, tossing excess clothes, etc. I know I’m doing it, not counting. I do notice though!

I sometimes wonder how I’ll know when I’m done? One paradigm I’d set was “being able to walk across my living room.” I haven’t accomplished that, yet. But the house is cleaner and I’m managing to not undo whatever I’ve done; a major victory, if you’re me.

For years, the idea of keeping some space clean would give me panic attacks. This going one-step-at-a-time isn’t fast, but I can sustain it, which having a professional organizer, spring cleaning or what have you doesn’t.

The dishes get washed daily (although I can honestly say they don’t ALL get washed all the time)! The toilet/sink/bath counter get washed regularly, but not on a schedule. The bed is made almost every day. The sheets have been getting washed every weekend. And I’m culling/selling/tossing stuff every week.  This is a slow but steady process, it has to be slow to keep the panic at bay.

When I wrote the memoir, I wrote about me and stuff and the woman who was my abuser. When I put the realities of what happened to me in a few succinct paragraphs, my being a “hoarder” makes sense. It also makes sense that I’m not attached to the stuff as much as the mess. I learned real quickly that anything of mine was subject to be “acquired” by someone else, or derided, or damaged, or broken, or given away. I learned that to protect myself I had to act as if my “stuff” had no value. The more I valued something, the more likely it was to be derided, broken, “lost” or stolen. I learned to hide behind mess, it was the only thing that worked.

Fifty-plus years later, I’m trying to undo that process. Not easy because most of it became unconscious behavior, and the panic is real. How often would you clean if the idea gave you a panic attack? That’s where i was for most of my life.

It’s changing. One piece at a time. Wish it was faster, but it is what it is. And, if this is like the PTSD behaviors, what will happen is that I’ll reach some point where 1)I’ll panic big time because the old behaviors are nearly gone and 2)I’ll ride that out and learn to live with whatever vestiges of the panic remain for the rest of my life, in a probably mostly clean & tidy home.

Took a lot of years and stuff to get here, it’s going to take some time yet to get out. Too slow, but it’s what works; and that’s inarguable, since the alternate just stops me cold!

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Cataloging, Filing, PTSD & Hoarding (Hurrah! or..?)

I started cataloging books again this a.m. Needs to happen if I’m going to deliver books on Sat. to the wholesale order and fill a new booth with books in 3 days??? I have to work on the furniture AND the books. The books are harder, they take up much less space and require more time & handling, so the books come first.

In between cataloging, I cleaned out two kitchen drawers. I don’t know when I cleaned them last, so I’m counting each as ½ a reveal, 1 point for both. I usually put a piece of tape with the date inside a drawer/bin when I clean it, but I didn’t. If I could get at the lining paper, I’d have lined them, but there’s no way. Maybe next week?

I finished sheeting the latest batch of 50 receipts. I’ve taken what I’m going to use as a “stock” photo for filing stuff, except that they came out all yellow because I did them in weird light. I’ll get DH to help me fix that.

A stack of 50 receipts


I tape receipts to a sheet of notebook paper, with the date/who paid/amount in the upper right corner. The sheets are filed in notebooks by date.

Sheeted receipts, filed in the notebook

When I do this regularly, the chore takes a few minutes a week, but I haven’t done this since we tore my office apart, months ago. I’m also reorganizing the files and filing cabinet, so I have a lot more filing/culling to do. It may take months . . . well, I hope not! My personal deadline is the end of February.

If I can file/refile 50 receipts and/or other pieces of paper every 2 days, that should be enough to be done by 2/29. We’ll see!

Filing is one of those jobs I LOVE having done, but HATE to do, so I want to put it off. I’m working on changing my habits AND cleaning out my space. This one is on the habit side.

In six minutes, I didn’t do anything today! What I did do was misplace the timer, sigh. DH is going to be annoyed, as he uses it making coffee in the morning, so I have to find it! (I did.)

The change from
4 clean ups to (two days ago) TO 2 clean ups (yesterday) TO
0 clean ups (today) is typical of my PTSD/hoarding behaviors.

The six-minute clean ups really worked. It was a minimal amount of effort & time. A part of me is running scared. I have not, and won’t go into the thoughts/feelings that got me where I am or have been. However, in brief, I will say that the idea of a clean house for years literally caused me to panic.

Rational? No, of course not. But I didn’t become a hoarder because I liked “stuff.” I became one because I felt safer with so much stuff around that people couldn’t tell what mattered to me. I’m not obsessed with the value of things, I’m not a collector where I must have all 1345894 of (whatever). I’m not afraid or unable to throw things out.

I’m someone who’s had safety issues in their own space, for most of her life. I know people who were in similar but not identical situations as kids and their reaction is to become neat freaks. I was just as obsessed, but from the other tack.

That is likely the only statement I’ll ever make about the how & why of my hoarding.

I’m beating the PTSD/abuse issues, slowly but surely. The what & how that got me here aren’t what I started this blog for. I started it as a place to track my progress or not.

I’ll badger myself into getting back into the six-minute cleanups. It may not be tomorrow, as I have a full day, mostly away from home.

My pictures are AWFUL. I’ll have to get DH to give me pointers. These are just embarrassing! Oh well, I’ll work on that, too. What’s a life without 1,000 things to work on at once?

OUT
Filed: 50 receipts
Revealed: (2 drawers) counted as 1 reveal

IN
From the dump: a strainer (forgot to count it yesterday)

51-1 = 50

old 9771 97.1%
new 9721 96.6%