“Hoarding: Buried Alive” = Motivated Mutant

“Hoarding: Buried Alive” on TLC

Yesterday, I told you to remind me about the lady on the train and Hoarders. I’ll spare you the crochet lady for today, and jump right into Hoarders.

The night before, I actually watched TV at a friend’s house while working on the cowl and while he pretty much slept soundly stretched out next to me. What can I say? I apparently have a very relaxing presence. Or maybe I’m just super dull…

Either way, I flicked through channels (such a strange experience) until I stumbled across TLC. Now, I don’t know what it is but, TLC is turning into my favorite channel the very rare times I find myself watching television. I just tend to find so many of their shows interesting even though I can’t help but feel like maybe they’re somewhat exploitive at times. But I get past the guilty thing because I think they do a good job of capturing some things as honestly as they can get in TV land. Take “Hoarding: Buried Alive” for instance. This is one show I always feel is somewhat exploitive because these people are in some way damaged. Hoarding is an expression of an emotional disturbance or downright mental illness. At the same time, they, supposedly, do their part to get these people some level of help. But either way, I was sitting on my couch, trapped under a pair of man legs, curious about my cowl, and decided television wasn’t such a bad thing in that situation, and “Hoarding” drew me in. I ended up watching (mostly) two episodes which tracked three people total. It got too late before I finished the second one.  

However, I watched enough to learn the common denominator in the three hoarders was the reason they hoarded—security through barriers. All three of these people went through an extremely difficult time, or times, in their lives, found relief in acquiring, and then found further relief in being surrounded, but were absolutely distressed about releasing. And it really does scratch the surface on why we acquire in the first place. I really think one can delve much deeper into this and apply it to a broader range of people (hint, hint TLC) because I think this pretty much is the heart of all consumerism.

We acquire and retain not just to provide for ourselves and/or our loved ones, but also to show others we can do so. I feel this is simply programmed into our human spirits. It was always about who had more cattle, more wives, more this, that, and the other. So we all seem to acquire for the same basic reason—satisfying a perceived or real need. And here alone you find a broad range as to how people classify wants and needs and how things change from wants to needs in the first place. But what happens next, I think, is where people really diverge. To retain or to discard becomes the question. Waste not, want not versus burn, baby, burn. The spectrum is wide and people fall all over the place. For me, I’m interested in being in the middleish. Like everyone else, in varying degrees, I enjoy acquiring things; but, there are some things I enjoy acquiring more than others, some things I like holding onto more than others, some things I wish I could make last longer than they do, and some things I have no issue getting rid of—either to make way for a replacement or to simply just make space. My heart goes out to these people who simply can’t let go. I’ve been there, but not to such an extreme level. At the same time, I also have discovered letting go can be learned and appreciated so I wish them well and send lots of encouragement their way and to anyone else struggling with acquiring versus releasing.

Somewhere along the line, we have lost respect for our possessions—what they’re true intended uses are and what they are truly meant to symbolize—and are therefore less selective about what and how we acquire. When your things are being stepped on, shoved to a corner, collapsing under the weight of other things, or disappearing under layers of dust, you are not showing them and yourself the respect they deserve. And there is a limit to how much any one person can truly care for. Once you reach that max, you need to stop adding. If you’ve exceeded the max, it’s time to start reducing and to keep reducing until you truly feel you have something manageable.

This is where I’m at right now. I over-acquired and am in the process of letting go and letting go some more until I feel, “This, I can handle.” I don’t think I’m there just yet, but I do feel that I am getting closer. I am now more selective and conscious of my acquiring process, generally moving slower and more deliberately. We take in everything around us every second of every day, and I’m tired of taking things in that make my eyes roll while suppressing a groan and forcing back a headache. I want to be able to have as many things as I can respect and therefore enjoy. It is my precious time and energy that goes into acquiring these things, I should show myself a little respect in maintaining them. There is a major difference between materialism and object appreciation. I maintain there is nothing wrong with having things as long as you can appreciate them and care for them—all of them. Think about the object buried in a corner under a mountain of other objects. Is that object appreciated or even used? Of course not. So, it doesn’t belong in your home and that’s that. There are other people in this world who would appreciate or use such an object. You are denying that person the opportunity to do so by keeping it in a dark and dusty place or hidden by hundreds of other objects.

Here is the thing to remember—getting rid of things and acquiring them, these days, are equally easy. It takes work to acquire so don’t bemoan the work it takes to discard. Just be patient, with you and your things, and you’ll see how it all starts to click quite nicely. Even now, as I sit here typing this, my brain is bringing forth all sorts of things that sit unused, untouched, unnecessary in a drawer, a box, a bin, a bag in my home. Even as I type this, I cringe just a bit at the thought of getting rid of some of them and why? Because I fear I will one day want or need them and won’t be able to replace them. But they were so easy to come by in the first place and I know, in the deepest part of me, they will be easy to replace the day that want or need surfaces. I know it, but I don’t want to admit it because in a way, it’s hard to admit these things came into my house recklessly in the first place. They were overindulgences, plain and simple. Many were bought without specific purpose and funded with money I did not have (and am still paying exorbitant interest on). Some of these things are brand-spanking new, unopened, untouched, unappreciated. But, in the end, I listen to the logical rational voice telling me it’s totally ok to let them go and it’s going to better for me and others in the end anyways.

So, now you know what I’ll be up to this weekend. There will be no shelf-building as Ex has informed me I won’t see a dime from him until some point in the middle of the month (maybe). There’s no way I can risk spending a dollar that isn’t absolutely necessary in these circumstances. So, instead, I will be going through more of my things, setting them aside for someone else to use and appreciate, and taking the time to show some of the things I do keep a little bit of appreciation and care. What will you be doing?


7 thoughts on ““Hoarding: Buried Alive” = Motivated Mutant

  1. I only have a bit of a hard time letting go because the process for me to get rid of things is such a PITA.
    And I do still have a food hoarding problem. But am working on it.

    • It used to be hard for me because I hated going to Goodwill and whatnot but then I discovered the VVA and they come to your house and pick things up and you don’t have to be there and you can schedule online and it doesn’t have to meet a minimum and it was love at first sight. 🙂 I had no idea you had a food hoarding issue. I don’t know that I could manage hoarding food. No room!

  2. We don’t have a TV but I found out about Hoarders and I try and watch it whenever I’m in the presence of a TV with cable. I’m totally fascinated. I have hoarding tendencies(I don’t know many people that have hundreds of yards of fabric sorted, labeled and stored) so I believe I’m just waiting for something tragic to happen to me to spin me off into a full blown hoardership. I definitely relate on a visceral level. That’s probably just to much information.

    • I think everyone relates on one level or another. And my guess is most people have (or have had) some sort of hoarding tendency. It is really difficult to find a sane middle ground– especially when you are trying to live frugally. How much stuff do you keep to use again one day or repourpose for something else? Where’s the line between hoarder, resourceful, and wasteful? The show is great, really. It makes you think and do some self-examination and I always love that.

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  4. Hmmm, I have never heard anyone say that hoarding is to prove one can provide for themselves and others. You may be on to something. I do keep a certain amount of stuff, not hoarded, but so I can sew, eat, bathe (soap), it may be more than some have and less than others. But, I do not feel a bit bad about what excess I have. Since I am always shedding stuff, I don’t worry about becoming a hoarder. My very orderly, 94-yr-old nieghbor died leaving dozens of sweaters and nightgowns, all in boxes and most with tags affixed. Hearing this, one might assume she hoarded. She did not. She put gifts in drawers. She had no more than would fit in existing and long-held pieces of furniture.

    There was no disarray except in a small room that held stored items, just a few, like the fan she brought out in the summer and stored there for the winter. This bit of disarray seemed acceptable. She did not have non-working fans or fans from the street, just one large fan and a smaller one.

    I think others are too quick to label a messy house as hoarding. The truly sick who hoard should not be shown on tv. They still have feelings and friends who will recognize them.

    • Yeah, like everything else that breaks through into the mainstream hoarding has become a catch-all for messy houses which is a shame because there is an illness. It’s like the way people toss around the terms ADD, OCD and Bi-Polar. Your neighbor doesn’t sound like a hoarder to me, she actually reminds me of my grandmother that passed away. We found several brand new items carefully kept and stored. Very little that she had in her home was broken or unusable.


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