A Thousand Reasons to Speak Up

Posted: September 28, 2010 in anxiety, childhood, hoarding

When I was growing up, no one talked about hoarding. No one. I lived with it for eighteen years, unable to give it a name. I was twenty-four, living hundreds of miles away from where I grew up, and in therapy for (what I thought was) a completely separate issue before I really started to understand what it was. That was too late to do anything about what happened to me as a little girl, trapped amidst the clutter of my parents’ lives. But it’s never too late to start doing something about it. I know there are others out there.

The topic of hoarding it getting a lot more attention these days. The popular A&E television series, “Hoarders,” explores the issue, as does the TLC show “Hoarding: Buried Alive.” I watch these shows religiously, simply because it’s an amazing feeling to know I’m not the only one. I imagine there are a lot of other people out there who feel the same way. I know there are.

Learning about hoarding has been a difficult experience. It has forced me to rethink and reframe more than twenty years of my life. That hasn’t been easy. It’s a big step to transition from saying “my house was messy” to “my parents were hoarders.” Even harder? Coming to terms with the fact that for the majority of the time when I was growing up, I was – literally – a part of the clutter. The older I got, the more I became an entity – something my parents desperately wanted to hold on to.

There were times their actions indicated that they valued the clutter more than they did me. Those weren’t their words, of course. Hindsight is always 20/20, and it is only with hindsight that I’ve been able to articulate and understand these things. As hard as it was to come to terms with the reality of my parents being classifiable hoarders, it’s even more difficult to figure out how to accept the reality that I was, more often than not, overlooked, neglected, or abandoned to fend for myself.

…again, not their words of course…

How do you learn how to say “I know you loved me…but it wasn’t enough?” to someone who truly believes they’ve never done anything wrong?

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