Thursday, October 14, 2010

M.S. Degree From the TeeVee

I was at a friend's house dropping off our nut sales (no, I'm not selling my family members, it's for Girl Scouts) when she showed us part of an episode of "Hoarding: Buried Alive." Seeing the piles of junk lit a fire in me. When we returned home I began to attack my paper piles.

My mom might say I save too many things. My husband thinks it's too cluttered around our house. What do I see?

I see some clutter. It constitutes the things that I don't necessarily have a place for and don't know what to do with, so they sit out or get pushed into piles and forgotten. I also see changes that I've made to make it less cluttered. There is the huge basket that sits in the living room and looks nice, but it holds a bunch of yarn. The yarn is hidden, and it looks neat. I see the end tables I bought that have drawers and shelves so that books can sit in them. More examples abound. What I see are the accomplishments I've made in order to advance in the direction of an organized person, in addition to what I have yet to do. Seeing the things that don't have a place doesn't bother me so much probably because I know I will take care of it. I know it needs to be done, it just hasn't been done yet.

That sounds like an excuse. It would be, if I sat on the couch eating bonbons all day, but I don't. I do other things. What I need is to incorporate (better) the habit of organizing the oddball items that don't get into my daily routine of putting s#it away. Specifically, my problem is paper. There is my work from the most recent term of school, OC's school things, some random old mail, and other weird stuff that has no place. I have a big basket for the things I feel I need to keep for a month or so, then they can go away. The problem is that a month goes by and I don't revisit the pile. The piles multiply into hairy monsters that look too scary to go anywhere near.

The other problem I had was in dealing with things that were too painful. There are boxes filled with sad things like funeral notices, or pictures that I haven't been ready to come across. It is better now, because time has gone by since the sad events. And, I've recently reorganized and cleaned out one side of our attic area, including dealing with several boxes filled with emotional napalm, organizing what I'll keep and tossing others.

After OC saw the show, and when she looked at her room she told, "At least my room isn't as bad as those!"

She's right. There is no black mold in there. There are no pathways (although sometimes there is a crunching sound when one walks across her floor....) and she manages to keep up with most of the daily tidying up.

What is surprising to learn is that the hoarders tend to be perfectionists. It seems counterintuitive, but, they usually have some type of compulsion or depression. The stuff is there to either fill an emotional hole, or because they know it needs to go but they need to deal with each individual piece first, or there is a shopping compulsion, etc.

Myself, I'm no perfectionist. While I like a clean house, I don't like to clean the house. I like to have everything in its place, but I don't always know where that place is for some things. Where do I stash a flier for the High Desert Museum's programs that I might want to look at to schedule a field trip? Possibly that should be recycled and I could use the internet to look up the information. See? THAT'S PROGRESS RIGHT THERE.

I've come a long way from the days when I had emotional attachments to objects, especially those that were given to me. It would have constituted a personal insult to get rid of a gift until one day I realized that the person who gave me that thing would not want me to feel burdened by it. The idea clicked, and gave me what I needed to break that habit.

The decision-making process is what gets me. Where to put it once I know I actually do need it? I don't have a problem getting rid of things or organizing, but I get stuck when I feel overwhelmed by too many decisions. When that happens, I don't want to deal with it at all. The piles go untended and grow facial hair but I sometimes ignore that. This can go on until their voices change, then I figure it's time to do something.

I don't know if I have a problem, or am experiencing a normal amount of overwhelming indecisiveness? I don't think I'm alone in this. TheYarn Harlot posted recently about an unusual room in her house with an organization problem.

Me? I've got clutter but I'm also working to find places to put it all away. The reward is knowing what I have and where it is located. Perhaps a steady dose of the revolting visuals on "Hoarders" will propel action to become a good habit. It's not a bad way to feel better about one's self, anyway.

I'd like to think I'm normal, but I'm not asking for your opinion. Thanks, anyway. I'll deal with it before my piles ask for the keys to the car.

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