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My wife is a hoarder. One of your guests mentioned the need for compassion. It IS a disease with really difficult ramifications for the person who has it.
My wife had to deal with a huge fear: if I get rid of something, what will happen to me? She literally couldn't differentiate her "stuff" from her self.
We were lucky: she came to understand that she had an illness. So she bagan the process of therapy.
She had to learn how to "revalue" her things. She might pick up an old piece of paper and spend 20 minutes trying to decide whether to dispose of it or not. It was an existential struggle to decide. But now, she's able to allow her daughter to sort paper for her -- her daughter has learned the "sorting principles" that my wife insisted on, but it's enabled us to recycle a hundred shopping bags of paper.
The internal struggle to separate one's self from a thing, to realize that a memory will stay with you despite what you throw away, to know that a relationship with a person won't suffer if you throw something away that is associated with that person are all extremely difficult things to work through.
Her psychologist helped her understand that she needed to learn how to do the sorting. So most of the sorting has been done by my wife (much of it with her daughter's assistance) herself...The "victory" is that our garage is no longer chest-high with boxes of stuff, our guest room is now a guest room and not a full-up-to-the ceiling storage room, we can use the dining room for what it was intended and cook in the kitchen, we can have guests in our livingroom -- there's now a place for them to sit.
As your guests have pointed out, the hoarder must come to accept that they have a disease and need help. One statistic I heard was that 80% of hoarders deny that there's anything wrong.
I am very grateful for our psychiatrist with his precient mediction regimen, and our psychologist, who actually comes to our home to help my wife continue to "de-hoard."
posted 3 years, 10 months ago
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