If you’ve never seen it, here is what you’ve been missing. Each week a different person or family with various hoarding compulsions are profiled and then cleaning crews and psychiatrists try to help them, with varying degrees of success. Some of the people can’t stop collecting empty soda bottles. Some of them keep every toy their kids ever owned. Some can’t stop buying clothing that they will never wear. Also, a disturbing fact is that almost all of these people have multiple animals and lots of times the clean-up crews will find mummified remains of pets that the hoarders didn’t even know had died.
The worst part of the show, besides all of the used adult diapers and dead cats, is how the people can’t understand that they have a problem. Whatever that little switch is in your brain that makes you take your trash outside or that makes you realize that you don’t “need” to keep every hair your dog has ever shed has broken in these people, and it’s terrifying and depressing. It’s not just that they don’t want to get rid of the 48 feral cats in their bedroom; it’s the fact that they feel they can’t get rid of them. I used to watch the show religiously and tell myself that it made me feel better about my situation. I don’t know if that was true or not. I just liked to watch the freaky people cry because someone was trying to throw away their jars of urine. I don’t watch it anymore because I can’t. It’s just too depressing.
I bring up Hoarders because it makes me think of stuff. I’m in the process of packing to move and at no other time are you more aware of your stuff than when you have to move it. When you settle in and you feel secure in your place, you start collecting things. 9 times out of 10, they’re things you don’t need. Most of the time, its things you don’t even see—they’re packed away in closets, in boxes or underneath the bed. As I look around now, some of my things boxed up and others sorted among various tables, I know that at various points I must have wanted these things but I can’t really see anything that I NEED. Yet, I worked very hard to get these things. And now that the choice has come down to tossing them or carting them up and down three flights of stairs, trust me, the answer is toss. Always toss.
The place that I’m leaving could be frustrating. If you’ve ever looked into it, you know that the Alabama renter has absolutely no rights. You pretty much have to take what you get. I suffered from constant bug attacks, laughably crappy paint jobs, horrible landscaping, and— I’m not kidding—no oven. For three years, I had no working oven. Oh, and about a month ago, some maintenance guy stole my canvas Aldi bag, so my stuff was never even really safe! So, I had a somewhat fairly secure place to keep my stuff, but now I’m moving. Throwing out things I never needed and consolidating the things that I do so that I can go to a new place and start the process all over again. All I know for sure is that I’ll never cross the line into hoarding and I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to keep the mummified pets to a minimum.
So, as we enter the season of buying and giving and getting take a moment to think about the things you have already, how you don’t need most of it, and how excited you get when you get more of it. Then think about how much having to pack it all up would suck. Got it? Good. Enjoy your stuff!