Pack Rats & Hoarding
Is hoarding really a psychological problem? Read this story and then decide for yourself. My husband and I make quite a pair. I’m a clutter bug and he’s a pack rat. I don’t mind throwing things away though, whereas he has a problem discarding things.
If he comes into the house and sees that I’ve cleaned something or an area, the first thing he does is goes through the trash to see what I’ve thrown away. He will dig down to the bottom of the bin because in his mind, I would be just sneaky enough to put it at the bottom where he wouldn’t see it.
When my fry daddy broke, my husband set it on the counter with intentions of fixing it. Of course, I knew that would never happen so I went to my daughter and asked her to get a new one for me for Christmas. My theory was if we had a new one, he could throw the old one away. Wrong!
It continued to sit on my counter for another six months. I finally asked my son to take it out to his truck one night and throw it away the next time he went to work. He did.
A year later, I said something to my husband about it and he became very angry. He was not angry that I threw it out so much as I went behind his back and snuck it out of the house. That is what bothered him. Now he gets really anxious about his things. I often wonder if he makes a mental log of items around the house because the first thing he does when he cannot find something is ask me if I threw it away and he doesn’t always ask me nicely, either.
I was talking to my husband one day about our clutter-filled and hoarded house. “We could be on Hoarders; Buried Alive,” I exclaim in frustration.
They say it’s a sign of insecurity and I can understand that theory. Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to have anything like most teenagers did, such as posters on the wall or knick-knacks on my dresser. My stepmother always found a reason to confiscate my personal affects. So instead, I would clutter my room with clothes strewn about and records all over the place.
All I had was box springs with a mattress and a dresser: that was it. With the exception of my mother’s old Avon jewelry box, three piggy banks and plastic record player, I had nothing else. She knew, without a doubt, my brother Keith and his wife, Jonnie Dee, would eat her alive if she touched my piggy banks.
“Why is that?” my husband said asking why my brother and his wife would be angry she took them.
“Because they gave them to me as gifts when I was 14, 15, and the last one when I was 16 so they would have said something to her.” I went on to explain, “That’s why I like clutter. I like to keep things around me but I’m not afraid to throw anything away like you are. Why are you a hoarder? What are you so insecure about?”
As my husband sits at my (clutter-filled) desk, he says to me, “What are you talking about? I’m not a hoarder. Where do you get that from?”
“Are you serious,” I stammer out. “You hoard everything and won’t throw anything away!”
“Like what?” he challenged. “What are you talking about?”
I turned and pointed to the fireplace hearth (I didn’t have to look far). Behind me was a pile of railroad nails. I don’t mean a pile of 10-12 nails, either. I’m talking about a pile that could fill a small box.
“What about these? Why won’t you throw them away,” I asked with exasperation.
He laughs and says, “I told you I got those thinking I would take them down to the recycling center and trade them for cash.”
The recycling center had explained to my husband they don’t accept them because then people will start pulling them up and bring them in. The result of that would be trains would start to derail so to discourage this practice they refuse any and all railroad nails.
“They don’t take them remember? So, they’ve been sitting here for the last six months waiting to go into the trash. You have a pile out in the yard, a pile in the garage, a box in the spare room and a pile here. When are you going to throw them out,” I demanded.
Again, he’s laughing a little and says, “I don’t know. I’ll get to it.”
Two weeks later, I noticed they were missing and asked my son if he took them off. He denied he had any part of it so I asked my husband. He confirmed he did haul them off a couple of days earlier. I’m so proud!