Reaching out…

BY tarps 2011

I/we have not been posting as much in this stage of life. But, I see folks linking to Hoarding Woes & You on a weekly basis. So, I thought I would once again extend to anyone in the midst of this crisis in life to feel free to write re questions for me and/or other viewers. Please feel free to write and I will get back to you.

Catching up…

but only regarding communicating with you. Not catching up with residual stuff left over after two massive hoarding cleanups.

BY tarps 2011

I few observations re how things might happen to us and to others:

I have remarked before about the sentimental stuff we kept after the two hoarding cleanups. We kept way too much stuff that we will never use.

BY corner

We are still and probably permanently mentally drained from the effort. I think damage was done to our mental capacity to absorb new challenges. We drained the batteries down and we seem incapable of recharging to full capacity.

HH4

Take that mental capacity and now join it together with recently suffering health on both our parts and we find ourselves mentally and physically in a hole. My partner has always been the driving force behind organizing and getting it done. I was fortunate beyond belief in having her steadfast resolve in seeing every cleanup project through. Now that has become severely compromised by health and I find without her, I do not have the same resolve either. This is frustrating for us both because we do need to finish up those final cleanup phases!

kitchen-stairs-to-dining-rm1

We also have pending cleanup likely of a family member that has all manner of stuff. Not of a massive nature but still a lot of stuff that will have to be dealt with in the not to distant future.

And so it seems we might be in a position similar to where our passed loved ones were in life when the saw their dilemma, but did not possess the mental or physical capacity to address the issues. We don’t have a shame factor so letting someone in would not be the problem. But right now, we would feel overloaded and befuddled to delegate or organize a push for a completed solution. A far cry from five years ago when we conquered every obstacle in our pathway.

driveway

So I think the take away is don’t leave or create loose ends if burnout or physical debilities are going to thwart your abilities to take on those last vestiges of finishing up. It may not get done later and then what?

I don’t mean this to be a do or die moment in life for us. But it shows how you can be a few steps away from the place our loved ones were and then they compounded it all with more and more acquisitions…

Almost Done

So we pray Springtime and a bit of warmth and sunshine will lift the Winter doldrums and give us renewed focus and energy to once and for all be done with stuff that lingers from the hoarding past. It sure as heck is a very long ways from the old days for sure….. thanks for reading!!!

Should note, so as not to alarm, these are photos from the cleanup days and not now!!! 🙂

 

 

 

A meaningful quote…

“I’m beginning to realise that I’m either overly sentimental, or am a hoarder who struggles to part with things. In all honesty, I’m probably both.” Fennel Hudson, Fennel’s Journal, No. 2

Found this quote while searching for a quote re memories, sentimental, vintage for my other blog, SwittersB & Exploring. The quote resonated re sentiments and hoarding.

Right now, we (my wife and I) are doing the following: continuing to cull through the excessive stuff we kept that belonged to my Mom and my Aunt. Mentally we are in a good place to get this done. Also, we are dealing with my in laws that are struggling to downsize in late life. There we are up against sentimentality and also the worth of every object, whether broken, junk or not touched in years. The latter project is more challenging as you can imagine. But, for us, there is not the urgency yet. Not our stuff….yet. And, we have other siblings to help and step up to wade through the years of accumulation. Not hoarders but just a lot of stuff that has built up and no energy to sort through due to health reasons and aging.

Sentimentality and memories are powerful stuff don’t you agree?

Deja vu….

Been awhile since I last posted here at Hoarding Woes & You. I hope some of you new visitors have found the back posts of interest in helping you deal with the stresses of hoarding, at whatever level you are dealing with the problem.

Out family is yet again, facing some of the same variables that we dealt with these past several years: elder care, dementia, denial, moderate accumulations of stuff, family dynamics, future health care decisions, cleanups and wondering how the family will deal with the evolving stages.

This time, a probable benefit will be a larger family unit to assist in cleanups, decision-making and elder care.

The same sensibilities are evolving: attempting to not steamroll the elders with impatience, confusing advise or many voices at once. Pride and fears are evident in the elders and it important the family members remind each other to go slow, to listen as much as speak, to share the load of care and to give the elders some sense of ownership and empowerment as life unfolds. So far, this effort at awareness has had its bumps and hurt feelings.

Also, some have worked to the point of exhaustion or illness. Yet, most have jobs, other obligations of family and their own respective health issues. It is a blessing that this time around we, as an extended family unit, have more human potential to maintain a happy, healthy course of action.

I have been ill of late (nothing too serious), but it highlights more than rising off one’s sick bed to help at all costs…no, one is contagious and cannot be around already sick elders and all that could go with infecting the sick elder as well as the caregivers.

Again, we are faced with a wait and see mode regarding any cleanups because the elders are really not of a mind to have their belongings moved let alone sold or donated. So, to keep the peace, we are organizing a bit, suggesting cleanups and yard maintenance, but not pushing true removal/thinning of items. This next effort pales in comparison to our two previous hoarding cleanup, but will still require decisions on downsizing, moving, sales, keepsakes, etc.

Even here, there is a hesitancy to complete DNR paperwork or at least have a discussion. With one member being in moderate dementia the time may have passed to have a meaningful discussion re healthcare expectation and end of life decisions.

So, even having been down this road several times before, we find ourselves looking at some of the same problems again. 

Hoarding’s Love Languages……..

In 1995, Gary Chapman wrote a little gem called The Five Love Languages for couples to analyze, in counseling, what they need in a relationship and what their partner needs to feel loved as well.

Love Languages

So an update…as I have written before, we have been through quite the journey cleaning up two massive hoards. In the end, we sat mentally numb and physically damaged. We decided to move from our home into my Aunt (ours) hoarding home after the renovations. A renovation/cleanup of our home we had been in for 18 years commenced. There was a lot of hard work and downsizing. We moved into the new home with all our stuff and our kid’s (adults that left a lot behind) stuff.

We had retained too much of my Mom’s stuff and too much of my Aunt’s stuff in the new house (garage/basement bedroom and party room). We moved in and it was quickly apparent we needed to truly lean down even further. We didn’t/we couldn’t just yet…a family member said “we want to have our wedding in your backyard in June. Well there really wasn’t a backyard so the next few months were spent creating one and preparing the house for a one day event…everything went into the already full garage.

The wedding came and went, then a large Birthday party on 6/28. I knew the garage was haunting me…the downstairs bedroom/party room haunts my wife…

The above pic was the day of the birthday party. You can see the carport area with the BBQ. It was relatively clean at this point. The next day, was G Day…the garage had to be attacked or I would be haunted by it through the Summer. Plus I could not find any tools.

The next day dawned and I raised the garage door…I had scrupulously hidden the remote door opener to not suffer embarrassment or the need to explain too much stuff.

29

Above, the garage door was raised. I pulled out the top, teetering layers and still had a barricade with no trail into the garage…it was that evil axiom of ‘no vacuum goes unfilled’ when cleaning up a mess. I had to fill the carport area with stuff from the garage and so it began. Of course, I didn’t move the darn BBQ.

29 better

By late afternoon, I had pushed toward the back (above). A path had been cleared, but truly so much stuff had been pulled out into the carport to create that space.

July 2 Garage

Four days later, the space looked little different. In true hoarding/unfocused cleanup fashion, I had worked out in the garage everyday. The inside temp ran 95 to 102 degrees inside. I moved stuff here and there to make room, but didn’t sort what I moved. I seemed to trip and stumble over the same stuff over and over. Piles cascaded down. Repeatedly, I swore aloud, while thinking this was so ridiculous given what we had been through for the last 5 years.

garage 7-5

This morning, July 5th, the garage is looking better on the right side. However, the previously opened space on the left side (below) has temporarily filled with mostly larger camping items.

garage 7-5 other side

So, to the point, with the above as a lead in….I have been standing out in the oven of a garage for one week and handled hundreds of items. Most of this stuff has been handled multiple times before. Yet, I still have it. I have found myself making repeat decisions on retaining items on criteria we have mentioned before. But, today, I want to list them again in the order of my decision making because a pattern has evolved that speaks to my potential Hoarding Love language”

1) Sentimental Attachment (all keepsakes)

2) Tools (Hand, power, yard) and all duplicates, old and new

3) Containers (all duffles, bags, sacks, cigar boxes, satchels, plastic bins

4) All things fishing, camping..a gazillion duplicates

5) Pieces of something (nuts, bolts, keys, parts to stuff unknown)

Yes, the common ‘I might need it someday’…’I paid good money for that’ have come into play, but overwhelmingly the most frustrating controlling factor has been the sentimental attachment to objects I haven’t laid eyes on in years. In many cases I could not recall how I acquired the item(s)!

So the best I have come up with is I segregated the sentimental stuff to one part of the garage on one set of shelving and made a mental note to seriously sort through this stuff and once and for all get rid of it. Nope, I can’t see myself walking out to the oven of a garage and doing it after posting this. A mental wall currently forbids it. Hmm? Well, at least I see it and am embarrassed to share it here. It’s not as if I have not got full gabage cans full, right now, with stuff I have discarded over the last week. But, not enough to tell you the truth.

The carport pad is still stacked with basically three types of items: fly tying materials (a dozen bins & boxes), hand tools and probable garbage. Beyond that and down the driveway, aways, are things I am giving away.

So this is an update. This garage will never be one of those squeaky clean garages you can dine off the floor types. But, I figure I am 1/3rd done with the interior. Then, I have a shop behind the garage that is full of large, bulky stuff that will fill a vacuum at some point. Fortunately, I have not filled up the patio, yard or surrounding walkways.

It’s going to happen….I have fishing dates to attend to and no weddings or birthdays to fret about.

Hoarding Transitions…

For those of you that have followed along here at Hoarding Woes & You, you have seen the transitions of the house and the immediate surroundings (the driveway, the patio, the carport/garage). I thought I would share a sequence of images of the back yard that transformed from my Aunt’s well maintained, heavily flowered venue to a mess and to what we have created this past few months….

Tillie backyard 1987
My Aunt’s backyard in 1987…representative of the entire back yard…but by now she had started filling the patio and had created the tarped sidewalls.
patio walls
The patio, a lovely spot at one time, was encased in layers of canvas/tarps and then the 20′ x 20′ x 10′ area was completely filled.
BY tarps 2011
The once well maintained backyard was filled with pallets and box upon box of stuff…covered with layer upon layer of blue tarps.

 

BY tarps 2

BY corner
The cleanup commenced and layers of rotting stuff and dead animals were pulled away.
backyard-pile-gone
The backyard was cleared leaving a muddy mess….but this vacuum was filled yet again with debris from cleaning nearby areas…this happened repeatedly…

 by pile

The photos could go on and on over the last few years cleanup, renovations, and now the new back yard…I will just show the end result
BY 5-2015

by 5-2015 c

BY 5-2015 a

Not quite as laden with flowers, but still closer back to the original. The birdbath remains…somewhere there is a photo of me standing there some 55 years ago…but let’s not go there!!! Sorry for the size of some of the photos…Hope those of you that followed along from the beginning or somewhere in between enjoy this sequence. All of the roses were my folks and my Aunt’s. It feels so good to bring a semblance of beauty back to the yard and the house.

precursors to hoarding…

Elders…Family…Children

The pitfalls are most evident now on how one can inadvertently become inundated with too much stuff. We have found the following mess/lessons before us, and actually to our great surprise. Given all we have been through the last 5+ years it is a bit frustrating. Hoarding was, heretofore, a mental health issue coupled with buying everything in sight to turn it into a profit (Mom/Aunt). Emotional distress reigned for my Mom and Aunt.

But imagine our surprise, as we moved this past Fall, that there are other pitfalls no less cumbersome. We found that for sentimental reasons we kept wayyyyyyyyy too much stuff that belonged to, as follows: My Dad, my Mom, my Aunt, our three sons, our daughter and our own accumulation over the years. 

This past week, we had one last repository of stuff that had to be moved asap with our old home selling and the sale pending…the attic over the garage. Long forgotten save shoving every extra item up there and apparently forgetting them. Not just old camping equipment or excess old ski gear of children’s toys…no somehow hundreds of other items had become wedged atop the garage. Down came, load after load of keepsakes, treasures and must keeps. Every and I mean every art project for the four kids. Every treasure my teen sons thought important over 20 years ago. And there was the problem. We could not separate with those musty smelling treasures even though we had not laid eyes on them for 15-30+ years. We kept them, boxes of them, and moved them! Sentimentality, Nostalgia, Uncontrollable Impulses ruled.

So now, I am looking at dozens of boxes that have been sorted yet not culled out. There they sit at our new home….if they are stuck away, they will be in the way. The kids don’t want these artistic efforts. Just an example of how but one facet of decision making influences clutter.

This coupled with “I might need it someday”…..”That was expensive”….”I don’t want to mess around with CL or eBay.” (actually I have sold dozens and dozens of items on CL from large furniture pieces down go gym sets and office furniture, plus gobs of free stuff)…

So these traps to be dealt with in the months ahead….I am just sharing the layers of accumulating stuff and how it might have, at one time, impacted the hoarder in your life….and perhaps your life in the near future.

me celebrating garage
Yes, the attic was finally empty after hours of work.

bucky garage
My wife still had a hint of a smile even as the once empty garage filled up again.

bucky empty attic