Hoarding Woes: Motives of the Illness

As I have written before, my mom left an abusive home environment at a young age. What kind of abuse? Verbal, physical for sure. What more transpired I don’t know. I do know, she was angry in one way or another until she died. 

My aunt left home early also to be with a young man she was in love with. She moved out West and that was the loadstone for my mom to move toward, on her own, as a young teenage girl. By the time my mom arrived, my aunt was married and had established a nice life.  My mom, was single, young and unestablished. Right here a certain contrast was established: my aunt had nice things. They both left a farm life in which there mom could seldom have nice things with out their father smashing them in a drunken rage.

My mom wanted to have nice things too. A sort of envy evolved. My aunt had more money via her husband’s job and investments. My parents had a decent life, but limited by circumstances. My mom wanted things so she started acquiring them via garage sales. From the garage sales came a vision of also selling items for money. From that money would come the ability to buy nice things. My aunt did the same thing. Now there was a new competition: who could make the most money at their own garage sales. 

They made money. Often a sale would yield thousands of dollars. This became driving force to acquire stuff to resell for profit. Buy an item on the cheap and resell at twice the price. On and on this went. 

My aunt rented a space below another second hand store and sold and sold…she was successful.  Her home stayed relatively free of clutter…but often she brought stuff home because her store space was over flowing.

My mom bought and sold, but she has no store front. She used her patio, driveway, garage. She put up a TP. She made the TP bigger and bigger. She jammed stuff here and there and my dad battled the encroaching stuff. Once he died the battle was lost and more and more  came in.

The sales continued. My aunt lost her lease and her sales moved to her home and so did all the stuff from her store. Now both women’s home became the focus of storage. More and more came in and soon it was too much.

The mess was enough that neither would let anyone inside their homes and amazingly they would not let each other inside their homes. The old days of displaying treasures to upstage the other were gone. You would have to walk on a foot or more of caved in stuff without stumbling.

 At this juncture of life, they both wanted to make more and more money, but somethings changed. Their health. The sales dwindled. The impulse to buy the bargain or treasure continued.

My mom, as a young woman, far from home.

But, the sale monies were not coming in. The money had to come from somewhere. My aunt had plenty. My mom didn’t. She blew through her investments. She blew through the money my dad left her. She took out a reverse/equity mortgage on her home (hate the F&%#ing bank for this).

My mom and my aunt traveled together acquiring ever more for the next sale. You have seen pics here of my aunt’s driveway set up for sale….for 8 years. They planned, they bought, they had no sales. They talked about sales. But, they lacked the energy. They lacked momentum. But, of course, they didn’t lack the oomph to get in the car and go buy more!

My mom cubby holed her life, her existence, into a small chair in the basement. A radio, a blanket, a single light, no heat, no life. An exit to the side door out into the world to just be free of the enormous guilt. Free of the smells, the cascading mountains of stuff. Free to buy… to feel good. An addiction was there. She was out of the house. What do you do with that free time once you are out? You go look at stuff. But, you can’t just look at it though, you have to buy something. And, so it went on and on.

I didn’t know this. I was not a diligent son. My mom’s anger was imposing….very imposing. I had angered her so many times before taking a stand. In the end, I back down to keep the peace. I didn’t know until after she died. Then I knew.

And, weeks before she died, I made my way into my aunt’s home to save her life. As she was removed from the home, I steadied the firemen carrying her outside as they walked atop the clutter and stuff that was a trail amongst the stuff. Then I saw my aunt had an issue also.

Two sisters that left home, an abusive home. They left and never looked back. They left a mom, they adored, with an asshole husband. They suffered guilt over that. They went West as teenage girls and made their lives. In the end, with their husbands long passed….the sisters buried themselves in grief and stuff.  


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