Tactical Lies & Probable Outcomes: Pushing the Hoarder

Lies. Really never a good thing, especially when you are caught up in them.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave

When first we practice to deceive!

I perpetrated lies upon my Mom and my Aunt in an effort to move them to do something about their hoarding. I hoped that guilt, shame, regret, anger….something would click to move them to cleanup. Of course, back then I did not know the depth of illness that hoarding is. 

The ‘lies’ not that many but: “I saw rats out there as I walked around the corner” “You know all that moisture is a perfect place for snakes” “The neighbors are going to call the County” “Two ladies from the County were here today” “You are going to lose your house”

Actually, all these lies came true. There were snakes. There were live and dead rats and possums. The neighbors did call the City and County for multiple reasons. And, amazingly, I stood on my Aunt’s front porch as two women from a County service agency pressed hard to get in the front door to do a welfare check and of course to forever change my Aunt’s life. I didn’t let them in but it made a dent on her fortress of resistance.

There are some that hoard rats though.

In the end, dead animals and the smell propelled my Aunt into letting me start on the driveway. She was ashamed of the appearance anyway. I had her don a mask and hold open a garbage bag as I slid a rather large, smelly dead possum into the bag. Yes, it was for the effect and it was reasonable given it was her mess and she could share in what her neighbor was sharing….the stench.

My mom was a harder nut to crack. I made progress outside in the yard’s mess, but more by the rodent lies, snake lies and plain arm twisting (no not really that). 

In the end, I am not sure how the hoarding cleanup would have progressed with them both in the picture. Immensely slow and crushingly frustrating no doubt. Having them out of the picture via death (mom) and confinement (injury, care facility, dementia…my aunt) made the exercise easier. 

“I guess sometimes you have to lie to find the truth.” (it will find you) 

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One thought on “Tactical Lies & Probable Outcomes: Pushing the Hoarder

  1. Well, when the truth doesn’t work what does that leave you with? And I don’t think it is lying to tell a hoarder that the inside/outside piles will attract vermin/annoy the neighbors/get you in trouble with the city when in the end, it all comes to pass. But I think hoarders are so immune to the words of others (what could we know?) that truth or lie, they largely ignore what we say. They are convinced that what they are doing is ok, or at least not disturbing to others, so they think that we’re trying to con them out of their stuff. Sometimes I think it takes more than the words of a loved one to make them see the light, so in the meantime, we say what we have to to get them/keep them out of serious trouble, of course, that’s if they’ll listen.

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