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.


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.


8 thoughts on “Hoarding’s Love Languages……..

  1. As frustrating as it is right now, I know you will get through this hoarding woe as well. You know how easily these tendencies can pivot from reasonable to uncontrolled and you won’t let yourself go down that path. I have just gone through a needed basement renovation that left us with all the items from there on the first floor, second floor, garage, neighbor’s garage, … for close to 2 months. I too found things I had forgotten about and didn’t dispose of enough items before moving them back downstairs. The annoyance and resolve to not be like our hoarding relatives encourages me to work through the stuff a bit at a time. Some days are better than others – and warm summer days are better spent elsewhere. You will get it done.

  2. annietiques

    First of all don’t attempt to do a clean up in sweltering heat!! Not a pleasant process for anyone involved…wait until the breezy days of fall!

    If I may make a suggestion……draw a floor plan of the garage on graph paper, list types of items to be stored and approximate space requirements needed. Do you have adequate shelving or bins to accommodate?
    Do plan for a great space for your fly tying and fishing gear (maybe the shop behind the garage), this space has always intrigued me.

    You know these rules!!! Sort into piles of like items, choose only one or two of each to keep. This rule holds for all category’s, tools, garden supplies, camping, fishing, etc.

    This is the first time you are working with your own “stuff”, previously it belonged to either your Mom or your Auntie. You can do this…..when the time is right and your head is into the game!!!!

    You and your wife have accomplished so much over the past five years….you will accomplish this too I have no doubt!!!

    1. So sorry for delay! Didn’t see it. Oh the heat has thwarted my self imposed one month deadline. I am about 85+% done and done pretty darn good at sorting. I had to tear into the shop behind the garage and that really brought me up short in the heat with mildew I came across in the cupboards and closets back in there. Mask in the high heat has been impossible for me. So puttering along until cool down in the next weekend (low 80’s)….There is a lot of ticky tacky stuff that has gone bye bye and a realization that I have one hell of a lot of fishing stuff! But I am fairly happy with storage, placement and future workstations. Hope you are well!!! Hugs

  3. Jenny Islander

    If you still have the sentimental pile, it might be time to start a photo album. Actually the quickest way might be a camera. Could you pick up each item, hold it up for a good view, and tell the story or emotion that is attached to it? If keeping these precious memories in relatively fragile electronic storage makes you nervous, you could print a frame of the best shot of each item later, then transcribe and print each story, to make your own memory book. Then the items could be donated. And be sure to keep the book in a safe place, because little essays about homely objects can be really interesting to future generations. Actually that’s the kind of thing historians drool over. Do an image search for “Schwarz Book of Clothes” sometime. Matthaus Schwarz was a commoner who started making good money in the 16th century, so he bought clothes on the cutting edge of fashion. He didn’t keep the clothes, or if he did they didn’t survive, but he had himself painted in every outfit he liked. Very few intact garments have survived from this period, so Schwarz’s little book is an awesome source of information about what the new middle class was doing. Imagine future researchers coming across your explanation of why a child’s photo is blown up on a wall hanging, long after people stopped doing that.

    1. Ah you are clever Jenny! Not a bad idea for sure. And, I realize probably no one in my family would really care about the actual item itself. Thanks for the brilliant idea!!!

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