An Emotional Hoarder

Monday night I was watching an episode of Hoarders on A&E. It is grotesquely intriguing to get a glimpse of people’s lives in this state of dysfunction. Although it is hard to imagine getting to a point that you wouldn’t even know you had dead animals decomposing in your bedroom, or maggots breeding in your kitchen, it is very real. Many of these families are at risk of losing their homes or even facing losing their children because of the extreme health risks. I have witnessed people either at this breaking point, or possibly on the verge of heading into this darkness. DW and I have also watched Clean House with the kids before, and most of that he thought was staged until I showed him what a Hoarder looks like; he was in shock. 

The thing is, though,these professional clean-up crews and counselors can come in and try to strip the home of as much disease as possible, but the illness still remains intact. The state of the home is really just a reflection of the state of the person’s mental health. Every cluttered room, unwashed dish, rotting meal or unopened purchase is just an emotion left unresolved. Which makes me wonder – how many of us walk around everyday appearing calm, cool and collected, when inside we are battling years of unresolved emotions? Even though some of our homes and personal appearances look normal, inside many of us are emotional hoarders. 

I have definitely been guilty of this at times in my life. In fact, this week I was consumed with emotional baggage I seemed to have still not totally unpacked from my first marriage. Because of these unresolved emotions, I have trouble sometimes really hearing what people say. Their comments take on much larger meanings than I think they intended. For instance: 

What was said: “Besides taking care of your family and exercising, what else do you really have to get done?” 

Although still a ridiculous comment however stated, what I heard was: “Having a clean house and making sure you are physically attractive to your husband should be the only things that matter in your life. Your music and your writing are just hobbies and can’t get in the way of what is really important.” 

Based on what I heard, the last several days have been spent scrubbing toilets, keeping up with every article of clothing possible and cooking healthy meals while my artistic drive was put in time-out. It wasn’t until I introduced myself to someone this week and heard myself say, “I’m a freelance writer and a musician” that I was reminded that what makes me uniquely myself is my passion to create. It also helps that DW asks me everyday, “So, what did you write about today”. He has never once asked me what did I clean today. 

Sunday afternoon I played with the Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra in a special performance showcasing jazz musician Paul Keller and some of his amazing jazz ensemble. The music was written by Paul Keller for us to celebrate our community and it was indeed one of the best orchestra concerts I have ever participated. Not just because the music was well written, but because of the way I felt afterward. My spiritual consciousness seemed elevated, much like a person might feel leaving a tent revival, a reminder that we are all a part of something bigger than ourselves. Sharing myself with a room full of like-minded people, opening up our hearts unconditionally on the stage, is something I wish happened more often. It creates bonds of friendship and respect that would otherwise take years to achieve in most circumstances. All my emotional baggage seems irrelevant in the middle of a performance like Sunday’s. 

A Clean House is a sign of a wasted life
Image by krisandapril via Flickr


I don’t want to be an emotional hoarder. It isn’t any healthier to hang on to unproductive or irrational emotions than it is to live in filth. Mental chaos is still chaos. Perhaps a true sense of balance is a home that is simply lived in and comfortable. There might be some dishes in the sink because I was too tired to clean everything up before bed, but at least our family shared a meal together. Or maybe a load of laundry needs to be folded because I decided to spend some quality time with DW. And yes, maybe I didn’t get that workout in first thing in the morning because I exercised my mind instead. Maybe a house and body that are pristine is just as revealing to the state of a person’s mental health and self-esteem as a hoarder’s environment. 

It’s just more socially acceptable. 

4 thoughts on “An Emotional Hoarder

  1. “…what makes me uniquely myself is my passion to create”. Well said!

    Too often, the stereotype of the “stay at home mom” clouds how others view those of us that are currently cast in that role. I like to step out of that box, and preach to all who will listen, that those hobbies and dreams are what really define you. Only YOU need determine what is important in your life because hey – it’s your life and yours alone.

    Leave the dishes till tomorrow, that’s what I say 😉

  2. to amyblam above: hoarding is an illness..not laziness,however there are,i’m sure,lazy people out there as well who hoard. it’s amazing to me how many people don’t believe psyhciatrists. hoarding is a recognised illnes as is sleep disorders.i’m unemployed and collect total disability because i wake up off and on during the night or don’t sleep at all,if i even have as much as a lunch date planned with someone the next day. naturally when attempting to hold a job,i was nearly hospital bound a couple times.chronic axieties actually causes the sleep disorder.i still get the old “if you have two arms and legs you can do something(mow lawns,paint porches,etc)” from people who attempt to intimidate me over the situation //they choose to ignore the sleep disorder analysis and exclaim it’s all BS ,that doctor’s just want my money,etc/other than the sleep disorder,i’m physically and mentally fine.i was diagnosed in 1980 ,so i’m quite use to this condition and people’s intimidation .I found out(by surfig the internet)that there’s tons of “conditions” out there that keep people either bound or from being employed .conditions and illnesses that i’ve never heard of but yet, are common . btw,bipolar people(manic depressives)also tend to be either hoaarders or equally as ‘messy’/. then again,i’ve know people who “don’t believe that manic depression is an illness and instead believe it’s all in the head (which of course,it really is)or an excuse to avoid obligation.people who believe such things are ‘ignorant’/.same with the’s an authentic and recognised illness./(to pajama days:i bet playing with the ypsilanti symphony orchestra was i’d have been there..too cool!)

  3. I can’t watch hoarders. It pisses me off. I don’t understand how people can be threatened with having their kids taken away and they still can’t clean up. Also, I see where I could have hoarding tendencies but I think it’s mainly due to laziness. I did spend three days cleaning after a particularly scary episode of How Clean is Your House?

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