So I am going to look at hoarding from the perspective that handling this issue is largely an inside job. Another words, cleaning up the environment, the home, the shed, the house or the property is basically only dealing with the tip of the ice berg. That is why if the cleanup is conducted in a sneaky fashion, the person who hoards will revert to that behavior, no matter what location they may be in. If the cleanup isn’t conducted at all and the person moves to a new home, apartment, friends home it is also likely that the hoarding behavior will continue.
If true authentic, change is to occur then we need to start approaching this in a different way, as people, as friends, neighbors and family members of people who hoard. We need to change up how we approach the children of hoarders, the spouses and family members of hoarders.
There are a number of “victims” in these scenarios, including the person who hoards and the people in their life that are impacted by it. Telling the hoarder to “clean things up” will not work. The attempt to shame the children into cleaning things up isn’t a viable method either. In many cases the person who hoards had severe loss, grief and trauma in their lives. This is carried on to their future because the trauma hasn’t been dealt with. So this then traumatizes the next generation as well.
As a child of hoarders myself, I was told often to “clean up the mess” by well meaning (??) people who didn’t understand the issue at hand. Hell, I didn’t understand the issue at hand as a kid! But what I did understand was this, moving stuff = confrontation, yelling, crying and in general an increase in chaos. So I purposely avoided doing anything that would yield a loud, messy confrontation.
While this was a survival mechanism then, it did not serve me well in my young adult life nor in the abusive marriage I endured and ultimately, thankfully ended after 15 years. I didn’t believe that I had enough value to be treated well. This is sadly a theme for many children who grew up in hoarded homes.
My mission is to raise awareness about hoarding and how it impacts people, families and communities. It is my belief that not one more person should die buried in their homes because we do not know how to help them. It is my belief that not one more kid should be held responsible for their parents hoarding behavior.
What I know is if you see something, say something! But please temper it with kindness and a real heart to help and suspend judgement of the kids-they didn’t cause it and more than likely they can’t fix it. And that includes the Adult Children of Hoarders as well.
Tammi L. Moses
Homes Are For Living, LLC