How is it conceivable that a multitude of conferences can be held on the issue of hoarding and minimal to NO discussion is done on how hoarding impacts the WHOLE FAMILY?
It seems that the sole focus is on the person that hoards, their wounds, their injuries, their stuff and their need to control every aspect of the hoard. We don’t want to hurt their feelings, or increase their trauma or cause them to re-hoard. These are all valid and necessary points and, yes, we need to continue working on this in a big way. I am glad that there is a focus on hoarding and finally the recognition that hoarding is a diagnosable problem for people.
On the other hand the family members are largely ignored, minimized or told to “fix the problem.” Many have nowhere to turn. No one who can possibly understand the level of trauma and pain they have experienced or continue to experience. Unless you have been there. I am there now with an elderly parent that hoards. If you are reading this & struggling, know that you are not alone. I understand both the #AKOPTH and the #YLITH perspective all too well.
Judgement of the family members is RAMPANT and statements like, “How can you let him/her LIVE that way?!?” put much of the misplace responsibility on the family member. It is statements like these that remind me how most people simply have NO IDEA what they are talking about when it comes to hoarding issues.
When is the last time someone told you to “fix” the alcoholic? The addict? The pedophile? The rapist? How is it that hoarding is supposed to be fixed by the family member of the hoarder? What exactly are they supposed to do to cause their family member to stop hoarding? The thing is that the family member didn’t cause the hoard, can’t fix it and is not responsible for it.
People in active mental health crises and addiction spirals do not care how their behavior impacts other people. This is similar in hoarding situations as well. The stuff is more important than the people.
Their relationships or just about anything else go by the wayside if it doesn’t support their hoarding behaviors.
The hoarding can change if/when that person reaches the point that their pain is greater than their stuff. If their pain point never comes, they may never stop hoarding. There is little that a family member can do if the person that hoards is in denial, doesn’t see a problem and refuses all attempts at intervention.
The first thing to do is take an enormous step back if you encounter a hoarding situation and don’t tell people to “fix” other people. It’s not going to work that way. The only person we can change is ourselves and that’s the place we can start.
As the awareness and the conferences continue; I do hope that more of them will take into account that there are so many more people impacted by one person that hoards. We need a much broader discussion on how growing up in a hoarded home negatively impacts relationships, family dynamics and children’s development. Marriages fail because of “stuff” taking over the house and their lives.
While we needed the research to get to here, that is only the tip of the iceberg. Just as in hoarding, the stuff is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s time to DO something with the research. It’s time to stop sweeping it under the rug.
Too many people are impacted by hoarding. Too many people DIE because of hoarding. Too many kids grow up thinking they don’t matter as much as cardboard and trash. It is time to stop the madness.
It is time to value the people and create win/win solutions.
Tammi Moses is the founder and Chief Encouragement Officer of Homes Are For Living, LLC which is a Veteran Woman Owned & Operated business located in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, WA. She provides consultations, assessments and workshops on the issue of hoarding and inspiring others to take their adversity and use it for the greater good. She is the voice of #AKOPTH-Adult Kids of Parents That Hoard. She is also a voice & advocate for #YLITH – Youth Living in The Hoard. You can connect with Tammi at firstname.lastname@example.org on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.