Sunday, March 31, 2013

Some salient points have been reinforced of late

To those that celebrate Easter, Happy Easter!  Today I spent the day recharging myself, spending time with the 2 most amazing cats (my furry family).  This weekend I took a large part of it off, and although I will have a large price to pay over the next month, I needed these three days ... to only do what I wanted, needed, had to do. 

I reconnected with some friends that I have sadly neglected due to my crazy work schedule the past few months... and I am working to once again achieve balance.  I am really working to move past the 'all or nothing' or perfectionist perspective that I was indoctrinated with by my hoarding mother.  I have a huge list of things that I have a deadline for at work.  And I will get them done.  I should have 'deep cleaned' my apartment (although it is company ready now!) and went to the grocery.  I did not.  Because this weekend, self care was the priority.  And reconnecting with those most important to me... my family of choice.

Now- bear with me, this may be a bit a long and twisty, but...  In the past few months work has been demanding.  Lots of lobbying, advocacy, new staff, and all grants are due for renewal... plus 2 events coming up and ... you get the picture.  I have worked crazy hours, worked every day, and let my life get out of balance.  Somehow I have drug myself to the gym 3 times a week, but it was a fight.  Happily, I am 92 pounds down, and 21 lbs from goal.  Only 8 from a calculated BMI of 25.  Through all of this, although I am an introvert and enjoy my own company, I felt isolated.  I was isolated.  By my own excess... (work).  And to that end, I thought about the isolation my hoarding mother imposes on herself.  About her inability to see things from another perspective, to be part of her own (or anyone else's) solution, to set achievable goals that are set in reality, and to accept responsibility/be accountable for her own life.  Not that I am perfect.  Obviously I am not. 

I spoke with some other COH's online this week, and have lurked in the online support group.  On top of that, speaking to my mother, highlights the true sickness, the narcissism, the addiction of hoarding.  To her and many, if not all, hoarders- their overarching coping mechanisms focus on the abuse of power and control.  Within that framework, several things are relatively consistent with most hoarders, if you can dig deep enough.  They are:
  • Narcissistic and manipulative parenting
  • Lack of empathy or compassion 
  • Extreme rigidity
  • Lack of boundaries and limits
  • Refusal to look at data in a holistic way that would result in a reasonable conclusion
If you were so motivated to look back at the 40-something posts here on this blog (if you are a complete masochist), you would be able to group them into these categories.  Much of my posting has been on the horrendous things that come out of her mouth, and her refusal to see things from any other perspective than her own.  I see her constantly revising history and her rumination and negativity as stemming from the above. 

It appears to me that the life of a hoarder (especially one as close to the utterly dysfunctional/abusive end of the behavioral continuum as mine) is both full and empty at the same time.  It is empty of the things that most find rewarding... like reciprocal friendships, evolving and loving relationships with family, activities that bring joy to them and others... the list could be huge.  What the hoarder's life is chock full of, other than useless stuff, is bitterness, anger, and fear. 

That is simply so sad.  I heard a statistic from a respected hoarding researcher that less than 7% of those who receive therapeutic intervention for hoarding show any sign of substantive improvement.  And more frighteningly... there is a 100% failure rate on curing it.  (Now, I have an email into the person citing these stats so I can annotate/cite them correctly).  That tells me that to date, the current way of treatment is an utter failure.  This, in my mind, would be like working with the perpetrators of domestic violence and asking them gently about the times they used power and control, and asking them to maybe not use a baseball bat on their significant other, but to just punch them.  And the family?  Sorry!  If you are not willing to submit to the continued abuse, you are obviously part of the problem.  Is this a harsh analogy?  Yes.  Exaggerated for effect?  Yes.  Accurate nonetheless?  YES.


  1. I have to "chew" on this. I believe 100% failure is correct though. I'm trying hard to find a success story in my own past.

    I'll be back later to re read this.

    Excellent post.

  2. The "full and empty" statement has stuck. I think you are dead on! I'm now wondering if the treatments are focusing on emptying one side (the stuff) instead of filling the other side (relationships).

    The hoarding isn't the disease. The hoarding is a sign of the disease.

    Still pondering.

  3. Lisa:

    I continue to hope that what we, and those studying hoarding, are learning will result in a more successful outcome for everyone. For those that hoard, for their families, for those in the communities that must interact with them... I continue to hope. Will it be in time to help my mother? No. Even if a cure was found this second. Was a simple pill, with no risk and no side effects... she would choose to not accept it.

    I still hope though. For everyone else, and all the kids growing up in the shadow of the hoard. I do not ever want another child to go through what many COH's experience.

    And we fight on. Thanks for hanging in there!