September 19, 2013

Hoarding: Moving On & Away. ~ Laura Bock

Adventure, excitement and the thrill of something new—doesn’t that sound amazing?

I am getting ready to embark on such a journey, packing up the scattered remains of a life that hasn’t always been the best and moving away from my hometown in Ohio to my cousin’s home in South Carolina for a new start.

I’ve found that packing for a move of this caliber is difficult to do—allow me to explain. Hoarding runs rampant in my family; I noticed that I was headed down that same fated path. After coming to terms with my “pack-ratting” a few years ago, I swore to myself I would not feed into that disorder any longer.

This past year has found me majorly downsizing my footprint on this planet—from material items such as collections of Batmobiles and action figures to clothing I don’t wear; I am grateful for eBay.

It’s also been a year of lessons for me, with buying.

Years ago, when I first accepted I had a problem with being a hoarder, I started to re-program my thinking. Whenever I would see something I just had to have, I went through the questions of: Do I need this or want this? How often will I use it? Will it just end up collecting dust in storage?

At first, these questions made me look like a madwoman to anyone in my immediate vicinity at a store. I would vocalize the questions and answer myself while looking at or holding the item. These questions are now imbedded in my head permanently and fire through my thoughts on queue whenever faced with a purchasing decision.

I’ve become so good with not spending on frivolous items that I cannot remember a time in the past year that I made a big purchase, aside from a major car repair. I am proud of that fact. I’ve learned to buy the essentials and nothing more; sale and clearance items have no appeal to me anymore.

Packing has been very difficult. I’ve packed many times for a move in the past, but this time it is different. If I were just moving across town, I could have my place packed and ready to go in less than a few days.

My packing has a different theme this time around—I have to figure out what is going with me, what is going to be sold at my moving sale and what is going into storage until I get my own place again. This sometimes becomes overwhelming for me as I tend to over think and have problems with anxiety due to my parents hoarding.

Placing stuff into storage has its own set of issues for me. I feel like I’m becoming just like my parents if I place belongings into storage. I have to constantly remind myself they are my living essentials for an apartment, not junk that one day might be valuable or stuff that I have an unhealthy attachment to taking up that space.

I don’t want to be like my family with stuff—it holds me back from enjoying life. I would rather have $60,000 to spend traveling and making memories than to have a new car that depreciates in time or a house that ties me to one area, encouraging me to fill it up with needless possessions.

I recently went to visit my dad, who was laid up in a nursing home recovering from knee surgery. I haven’t spoken to my dad in years now due to tensions between my mother and myself. I decided to go and see him because it was neutral ground and I wanted to see and talk to him before leaving the area. I also knew my mother wouldn’t be around.

My dad, who is 76 years old, was telling me he still dreams of moving to California, so that he can enjoy the rest of his days being happy, going to Disneyland daily. This has been his dream as far back as I can remember. It’s been impossible to do, due to his and my mother’s hoarding problem.

I urged him to just do it. He could pay someone to clean through and get rid of their stuff. It is sad to think about—I know he won’t get his dream fulfilled.

Life is too short to let stuff rule your life.

So here I am: packing, pitching and ditching, getting ready to leave all this behind me and start living the life I’ve always wanted for myself.

I refuse to allow an unhealthy attachment to material possessions hold me back.

Hoarding has no more power over me. I can only hope that the rest of my family takes a queue from my actions.


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Assistant Ed: Steph Richard/Ed: Sara Crolick

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Laura Bock