Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hoarders - How exactly does that happen?

I felt pretty terrible last week for a few days, did a decent amount of couch anchoring as a result.  Which is weird for me. 

I'm not a sitter.  I'm not much of a TV watcher.  Just in general.  And chances are if the TV is on, it's on iCarly

It seems like it's always on iCarly.

I feel like I know the kids on that show.

Anyway, I actually got to hold the remote for small increments of time, and I got to watch other things.  For whatever reason, I started watching Hoarders.


I know there are people in this world who live that way.  I've known a few of them.  The time that it truly freaked me out was about 7 years ago now.  My doula partner and I had gone to the home of a client and her husband.  We were there to meet with them for their last pre-natal visit, and it was the first time we'd met at their house.


I was a little bit terrified that they were going to bring a baby into that house.  There were pathways throughout the entire visible living space.  Piles and piles and piles, almost all papers and books.

It wasn't unsanitary, there was no trash laying around, the kitchen appeared usable.  But it was certainly the messiest place I'd ever been in. 

We couldn't ignore it, since there wasn't even anywhere to sit.  We didn't want to ignore it.  We felt like we couldn't.

So we didn't.  Both of us looked at each other, knowing what the other was thinking.  Then we asked what they planned to do with the baby.

They both looked at us completely clueless, as if they had no idea what we were talking about.  They were oblivious to the fact that most people don't live that way. 

I guess that is how it happens.  Denial, willed or otherwise, of the fact that it's not normal to live like that. 

One pile gets too big and turns into two.  So on and so forth.  Until your shower is filled with paper towels and your kitchen has boxes of books in it. 

It's not the kind of thing that can happen overnight.

Tom asked me at least once why I was watching the show.  I have to admit that it was making me uncomfortable.  I hate the idea of people living that way, especially people who subject their children to it. 

But it was a good lesson.  A reminder to stay ahead of the chaos. 

I made the kids watch a little bit of it, and they quickly realized why I make them purge their rooms of stuff occasionally. 

One thing I did notice about the people on the show was that they all seemed to be using the material things to fill some emotional void in their lives.  They all found a way to rationalize their behavior. 

In some cases, they were willing to sacrifice their relationships for their compulsion. 

And I guess if you can't see the damage you are doing to other people, nothing will fix it.

I think that was the saddest thing about the show, that so many of them were completely unaware of the real problems, blind to the consequences and unwilling to do anything about it.

It's tragic that we live in a society with so much excess that people can literally become buried and isolated in it. 

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