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I have a confession to make, although it is painful for me to admit. Here goes; I am a hoarder. The television show, “Hoarders: Buried alive”, has scared me to death. Watching the show I see a bit of me in some of the subjects. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those people with piles of garbage in their rooms, or the ones who can’t even throw away rotted food. Instead, I have cupboards and closets that are jammed packed with stuff. Ridiculous things I have kept hold of for years because I couldn’t bear to throw them away.
After watching several episodes I told my husband we had to clean. He was thrilled since he has complained about my hoarding for years. We spent one whole Sunday and cleared out four closets and countless drawers. Full garbage bags were piled at the end of our driveway when we were done, but my closets are now neat and tidy.
From the show I learned there are three types of hoarders.
1. People who hold on to things with sentimental value.
2. People who keep things because they don’t want to be wasteful.
3. People who are afraid if they throw something away they will need it the next day.
I am a bit of all of these types of hoarders. While cleaning the drawers I came upon at least four different piles of birthday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and anniversary cards. There had to be over 100 of them. Obviously I have trouble getting rid of the cards for sentimental reasons. I keep them because for some reason I feel if I throw them away, the people who gave them to will think I don’t care about them. In my kitchen cupboards I had several dozen coffee mugs. There are only two of us, and I am the only one who uses a mug for my tea, but I couldn’t throw the mugs away because I felt wasteful. In the bedroom I found dozens of safety pins and we threw away over 200 hundred wire hangers. It felt wasteful to throw the hangers away although I refuse to hang up my clothes with them, and in my lifetime I will never use all those safety pins.
While cleaning I found several truly sentimental things I was storing; a cuckoo clock from my Grandmother, framed family photos, and beautiful knick knacks from loved ones who have passed away. What is the use of hiding something sentimental away? I pulled those items out, dusted them off and am now using the pieces.
The book, Saving Stuff; How to care for and preserve your collectibles, heirlooms and other prized possessions, by Don Williams, helped me. I guess one of the reasons I had stored away some of my sentimental items is fear of them being ruined. This book teaches you how to properly display your items to have the least amount of wear and tear due to light, humidity, temperature, bugs and human contamination.
Chapters, such as, “ Deciding what stuff to save, give away or toss,” and, “ Saving the stuff only a parent could love,” teach you how to decide what is important to keep. I could have definitely used this book years ago before my closets got so stuffed.
You can find this book and others at your local library. They are ready to help turn your hoarding habits into something useful, practical and fun to have.