Wasted Years--never Seems To End

This is my story. Initially I posted it as a response to another member's post. Sorry, I wasn't familiar with the site layout...

I have lived with a hoarder for 25 years, and sometimes I think I have lost my mind as well. It has caused me serious loss of self-esteem. I am completely isolated from other people, can't have anyone over or into the house. I am depressed and, because I am unemployed, can't see any way out. I did not know he was like this when we moved here. (We are just friends who started out sharing a house.) At about 10 yrs in, he began to drink chronically. He was a teetotaler before. And the hoarding got WAY out of control. We only have "pig trails" snaking through the whole house for walking. There is no light in here. We have no tables, chairs, nowhere to sit down or to eat a meal. I live confined in my small bedroom mostly, though we share the kitchen and bath. Recently I started a major project to dig out all my belongings from underneath his years of hoarding on top. I ended up throwing out nearly half of everything I owned because living in all this squalor has made material possessions seem meaningless to me. I found at least four nonworking vacuum cleaners (he has NEVER run a vacuum), ten broken computers and monitors, stacks of various stray boards (tons of them), boxes of frayed wire of various sizes, tons of styrofoam! Nothing useful at all. And he loves to hoard books, though he does not read! Has never read a single one out of all those boxes going up the wall. I believe he is mentally ill and getting worse. His most recently developed disgusting habit is pouring foodstuffs down the TUB in the bathroom! No apparent reason for this. But because I have asked him to stop, he has made a point to do it more often--I think he is seeking a passive type of "control" over life. He does nasty, illogical things like this all the time which I can't explain. During my project, I have been putting out tons of boxes of trash to be picked up. And of course he goes and starts rifling through it all. I have not touched anything of HIS, only MINE. So I take a strong stand when he touches my stuff. Over the years though, I have thrown out at least 5 broken umbrellas. He has brought every one of them back and stored them in the garage. He does not think he has a problem. Over the years, he has bought the house, and I only rent this room, so I have no say in anything really. Sometimes I think I will die here in this rotting house. My whole young life was wasted here. I'm 50 this year.
CAshley2012 CAshley2012
56-60, F
8 Responses Feb 5, 2012

I haven't been to the site in awhile and thought I would post an update today. The hoarder has developed several new quirks over the last year. His latest thing is he will not throw away trash paper. If I leave him a post-it on the kitchen bar saying, "I fed the dog before school" he will read it and leave it sticking there for WEEKS unless I throw it away. (What further good is the tiny note if it only applies to that one afternoon?) If he uses a paper towel for a napkin with his dinner, he will leave all his napkins on the kitchen counter every day until I throw them away. Gross! If he tears the plastic ring off a new jug of milk, he won't throw away the plastic *****! He leaves it on the kitchen counter for me to throw away. It's totally weird (and disgusting). He is also constantly adding to his bag of passive aggressive tricks. The newest one is he installed a new sprayer hose at the kitchen sink (for no apparent reason). The handle will lock down, though this seems a useless concept. He always locks the handle down and turns off the water, so that the next person who turns on the sink gets attacked by this "cobra" hose of blasting water, wildly spraying all over the room! (Real nice when you're either half asleep or just finished getting dressed and now your clothes are soaked.) Last night I was cooking with two uncovered pans on the stove. He goes out to the porch, brings in the nasty dog brush, and starts brushing both the dogs--IN the HOUSE, in the kitchen, right there by my food! Ack! I have never seen anybody brush a dog in the house. I know he did it on purpose. He has also started setting the dryer knob to "air fluff". In that position, it is horizontal and looks the same as "max heat". He does that so I will spend hours going out to check and restart my laundry wondering why the dryer isn't working. Eventually I catch on to all these things and just have to keep a mental list to stay a step ahead of him in every thing I do! It's maddening--which is exactly his intent. It is very difficult to endure feeling indebted to someone who makes me this ill. At least I have less than 8 months left to get my degree! I know I will be stuck here for a few months after I start working again, but I keep telling myself there is a possible escape just a short time away if I can manage to keep myself together.

I have no idea WHY the site apparently put asterisks in for the word s-t-r-ip. ???

Sounds like you are in a lot of pain because of this and I think you're right to want to assert yourself. I'm not sure what the extent of your relationship is to this person, but hoarding is the product of an anxiety disorder, usually exacerbated by traumatic events and/or depression or other illness. It won't get better unless HE agrees to seek professional help. It's unfortunate, but at some point, people that hoard are like addicts and begin to feel that they don't need anything or anyone who tries to separate them from their stuff or their way of dealing with pain. As with anyone who's adapted to a poor way of coping, it will take finding a new way to cope with whatever is bothering him for him to stop. It may be hard, but seriously think about your quality of life and if you want to continue to blame him or get out of there and try to help from a distance. Best of luck to you!

what if you live with someone who doesn't like to take out the trash, puts empty items back in the fridge, throws has piles of trash on the counter, leaves clothes everywhere, won't clean up after their animals and gets super aggresive if you mention any of this... from every conversation i come away feeling as if everything is my fault... i'm 27 and don't want to wait up years from now wishing i'd gotten out. i'm at a crossroads and really need help.

Is it really true that we can't do anything to help the hoarders? Really makes me feel desperate now as I've lived with my husband for over 20 years and only recently realized that he is ill with this problem. I used to think he was just "difficult" but reading about the symptoms, am convinced now he has been a hoarder since childhood. He himself just blames me for being selfish, and says he only collects, not hoards. The last straw for me is close... I don't know what to do anymore. I am so tired of arguing over every plastic bag or useless piece of paper I have thrown away without asking him first!

Housewife53--Personally I don't think there is anything we can do for them. I believe some of them CAN change but only if they want it for themselves. Actually, the situation blew up here last week or so. He had been hiding another giant cabinet thing in his car. When he dragged it into the kitchen I showed him half a room I had cleared for his junk. He asked me where the space came from! Apparently he was totally oblivious to the MONTHS of backbreaking work I had been steadily doing, throwing away everything I own to make room for his constant influx of street trash. And I asked him point blank then, "Would you be willing to consider getting some help?" He exploded and said, "For WHAT?!" He is still convinced there is nothing wrong with him and went so far as to say people are fools for wanting to have social interaction, and to eat at tables, etc. Yeesh. He was very resentful, belligerent, and in deep denial. Normally you cant get a rise out of him with a sharp stick--he is that "uninvolved" in life around him. He said living and dying alone in filth "should be good enough for anyone else." I took it to mean I was not wanted here any longer. I still had no options, and no job, and school was ongoing (2 summer online classes). I tried to move to my sister's about an hour away. (3 people, 5 dogs in one house--me & my dogs in a tiny room) Didn't work out. Had to withdraw from school, and after 2 weeks ended up BACK here in hoarding hell! Augh! I had promised myself I would not come back, even if I died in the woods somewhere. I had even found a campground to stay in. But the weather has been over 100 degrees, and there is no source there for showers or drinking water. Honestly, I returned like someone walking the steps to the gallows. All I can do now is devote every moment to looking for work. But even if I find it (difficult enough in this economy and at my age), it won't pay enough for me to afford my own place. He has said he feels safer with me here. If he would let me, I would even consider putting a small storage bldg out back and wiring it for an apartment. But I know he would not allow it. So I'm just sunk and stumped. I can tell you, if I were in your place and I had ANY way to escape that situation, I would NOT delay getting out!

my boyfriend hates eating at tables too and never comes to any of the parties my friends have and finds reasons to hate most of them. i'm starting to slowly forget the passionate relationship we used to have. in other ways he is amazing. he's really loyal and honest. i feel guilty even mentioning my frustration on a completely anonymous site. i just feel like i need to leave but i feel so hopeless most of the time i don't know how.

I am also in my 50s and live with my husband who hoards and also has disgusting habits. I was brought to this site by my need to talk to some who feels the same way like my life is being wasted. I can't believe this is my life!!!!

Cooperr, I'm glad you found the site. Reading the stories here, I'm sure you will find you are not alone in this awful situation. It brought me great relief reading about others in the same situation. Of course, we are left with the physical reality of our own lives, and it is up to each of us to find a way to solve it. Personally, I am convinced that we can not ever change another person; we can only work to free ourselves from the environment the sick person cannot help but create. :( Saving oneself and being unable to save the other person tends to come with undeserved guilt. I believe most of us would give anything if we could truly help them, but we can't. Therefore, we have to also work to let go of the undeserved guilt. After all these horrible disgusting years, I could not believe my roommate said to me last week that he doesn't think he's a hoarder! OMG! It's pure insanity, and I don't think medical science can really help these people. I am still planning to get out immediately after completing school. Until then I just grit my teeth and practice patience, compassion, and acceptance. (And that ain't easy! I don't always succeed. lol) I hope you will find comfort here.

i understand, my mother in law is a hoarder, i just had a baby and yet throwing out salad dressing that exp. seven years ago is more devastating then the fact her gandbaby has breathing problems from the mold in the house. its painful and it hurts to see some one choose trash over loved ones again and again.

Oh God, the expired food! I know what you mean! The refrigerator here crashed this weekend. I had been telling him for days that the freezer was not making ice in the trays and there was a problem. He ignored me for awhile then started tinkering on it yesterday. It is sort of working now, but all the food was over 50 degrees for several days. I told him it is spoiled but he won't replace it. I'm afraid I'm going to accidentally use something spoiled in there because we both have stuff in the fridge (though I got rid of all mine already--there are still margarine, condiments, sauces, etc.). During the outage, I went to the laundry room looking for my camping ice chest. Discovered he has been secretly stashing very large pieces of desks, etc. in there for weeks and has completely blocked off access to the breaker! It trips regularly. Now if we have a power failure, there is nothing I can do, as I don't want to risk breaking a leg trying to climb up to the back wall in the dark out there. I tried talking to him about this too, but he only gets angry and shuts down. Because I have no relation to him, I really am powerless about the situation here. I'm starting to worry about fire hazards now. I still can't find a job and school starts back full time in June. I am seriously considering living in my tent or in my car. But I am very torn about what to do with my 2 dogs who are my only companions. :(

Thank you, LunarFireFly. :) Money has always been a problem for me. I don't think it has ever been easy for a single female to get anywhere paying rent and other expenses alone, though I avoided roommates most of my life somehow. We had a big lay-off in 2010 at my company. I got unemployment until October of last year which I lived on. At that time I realized I HAD TO get a career--just working clerical jobs would never pay enough for me to live a decent life. So I went back to college on the PEL grant. My roommate, despite his strange mental state, is extremely generous and helpful toward others. He told me to let the rent go and not worry about it. (Of course I am tracking it and still intend to pay all of it, and it is adding UP, which is also a chain dragging down the back of my brain.) So basically I'm living here not "free" but "charges deferred" until after school--how could I complain, right? *sigh* I have 2 more years of school. I have cashed out my pitifully small Roth, used up all my savings. The food stamps office says students are automatically disqualified from benefits. So soon I may be relying on him for FOOD too! Ack! I can't begin to describe what all this does to my mind! :( I feel very much like a life prisoner--who should be grateful. If you can picture that. Despite all this griping, I know I will be ok. Don't ask me how I know, I just do. lol My grandmother always said, "You can't keep a good woman down." haha! I am very glad I found this site where I can share with others who are living through the same nightmare. Somehow it helps, just to not feel so alone! (Another constant guilt/worry I have is about HIM. In this brittle economy, what if he keeps helping me then his job disappears? I think the guilt would kill me. What could I do about any of it?)

Oh, I'm so sorry you are hurting. 50 is still kickin' and getting more fun every day. I wonder if you could find another room to rent? I see you are unemployed and that is not helpful for moving expenses, of course. Set your sights on your new uncluttered future and make your break as soon as you can. So much love to you.