This Is My Garage

This is a shot of my garage from last year. My concern here was that, in addition to blocking the exit door, she had piled boxes up against the gas furnace and gas water heater:

Some time in 2012, I started to change the way I thought about this mess, probably because I started watching Hoarders on TV more..  

My older brother was a confirmed hoarder - he kept hundreds of pounds of old, unread newspapers in my parent's house.  He died a few years ago in his early 50's.  My parents sent me some pictures of his apartment, and it was almost impassable.  He had hundreds of pounds of clothing, CD's (most never opened), newspapers, books, etc.  I'll post those photos if I can find them.

Therapists lump hoarding with OCD, anxiety disorders, and perfectionism.  It's hard to imagine that anyone who is a perfectionist would make a mess like this, but I think that fits.  My brother called himself a perfectionist, but he could never finish anything, maybe because it would never meet his standards.

It's not about laziness.  I consider myself lazy.  When I get mail, I immediately throw almost all of it away.  If I get a bill, I immediately throw out the outer envelope.  Then I throw out the reply envelope (everything is on auto-pay), I spend about two seconds on the pamphlet.  Then I take a photo of the bill with my I-phone, or maybe scan it, and shred it.  In sixty seconds, my mail is gone.

It takes a lot of effort to save your mail for 2 or 3 years.  

That reminds me of a funny story.  My wife gets mad when I try to recycle the return envelopes.  She takes them out of the recycling and saves them to re-use for mailing things.  My brother did this too.  I've suggested that the cost of crossing out all the text, and affixing a new label isn't worth it, since we almost never send mail.  Since the labels are not recyclable, she is creating more waste.  But even if she doesn't use them, she says that the local schools want them, because they use them to mail things.  I haven't been able to confirm that.

My problem is, I then have these return envelopes all over the place, and I think these bills are due.  Also, these envelopes add to the piles, and I am not sure they actually ever leave the house.

I've offered to buy the school a box of 100 envelopes at the dollar store, if she would permit me to dispose of 100 return envelopes in the recycling.  No dice.  I offered to make a $50 donation to the school, in addition to providing them 100 envelopes.   Again, no dice.

Western44 Western44
46-50, M
5 Responses Jan 29, 2013

your garage looks better than mine .my hoarder has 2 old cars, motor bike, broken down fridge ( I'm afraid to open for fear what ill find in it !! ) that he will never have fixed along with bunch of old radios computers ,tools, toys, file cabinet that is full to the brim with papers he has said saved over the last 30 years!! (need i say useless papers) but they have sat there for so long, everything is full of dust and dirt!!! and spider webs!! yuck!

Oh yeah, for getting rid of stuff, there is a need to hide it. Here are the tricks I use: (1) Hiding trash and recycling at the bottom of the barrel just before trash day; (2) For my own magazines that I want to get rid of, I rip them in half before putting them into the recycling; (3) PAPER SHREDDER for junk mail - there is no way the hoarder can tell what has been shredded; (4) Sneaking items out of the house in my backpack, and throwing them out at work, or at the supermarket trash bins.

If I find a bunch of papers on Thursday, and trash day isn't until next Wednesday, I will stuff them into a plastic bag, and hide it under the stairs. Then, next Tuesday night, the plastic bag comes out, and the contents get hidden deep into the recycling bin.

For things like junk mail, where it is possible to argue there is no value, ripping the paper up, or spilling coffee on it if it's to go in the trash, helps too. I find the wife won't save junk mail if it has food waste on it, or it is ripped up.


he has kept every computer he has ever had, i took the liberty of throwing them away lol ! he has no idea how much iv thrown out!! he would go to bed a night and id go through things and like u said, shred things, hide stuff to throw out ! its as if i was a hoarder in reverse .

As an update to my original post, things are getting better. We decided to move to an apartment in a more urban setting about 60 miles away, and I am staying with the house to sell it, and going over for the weekends to have fun.

So I started moving the hoards of junk (old papers, decades of children's toys they don't want, etc.) to the apartment, and going home to my nice (now almost empty) house.

Anyway, either she decided she couldn't handle the junk stacked high in every room, or she really wants me to sell the house and move in, but she has been going through the junk.

I am also taking the opportunity to perform "stealth removal." I find the key is to not throw everything out at once. I have started to think of this like a tax - if I find a pile of old newspapers, and I have to move them to eat, I exact a "tax" of 10 or 15%. That is, I recycle about 1 newspaper in 10.

I keep doing that every time I have to move the piles, so they get smaller over time. Like the other contributors have found, the people with these piles don't actually know what is in them.......

<p>my hoarder cant afford to hoard any more because he lost his job 5 years ago .(cant go out and buy more stuff to hoard)....... so during these last 5 years, iv been throwing the **** out!! </p><p>and he doesn't even miss it!!!</p>

that's what I do too. Be careful to grab things just before trash pick up and bury them in the bags. My hoarder has been known to go through the trash. He sometimes gets really nervous when I'm going to the dump....because he's suspicious that I'm throwing things out. It's really only about 20% of the time, and it's not nearly as much as I'd like to toss...but being subtle is part of what keeps the process going. Does my hoarder miss the items? Absolutely not.

exactly, yes you have to be subtle in our actions to rid of the crap!! i threw stuff out every week for 3 years ! when trash truck can by!! and he has 5 vehicles, and old fridge.

now if i could just get rid of those and a couch that is decades old!!! stained!! cant sit on it!! ur *** sinks to the bottom!!

From my own experience from living with a hoarder I can tell you there is no use in arguing or discussing the areas of the house that are affected by the hoarding. I honestly don't know what the best answer is. I have been living in a similar environment and the psychology of a hoarder can be pretty messed up. I have tried to be supportive, be positive take a proactive approach... didn't work. Then I tried to coach and simply state if we clean up the mess how can I be sure I am not going to have to do it again in a years time? I honestly didn't want to spend all of this time cleaning and power struggles to just be moving junk from one place to a next and not see a resolution. I was met with hostility, anger and verbal abuse. So that approach didn't work either. I have watched the Hoarders show to educate myself on the disorder and that didn't really bring about a lot of clarity. BECAUSE what I think it really comes down to is that the person has to see the mess as a MESS, a health and safety issue... My friends have mentioned that I should get professional help but in my research I have found this to be quite expensive. I thank you for sharing your personal experiences and photos. It is good to know that there are other people dealing with the same kinds of issues.