September 21, 2010

Hoarding: a Lifestyle in Opposition to Simple Living

I admit it, I do catch the occaional episode of Hoarding: Buried Alive on TLC TV.  I couldn't tell you when it airs, but I can tell you that everytime I watch the show, it makes me get up and dust or vacuum or do a load of laundry.  Something.  Maybe part of this is because (personal revelation, dear reader!) my mother, looking back, was obviously a hoarder.  So was my first husband's mother.  Wow, there's some food for thought.

Me?  I don't hoard.  Maybe living this lifestyle of voluntary simplicity in some way is reacting to that background - that's sounding plausible.  All I know is that organizing and simplifying seems smart and wise and it's a peaceful, joyful life.

Hoarding - The Reasons for It

As a result of the show, and as I pondered this personal connection with hoarders, I did go surfing around investigating hoarding.  I learned hoarding is a compulsion, with both psychological and physical components.  I learned that lots of professionals discuss anger and anxiety as emotions felt by haorders when faced with the idea of throwing anything away.

I'm not arguing with any of that -- from my experience, this all sounds true.  However, from my experience, there's something that isn't being discussed here.  From what I know of hoarding, it's a twisted way of dealing with a major loss.  It's a grief thing.  It's got a depression component and a thread of denial runs through it, but at its core - its a strange way of fighting against loss. 

Why share this with you, Dear Reader?  Because There's Simplifying Lesson Here for Us All

In the process of simplifying your life - be it downsizing, going green, living frugally or living slowly or moving to a one-income household, or expatriating - and there are lots of varieties of simple living, some of those hoarder reactions seem familiar.

There's the stuff.  Stuff you don't want to get rid of, even if you don't need it and will never use it.  There are all those boxes of memories - the kid's school papers, your old college textbooks - that need to be culled. 

Letting go of stuff is hard.  It involves loss.  Simplifying is hard.  There's an emotional component to the process.  It's worth it, but in no way is it easy.  Simplifying your life may not be simple at all. 

God bless you, Dear Reader.

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