This used to be the title of my blog.
I changed it for many reasons.
The title was more about what I needed to write about than what I was about or the sum of who I was. When I started this blog, over a year ago, I had no idea who I was so I used the three most significant beings in my life and how I saw them at the time, as my blog title…does that make sense?
Really this title is something I need to write a post about, something I have put off for a very long time. I put it off because I did not really know how to explain it to anyone, I put it off because it is such a raw subject for me that just touching on it causes me to shrink away from it…to hide from it. I am not entirely sure that I can fully explore what it’s like living with a hoarder, especially a hoarder who is in total denial. I also suspect that he has OCD although this is a new realisation and I’m still trying to learn more about it all. I have tried not to make this post sound like I am whinging about my other half. He does have some good qualities, otherwise I would not still be here.
He is a brilliant father for one and our children adore him
He still makes me laugh…sometimes despite myself
and he works really hard to keep a roof over our heads and food on our table…as do I.
That said It’s really not easy living with someone who likes to keep stuff. Often I feel like I have 3 children. I know, I know men can be very much like children I hear it all the time from struggling mums.
But I feel this is slightly different.
I regularly hear “It’s mine”
“that belongs to me, I’m keeping it. You can’t get rid of that broken computer I can still use it” (this is the pc sat under my kitchen/dining table for the last 6-8 months)
” It’s ok I can fix it up and it will save us money. I’ll put it in the shed (We have 3) We can sell that, don’t throw that away” (about…anything)
The Hoarder: “Emma where is that magazine? I have not read it & there was stuff in it I wanted to keep”
Cycling Mummy: “That was from last September”
The Hoarder “but it was mine.”
This is often the same conversation I have with my 5yo over a toy the 2yo took…He is in his late 30’s!
If I move anything or throw them away it causes a huge argument…even if the items I throw away belong to me or the girls.
Last year our dryer started playing up, so The Hoarder headed to the auction to get a new one cheaply. It didn’t work (Durr!) He got a man out to fix it, he found a broken part and gave it to The Hoarder to get a new one…but The Hoarder could not throw away the part the man had given him…I had to do it for him. That broken dryer is still sat in one of the sheds to this day and my dryer has to be kick started by hand to get it to spin!
We have piles of unopened letter near our front door ( I just counted them and there are 76 approx) There are two carrier bags in our bedroom from the months before and a bag in one of the sheds from years ago…they all belong to him. Speaking of sheds we have 3 sheds that are full…one of which is on my patio (wine drinking area) that I managed to get to use for 1 summer.
He hates putting things away. If there is a space then he needs to fill it with something…anything. I love clear empty work tops in the kitchen…he likes to see his stuff .
I see and hear women complain that it’s hard to get the man in her life to help in the house and I also have friends whose partners are so helpful that I often wonder how I can get one. Getting The Hoarder to help in the house is a chore in itself. I can often get him to eventually do the washing up and if forced will put clothes in the washing machine and switch it on. He refuses to put washing up away, or clothes away, even his own. He also has to be forced to put the shopping away. I have often come home from work at 11pm to find the tins and packets on the work bench (which is on top of the cupboards where they live) He claims he didn’t see them there (yes he put them there).
There are elements of OCD to his hoarding and I’m convinced there is a link, despite a lot of my internet search claiming there is no such link between hoarding and OCD…Rubbish! I am continuing this research so that I can learn as much as possible.
He can never drive home in the same way that he went.
This caused havoc when I first moved to this city as it took me ages to figure out where anything was. Every time we went to a friend’s house we went several different ways, we always go home a different way. I could never figure out where I was or got two routes mixed up…so annoying.
Recently we went to a retail warehouse so we could buy washing powder etc in bulk. There are two entrances…he could not drive out the same way he went in as this would not form a circle and would not be right. If this is not OCD then I do not know what is!
I have brought this up with him and he denies having OCD or hoarding tendencies, but did say he has to complete the circle or it wont feel right…like that feeling something is wrong.
Needless to say he drives me to distraction!
If I get rid of any broken toys or unused toys to make way for more around xmas & birthdays I have to hide them at the bottom of the bin or get someone else to take them to a charity shop…if I don’t…he raids them, taking out toys he has to keep for the girls. His step mother watched the girls at her house over night last weekend. When she came home she brought back a small toy house and toy van complete with dolls that I had tried to sell on a carboot sale back in the summer. I don’t remember her taking it…but here is this toy now back in my house and I am convinced he asked her to take it to her house rather than get rid of it…It’s going in the bin now. the same Step mother had a clear out of her cellar recently…guess where most of the tools, bits of wood and odd and ends ended up? This is despite me asking her not to let The Hoarder know about them or ask him to come and get them…especially the huge metal filing cabinate…Why would we need this?
***bangs head on table in frustration***
His family says it is a family trait and they are all like that…but I cant see it in their houses…I see items being used or utilised creatively…I don’t see piles of stuff in their house or areas like my patio being used to home a third shed. Despite this they still talk amongst themselves about my house and the amount of stuff we have. They still buy the girls hundreds of toys and clothes they don’t need and they still buy us other people’s junk from car boot sales that we don’t want and need…but because The hoarder likes his stuff, he will accept it. No matter how much stuff I try to get rid off…I will never get rid of enough to keep up with him. Yet the state of this house will always be my fault and my problem according to them…never his!
I asked him to take a bag if my old clothes to a charity shop, they were in really good condition, but I’m never gonna be a size 10-12 again, so I was honest and ruthless with my wardrobe…he went through each item pulling out ones he thought I should keep and made me explain why I was getting rid of it.
These are just some examples of his Hoarding and OCD behaviours. It is exhausting just trying to fight against him to stop us drowning in his stuff. I have read posts from other blogs and articles on Hoarding and OCD and they all talk about how it isn’t the persons fault, that it is an illness and they simply can’t help it. As a counsellor I would treat a client with total respect, I would not judge them. We would explore their behaviour together in a safe environment so we could reach an end the individual was content with. Living with someone who has OCD or who hoards is very different from counselling them. I am too involved to help him, and as a helper I find this the most frustrating thing of all. That I might actually be part of the problem. That said, until he admits to having these behaviours there really is nothing I can do. That sense of hopelessness is also exhausting. Knowing I have to get up tomorrow and fight through more arguments over materialistic shite!
My mother will tell me to just bag it all up and throw it all out. It’s easy for an outsider to judge our lives to be as simple as throwing something away. It is not her who has to face the backlash of throwing things away. Just putting “junk” in the shed while he is in bed or at work causes huge blow outs. I also have to think of the kids, because at the end of the day it will be me that blows my lid the most as a result of all this frustration on a daily basis and it will be me who walks out with my girls never to look back at this hell hole house again.
This post has been so hard to write. It’s actually the 3rd time I have tried in the last year. I always wanted to explain why I call him The Hoarder and to talk about what it is like living with one.
I am sorry if it is a little self-indulgent rant, but this is the first time I have shared this…to anyone, in so much detail.
It’s theirs…all theirs and there is nothing I can do about it.