What to do with this stuff?
I have a problem. I think my sister in law is a horder. She is a widowed mother. My husband and I are both younger than she is. I know she's trying to get better. She's trying to get rid of some stuff because her house is so cluttered it's become difficult to walk around. Much of the stuff she's gone into debt buying for her child, toys, dvds, books, clothes, etc, but she also buys tons of stuff for herself all the time. The outgrown or old stuff is packed in plastic bins for "safekeeping" in case she or her child needs it for some reason.
She can't bring herself to clear stuff out. I think it's because she's gone into debt paying for it and also it holds some emotional value for her. Recently she had to change the carpet in a room because it was disgusting and causing health problems. She cried for days at the "loss" of the old carpet. She saved a piece for comfort.
She is aware of the problem on some level but rationalizes that she's just a "pack rat". Because of the debt and clutter, I suggested she have garage sales but she flatly refuses because she feels it's beneath her and she won't get enough money to justify her time invested. So, instead, she's been giving little bits of the stuff to people she knows or good will. I guess it's a start but it's hardly making a dent.
Here's the problem, we're among the people she wants to give her stuff to. My husband and I don't want ANY of it. We have said this so many times, yet, in the past she has brought over some stuff for us like patio umbrellas and patio furniture and just left it on our drive. She's brought over bags of stuff for "our children". Now she's suggesting she's going to do it again even though we firmly told her not to.
The even bigger problem is that she buys us junk we just don't want. We've asked her, explicitly told her, over and over and over again, NOT to do so but it keeps coming anyway. Whenever she goes on vacation we get bags of mugs, pens, figurines, picture frames, etc... She's gone to some concerts and brought us t-shirts, programs and whatever crap she can find to buy. She also gives us things "from her child" I think in an effort to guilt us into displaying it or using it. We don't want this stuff, it's trash to us. We don't want it in our house.
It gets worse! I have thrown out some of this stuff, "accidentally" broken mugs, "worn out" pens and thrown them away, "spilled bleach" on t-shirts. I've sold some stuff at garage sales, donated some to good will. We still have lots of stuff left. She expects us to DISPLAY this crap in our home! I have no place on my wall for the Heart (music group) licence plate, nor do I have a place on my car for the Van Halen bumper sticker, nor will my husband or I ever wear the mickey mouse t-shirts or cheese head hats she has given us.
It's not that we're not grateful, we appreciate the thought, but we happily and deliberately lead a simple clutter free life, and we are not interested in any of the things that interest her. We don't listen to the same music, vacation in the same places and we live a completely different lifestyle than she does in every way.
Lately, she is getting more and more upset that we are not displaying the stuff and will often come over and ask about things she gave us years ago. It's like she wants to "visit" the stuff. I am coming to the realization that she did not GIVE us anything, she's expecting us to be more like caretakers of this crap, probably because she doesn't have room at her home. We are not able or willing to be the caretakers. Some of it was bought while her husband was alive and she seems emotionally connected to it in some way. Much of the stuff she's asking about lately was thrown out years ago, before he passed. I've been putting her off by telling her it's still packed away in boxes in our basement (we do have a few boxes left after our move). This seems to satisfy her for the moment but I know the time will come that she will insist on seeing it. We don't know what she'll do if we tell her it's long gone.
I feel sorry for her because I know she goes into debt buying us stuff we don't want and it seems to make her happy in some sick way. She's emotionally fragile and we don't want to make her worse.
So, to sum it up, I don't know what to do with this crap she keeps piling on us because I've now realized at some point she'll ask us to "see" it or why we don't display it. I also don't know what to do with the stuff she's given us and we still have packed in the basement (mainly stuff "from her child"). How do we get her to stop? What do we do with this stuff? What to do about her?
I'm sorry for the long post and thank you for letting me rant about this difficult situation. It's so frustrating.