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A new, sad film...

Posted by quiltglo (My Page) on
Mon, Aug 28, 06 at 16:42

I know we've discussed the "isles of piles" and I am one who grew up with that. While I've always felt the inablity to edit belongings was a learned skilled, I can't quite wrap my brain around how it decends into mental illness like the mother in the link.

This is really sad and I'm not sure how this is happening in our society. I know we are just really starting the realize that it exsists. Since I've been trying to learn more about hoarding, the pain of the children who grow up in these conditions is a new area for me. I know I've always felt resentful about the amount of stuff in my mom's home and her inability to teach me even the basics of home care, but this is different level all together.

Gloria

Here is a link that might be useful: My Mother's Garden


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: A new, sad film...

Gloria,
It looks like a new phenomena because t.v. cable shows like "Neat" and "Clean House" go in and organize, and its amazing to see all the junk people are attached to. I have seen it in homes with children but not as often as with the elderly. It isn't that the hoarding descends into mental illness--the mental illness often causes the hoarding. Sometimes manic episodes promote a buying spree and then they don't want to throw any of that stuff out especially if its never been worn. Collecting junk is a different set of problems. Sometimes I am court appointed to visit people in their homes, and piles of junk is what I see more often than not.
I always admire the wonderful organizing ideas you have especially for getting the kids off to school. I wish I had known about it when my kids were little. Organization is a learned skill--and you have learned it and you teach it.
\ I suspect your Mom grew up during the depression and WW II, people were encouraged to save bacon grease (supposedly they made amunition out of it) they saved aluminum foil in huge balls. Kids had postal savings accounts and they got stamps they had to save. They saved paper for paper drives, blue stamps for prizes. Now we are told that we should save old memorabilia because you could sell it on Ebay. Its a miracle we aren't all hoarding garages full of junk! Wait till your kids get bigger--they want you to be the repository for lots of their stuff.

The best thing that ever happened to me is that it rained on a lot of stuff when we remodeled and took the roof off.


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I watched the trailer. It certainly is very sad, but I think I'd like to see the film. Was she better off after her children cleared everything out? Yes and no. But they had to do it.

My 72yo mother has ALOT of stuff, but it's all clean and "contained" as she would say. In fact, I think her hobby is putting things in containers. She actually thinks it will be fun for my sister and me to go through her apartment when she dies because she has so much good stuff. When she told me that recently I was too speechless to disabuse her of the notion.


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My husband has an aunt whose home is so packed with stuff that she no longer lives there. She lives with her sister. She claims she lives with her because her sister has a health problem, but I really think it's also because she cannot find room in her own home. A decade ago she lived there with her mother (who died shortly after), and even back then she was sleeping on the couch because her bed was piled high with stuff. It's not filthy like on this show, but she loves to go to garage sales and Goodwill and buy lots of stuff.


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My MIL was very neat and clean, you wouldn't know from her house. It was always beautiful and neat,but her attic and bedroom were stuffed with clothing, papers,etc When she died, her 2 daughters cleaned out the home to get it ready for sale. They found everything neatly stashed and organized. They found every household bill she ever had, bank books from banks that closed years earlier (the accounts were closed and moved to other banks). They found bills from the 1950's, all neatly sorted,stored and organized.


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RE: A new, sad film...

Marge, those of us with Southern roots in cooking still save the bacon grease! (Don't tell anyone, but my bowl is on the second shelf in the fridge.)

You're right in that my mom was a pretty typical depression era kid. Actually a teen. My parents were married in 1936 when she was 18. That's why I feel so much of our family behavior has been learned, not pathological in nature. I also think that's why I've been able to fairly easily relearn new behaviors.

I've been in two houses like the trailer. I did work with a Social Worker for a high school class and we went into an apartment where you I was told not to touch anything and not to sit down. When ex-DH and I bought an old house one time, there were actually squatters in the house. After they left (and just left the mess of course), we had to back a truck up and shovel the crud out and actually hose down the floors to try and loosen the muck. In both places, there were infants and small children. I really can't image how they functioned.

On term I've learned from the reading I've been able to do, is that people who hoard often "churn" in the stuff. That's my mom. She moves the piles from place to place, adds new piles, and then, moves them some more. My master's is in Social Gerontology and this is one thing I'd really like to explore in the area of seniors. I'm not sure how I'll go about doing that. We've got to have people with the same problems here.

Gloria


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My friend told me a funny,true story. She moved from house A to house B. Somewhere along the line,her husband couldn't find his pipe. Then they moved to house C. While unpacking boxes, she found the pipe. The box was packed in house A and moved to House C, never unpacked at house B.


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RE: A new, sad film...

That is a very touching film.

I wonder though, if a gentler approach might have been less traumatic for the family?
From article linked below:

...Landlords and families have long favored a simple line of attack when it comes to hoarding: Get rid of everything -- as quickly as possible. But professional organizers, cleaners and senior movers like Ms. Bergfeld are now embracing a go-slow approach. They gently weed out actual trash and save what matters most to their clients. The goal is to make older people's surroundings safe enough so they can remain in their homes, yet keep the familiar...

Here is a link that might be useful: Helping hoarders reunite with buried possessions


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RE: A new, sad film...

Good link, andj. I think the big difference between the two hoarders is that one has entered a mental illness and the hoarder in your link was able to be an active participant in understanding the need to clear out the stuff. The first lady was also living with no utilites. I can see how her living conditions had become dangerous and with the authorities involved her kids didn't really have all that much time. I don't think she would have allowed them to remove items slowly. Remember how she was yelling for them not to be hanging over her head?

Gloria


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This whole thing reminds me of my Mom's neighbor, Mrs.H. Although she owned her home, she had very little income. Her house was not too clean (the dog didn't help), but she was not a clutter hoarder. She hoarded food, with meat trays piled high in the refrigerator, of course rotting and smelling. Someone discovered this, and in the early '50's she was sent to live with a cousin, who was as old as she was and really could not take care of her. When she died, the lawyer asked my Mom to conduct a house sale, which she did. Mom wouldn't even let me or my sister in the house until she and the garbage man had cleaned out the kitchen. He threw up in the back yard.

From letters left behind, we found that her living hand to mouth started in the '30s. Letters from her "rich" friends in New York (who were no longer rich because of the depression) said they could no longer help her. This is so sad, and makes me wonder about how to help people. She wouldn't let my Mom in the house beyond the entrance hall. I think it must be very hard to help people who are so proud and try to hide how they live, and find it hard to accept help from people who are not old friends.

So now I have to take a good look at myself. I've been in this house since 1956, with things inherited from my gggrandmother, my other grandparents, my Mom and Dad, old family friends, my sister, my students, and yes, even Mrs. H. I am beginning to get rid of things, but only those that don't trigger fond memories for me. It takes me about a month or 2 to grit my teeth and toss something. My DH is worse. So there are a lot of us out there still hanging on to "stuff". Hope I'll manage to declutter before I die.


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Wow, that's quite a film. I sure hope the mom could get treatment for whatever problem she had.

Scary. How fine is the line between "collects junk" or "can't throw out stuff" and a true mental illness?


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I understand why the kids had to do it the way they did- the same symptoms that cause the hoarding behavior are what make it impossible for these people to let go of things - they suffer acute anxiety over throwing away a paper clip because they may need it someday, or they may be able to sell it someday, or someday someone will ask them for one etc. Going into that home to "help" their mom clean would have taken YEARS and YEARS with that kind of indecision over little things. Of course these so called "professional organizers" want to take the gentle approach and do it slowly - they get paid a ridiculously high amount of money by the hour. The kids were right to do it the way they did.


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Anyone notice that if you're totally disorganized and cluttered and live in a pigsty, people think you're mentally ill. But if you're the opposite... organized to the extreme, people still think you're mentally ill. In order to be sane we must find a balance between pig sty and level 10 clean room and strive for mediocrity in our organization efforts or one day you might have a film crew show up at your door.


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quirky, I don't think you get the point, but actually you make a good point. Each end of the spectrum is mentally ill, in my opinion. Neither can live life without extreme anxiety. Kids shouldn't have to try and grow up in either extreme.

Gloria


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I got the point, my quirky repartee was simply veering off topic as they sometimes tend to do amidst the fortuitous sarcasm and banter.


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My MIL and FIL have a 4 car garage that you can JUST squeeze one car into. Plus under the house holds such treasures as my now 30 something yo DH's BROKEN toodler trike among the row after row of labelled corridors of junk and 'might be useful one day' items. The house has alot of stuff too. Not to the totally weird point, but still, not spare inch is free from collections.

I know I am just mean, but I have bluntly told the lot of them that God forbid they die in a car accident I WILL NOT be helping clean the property.

Em
Penny drops: I wonder if it's hereditary? Hence my laziest daughter in the universe!?! OMG!


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There was an episode of Wife Swap recently in which one woman was a professional organizer and the other was a near-professional slob.

They both seemed a bit on the edge, in you know what I mean.

When I was growing up, my parents held on to stuff like twisty-ties (entire drawers full of them) and plastic dishes left over from TV dinners. I used to wait until they went on vacation and then fill dozens of garbage bags with all of the junk. They never even noticed it was gone.

As a result, I constantly pare down my possessions and get rid of stuff.

And, my parents are Boomers, not Depression-era...


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Bad thing is...we Boomers were raised by Depression era parents. That's why I still think for some of us, it's learned behavior. Once I realized that I was turning into my mom...that was enough to send me searching for a different way.

Em--not selfish at all to not want to clean up the mess. Not all of us have the luxury of being hands off. Hopefully, your DH has some siblings to help. My brother is pretty much of the mind that it's "Mom's stuff" but I can tell you come clean out time, it's going to end up my problem unless we want to trash the entire apartment. I would like a few of the pictures and things like my grandmother's wedding dress, so I guess I'll be digging.

Gloria


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I avoided looking at the movie trailer for a long time. Yesterday I finally saw it. Very touching. Very troubling. My house is full of "piles" of stuff I mean to get to, to sort through. My children are still teens. Occasionally one will toss everything in the garbage. I go nuts for a while. Sometimes I go thru the garbage,looking for "valuable" stuff she threw out. Last time she threw away my older daughters drivers license appointment letter and my dog's medicine. They looked like paper trash. Last month she threw out all my magazines, there must have been about a hundred. Hey, I never finished reading them! I grabbed them all and stuffed them in the trunk of my husband's car. He discovered them and ordered me to remove them, so they're back in the house in piles yet again. Back to the movie, I resent the notion that every person who has clutter is mentally ill with OCD. Yet I do get very edgy when someone tosses out all my stuff. I had a bag of Christmas decorations in the garage, including a ceramic Christmas Nativity set I had collected over a period of years. MY DH thought it was a bag of garbage, he set it out on collection day and - zap-it was gone. I still miss that set. I know the answer to my clutter is to just go through it. I know 80 % is junk and only 20 % has real value. BUT "I" want to be the one to make those decisions.


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"Back to the movie, I resent the notion that every person who has clutter is mentally ill with OCD." This poor woman is way past anything which could be defined as clutter. My mom doesn't have OCD, but your post, jannie, quickly sent me back 35 years. Anything I write is a reponse about my mom, not you.

We were teens before mom's house got really out of control. At that time I could not have articulated how it affected me. Your family's behavior of trying to get rid of the clutter is letting you know it is now to the point it interferes with their comfort and functioning. I don't think trying to get rid of trash is them being overly neat.

From a daughter's point of view (and remember my mom has never gotten to the point like in the movie) growing up in that mass of clutter has definately had lasting negative effects. Everything was difficult. Everything. Need a copy of a birth certificate? Can't be found in the piles and piles of paper, so we have to send off for a new one and weeks later I can finally get a drivers permit. Important papers are mixed in with junk mail. Checks lost forever. Birthday check from a relative? Forget it, my mom will put it in her wonderful piles so she can deal with it "when she gets time." I'm that messy kid at school with the desk full of papers. I knew it was a problem, but I didn't have a clue of what to do differently. That's how my mom did it!

Chronic embarrassment. My friend's homes didn't look like ours and we all knew it. Love me, accept me how I am? Didn't make it a lick easier as a kid. I didn't know what to say and neither did my friends, so we always went to their houses. Because you can't come in and sit, you always had to move a pile. Something as simple as walking up the stairs is a lesson in hopping over piles. Clean clothing. Sure, somewhere in those mountains, but now you better have time to find the iron and make it look nice.

Company coming? The hours spent shoving this clutter in paper bags and carrying it to the basement, to never have it come back up again. Repeat the process as needed since my parents did have many friends and we had frequent company. Lose everything in the paper bags of clutter. Basement floods every year and paper bags of clutter must get gone to make way for new paper bags of clutter. Piles and piles of Good Housekeeping, Women's Day and Family Circle with great ideas for "when she gets time." I guess the time never came. The incredible waste of time and energy on stuff--as we are still trying to go about our daily lives. There was always work with this clutter. Always some crisis with this clutter.

Always late, because we can't find what we need. Always late. I thought it was in my genes. Getting through college was a real stuggle because I knew nothing except to pile stuff. Papers, clothing. My poor roommates who laughed at me trying to dig through that crap to find my notes for a test. The same kid with the messy desk is now spread over any flat surface. I really don't know how I made it. I know now, it took ten times the amount of effort for me than other people.

Later, one mom and one small kid. How hard can it be? It was hard for me! I didn't know how to edit the stuff coming into my apartment. I didn't know a way to do laundry other than letting everything get dirty and dealing with a mountain. My friends would say, "just do it!" How? I didn't know. Never heard the term organization other than as an excuse to get barrels to put stuff in or something to do "when I get time." Of course, when you live with tons of clutter, there is never any time. And it's all just too much. Easier to read a book or watch TV because you know you'll do it "later." But I didn't want that cluttered, messy home so I spent enormous amounts of energy trying to manage my clutter and clean.

Now, that I've been able to learn how to manage a home, time, and stuff I could sometimes just weep. My children do things so easily, compared to the effort it took for my brother and I to function in a home of clutter. Clutter sucks the life out of you and your relationships. My mom views herself as fun loving with lots of interests. It wasn't fun. It wasn't interesting. And now, at 88, when she could previously manage things like cleaning the bathroom, we have dirt piled on top of clutter. Decisions based on clutter. She wouldn't move to a really nice apartment with those help buttons in the bathroom, because she needed to deal with this stuff before she could make decisions. There wasn't room, she said. No, not for that clutter. Only for her to live, not pile.

I moved away 15 years ago and have only been back once when my dad was dying. I spent those last few days of his life doing the only thing I knew to do. Piling the stuff in bags and taking it to the basement because company would be coming. I couldn't get far, because there was only a path to the washer/dryer, but that's what I did. We could well afford for me to fly back there a few times a year, but I cannot...cannot...cannot. I feel very guilty, as the daughter, that my mother is living like this.

But really, it has always been her choice. She controlled us with her clutter and chaos. Now, clutter is controlling her end lifetime decisions. Not being close to grandkids. Not activities or qualtity of life. That clutter, which she was always going to get to, needed to go through, when she has time. I know she always had good intentions. It's just rather ironic that she always told me the way to Hell is paved with good intentions.

Maybe I can help other people, since I certainly can't help my mom.

Gloria


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That is really touching Gloria. I think people forget about the children. Sometimes I talk with the adult children of an elderly preson who has had some lifelong issues with clutter or mental illness and you realize how the attention is on Mom and nobody realizes the effect on the kids. In some of our probates the houses have to be shoveled out with everybody wearing masks.
My Mom and Grandma weren't quite as advanced into Clutterville--but enough. when I went away to college and lived in the dorm--the director came over and apologized for the fact that even though I paid for a 4 person room they were going to have to give me a single room. I can remember thinking OMyGosh this is just for me. Nobody gets to put anything in it. I didn't have the money to buy fancy curtains, etc. but that wood floor was well scrubbed, and so was the closet.
One of the nice things about these forums Jannie is that you can see somebody else's point of view. Gloria has the best stories, I always enjoy them. She should be writing a book and weaving them all together. It would be the sort of book Oprah likes.


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Gloria, a fascinating perspective. Your reminscences inspired me to clean up a nagging pile of papers and file everything away last night, BTW. :)


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My friend Eve lost both her parents within a few months. She's an only child. She had to clean out their apartment. It was chock-full of collectibles. She had a terrible time sorting thru things, especially doing it alone. I vowed then I would never leave a mess for my kids. Monday I am going back to organizing. I will be merciless.


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Wow, Gloria, the paper bag method of clean-up. I thought my mother invented that. I admit I've fallen into it, myself, a few times.


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I've just started reading this message board because we just moved back into our house after a several month renovation and I'm determined to NEVER allow things to get to the same state they were previously -- cluttered, cluttered, cluttered -- and I honestly have no idea where to start.

And then I read Gloria's note above. I could have written nearly every word of it. I, too, grew up in a house of clutter and suffered many of the same embarrassments. But rather than live and learn from it as you have, I seem to have "inherited" the same issues and turned them into an art. While my mom and dad were serious clutterbugs, my mom was also extremely conscientious of her house, or others' perspective of her house, and she could work like a horse to keep up the appearances. Most of my mom's friends never knew the extent of their clutter until she became terminally ill and was forced to allow people into her home without benefit of performing the "white tornado" act beforehand.

Mom was the type that would let things go for a while, then would stay up all night getting things "company ready". I've never met anyone who could stay up and work like she did. And she always found it easier to do it all herself late at night, rather than assigning many chores to my sister and me. As a result, I never learned how to maintain a house. My mom never cleaned in a routine, maintenance-type way -- it was always a herculean, cleaning blitz that looked overwhelming and impossible to me.

Although I'm a nightowl, I simply don't have it in me to stay up all night. So my clutter never really gets cleaned up. And now I fear, well, I guess I KNOW, that I am creating a home environment for my family much like Gloria described. Somehow the house never quite gets totally cleaned up. Stepping over, sorting through, moving and creating new piles has been a way a life for me. And now my kids, DD10 and DS8, have no idea how to clean either. In fact, they are rather indignant on the rare occasion that I ask them to do something like make their bed. I should mention that DS has ADHD, which makes life pretty challenging (he can be very, very, VERY difficult); in learning his diagnosis, I also learned that I have ADD as well, which allowed a lot of puzzle pieces of my life to finally fall into place.

Now that we just increased the size of our house to a more normal size (it was VERY tiny before with minimal storage or closets), I have no excuse -- no excuse whatsoever. So I have slowly, slowly been working on changing the behaviors that I've had all my life before I create another generation of disorganized people. I've made some great strides, but I have OH so far to go. My main hoarding issue is books and magazines -- ESPECIALLY magazines. It is a true sickness and has been nearly impossible for me to change, despite several years' of attempts. My DH is furious because we literally paid movers to move maybe 30 moving boxes full of magazines -- both to and from our rental -- and now they are back in our attic. It seems more difficult for me because I actually do read them and use them very regularly -- they don't just sit somewhere never to be seen again. It's a form of recreation to me and a huge source of inspiration, both personally for my house, and professionally for my job. I can't seem to let go of the notion that there is something really great in there that I could really use -- someday. I see the folly in that, and yet have felt powerless to stop it. I can feel, though, that I'm really approaching that bottom of the barrel where finally even I'VE had enough and become disgusted enough to do something about it.

Oddly enough, I'm not that way about much else -- clothes, "stuff", etc. I can let go of easily. I have no idea where the magazine obsession came from.

Hopefully, I will continue to make headway, and this thread certainly helped with my perspective.


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Welcome handust. We're glad to have you here.

Think how those magazines are impacting your personal relationships. Are they more important than the DH? Are they more important that the financial gains if the money hadn't been spent on buying, moving and storing those magazines?

Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui talks about the "whys" of our clutter. Magazines represented creativitiy to my mom. The future holding promise. The "someday" house which will be pretty and decorated. It represented the future and if she got rid of them, I guess she felt like her dreams would die.

My DH has a problem with books. He was a fat kid who wore glasses and a hearing aide, but he was smart. The books represent "smart" to him and smart people have lots and lots of books. Over the past few years, we've been able to talk about how he gets lots of other reinforcement for being smart. The fact that his clients write him a check for his services is good reinforcement. The books which have been read and aren't needed for his work have been leaving the house. He still has a room full of books, but he actually uses all of them now.

Maybe if you can do some soul searching on what the magazines and books represent to you, you may be able to begin replacing them with more meaningful solutions.

Gloria


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I came back to visit this forum because we are considering building a house and I was looking for ideas for organization. But I really enjoyed all the stories so much. I like seeing into other's lives and reading about the insights into why we do what we do. I'd really like to share mine.

My name is Val and I am a recovering neat freak. I don't think my cleanliness had become an obsession, but it DID affect my life and the lives of my older kids. I have 4 children, 25 yo twin sons, a 15 yo son and an 8 yo daughter. I spent the first 8 years of my older sons' lives devoted to keeping a clean home. I vowed NOT to make the same mistake with my younger kids. To think of all the wonderful memories lost to cleaning. I could have had a reasonably neat, clean house AND spent more time at the library and playground.

How did that happen? My mom left when I was about 11. She just found it easier to do everything herself, rather than have us do chores (and in the process, teach us how to clean.) So when she left, dad (who missed his calling as a drill sergeant) had us (my 2 year younger sister and I..the 3 older kids were gone) do almost all the cleaning. Except we didn't know how... I can't tell you how many times we were called slobs, pigs, lazy, etc. So I spent the early years of my adult life trying to prove him wrong. Getting older and the process of learning what things really matter in life eventually cured me of that. I still can't stand mess, but it's not going to keep me from reading to my daughter or having a great talk with my 15 year old.

But in retrospect, I can thank my father for many things. My work ethic, my determination to do things right the first time, (being made to do things again and again until you do a good job will enforce that:) and the ability to throw things out you don't need anymore.

In a strange twist of fate, this has led to a bone of contention in my marriage. Where I was taught all of those things by my father, DH's mother taught him that half-a$$ed is plenty good enough. In 21 years together, I have never known him to do a truly good job at cleaning anything. I have a constant inner battle to point this out or just let it be. Usually I just let it be. He has plenty of other good qualitites that out-weigh the bad.

I guess my post about suggestions for my mud room area will come later, but thanks for letting me share:)

And for you folks struggling for organization and making your lives easier and less complicated ( I am among you)...remember that your loved ones are what matter most!


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Oh my goodness. What moving thought provoking stories. We are also building and will be moving in another two months. When we sold our house last November, we had to move into a much smaller house temporarily during the building process. Am now in the process of needing to declutter. When we moved so fast after the sale, lots of "treasures" got packed and moved into this small house to be used partly as storage for boxes, i.e., two bedrooms and the garage. I must admit, I have always gotten very anxious when it comes to packing because I have to deal with what stays and what goes. It just turns my world upside down. However, I have thrown things out only to regret that it was foolish to sell Grandmother's old portable sewing machine or something we bought along the way in our travels. Packing and sorting drives me nuts, mainly because I have to deal with making these decisions. I have to say, we don't have anything like some of the stories online. The movie is very scary, definitely a mental problem. I never realized how much of an illness this could be. One time, I threw things in a shopping bag because propective buyers were coming to see our house which was for sale. During that time, the house looked like a model and I couldn't believe I put a bag of "stuff" behind a cabinet door. That was only one bag, whew!!! I am pretty neat and like things to look nice, just hate to pack and declutter. My mother, while not at all like the movie, used to keep lots of stuff in boxes and she kept things, as did a neighbor. DH's husband's parents were also packrats. I can't relate very well to who can just toss stuff so easily without a blink of an eye. I need to learn more to get there. I always think about the good use it still has. Reading all of this just makes me realize even more the importance to me that I need to just do it. I don't think I need a dumpter as first thought. I do have a 45 gal container and a couple of other containers that will do just fine. I do believe that it is healthy and necessary for the individual to take charge (if capable) and do the decluttering. Unfortunately, the lady in the movie was way beyond that stage. Otherwise, it's probably like be being stripped or invaded, finding everything changed and removed without your knowledge. Very sad. Oh, well, time to start the decluttering process. Thanks for all your help.


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We are needing to declutter; we have some rooms in our house that we don't use much, and they have become dumping grounds for stuff we don't know what to do with. We started with the large basement room this past weekend -- and it was so hard. For example, I had all the records from the house my mother and I bought together (she died 6 years ago) that I sold last last year -- the listing, contract, inspection report, repairs -- and looking at all that stuff brought the experience back so vividly. But there was no reason to keep it other than that.

Maybe the longer you hold onto things like that, the more emotional weight they take on.

We also have a garage full of my MIL's belongings: a lot of her clothes, furniture, a TV. She is in a nursing home and is not likely to need any of these things again, but we feel uneasy about getting rid of them. OTOH, it would be nice to have our garage space back.


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Thanks to Quiltglo--Gloria--I found the Flylady and would recommend that to handust. I have a small apartment but needed to get some organized way to tackle it because we are moving into the palace (if it ever gets finished)
Gloria --you have interesting ideas about the magazines and books. The latest thing is to have a library for the books. Of course since I am a lawyer, my clients expect me to have a few books on hand (preferably a lot)In the last office we had a huge library but now a lot of it is on the internet.
I think the idea about the magazines has real insight. We are working on the remodel and the glamorous house magazines offer a glimpse of what we might have and provide an incentive to keep working.
Why have I never gotten involved with Vogue magazine?
Valtog--I taught a class that couples attended at one time and it was my observation that people who are neat attract a spouse who is not. In a remarkable number of couples their color key was not the same either. People who looked best with blue/clear green spectrum attracted brown/.


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I have no knowledge of what a color key is. Is there a place I can read about it? But I thought it was funny that DH's EYES are blue/green and mine are...you guessed it..brown:))


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marge, I'm really glad that you are finding Flylady useful. It was really the teaching tool I needed to get me to the position where I feel like I control my environment rather than it controlling me!

Gloria


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RE: A new, sad film...

My xmother cleaned minimally, then hid dirty dishes is the cupboard when guests came. She didn't let us clean very much, and when she did she'd criticize our cleaning abilities until we couldn't effectively help. I don't know how to clean, although I don't have much clutter at all. I keep some books which I use all the time, but that takes up one shelf in the basement, and no one is impacted by it. Still, guests coming brings up a well of terror, and panic. I don't wash the floors and things enough, to bring in guests without cringing at the messy kitchen. Even though the dishes are washed every day with my two wonderful automatic dishwashers, I love them both to death, and the food is not sitting around going moldy, it's not enough cleaning to satisfy most people. I keep fantasizing about a perfect cleaning method or perfect cleaning tools, which I can't afford anyway, to overcome my lack of cleaning skills. No one taught me how, is right. I had to teach myself to do the dishes, wash the laundry, so no piles grew and clear up the garbage daily. Why don't I have energy to do the rest of the self teaching? It is depressing.

My sister is Bipolar and has lived on a foot deep of huge piles of papers and junk for years. She has refused help numerous times and was never able to stop collecting newspapers. This past year she attempted suicide twice. Once right after she had help cleaning up her stuff. The second time was about a month ago. The doctors tell us that lithium is the only drug which takes away the urge to commit suicide, but it only works for about 10 years, doing that. Then bipolar people and the like become suicidal again. There's not much hope for my sister, who just turned 54 on October 7, is a corporate lawyer, and a full accountant, as well and is extremely intelligent. We know if let out of the institute, she'll succeed in killing herself. Even in there, chances are good that she'll succeed. I wish there were more I could do, but so far all alternative meds aren't up to the task and there are no more regular meds for her to try. It's like watching someone in a slow motion agonizing death scene in a horror flick. I know my family is resistant to change, they even want to bring my sister home again!, but optimistic fool that I am, I still keep looking for help for her. I've linked a site which I just found, that talks about Cognitive Therapy helping people cope with suicidal thoughts. I don't know if it will help.

Apparently brilliant people like Scientists, artists, math geniuses, and musical geniuses are afflicted with these kinds of illnesses. Obviously I'm not one, lol. Just the opposite in fact. I'm sure the migraines that I suffered with for years affected my thinking. They say migrainers do suffer from brain damage, and it may be linked to a hole in the heart for 60% of the people. I get very few migraines these days, since finding a few things that help. It's wonderful to not have life stopped by an illness. I'm so lucky. Some people need surgery, but Ive been able to stop a migraine, with a combo of things in its track.

Hole-in-heart linked to migraine.

Extreme hoarding must be associated with depression to my mind, but maybe it's just associated with mental illness in general. I suffer from situational depression and also have anxiety, which is not helped with medical treatment per se, but therapy helps some. I know my xparents were mentally ill, xmother had depression, xfather emotionally handicapped. Out of the family I am the only one not diagnosed with clinical depression, but get somewhat depressed when thinking about the family. These things run deep and are hard to change. Mental illness is not easy to manage, but no matter what the reason for excessive clutter we need to keep fighting to achieve healthy balance between having a cleaner home and taking care of ourselves and our loved ones. I to my mind must continue to fight my genes, for my own and our children's sakes to change. Clutter full, dirty homes have far a reaching impact. Nothing grows strong, straight and true when it happens through the twistings and turnings of maneuvering around garbage and muck. It affects your whole life. I have a long way to go, but then I've always been a fighter. :)

You all are inspirational in your choices to not let things overtake your homes and energy. Thanks for being here and writing of your journeys.

Yeona

Here is a link that might be useful: Cognitive Therapy Reduces Repeat Suicide


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RE: A new, sad film...

Yeona,

What is xmother, xparents, xfather? I haven't seen that before.


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RE: A new, sad film...

susan, I think it mean ex-as in divorced?

Yeona, you might find Flylady helpful. Her program can give you a "normal" benchmark for cleaning. Since you keep up with things daily and don't have tons of clutter, I'll bet your home is really just fine. You just have these messages running in your head that it's not good enough.

Since hoarding has only been looked at from a mental health issue within the last few years, the information is still sketchy. The main reason being that hoaders don't let people in.

This is a cut and past from a children of hoarders board on some of the most common roots of the problem.

1) OCD - The deal here is that people with OCD have two issues. If something needs doing it has to be visible or they might forget about it. The other issue is that if they can't deal completely with it, then they don't want to get halfway done with it, and then set it aside. As an example, let's say there is a dresser that needs to be
given to Goodwill. There is no point in cleaning out the dresser and then calling Goodwill to come pick it up. The task cannot be completed today. But there is no point in calling Goodwill if the dresser has not been cleaned out. So nothing ever happens.

2) Fear/Past scarcities - This is the typical child of the depression era syndrome. At some point in their childhood, they were seriously scarred by the lack of food, or toys, or nice clothes, or whatever it was that they thought made the other kids happier, or better than they were. To these hoarders, there will never be enough. "Enough of
what?" you ask? There will never be enough of anything. Food, clothes, furniture, or whatever. Old shirts can be cut up into quilting squares. Pillow cases can be used as car wash rags. A used toothpick can be used a kindling for a fire if the heat goes out.

3) Parental abuse - Grandmother or grandfather was seriously disturbed, and they didn't have a clue as to the importance of nurturing children. When the kids did as they were told, they were loved, and when they did something out of line, no matter how insignificant, they were berated mercilessly for an indefinite period
of time. They were worthless, selfish, wasteful, brats. Growing up in a house like that is bound to leave deep wounds that continue on into adulthood. Alternatively, "You were a very good boy today. Here is a
treat." can become ingrained as when you are good, or when you are not feeling well, or when you are sad, etc.... you should get things.

4) Narcissism - "I am too good to have to deal with trash. It is someone elses job. I would rather sit in a pile of trash than do what is "below" me and take it out. They (whomever they happens to be) will see it and they will realize that they have not done their duty to take care of me and they will handle it for me."

5) Pure unadulterated laziness - Similar to Narcissism but subtlely different. Being surrounded by garbage doesn't bother them that much, at least not enough to actually pick up some things and throw them away.

6) Shopping addiction to fulfill some other emotional need - Buying things gives them a rush, much like a gambling addiction. There just isn't any place to put it all.

7) Physical disability (real or imagined) - Getting food, and clothing into the house is all they think they can manage with their "condition". So taking care of what they have is just not possible.

It's an interesting dynamic.

Gloria


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RE: A new, sad film...

"I think it mean ex-as in divorced?"

Like parents of your ex?

Except it sounded more like her own mother - not teaching her how to clean, etc. Or did she divorce her parents? I'm sure many children dream of that. :)


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RE: A new, sad film...

Gloria - that is a touching post.

While I am not a germ phobic neat freak, I feel extremely non-functional in a cluttered house. Meanwhile DH who grew up in a house where there was minimal house-keeping done, functions just fine. Piles are acceptable to him. I honestly think he has no concept of what normal home cleaning and maintenance takes. Funny though that when he lived as a bachelor before we were married, his apartment was very neat.

Our house has almost no storage areas, we have no bedroom closet (kids do) and no basement. I would love to move to a more efficient house as we have lots of equity in our house and would make a killling. But DH has been living in the fear his job will be outsourced overseas for the last 5 years.

Thanks for sharing and I hope that we can resolve our issues before they begin affecting our children.


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RE: A new, sad film...

My children are grown. My daughter is a neat person, not a freak, but neat. She got that gene from her father. Neither are neat in the bedroom though. DH can't find something clothes wise in the bedroom if it's not out. I put together a plain shelf with baskets so the clothes would be up and not on the floor. DD is the same way with her clothes. Not with anything else, just her clothes, like DH. She's fighting it, and losing. I hope she finds a way to have her clothes put away neatly, out of sight, as it bothers her.

I on the other hand always take care of my stuff and put it away. My adult son is like me, neat with his stuff, but no good at the finishing polish of things. That's both our weak points. We both never quite seem to finish the cleaning. My son doesn't care but I am trying to retrain myself. I'm going to try Flylady again. I quit trying last time because I failed miserably at even baby steps. Maybe I'll be able to get into the routine of 15 minutes a day this time. I still don't know how to conquer my hot spot of the kitchen counters, though. Everything gets piled there. I get the dishes done, but never seem to clear away the recycling and stuff, except to wipe the counter. I need to figure this out for once and for all.

Sorry Jannie, I hope I didn't hurt your feelings. I feel that I have some of the mental disorder which I associate with mess in my case, and clutter. Something in me gets tight and tense when dealing with housework and I know my anxiety attacks are a disorder in and of themselves. So I was talking about myself and those people formerly known as my family. You know yourself and for you, it might not be anything more than a learned behavior. I sincerely wish you luck with whatever way you approach your concerns.

BTW the x in front of my xfamily's names is a divorce from them, just not a legal one. A more common way to put it is that I'm estranged from the xparents and two xsiblings. Still exing them is how I really feel.

I'm so proud of myself. I finally got the second to last bag of stored old clothes looked through and mostly tossed! Only one box of clothes to go through, and my goal of clearing out all of the clothes we don't use any more will be met. I'm very careful about what I buy these days. I only buy clothes that I love and that fit me properly. DH has way more clothes than I do, due to work being messy and hard on clothes, so I am constantly washing his stuff. My clothes take one washer load a week, and that's it! It's very freeing to buy what you love and have only that in your closet. I do love night wear, though, lol, and have seven different pairs of those as well.

Yeona


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RE: A new, sad film...

I'm very glad to see this powerful film being discussed here and the effects on the children being considered.

I wanted to make clear that the post that was copied and pasted from the Children of Hoarders board reflects the opinion of one of the members.

Thanks for letting me clarify that.

Donna, moderator-COH Group


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RE: A new, sad film...

I can relate to many of your stories. Growing up, my Mom refused to let me help/do anything. She claimed that she being the oldest and only girl had to do everything to help out, which later after she passes away, was NOT true. Yet, when I spent the summers with her parents, my grandparents, they encouraged me to do everything. Cook, clean, wash, feed the chickens, and still have fun. She did not collect a lot, but THINGS meant way too much to her, even a cheap glass. When one got broke, she would just cry and cry. Thank goodness I don't have that same feeling. She favored stuff from her side of the family, and I am sure a lot of my Dad's mom's stuff just mysteriously disappeared. After I was married and had kids, I am so deeply sorry, I let her control my life. Thank goodness my kids are all independent and on their own. While we were building our house, our old house sold too fast, so we had to live in a rental for about 3 months. I carefully packed a lot up, and she said she would store it. Well, when I started to unpack I noticed that many things were disturbed and I questioned her. She finally admitted that she repacked things claiming I did not know how to pack I was so angry, I told her that if she ever did anything like that again, I would never speak to her and she could never see the grand kids. What really upset me is that I had a beautiful, but not expensive glass from my MIL and it got broke. When I found that I was furious. I know how I packed it and in no way would it have broken. Things meant more to her that people, except her own family. She really did not like anything I had except when it came from her side. My MIL was the sweetest person and I really miss her. I am still coping with issues. As to clutter. I too moved way more that I needed to. Now all the magazines go to the Air Force Base Hospital where my DD works, books to the library and I am getting rid of a lot. I really try to find someone needy, if not-I donate stuff to a various of agencies.
Thank you every one for sharing.


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RE: A new, sad film...

My parents also grew up during the Depression & WW2 and were totally against throwing things away. However, our home was neat and clean because they didn't believe in spending money either and were very proud of their ability to "make do with what they had", "make sacrifices" and "do without" unnecessary things. My Mom's WW2 Army Nurse uniform was made into clothes for me. Old tablecloths became curtains. I was embarassed to bring anyone home because our home was so tacky compared to my friends' homes. Everything was purely functional but not at all attractive. Whenever I made attempts at getting rid of my stuff as a child, my parents would go through the trash bags. Then I was confronted and explanations were demanded for every item I had discarded. They were so angry with me for being wasteful (THIS can still be used), ungrateful (your Aunt gave you THAT), unappreciative (we worked hard to buy THAT), uncaring (THAT belonged to your late great grandmother)with a liberal sprinkling of "How dare you!" and "You think money grows on trees!" Most of the items got handed right back to me. Aside from the verbal abuse, my punishment was putting everything back where it was, being given the "cold shoulder" and reminded of all of this if I ever asked them to buy me anything.

My solution was to become as efficient as they were in finding out how to pack a lot of stuff in a little bit of space (my room) and to get a part-time job when I was 15 so I wouldn't have to ask them to buy me things I WANTED as opposed to NEEDED.

When I was on my own, I really enjoyed fixing up my first apartment and having nice, new pretty stuff. After I married, we had two sons and moved to larger homes 3 times. I had a reputation for having an attractive and organized home. As my sons grew older, our house became more and more difficult to keep neat. It dawned on me that we had actually filled up our current home in 10 years of accumulation. Things couldn't be put away because the "away" spaces were full.

I started reading books about decluttering and trying to put the methods into practice off and on. The books made it sound so easy but I could only get rid of enough stuff to make living bearable again. I found the whole process very anxiety provoking. Each item required asking myself a series of questions and making a decision about its ultimate fate. Giving things away was easy & enjoyable. But throwing things away was the worst. Beyond the sorting methods from the books, I found myself also demanding the same explanations my parents did. After about the 50th item, I was wiped out. The next decluttering attempt could be months or years away.

Now I live alone most of the time since I only have one son still in college. You might think my house looks better with less people living in it day in & out. But no. My purchases and projects are building up more and more clutter to the point where it has become overwhelming and I am embarassed to even have repairmen come to my house! I have guilt & anxiety about the clutter and guilt and anxiety about decluttering!

I know I am not alone. I'm a Realtor and see thousands of homes. Whenever I see a home that is nice, neat, clean & clutter free, I love the feeling it gives me. Whenever I see a home that resembles mine, I hear what the potential Buyers say and it's not nice.

I used to be a frequent participant in this forum. I have always found help here and I've tried to give my help as well. I am so glad this forum is still full of good people & ideas! This post has been a real eye opener. I'm ready to overcome my guilt & anxiety. How nice it would feel to live in a clutter-free home and welcome people in. My next step is to go back & visit Fly Lady and keep coming back here.



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RE: A new, sad film...

lov2garden: I hope you don't mind my saying this, but have you considered seeing a counselor or therapist? You might find it helpful in working out these issues.


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RE: A new, sad film...

lov2garden, I spent last winter helping someone get from under the stuff. We did it very slowly since clearing spaces really caused her anxiety. We would clear an area, such as the entry way, and then let her live with it for a week. I also did things like take all of the stuff away.

If you have a friend you could trust to help you with this, maybe you could just fill a box a couple of times a week and she/he could take it away and you wouldn't have to focus on if an item was being donated or trashed. They could do that for you.

Slowly is the key, I think, when trying to make life changes. I don't think you can declutter a house and immediately start living a decluttered life.

Gloria


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RE: A new, sad film...

harriethomeowner, thank you for your very tactful suggestion. I haven't tried to do any serious decluttering for a while. By reading this post and writing my post, I realized I equate decluttering with punishment instead of REWARD! I signed on with Fly Lady today and have started with a shiny sink. If, however, I find that nothing has changed after a few months, I will definitely consider getting therapy. Issues like these get worse with age, not better. I don't want to be stuck in a rut.

Gloria, I like your ideas too. Fly Lady also emphasizes starting slowly. I am going to do whatever FL says, day by day.

Thanks!


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RE: A new, sad film...

See the link below for a historically famous example of being held captive to your own clutter. Apparently, firefighters use the expression "Collyer mansion" to refer to any overcluttered deathtrap of a home.

Here is a link that might be useful: Collyer Mansion article in Wikipedia


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RE: A new, sad film...

Thank you for starting this post in August quiltglo!

I've read through and felt such sad understanding. I'm in my 30's and while my childhood was a clean clutter free time, we lived upper middle class, always had everything we needed. My sister and I did the chores, but no big, our parents worked and we were always a together family. Fast forward to my teens, my folks divorced, I was left with my mom and moved out of state to an expensive area where we couldn't afford rent in the worst area of town. Little money for food, no money for clothes so I shared clothes with my mother.

As an adult, I became so obsessed with never having anything, that today I wear my clothes till they are thread bare, buy groceries on sale that I may not even eat--because they are cheap, and really have trouble throwing away things I might need again. My DH on the otherhand was raised in clutter and can't help himself but to lay it down and walk away, then get's mad that I buy stuff or don't purge my stuff. DH refuses to get rid of the most inane (to me) things.

I've been feeling so terribly guilty for my 4 year old son who deserves to grow up understanding chores and cleaning and that everything has it's time and place--sometimes that means into the trashcan.

Thanks everyone, tomorrow is trash day, so I'm going to toss some magazines and shredded bills into the recycle bin! Really!


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RE: A new, sad film...

My grandmother used to work for the local pensioner's assistance program, going to pensioners houses to clean and tidy for them. Most of them were pretty normal, they just couldnt clean very well any more, but one old woman she went to regularly had lived through the second world war in Germany and all the problems that followed including severe rationing of food - before she moved here (Iceland) to marry a local man. She hoarded cans and jars of food, and there were boxes and boxes of the stuff all over her apartment. Gran said it was like she was expecting another war at any moment and didnt intend to go hungry again while it was happening. Nothing could be thrown out, even stuff that was years past the exporation date. Really sad.


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RE: A new, sad film...

I was feeling so guilty about killing your thread Gloria. I'm glad I didn't... Thanks for starting it and to everyone for sharing here.

Yeona


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RE: A new, sad film...

We don't kill threads on this forum Yeona. Lots of threads change direction and I don't think anyone cares. Just more information. I think this is one of the nicest forums on gardenweb.

Gloria


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RE: A new, sad film...

Yes, I love this forum. Thank you everyone for sharing.

Gloria, we had to send off for another birth certificate a few weeks ago. Sad thing is that's one of the things we actually have a designated space for. It just wasn't put back the previous time it was needed.

One of my problems is the "I may need it one day" factor. This has been made worse by the fact that so much manufacturing has gone offshore. I know if I need to buy another one I'll probably have to settle for a cheap Asian import. As well as keeping things I'll probably never use again because they just don't make them like that any more, I've stocked up on new things, Last week I found one of my stockpiles of underwear. Just before DS went from boys to mens sizes the shops stopped selling the Aussie and NZ made boys underwear and the cheap stuff we had to buy for a couple of years wore out very quickly. Mens sizes are available both local and imported. So I found my little stockpile but about half a dozen packets were in a size DS has already outgrown.

Having said that, we have found some good brands made overseas. But you guessed it. That just leads to more stockpiling. Oh dear, they only have a few left in the right size and the desired colour - we'd better buy them all.


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RE: A new, sad film...

Macbirch-good reminder, somethings you do need to buy and save. Right now,DH has very little socks and underwear. His mother, who died 2 years ago, used to give him underwear and socks for Christmas. I already spent more than my budget on gifts,so he won't be getting any this Christmas. He'll have to go do some shopping after the holidays.


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RE: A new, sad film...

When I tried a new brand of socks for DH and DS a few years ago they said these are great, much more comfortable than any of the others, stick to this brand. That brand disappeared for quite a while, then came back on the market, but after a while there were signs they were going to disappear again. And the only colours they had left were the two I had bought for DH. DS, who needed more, didn't want to share socks so I had to sew a little bit of blue thread into the top of each of DH's socks. That's something I didn't think about till it happened - how do you sort out your boys underwear when they reach the same size. I guess the obvious thing is different colours but rule out the colours they don't like and the colours that are out of stock when you need them (an annoyingly frequent problem) and, well, I do a fair bit of sewing with blue thread these days.

Jannie, I'm glad your MIL's gifts were useful. When my MIL died we found a chest of drawers almost full of unopened packets of pantyhose that DH had given her. Is it possible he gave her so many that she couldn't wear them out fast enough? Or were they the wrong size and she didn't want to say. so she just stored them away?


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RE: A new, sad film...

I kept my kids in different brands in both boys & mens sizes. One kid is Hanes, the other is Fruit of the Loom. T-shirts, socks and boxers are totally different brands so sorting is easy.

Now it's REAL easy since one is away at college. LOL


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RE: A new, sad film...

I remember when my Grandmother died. Her bureau drawers were crammed with new clothes, many of them gifts. She was saving them "for good". How I wish she had had the chance to wear them. No one in the family was her size, they all went to charity. Taught me not to put things away. Use them while you can. Though I still have stacks of magazines and paper clutter.


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RE: A new, sad film...

macbirch, if the kids are big enough to be wearing almost men's underwear, they would be washing it themselves in my house. No need for me to sort clothing. After the age of 10, you're on your own.

My DH use to order undies online. They quit being made and you would think it was the end of the world. He doesn't want plain old whitey tightys. I told him to get a life and go to Sears and get some drawers.

Gloria


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RE: A new, sad film...

Watching the trailer to this movie demonstrates how fragile a compulsive hoarder can become and how pushing change causes them to spiral out of control. Depression sucks your soul into a black hole. Anyone who comes out of this is amazing.


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