Recovery: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Date Posted: March 16, 2015
Recovery: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

I recently discovered that I am not just a collector of things large and small, but I'm actually a hoarder. Not the kind of compulsive hoarder who ends up on a reality TV show or needs an intervention. Collecting things hasn't impaired my functioning, but it certainly has turned my home into a large storage unit. I woke up to this fact while reading Marie Kondo's book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Initially, I picked up Kondo's book because I wanted to suggest it to a client of mine who I considered a "real" hoarder. But within a few short pages, I realized that I was no longer doing the research for my client; I was doing it for myself.

Anyone who knows me well knows I am the kind of person who approaches anything that catches my interest with a compulsive obsession. I can spend hours and hours on whatever I'm curious about, and I don't stop until I've come close to mastery. Whether it's memorizing Mendelssohn's "Venetian Boat Song" on the piano by playing it 10,000 times, trying to learn Spanish, collecting Barbie dolls and every accessory Barbie and Ken ever had, or learning a new aspect of psychology, I do it with passion and excessively. You can ask my husband: he has been a loving witness to my craziness for more than 25 years.

Now that I've been officially self-diagnosed as a recovering hoarder, I am approaching the issue as I do every other issue of this type. I surrender. I follow directions. In this case, I am following Kondo's book to a tee. For example, today I dropped off eight large bags of clothes and three boxes of books at the Goodwill's drop box. I couldn't believe how liberated I felt. I exhaled deeply, knowing I was on a path of liberation. In true fashion, I then proceeded to clean out every container sitting on a top shelf and filled with old medicines, nail polishes never used, and other sundry crap I thought was good to have around "just in case." Kondo explains that this is one of the top characteristics of hoarders is that they keep things just to keep them, often without a real love or connection to what they are keeping.

I know the next step I need to take in my recovery from hoarding is to go into our attic and attack box after box of things I've collected over the years. I can't tell you what is up there, but I can guarantee these things will never be used again. They may have sentimental value, but they certainly are of no use in our daily lives. I have needlepoint sets that will never get used, magazines that will never be read, CDs that will never be listened to again, Halloween costumes that will never be worn, and many objects of obsolete technology. And then there's the garage...

Recovery has given me the power to give up sugar, gluten, alcohol, drugs, gossip, and non-discerning caretaking. I guess I can add hoarding to the list!

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