She didn’t intend to be a hoarder, it just happened. Years of abuse and neglect and deeply embedded loneliness? I can see how ‘things’ became ever-so-much safer than people. The humans were indifferent, unpredictable, self-serving, and dismissive of a little girl shoved into adulthood too soon.
The motivation to accumulate and gather in excess? Possessions, while lousy conversationalists, provided a twisted sense of comfort. Not quite the loving embrace that a child deserves, but when you hurt, you improvise. Work with what you have to seek nurture and love.
I have more compassion for mom now – nestled in my heart with a few regrets about not being kinder, not looking past her maddening behaviors to see the source. If there’s one standout gift that comes with aging, it’s this: I’m learning to address my own hurt, especially the slights – large and small – in order to look beyond, to better understand. Time helps. Maybe I needed seven years of introspection following her death to look back with softer eyes.
She didn’t intend to be a hoarder, it just happened. No, she wasn’t as out of control as the sweet, damaged souls on the show “Hoarders”. On top of all the other secrets and lies that comprised the web of her life, she cloaked her hoarding tendencies, too, as much as possible. Mom knew she needed to keep ‘appearances up’ to avoid detection…so unless you lived in the house with her or you were a close friend who liked to snoop, her compulsion could go undetected.
How? I think it was her pervasive scarcity mindset. As a child of poverty, she was perpetually hungry. As a kid, food was scarce and rather than feed herself, she’d squirrel away what she could to share with her siblings. Secrets and lies about food led to eating disorders later, but her tendency toward hoarding and hiding, generally? Food came first, as a result of her father’s death and her mom’s inability to cope.
Later, her need to over-purchase home goods – towels, sheets, cooking equipment, gaudy décor – came from a compulsion to create a happy home. A home containing the things she fundamentally lacked as a kid. As a result, every closet, pantry, nook, and cranny was overstuffed. And oddly. Her shopping addictions pushed her to use unusual hiding places and some were laugh-out-loud funny.
Example? I have no clue why, but this morning I recalled one of her wackier ‘episodes’. The time she got caught shoving a slew of fancy tablecloths and napkins from Neiman Marcus into one of dad’s golf bags. She didn’t realize it wasn’t his ‘old’ bag…just the one that was empty because he was cleaning his clubs. Ohhh…this is why mom was so maddening. Her peccadilloes and crazy behavior were very often the stuff of sitcoms.
Imprints from childhood reverberate into adulthood. Never truer than with my mom…to know her was to love AND hate her and while I’ve carried those dueling emotions around for decades, this morning I was tickled to have a softer memory of her, recalling her silly side.
Take care…join me in seeing the softer sides when you can.