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.

Vicki ❤

12 thoughts on “Loving her anyway…

  1. Wow, Vicki, brilliant from title to end. Love her anyway, indeed. And the story about the golf bag is too funny. But I love how you humanize her compulsions and it makes me reflect about what I rely on to feel “safe.” Beautifully written, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sunday smiles to you – thanks so much, Wynne.
      And yes! The fact that dad was just around the corner while she was loading up the golf bag…she had no idea he was watching until he said, “hey, those are mighty frilly golf towels”. Thank God for papas with funny bones. You know this well! 😘

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Some wise words. I try to do this, when I think of my father. When I think of him as a father, it’s very easy to think of a hurt or sad moment in my life. When I think of him as a grandfather or see him through my kids eyes, I see the exact opposite. Before he passed away, he became a man who loved his grandchildren. Through a lot of work, I’ve generally come to forgive him, but I can still be surprised some times by the pain. When I do, I try as you suggest to see the softer side. I find it helps to see things in totality. Thanks for the reminder, it definitely helps moving forward. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for sharing, Brian. Means a lot — and I hear you — how we can be surprised by unexpected bursts of painful stuff. I get that. You with your dad, we with my mom! 😉 Take care, friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I recently read, with QEII’s passing about how many women in the UK volunteered, during their period of austerity, their “vouchers”/ration coupons for her wedding dress… Who knows what impact that has had on her/them?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful post, Vicki! If we can at least understand why someone acts as they do, and how they became the way they are, it somehow helps us see through eyes of grace. And I too loved the golf bag story. 🤍

    Liked by 1 person

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