It’s been a busy few weeks. Due to circumstances I can’t control, like weather, my health and other people, things have not gone smoothly. Being disabled, I can make all the plans and schedules I want, but since I depend on others help to make it happen, those plans are constantly derailed. It’s extremely frustrating, and I do NOT deal well with frustration. Being autistic, it feels like I live in a constant state of frustration. That’s not true of course, but the feeling is valid. I have less control than a healthy neuronormal person has over their life. I have mental and physical limitations that aren’t going to just go away. I have OCD which has gotten worse as I get older. My once almost total recall is gone. My future is uncertain. It’s scary. It’s freaking ANNOYING! But I refuse to sit back and let life roll over me. That’s just not me. I’ve tried that in the past, and I’ve always regretted it.
I’m really pushing right now to get my hoarding under control. Watching hoarding shows is the equivalent of watching a slasher flick with some therapy mixed in. I can see myself in each episode, I feel what they feel, although not to the extent they go to, I recognize how they got there. I also cull insights and occasional tools I can use on my own OCD. I almost always throw something away after each episode.
Here are some suggestions I have tried and my reactions to them.
Imagine your house as it looked the last time it was clean and organized. Ok. Let’s see. Ah there it is. New apartment, new carpet, fresh paint. We got down on that pristine carpet and rolled across the room, laughing like maniaces. Then I moved my stuff in. Bye bye carpet, bye bye space. Throw that visualization out the window!
Only keep what you truly love. As a hoarder, I’m emotionally attached to pretty much everything. This does work for me if I take it one step further, What do I feel about that object? Pleasure, avoidance? Why? Is it part of the past I don’t want to remember or deal with, does it remind me of a dear friend? I asked a hoarder friend why he kept dozens of empty spray cans. After some thought, he said he kept them because he used to use them for target practice. That hasn’t been a part of his life for many years, but to his OCD brain, they still have value. He never stopped to think WHY he kept them. To anyone else, including me, keeping empty spray paint cans just seemed crazy. Once he identified why they had value to him, I could understand and wondered what I’m keeping for the same reason. Something I once did but no longer is in my life, like one of my worst things to go through, fabric. I’m never going to sew professionally for others again. I have enough vintage fabric to open a small store. I need to sell that stuff off, but I’m overwhelmed by it. My old toys trigger me too. Luckily, I’ve discovered leaving my toys on display for awhile seems to satisfy some need in me, only my favorites stay, I find I can give most of them up after a bit. But it’s a slow, agonizing process. I want my house clean NOW!
Marie Kondo has a books out about folding and organizing your clothes. I haven’t found a copy in the library yet, but the basic idea is love your clothes, smooth them out and fold them so they are “filed” instead of “stacked”. Again, touching each item of clothing is probably NOT a good idea for someone with hoarding impulses. Oddly though, it does seem to work for me. I actually looked at each item. Hoarders suffer from clutter blindness, but evidently that extends to tattered clothing too. On the shows people are always saying “This needs to be thrown out, it’s stained/torn/filthy.” while the hoarder claims it can be mended, washed or whatever. I honestly didn’t think I had much like that. OK, a lot of shabby clothes, but then I only work part time and usually wear grubbies at home. But when I looked at them when folding, I started to see just how many “grubbies” I had. ACK! I had a lot of socks, but the mismatched sock basket was as full as my paired sock basket. Part of my hoarding comes from when I had no income for years. But I can get socks at the Dollar Tree now, so the socks with holes quickly filled the trash can. My beloved cats shed like crazy, some of my clothes had developed a fine fur covering. Did I really want to take the time to de-fur that item, or was it was it time to “honor your clothing, thank it for it’s part in your life, and release it.” Oddly enough, that works for me. I have released many wild things back into nature, so that fits right in with my desire to leave a smaller foot print. I take digital photos, cut a small scrap of a beloved but exhausted outfit, whatever it takes, but for the first time, I can actually do all my laundry and put it away. I spent yesterday finishing up all my laundry. Several socks didn’t make it home from the laundromat, as I discovered holes as I was folding. Yes, I felt a pang as I tossed my thick, comfortable pair of giraffe print socks, but there was a hole in one, and the other one was threadbare. Never noticed that before. Nor do I have the need right now for thick, warm socks that I did when I bought them. Good bye, giraffe socks, you served me well. May you have a long and happy afterlife grazing from some knee highs with a tree print.
The filing instead of stacking clothes works so much better for me. I can really see what I have, so when I need something, I don’t have to look through stacks of falling over clothing. Especially handy with my bad back. Also, I know what I have and now when I’m tempted to buy something, I remember I already have six pairs of black socks and don’t need more.
Took a short break to buy hooks to hang my new coat rack. Got the most delicious shopping rush out of buying some cheap hooks. More appropriate to buying a fancy dress at a fancy price. But no guilt! Maybe I’m on to something!
Now I’m going to put my laundry away and work on my room. My Reclaim a Room project today is my bedroom. Ready, set FOLD!