Beyond Babedom

We're (way) over 40. Deal with it.

Hoarding for the Hordes

If you’ve ever watched one of those shows about hoarders, you know how unbelievably disgusting hoarding can be.  I know first hand. No, not from Gary (though I do believe he still has 15 years of Modern Drummer hidden somewhere in the attic). I’m talking about Mrs Hoffman, the old woman who lived next door when I was growing up. And when I say “hoarder” I mean someone who had newspapers piled several feet high on every single surface, magazines from the 1930s – and held on to a plate of food from our Christmas dinner through January. Yuck.

But this isn’t about the revolting stuff hard-core hoarders keep.  It’s about the secret hoarding going on in everyone’s life. Yes; you, my friend. You are a hoarder.

Don’t try to deny it. Do you have that pair of skinny jeans you’ll never fit in again in your lifetime? How about that dress you looked so spectacular in. . . 15 years ago? Not to mention the random screws that are thrown in the back of your junk drawer.

Yeah, we’re all hoarders, of one kind or another. Some of us hoard clothes (guilty). Some hoard shoes (okay; guilty again). Still others hoard relationships.


Don’t even try to tell me you don’t. Because I know – either in the past or right now – you’ve had relationships that you held on to waaaaaay too long. For whatever reason. That friend you no longer have anything in common with. That guy you know isn’t right for you. That husband you  can’t even stand to look at. We all hold on to things and relationships far past their shelf life because. . . .well, because we’re hoarders.

And why do hoarders hoard? It’s the fear of throwing something away you might need some day. I feel like I at least have some justification for my hoarding. I grew up in a big family where you would never throw away a pencil stub, because that might be the only thing you’d have to finish your homework with. Hand-me-downs (which your grandkids probably never heard of) were customary; without hand-me-downs, you had no wardrobe. When you got something new, it was treasured – and, therefore, hoarded.

And hoarding is a hard habit to break. Holding on to that guy long past the shelf life of the relationship – because you don’t have a replacement – is as perverse as holding on to a 1964 issue of the Daily News. So what if you can find it online? So what if he is boring and really not that terrific in bed? How will you survive without? Well, you will.

So, I’m trying to simplify. I keep a bag to put clothes in that I can no longer get into – much as I love them. I’ve even thrown away a pair of my favorite shoes (after wearing them one, last time and realizing just how beat up they were. Sob.). And I’m re-evaluating relationships.

So, if I don’t call you back. . .


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This entry was posted on Friday, August 5th, 2011 at 10:17 AM and is filed under Social Issues. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  1. chris munson says:

    From a psychodynamic point of view, I think the retention of objects such as you describe result from a one of two causes;either the desire to maintain the pleasure that derives from an object or compensation for a loss real or imagined. Some things we keep for what we call “sentimental reasons”, i.e. the pleasure we derive from the positive emotions these objects prompt. For instance, handling my Great Grandfather’s calipers made by his hand in the 1850’s with his name inscribed, connects me with his existence, and gives me a sense of continuity. Flornie has kept such objects as her children’s teeth as a reminder of her sublime pleasure in parenting. Objects may substitute for loss or give the owner a sense of emotional permanence not felt in their day to day lives. Objects don’t argue, leave, or age, and in that sense they become imbued with the possessor’s sense of certainty in an uncertain world. Neither of these behaviors need be considered aberrant unless they are carried to extremes. If the object(s) become imbued with the emotions they provoke to the exclusion of creating or maintaining other, equally pleasurable or more fruitful emotions in the effort to maintain stasis, the possessor may become “frozen” emotionally. If the object(s) compensating for loss or supporting a sense of certainty become the focus of a life, they diminish the value intrinsic in that life, and strangle the need for emotional flexibility.

  2. John Kim says:

    I saw that one show about hoarders and it was really bad ho some of these people live. They don’t even seem like people, more like rats.

  3. Stefan Pinto says:

    Friends I seldom hear from (“seldom,” used here is a euphemism for “never”), may be a mutual disconnect. It’s now normal for me to not feel torn up over it. As one grows in life, so to should their relationships.

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