A hoard is a supply or accumulation of items that is hidden or carefully guarded for preservation, future use.
An emotional hoarder stockpiles every traumatic memory, slight, embarrassment, and heartbreak, past and present, only to live with the burden of each one every day.
I have always known that I was a collector of things but I never really saw the entire spectrum of my collecting until I was forced to part with those things. This devastating moment happened sometime in the year of Twenty-Thirteen. I had allowed myself to enter into a relationship that would challenge the boundaries of my strength and sanity. It was a relationship that forced me to leave everything behind in order to prove my love and devotion.
Just as he expected, I left everything and followed his false promise of something greater. Some might find my words ridiculous, almost unbelievable, but it was one of the most difficult things I would willingly put myself through. I was making the conscious choice to abandon all the things that I had held onto for so many years. As I pulled away from the collection that defined me my entire adult life I could actually feel physical pain. Pictures, clothing and toys lay scattered amongst the tattered furnishings that remained from his previous tantrum. I really wanted to believe that he would give me something much more substantial to hold onto. So I abandoned all of my security blankets for his love.
Once the tragedy of that relationship ended I was able to reflect on so many things in my life. I began to really understand that my need to hold on to things stemmed from all the traumas I had faced in my life. So much of what defined me was taken away and I developed an unhealthy addiction to things. Some might wonder how this can happen to a person because they are simply material things. Unfortunately, they are much more than things to a hoarder. The stuff that is collected is something that we have a say over, it’s something that we can finally control. Of course in severe situations the hoard ends up taking control but that is not always the case. I jokingly say that I have a mild hoarding disorder but I think that is my way of rationalizing what I do. It might also be my way of dealing with the shame of it.
Hoarding is a constant struggle for me and it is something I consciously try to reign in. No, my house is not filled with junk, and it stays moderately clean but you can see the signs. Random piles of miscellaneous stuff that makes sense to only me. It is a painful fight and I suffer anxiety every time I force myself to throw out empty boxes or containers. I am pretty sure that I will deal with this for the rest of my life but as long as I keep myself aware I hope that it will never conquer me. I also hope that as I age my family never lets things get out of control like the hoards we see on television. It is truly a mental disorder and very often goes hand in hand with severe depression.
We do not enjoy living with the disorder but the dysfunction runs so deep we get stuck. It all begins with an emotional hoard and eventually we find it spilling out into our daily life. After that last destructive relationship I learned to release so much of my emotional hoard and that has made things easier. So much in fact sometimes I find it hard to feel or react to certain situations. Unfortunately, that is another aspect of myself that I am painfully aware of. I have no middle ground, I am one extreme or the other.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? Whether you are an emotional hoarder or a physical hoarder, you can find help and support in your family and friends. It takes strength to break your chronic addiction to pain and the panic that surrounds this disorder. I personally like to research and read self help articles but that may not work for everyone. If you are wondering if you might be an emotional hoarder here are three possible signs:
You Try To Avoid Your Pain By Running Away Or Blocking Out Emotions
You Get Caught In The Spin Cycle By Rehashing The Turmoil Without Resolution
You’re Afraid Of Change
If you believe you are a physical hoarder, you will also relate to the three examples above. I promise there is always sunshine after the rain and change isn’t always bad. Embrace your disorders and accept that you are not alone. With strength and self awareness you can break the chains that have held you back for so long.
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