August 9, 2010 by Marj Hatzell
If there was a show that was the opposite of Hoarders, what do you think it would be called? Tossers? Empty-Housers? Compulsive Garbage Can Fillers? Have you SEEN that show? Seriously? It’s all, “OMG THERE’S PILES OF STUFF AND I CAN’T THROW IT AWAY SO I BOUGHT THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR AND NOW I’M FILLING THAT, TOO!”
Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.
Now, before you get your panties in a bunch, let me tell you I DO have experience with this type of OCD. See, I just happen to have a parent AND an in-law that compulsively hoards stuff. Meaning, both sides of the family. Meaning, my kids are royally screwed, they’re getting OCD whether they like it or not. And I’m thinking they won’t like it because who likes having OCD? Not me, that’s for sure. Except we call it CDO, because it should be in alphabetical order, see. And, they do. Have OCD, I mean. But I’ll save that part for later.
But the parent and the in-law? STUFF. Piles of stuff. Rooms full of stuff. Closets full of (you guessed it). Stuff. Basically they are stuffed full of stuff. Stuffing, really. And it’s random stuff. Like my father-in-law’s restaurant kethcup-butter-jelly-sugar-insert-condiment-here collection. Or my mother’s negatives and pictures in rubber containers in the attic collection. One time I asked to go through a bucket of old family photos and distribute them to my siblings (because they were in a bucket. In the attic. For probably over ten years. And when I did? 3/4 of them were over-exposed or yellow or blurry. And there were maybe six hundred photos of random zoo tigers. I’m not kidding. Ok, I lied, there were lions and elephants, too. But when I tossed all of the over-exposed, yellow, repetitive, blurry pictures. My mother was LIVID. Like, “But…my photos! I wanted them back!” And I’m all, “Mom. Here’s a sample of what I tossed. See? Over-exposed, double exposed, yellowed. Do you know who this person is?” Her, “But…my photos! I wanted them back!” Sigh. Remind me to tell you about her baby teeth collection. Remember, she had SEVEN CHILDREN. Times however many baby teeth a typical kid loses (dentists? Anyone? Bueller?) minus the four teeth that two of my siblings never lost that eventually got pulled at an oral surgeon’s office. Minus the two that my youngest brother swallowed one time when he fell out of a swing, face first, knocking them right down his throat ( Yes, on my watch. No, I wasn’t paying attention. I WAS TEN. ). That’s…a lot of teeth, for those of you not good at math.
And my boys? Well, they tend to hoard a bit. We have to go to Bug Boy’s room monthly and purge the collected rocks, bottle caps, twist ties (ACK! BANE OF MY T!) and various stuff. He helps. We try to teach him that having too much STUFF just makes a person more anxious because there’s too much STUFF to manage. And Bugaboo? Well, every week I have to seek out his favorite hiding places because he tends to collect stuff from around the house and hoard it a bit. Like the one time I found two giraffes, a spatula, my tea ball a sippy cup and a bottle of lotion in my husband’s shoe rack (because that’s where you all keep your spatulas and giraffes, right?) or the time that I found my cookie cooling rack, colander, cheese grater, toothbrushes and Christmas-tree-topping-angel in the drawer under his bed. With him in the drawer. Yes, he’s quite limber. Gumby doll, really.
So now you can see why my husband and I are serial tossers. As in, we throw tons of stuff away. Ok, I recycle tons of stuff and give away more tons of stuff but still. STUFF. We toss it because it starts to get slightly cluttered around here and we both have bad visions of our parents and then it’s a major toss-stuff-fest until we’re all PHEW and sit back and relax because we’re anti-hoarding. And believe me, I know I have tendencies. Lots of ’em. I can pick trash like nobody’s business and I fall into that, “But so-and-so might be able to use it!” trap. So, toss stuff it is. As my very wise aunt said, there are pilers and there are filers. We strive to be filers. A place for everything and everything in its place. But you can only do that if you get rid of STUFF first.