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Old 04-29-2012, 01:16 AM
choie choie is offline
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Ask the (hopefully soon-to-be-former) Hoarder/Clutterer

Hi. I know this topic's been done before in a couple of different shades: Ask the adult child of a hoarder/clutterer and Ask the girl who went from squalor to show home are two mentioned in the very useful "Ask the..." compendium by Idle Thoughts.

This one's slightly different, as I'm envisioning it as both a typical "ask the" / "point and mock" thread, as well as a support-during-the-process/journalish sort of thing. Basically, consider this a text-based, live version of "Hoarders."

This very much is going to be a process. Because what leads me to add the "hopefully soon to be former" part to the thread title is that after living in varying degrees of squalor (right now 3rd degree--never gotten to 4th degree, thank heavens) for ten+ years, I've finally gotten the courage to seek outside help from professional cleaners who specifically deal with such nutjobs "disposaphobic" clients.

On the outside, no one knows my state of chaos. As an author/book doctor, I'm good at what I do; as sloppy as I am with garbage, I'm meticulous about words. But my apartment.... oy. It's at the point where I can't bear looking in any direction here in this decent-sized studio for a Manhattanite, except perhaps wherever my cats are since at least they make me smile.

(I have three cats, and don't think I'm an animal hoarder, though I guess some would beg to differ at the thought of three cats in a studio apartment, but they're all well fed and cared for, if sometimes the litter boxes get full-to-overflowing for one or two days longer than they should.)

Anyway, after coming into a decent little sum of money thanks to my ex-client (whole 'nother thread/story), I decided to bite the bullet and accept the fact that I'm not able to do this by myself.

So for the next week (Monday to Friday, 10 - 5) a cleaner will be coming to help me sift through the mess and clean up this... well, what I oh-so-affectionately call "shithole of an apartment." This company has worked with social workers and women's centers and so on, people who come to them for help because a client is in bad straits, possibly due to a landlord seeking eviction unless the client cleans up his or her mess. I'm not at that stage, thank goodness, but there have been a few incidents that came close when unexpected events (a fire in the apartment below me, a leak in the shower above me) required my super to enter the apartment and I was forced to let people in... something I usually avoid at all costs due to shame.

Anyway, despite (as well as because of) this shame, I've hired this heavy duty cleaning service, as I said. Of course now I'm already feeling panicky and regretful, with an instinctive desire to cancel the appointment, but I don't want to do that. I don't want to live like this anymore, and the fact that I somehow found the courage -- probably due to a recent death of a friend that made me take stock of my life -- is something I don't want to sabotage, as tempting as it is. I have one day left to cancel. I've put down a $300 deposit, so I'll lose that, but there's that awful self-destructive side of me that's whispering, "cancel, cancel, don't you dare let anyone in here!" That's the voice I'm fighting.

This is going to be a hard week for me. Of course I know I'll be better for it afterwards, but I have to acknowledge this fact: it will be hard and embarrassing, and heaven knows what other emotions will get churned up as well. Frankly I could've combined this thread with a few other "Ask the..." possibilities, all of which are related to and somewhat explain where I am right now. "Ask the lifelong, treatment-resistant depressed person," "Ask the person with panic disorder," "Ask the daughter of a depressed person," etc. But I don't want to hoard (heh) all the fun topics. This is the one I'm dealing with now.

Well. There you go. If anyone wants to ask questions related to any of this -- as I said, it's sort of a real-live episode of "Hoarders" by proxy -- go for it. Or if you've any experience with similar "heavy duty cleaning services" (seriously, this company also does crime-scene clean-up!), I'd love to hear from you. I hope there won't be too much shaming and pointing and laughing at the freak going on, but I've invited it and probably deserve it, so, well, y'all go ahead too. Of course, support will also be gratefully accepted.

(BTW I did put Hoarder/Clutterer in the title, but I think I'm more on the clutterer side of the spectrum. Though I suppose hoardering garbage is a thing too. Either way, doesn't matter. It's all just another word for "yuck.")
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Old 04-29-2012, 03:20 AM
wonky wonky is online now
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Good for you for seeking help. I hope you're able to keep the appointment and thrive with your newly cleaned digs.
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Old 04-29-2012, 07:00 AM
FairyChatMom FairyChatMom is online now
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Have you always been inclined to live in clutter, including when you were a child, or is it adult-onset clutter? If you stay overnight in a hotel or at a friend's place, do you find yourself awareness of clutter changes?

Do you think if you had a specific, written out schedule for doing chores, it would give you the self-discipline to control the clutter? For example: "Daily 7AM - scoop cat box. Daily 8PM - wash and put away all dishes, wipe down counters and sink. Tuesday morning - dust. Wednesday evening - vacuum."

I do wish you good luck. I'm not exactly the model Happy Homemaker, but I could make the common areas of the house very clean and orderly with a couple of hours of work. I admit the spare bedrooms are another story, but since no one ever uses them, they've become like huge walk-in closets. When we expect guests, they take a bit more effort to tidy up and organize, and frankly, it's just laziness on my part that keeps them in disarray, and cheapness that keeps me from having someone come in and do something about it for me.
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Old 04-29-2012, 07:52 AM
freckafree freckafree is offline
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What, specifically, makes you panicky about having the professional cleaners in? Is it solely about the shame of outsiders seeing your mess? (Rest assured, however bad it is, they've dealt with worse! And I mean worse clutter/hoarding, not the crime scene clean-up.) Is it just the idea of parting with your stuff? Is it the thought that something important might get thrown out?

No pointing and laughing here! Good for you for making such a hard first step, and I'm wishing you strength in the days ahead. You can do it.
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Old 04-29-2012, 08:04 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by choie View Post
This very much is going to be a process. Because what leads me to add the "hopefully soon to be former" part to the thread title is that after living in varying degrees of squalor (right now 3rd degree--never gotten to 4th degree, thank heavens) for ten+ years, I've finally gotten the courage to seek outside help from professional cleaners who specifically deal with such nutjobs "disposaphobic" clients.
Let me congratulate you for recognizing the problem and taking the first steps to deal with it. That in and of itself is a worthy achievement.

Quote:
This is going to be a hard week for me. Of course I know I'll be better for it afterwards, but I have to acknowledge this fact: it will be hard and embarrassing, and heaven knows what other emotions will get churned up as well.
Yes, yes it will be hard. So let me give you a few {{{hugs}}} right now.

I've had some struggle with this problem myself, including this thread. I think people who don't have these issues don't really understand just how hard it can be - not the actual physical cleaning but the emotional/headspace issues that come with it. If we out here in Doperland can do anything to help you - including just listening when you need to talk about it - let us know.

Quote:
I hope there won't be too much shaming and pointing and laughing at the freak going on, but I've invited it and probably deserve it, so, well, y'all go ahead too.
Excuse me? Sorry - you are NOT allowed to beat yourself up or paint a target on yourself. Anyone mocking you for recognizing and solving this problem should be escorted to the Pit and give a verbal brow-beating. No, you DO NOT deserve "shaming and pointing and laughing" and anyone who tells you that, or worse yet, does that, is a despicable excuse of a human being.
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Old 04-29-2012, 08:54 AM
Becky2844 Becky2844 is offline
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What a great new beginning! You've already done the hardest part in deciding to take action. Thanks for letting us know today so we can be with you during this week. Maybe as the cleaning progresses you can share the emotional steps it takes and we can all "take away" something from it.
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Old 04-29-2012, 09:19 AM
EmAnJ EmAnJ is offline
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Congratulations on taking this first step! It must have been very hard to get here, and even harder to keep the appointment. Almost there, though!

I don't have a specific question, though I would love to see before and after pictures. That might be way too personal for you though, so I understand if that's something you don't want to do.
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Old 04-29-2012, 10:41 AM
Nawth Chucka Nawth Chucka is offline
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When you look ahead to your life 6 months from now or at Thanksgiving, can you see in detail how different it will be? Once your home is open to everyone in your life in a way that brings you only happiness and much less stress, do you see how much fuller your life will be?
This is what I have tried to share (and failed) my clutter-hoarding mother; parts of her social and family life are as inaccessible as her home now and w/o one improving drastically the others will wither away permanently.
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Old 04-29-2012, 10:54 AM
Maastricht Maastricht is offline
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Good on you! No pointing or laughing here, on the contrary. The ancient proverb says: "know thyself". it doesn't say, as many people seem to think, "beat thyself up and try again and again what hasn't helped for the last ten years, either".

Would I be out of line if I asked for you to post some pictures? Making before, during and after pictures might be a great source of pride for you afterwards. Posting them for us would make your thread extra relatable.

One more thing: clutter and squalor are as unhealthy for feline apartment dwellers as it is for human ones. You are not doing this just for yourself.

Last edited by Maastricht; 04-29-2012 at 10:55 AM.
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Old 04-29-2012, 11:03 AM
billfish678 billfish678 is offline
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Congrats! Unless you've got dead cats, used diapers, and 20 year old vienna sausage cans buried in there somewhere I doubt the people that come to help you are going to bat an eye. Hell, they will probably relieved as hell and you'll be their favorite recent client.

I had a quick thought. Maybe you should have people over to your place on a regular basis. Since you actually have some shame about appearances it you would force you do a few hours of tidying up on a regular basis before every event. And for clutterer/low level hoarders I think just a few hours here go a long way towards keeping things under control. Its just that you gotta DO it.

Ahhh...remembered a story probably read here on the dope. Now, this would be embarrasing. Some lady had a regular boyfriend. Been together awhile. Radiator? gives out so landlord needs to come in to fix it. Landlord pulls out the bed. Seems the whole time the boyfriend has been tossing used condoms back there. So, if they didn't die of embarrassement I doubt you will either

Last edited by billfish678; 04-29-2012 at 11:04 AM.
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Old 04-29-2012, 11:11 AM
monstro monstro is offline
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Do you consider a hoarder or simply a messy person? Do your possessions carry special meaning for you? Or are you so focused on your writing that other things--like cleaning--simply don't register as important?
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Old 04-29-2012, 11:54 AM
choie choie is offline
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Oh wow, thank you so much for the encouragement and support along with the questions, guys. It was nerve-wracking just "coming out" in public with this thread, but I thought it might help to put things out in the open so I kind of get used to it prior to tomorrow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jsgoddess View Post
Good for you for seeking help. I hope you're able to keep the appointment and thrive with your newly cleaned digs.
Thanks, jsgoddess. I hope so too. I'm not one of those "shopper" hoarders, fortunately, so I think it'll be much easier to maintain once I've gotten rid of the old junk I've kept for such a long time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FairyChatMom View Post
Have you always been inclined to live in clutter, including when you were a child, or is it adult-onset clutter? If you stay overnight in a hotel or at a friend's place, do you find yourself awareness of clutter changes?
Great questions. I'd say I've always been inclined to that... I know my room was always messy as a kid, though I think it was relatively normal mess (toys on the floor, clothes not put away, toothpaste in the sink, etc.). Not garbage. Life is so much more controlled when we're children -- at least, back when I was growing up in the '70s and early '80s, parents did most of the shopping. However, I think I inherited a lot of my... laissez-faire attitude toward cleanliness, shall we say, from my mom. Who was not a good housekeeper, mostly due to her depression. I also inherited her depression, so this is probably not surprising.

Oh I am very aware and in awe of lack of clutter. When I go to my sister's place, or if I stay in a hotel, it's suddenly so calming and peaceful. My sister's home is sometimes "messy" (or what she calls messy, I should say) but it's again, typical sort of mess of an active family with a teenager... it's the regular chaos of life being lived at a fast pace where maybe fresh laundry sits in the basket for a little while, or music scores are stewn on the piano; it's far different from the sort of Miss Haversham, frozen-in-time, pseudo-cryptlike mess I've got.

Quote:
Do you think if you had a specific, written out schedule for doing chores, it would give you the self-discipline to control the clutter? For example: "Daily 7AM - scoop cat box. Daily 8PM - wash and put away all dishes, wipe down counters and sink. Tuesday morning - dust. Wednesday evening - vacuum."
Ooh interesting. I tend to chafe against assignments, but perhaps that kind of regimen would be of use to me. I remember a few years ago, after the leak I mentioned in my OP and my super came in and noticed how yucky the bathroom was and the fact that literally every fixture required fixing (but I hadn't had the courage to ask him in to get to it), he and a couple of the other maintenance workers came in and simultaneously fixed the stuffed-up tub, the leaky "u-bend" under the sink (under which I'd had to place a pail), fixed the faucet so it poured strongly instead of just a dribble, and repaired the broken ballcock in my toilet, plus gave me new tiles and painted the place. Anyway, after I had this basically brand-new bathroom, I made it a big point that after every use of the sink I'd wipe it down with a sponge so there was no sticky soap remnants, etc. Of course that eventually faded away.

But it could very well be that having a regular schedule would be of very much use to me. It's sometimes easy to lose track of time since I work from home and usually that includes weekends too (which makes being around this mess practically 24/7 all the more soul-destroying), but having a literal schedule could be helpful in many respects. Great idea, thank you!

Quote:
I do wish you good luck. I'm not exactly the model Happy Homemaker, but I could make the common areas of the house very clean and orderly with a couple of hours of work. I admit the spare bedrooms are another story, but since no one ever uses them, they've become like huge walk-in closets. When we expect guests, they take a bit more effort to tidy up and organize, and frankly, it's just laziness on my part that keeps them in disarray, and cheapness that keeps me from having someone come in and do something about it for me.
I hear you. I might, if I can afford it, have someone to come in once a month after this place is settled, even though since it's a studio I should be able to take care of it myself, but just the regularity would be delightful. Plus it'll give me an incentive to keep things under control so I don't freak out once a month. As it is I'm going to be cleaning my apartment a bit today before the cleaner comes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by freckafree View Post
What, specifically, makes you panicky about having the professional cleaners in? Is it solely about the shame of outsiders seeing your mess? (Rest assured, however bad it is, they've dealt with worse! And I mean worse clutter/hoarding, not the crime scene clean-up.) Is it just the idea of parting with your stuff? Is it the thought that something important might get thrown out?

No pointing and laughing here! Good for you for making such a hard first step, and I'm wishing you strength in the days ahead. You can do it.
Thank you, freckafree. I'm nervous about everything you mentioned except the last one. I know the cleaner will be making certain to ask me about most of the things he'll be throwing out, and the things that are truly important to me are relatively obvious things, like photos or (please don't laugh) old stuffed animals or memorabilia from childhood, or things like tax records/bills and so on.

It's especially the shame, that's issue number one. Just as you say, they do claim that they've seen every kind of mess. In fact the guy I spoke with on the phone was so kind and reassuring me on just that point, that they've seen everything, and indeed that's on their website as well. Heck might as well give 'em a plug: Home Clean Home.

Then, very close at second place, is the fear of throwing things out. I know I've mentioned this before in threads on hoarding, but... I actually (ugh this is embarrassing) feel sorry for things that are unwanted, what you hu-mans call "garbage." I can anthropromorphize just about anything, and usually do. So there'll be a tug of guilt for anything I've had for a while that ends up consigned to the garbage. An unworking lamp (just like that infamous Ikea commercial), a broken mug, old kitchen utensils that used to be in my childhood home and I can remember my late mom using, you name it.

Here's another admission I can't believe I'm admitting to: when I do throw out bags of garbage, I.... I actually apologize to it before I let it go down the chute. There's a very real sense of "there but for the grace of God go I" when I throw things out. I guess I feel that it's not fair that I have power over something's "life or death," even if that thing is inanimate. Because I've felt just as powerless too, just as disposable and easy to abandon.

Oy. That's heavy stuff to put out in public. BTW, yes, I'm seeing a shrink, before anyone asks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
Let me congratulate you for recognizing the problem and taking the first steps to deal with it. That in and of itself is a worthy achievement.

Yes, yes it will be hard. So let me give you a few {{{hugs}}} right now.

I've had some struggle with this problem myself, including this thread. I think people who don't have these issues don't really understand just how hard it can be - not the actual physical cleaning but the emotional/headspace issues that come with it. If we out here in Doperland can do anything to help you - including just listening when you need to talk about it - let us know.
Thank you, Broomstick. Yes, I remember that thread, and I definitely appreciate your empathy from one who's been there. And thanks for the hugs too.

Quote:
Excuse me? Sorry - you are NOT allowed to beat yourself up or paint a target on yourself. Anyone mocking you for recognizing and solving this problem should be escorted to the Pit and give a verbal brow-beating. No, you DO NOT deserve "shaming and pointing and laughing" and anyone who tells you that, or worse yet, does that, is a despicable excuse of a human being.
Well, I certainly wouldn't laugh at someone else in this situation, and I'm sure you wouldn't either, but I've read those Hoarders threads in Cafe Society or on Television Without Pity and a little piece of me dies whenever the inevitable insults get tossed at the show's subjects. I know, speaking purely objectively, that it is ridiculous for a 45-year-old woman (moi) to feel sorry for an old stuffed animal or to apologize to garbage or let things get so old in my fridge I literally have no room to place new food in there (and wouldn't want to), and not be able to kill bugs (carpet beetles, moths, and spiders -- no cockroaches, thank God).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Becky2844 View Post
What a great new beginning! You've already done the hardest part in deciding to take action. Thanks for letting us know today so we can be with you during this week. Maybe as the cleaning progresses you can share the emotional steps it takes and we can all "take away" something from it.
That's exactly what I'm hoping for! Thanks so much, Becky.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EmAnJ View Post
Congratulations on taking this first step! It must have been very hard to get here, and even harder to keep the appointment. Almost there, though!

I don't have a specific question, though I would love to see before and after pictures. That might be way too personal for you though, so I understand if that's something you don't want to do.
Thanks, EmAnJ. (Oh! I just got your screenname, heh. Clever. ) I've been thinking of how important it'll be to take before, during and after pictures. I'd probably only feel comfortable posting them after the week is through... does that make sense? Because once things are in better shape, I'll have more objectivity and the knowledge that I'm no longer here, in this awful place. Does that make sense? But I will definitely post pics after the fact, if that's okay.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nawth Chucka View Post
When you look ahead to your life 6 months from now or at Thanksgiving, can you see in detail how different it will be? Once your home is open to everyone in your life in a way that brings you only happiness and much less stress, do you see how much fuller your life will be?
I definitely try to envision that, Nawth Chucka. I swear, I would be thrilled to imagine this place consisting of nothing but a bed, a desk for my computer, clean white walls, and a spotless floor. Obviously I know it won't really look like that, I have books and things that won't be tossed, but boy, the "zen" of such an empty room sure pleases me to envision.

Part of my psychological issues involves my inability to "see" the future, if you know what I mean-- not that I want to be a psychic but that I've always had difficulty envisioning myself in a different "place," and that difficulty makes me think that it therefore won't happen. I can't even envision past this week -- hell, past this Monday. The unknown future frightens me and thus I try to pretend it doesn't exist.

This dates back to childhood. I remember putting off applying to colleges as a kid because I simply could not fathom what it'd be like to be away from home and away from my mom, and so I was certain I therefore wouldn't be going to college. (I think my mom was rather ambivalent about my leaving too, since we were so similar and I was her youngest kid, so she wasn't exactly the sort to push me out of the nest.)

I think this is learned behavior from her. She was someone who thought of the future (hell, the world in general) as a dangerous, unpredictable place, and I understand why she saw it that way -- her son died in an accident and she was never able to forgive herself for that, and so only saw unhappiness looming ahead of her as part of her just desserts for "letting" the accident happen -- and somehow though I lack her specific experiences, I share that part of her. We never planned ahead for anything in my house, everything was always thrown together at the last minute. Packing, cleaning for holidays, the college application thing, homework, etc.

We didn't know the name of this back then, but looking back I can see that we were totally codependents. She tried to protect me from the world so I'd be safe but unconsciously made me feel more threatened by it.

ANYway (as you see I clutter with words, too!), I really am trying to envision what this place will be like, and being able finally to get my place painted after twenty years (my lease states that I get a free paint job after ten years), and ask for repairs I've been putting off (I've had a non-working oven for just about the entire time I've lived here), and actually having my wonderful niece come to visit -- she's never been here since she was a baby, and she's 16 now! -- not to mention friends I've cocooned myself away from.

And this may sound stupid but just letting my cats having more room to scamper around will be nice. Now whenever one of my cats (Therblig, the only boy) goes into one of his "hey I'm going to run relay races back and forth in the apartment every night at 8PM" moods, he has to dart around the piles of junk, and usually wreaks havoc by knocking stuff over because, bless his heart, he's not the most graceful of animals.

What I want most to envision is being outside of the apartment, you know, going anywhere even just to my shrink appointment, and not dreading coming back home. Finding it a comfortable, warm, cozy space where I'm at peace, not a self-imposed jail that feels like a physical manifestation of my crazy brain. And also having it be a place that lets my mind feel restful, able to create as an author/editor and web designer. It would be bliss to feel like that.

Quote:
This is what I have tried to share (and failed) my clutter-hoarding mother; parts of her social and family life are as inaccessible as her home now and w/o one improving drastically the others will wither away permanently.
I totally understand her mindset, and how obviously this distresses and frustrates you. The hoarding/clutter has become a fortress that locks me inside and keeps others out. Does your mom have any fear or phobia issues aside from the disposophobia?

Thanks again to everyone for your support so far. It's tremendously appreciated.
  #13  
Old 04-29-2012, 12:28 PM
Nawth Chucka Nawth Chucka is offline
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Choie, my mom is undiagnosed but I see her having been depressed most of my life. She married an unrepentant alcoholic who didn't want kids and had 2 'oops' Pill babies who I expect she thought he'd embrace once they were here; he did not. When I visit them in the large home to which they retired I'm aghast at the mean things he says to her (far worse than insults he made when I was young) and if she lets it affect her she doesn't say so. They live separate lives in one house, except when she makes meals for him and does his laundry. I think she surrounds herself w/ things that make her feel good thinking it will internalize and she can feel good from the inside out. In doing so she's created walls and shut off rooms of clutter which affords my dad another avenue of cruel 'jokes' at her expense.

Visitors have left days early and in the middle of the night w/o notice, or they stay at a hotel in town or park an RV a mile or so away and only visit outside. Repeat visitors have learned to 'pass through', myself included, in order to avoid staying for long amid the clutter and pain.

Compounding this is that my mom was raised in abject poverty in S.E Kentucky. As the 9th of 10 kids whose sisters were over a decade older than her she wore her brother's hand-me-downs until she made a dress for herself in Home Ec. Having something for herself when she can became an opportunity she never passes up now.

Last edited by Nawth Chucka; 04-29-2012 at 12:28 PM.
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Old 04-29-2012, 12:37 PM
choie choie is offline
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Good heavens, three more replies during the time it took me to compose that last magnum opus! I'll attack 'em now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maastricht View Post
Good on you! No pointing or laughing here, on the contrary. The ancient proverb says: "know thyself". it doesn't say, as many people seem to think, "beat thyself up and try again and again what hasn't helped for the last ten years, either".

Would I be out of line if I asked for you to post some pictures? Making before, during and after pictures might be a great source of pride for you afterwards. Posting them for us would make your thread extra relatable.

One more thing: clutter and squalor are as unhealthy for feline apartment dwellers as it is for human ones. You are not doing this just for yourself.
I definitely understand how you wanna see pictures! It's only natural. I think I'll feel a bit more comfortable doing that as the week goes on, so there's at least a little progress. I will take "before" shots, but won't post them until I can get at least one "during" shot up there too. It's sort of like a weight loss thing. It's always harder to start with a "before" shot if you're currently at your highest weight; once you've lost a little weight, posting that "before" shot isn't quite as daunting.

And you're definitely right about my cats. It's not good to have old catfood cans lying around, because they seem drawn to the "leftovers" like they're aged wine or cheese.

By now either they (and I) have the world's strongest immune system after living with so much dust/mold/yuck for years, or we're slowly being poisoned from being around all this virtual toxic waste.

Quote:
Originally Posted by billfish678 View Post
Congrats! Unless you've got dead cats, used diapers, and 20 year old vienna sausage cans buried in there somewhere I doubt the people that come to help you are going to bat an eye. Hell, they will probably relieved as hell and you'll be their favorite recent client.
Heh. I hope so, and none of those are part of my, um, collection. As I mentioned some of the cat food cans are a few weeks old, to my shame, but the only once-alive-now-dead creatures are probably silverfish or other creepy crawlies. Actually I'm a little annoyed that the spiders aren't doing a better job. They should've gotten rid of the other bugs by now, what's they're problem? Freakin' slackers.

Quote:
I had a quick thought. Maybe you should have people over to your place on a regular basis. Since you actually have some shame about appearances it you would force you do a few hours of tidying up on a regular basis before every event. And for clutterer/low level hoarders I think just a few hours here go a long way towards keeping things under control. Its just that you gotta DO it.

Ahhh...remembered a story probably read here on the dope. Now, this would be embarrasing. Some lady had a regular boyfriend. Been together awhile. Radiator? gives out so landlord needs to come in to fix it. Landlord pulls out the bed. Seems the whole time the boyfriend has been tossing used condoms back there. So, if they didn't die of embarrassement I doubt you will either
OMG, yowsa. Yeah, that's... that's pretty embarrassing. Anyway yes, you're very right that inviting people here would make me more inclined to keep it in better shape. I'm always desperate to hide everything (shove it under beds, put it in the shower/bath, in the kitchen, etc.) the one time a year my apartment's janitorial staff come by to change the filters of my air conditioner. If this were a more regular occurance--having people inside--I would certainly be more disciplined to keep things in a clean state.

For example I'd love to take guitar lessons, and I know this one teacher who comes to your home and works with you there.That would be so wonderful but wow, not gonna happen. Hopefully when the week's done, things will open up for me. My apartment will open up for me, and let me invite people into it... and into my life in general.

Quote:
Originally Posted by monstro View Post
Do you consider a hoarder or simply a messy person? Do your possessions carry special meaning for you? Or are you so focused on your writing that other things--like cleaning--simply don't register as important?
Hey monstro. No, I think this is beyond messy... My middle sister (I'm the youngest of three) is what I'd call "messy." Clothes tossed about, make-up not put away, sometimes doesn't clean her dishes for a few days, etc. I think while you were writing this I was explaining a bit of how I feel toward garbage, but obviously you couldn't have seen that. In short, my possessions do carry meaning in a few different ways.

1) The genuinely sentimental possessions that I think most people would find sentimental. Old stuffed animals (I don't really have that many, maybe a dozen.. okay that actually sounds like a lot to most people, but I must've had a hundred or so when I was a kid, so having just 12 or so is pretty good for me), photos, some knick-knacks that belonged to my late mom & pop (e.g. his "jewelry" box -- well, not jewelry, but cufflinks, watches, that sorta thing, and the sign to my mom's bookstore. Yes, the actual sign, which has double-sentimental value because my father's the one who made it), some souvenirs from a family trip to England when I was a kid such as a tiny china pitcher/tea set from "The Old Curiosity Shop," and books.

2) The crap that's probably sentimental only to me. The ceramic paw print I took from my late cat -- she's the one whose name I use on the SDMB, btw. (The animal hospital where I took her after she died gave me this clay so I could create a cast of her paw print. Which was very touching and kind of them.) Stuffed animals I've found on the street. (This is weird, but I swear these things follow me around -- I've found four little stuffed animals hanging around in trees or on top of mail boxes. Is this common? It's like they're placed there just to torment me. I remember walking to my shrink appointment (rather amusingly) and passing by a little stuffed cat on top of one of those "Press here to change the light" boxes at crosswalks. It took all my will power not to pick it up and "save" it then and there, but walking the rest of the way to my appointment, I was eating myself up inside at the thought of that abandoned little thing. I swore to myself that if it was still there on my way back, I would pick it up. Sure enough, it was, and I did, and I'm looking at it right now.)

3) Stuff I feel sorry for. I kind of think of things as... well, not really "alive," or sentient, or whatever -- I'll cop to a lot of issues but I'm not that crazy to think my broken chair is a living creature. I don't talk to it or anything like that. My psychological smorgasbord does not include delusions. However, as I mentioned earlier, if it's possible to anthropomorphize something, I will. Rather stupidly and self-destructively, I like to name things. I named my reclining chair "Oliver" (it's olive-colored) and my mouse"George" (as in "I'm gonna love it and keep it and call it George" from the Bugs Bunny cartoon). My computer du jour is always "Computy." (Okay, that's not a very creative name, so sue me.) Anyway, of course now that "Oliver" is broken I'm going to feel ridiculously guilty throwing him it out, but that's what will need to happen at the end of the week.

In short (too late!), anything I've lived with long enough to "get used to it," so to speak, becomes part of me and I feel like it's presumptuous of me to feel more important than either bugs or garbage. Yeah, low self-esteem is a problem for me, why do you ask?

I mentioned this before but do you guys remember that old IKEA commercial where they showed a broken lamp set out in the garbage, and this Swiss-accented guy explains that it's broken and no one wants it, and finally at the end of the commercial he says something like, "And now you're feeling sorry for the lamp? Get over it, it's a lamp." That's totally me.

Re: the writing... oh, how I wish I could say I was just so into my art that I can't be bothered with worldly things and am so tightly focused that cleaning gets away from me... That's waaaaay too kind. No, in fact it's the opposite. I think the chaos in my apartment has had a deleterious effect on my own writing. It's hard to concentrate as fully when, if I shift my gaze slightly from the monitor, I can see a pile of old cardboard boxes or a bunch of empty soda/water bottles looming beyond. I can do writing that I must do (freelance work hired by others) but it's much harder to focus on my novels, which is definitely a problem since they too are part of my bread and butter.

So I'd love to play the artiste card, but... no. I appreciate the try though.

Edited on preview to Nawth Chucka: wow. I feel such sympathy for both you and your mom. I think a lot of people who grew up in poverty, who now have the opportunity to have things of their own, may have similar issues. It's a proprietary feeling that one never had the chance to exhibit in one's childhood. Is she a collector sort of hoarder -- that is, are there certain types of things that she tends to accumulate, or is it just all kinds of stuff?

(Can't believe people would leave in the middle of the night; that's just rude, unless actual rats or bugs were crawling on them, or they found themselves unable to breathe due to dust and whatnot!)

Last edited by choie; 04-29-2012 at 12:41 PM.
  #15  
Old 04-29-2012, 12:45 PM
choie choie is offline
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Actually I'm a little annoyed that the spiders aren't doing a better job. They should've gotten rid of the other bugs by now, what's they're problem?
DAMN. Missed the editing window, but ... yeah, I know the difference between "they're" and "their." So much for my meticulous editing!
  #16  
Old 04-29-2012, 01:12 PM
Alice The Goon Alice The Goon is offline
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Do you own or rent your apartment? Did the super not say anything to the manager when he saw? I would have been freaking out- or was it not that bad at the time?

Also just want to throw some encouragement your way. The next few days may be embarrassing and difficult, but you know that it will be worth it in the end. Don't cancel. You're going to feel so much better when it's over.
  #17  
Old 04-29-2012, 01:17 PM
Tapiotar Tapiotar is offline
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choie, more congratulations to you for taking this step. I applaud you for writing about it, too -- it lets a little more healing light into this dark source of pain for you. Besides, it can hep and inspire other people with the same or similar problems. Heck, as soon as I read the thread title I got up and threw out and/or recycled 20 pieces of paper.

One thing that helps me is that I have declared two places in my apartment to be clutter-free zones. No matter if things get a little sloppy elsewhere, those two spots will always be clean and tidy. They are little oases, and having them helps me keep the rest of the place tidier.

Every time I donate clothes and knick-kancks to Salvation Army, or nicer clothes to a women's shelter, or take boxes of books and cds to the Friends of the Library sale, I feel a little lighter and freer. I wish you that wonderful feeling of freedom.
  #18  
Old 04-29-2012, 01:55 PM
Blackberry Blackberry is offline
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I have treatment-resistant depression too, and it took me a while to learn to keep my house in order once I moved out on my own. My mom kept our house fine while I was growing up but I never had to do chores regularly, so I never learned how to do it right, and then after I moved out, it was overwhelming to me. I still tend to get overwhelmed easily (and my apartment is never even very messy), but what I've found helps when I'm having a really hard time getting started or knowing where to start, is to just decide that I'm going to do one single chore, no matter how small it is. Unload the dishwasher, clean the toilet, sort through one pile of papers/mail...anything. And I'll let myself stop after that one thing. But usually when I do this, I end up doing a few more things too. Sometimes I really do quit after the one thing, and I don't feel bad about it.

A few other tips that may or may not help you: get cleaning supplies that let you do small maintenance cleaning easily, if you don't already have them. For example get a dustbuster. I hate hardcore vacuuming but I use the dustbuster for a couple minutes almost every day. And you can use Lysol wipes to wipe down kitchen and bathroom stuff. Deep cleaning is still necessary sometimes but it's easier to make yourself do that when the situation doesn't look so hopeless, plus even if you don't do it, the light stuff is a lot better than nothing.

And about being embarrassed about the cleaners, try not to imagine what they must be thinking of you, instead think about how YOU would feel about someone else who you know is having a hard time handling something, but is working to change it. They're probably just as understanding of people as you are, plus this is just routine for them. That's what I have to tell myself whenever I seek any help for depression/anxiety-related issues, because I'm always embarrassed too.

I'd like to see before and after pictures too, if you want to share them Good luck!
  #19  
Old 04-29-2012, 01:59 PM
Nawth Chucka Nawth Chucka is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by choie View Post
For example I'd love to take guitar lessons, and I know this one teacher who comes to your home and works with you there.That would be so wonderful but wow, not gonna happen. Hopefully when the week's done, things will open up for me. My apartment will open up for me, and let me invite people into it... and into my life in general.
/snipped/
Edited on preview to Nawth Chucka: wow. I feel such sympathy for both you and your mom. I think a lot of people who grew up in poverty, who now have the opportunity to have things of their own, may have similar issues. It's a proprietary feeling that one never had the chance to exhibit in one's childhood. Is she a collector sort of hoarder -- that is, are there certain types of things that she tends to accumulate, or is it just all kinds of stuff?

(Can't believe people would leave in the middle of the night; that's just rude, unless actual rats or bugs were crawling on them, or they found themselves unable to breathe due to dust and whatnot!)
I'm so glad you can look ahead and envision your space w/ a guitar teacher in it; that's a specific, achievable goal that resonates.
Mom collects pretty things or Indian-themed things but also quilts and reads; along w/ the stacks of fabric dedicated to quilting there are paper bags from the thrift store (stapled shut) marked 'Women's Shirts, $1' that Mom says, "If there's even 1 good quit piece in there it's worth a dollar!" She seems to have maybe 3-4 dozen of those bags she's picked up over the years and they line the formal dining room and living room. Likewise w/ boxes and bags of books. The navigable rooms of the house are my dad's bedroom, his office, his workroom and the 1/2 bath. They are in a warm enough part of NC they can rely on their fireplace for heat and I expect a great conflagration will consume them or their very flammable things some day.
She does not throw out unopened, expired food. In her head the clock doesn't start running until they've been opened. The pantries (kitchen, garage, basement) have odors.
The guests who fled were almost certainly overwhelmed by the dust, grunge, cat odors, spiders, silverfish, centipedes and general unclean appearance of the house. The guest bath has paths. The kitchen has a path. The cats are allowed to sit where they like. It's a large cluttered house and on every visit I've stumbled across dessicated cat mess of some variety. Two of my dad's friends from his old job stopped by to stay a few days on the way down to FL and left 12 hours after they arrived, before dawn. They tried to tactfully explain why they fled but my dad understood and got pissed enough to not speak to my mom for weeks over it. He's had NO repeat inside visitors.
My mom donates nothing; she thinks it's wasteful, you should just hold on to the thing you can't use anymore until someone in your family needs it, rather than give it to stranger and risk never seeing it again (losing control over the item).
  #20  
Old 04-29-2012, 02:04 PM
choie choie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alice The Goon View Post
Do you own or rent your apartment? Did the super not say anything to the manager when he saw? I would have been freaking out- or was it not that bad at the time?

Also just want to throw some encouragement your way. The next few days may be embarrassing and difficult, but you know that it will be worth it in the end. Don't cancel. You're going to feel so much better when it's over.
Hi Alice, and thank you very much! Back when the leak thing happened, I think that's when the super spoke to the manager, and he came in to look at the bathroom and by fiat said that I should get new tiles and a paint job in the bathroom.

A few years ago... probably 2008 or 9?... my downstairs neighbor had an oven fire that spread and put my apartment in some danger; the firemen were concerned that there might be some lurking flames behind the walls of my kitchen. So they and the super came in, and my apartment was... well, it was even worse than it is now, which is saying something. Turns out the fire wasn't a problem, great and all, but the super saw my (former) sofa, which was totally ripped apart from my cats' claws with the soft foam stuffing practically exploding out of it.

He apparently spoke to the building's owner, who (either fortunately or unfortunately, depending on my POV) happens to be related, sort of, to my family. (He's the nephew of my late father's girlfriend -- that connection is how I got the apartment, by the way.) Anyway, the owner called my oldest sister and I guess told her of the conditions under which I was living, and said they were a hazard, and I would need to leave if things weren't in control, yadda yadda. That was freaking embarrassing. Also, frankly, they want me out of this apartment; due to the old connection, I'm paying a pretty low price for this apartment, and until I leave they can't hike up the rent to where it should be for an NYC doorman building in this area.

(Rather coincidentally, my downstairs neighbor was evicted for this very reason. Not the rent reason, but because her place was considered a hazard. I still think this is bullshit; what happened was after the fire, the firemen opened her windows wide, and this being an eighth floor apartment, the wind proceeded to blow everything around and make a horrific mess, not to mention all the fire damage. The landlord claimed it had been like this before, but I know for a fact that the photographs they used as evidence of her hazardous apartment conditions were taken after the fire, where naturalyl everything was chaotic. Anyway. She's gone now.)

Sorry for the digression. Anyway, after that, I did clean things up to a relatively reasonable degree, at least if you didn't look in my closets. The sofa was thrown out (very hard for me; I kept imagining it out on the curb and feeling abandoned/lonely*) and other things were thrown away as well.

* This level of over-empathizing with inanimate objects or bugs makes life very hard for me. It's exhausting and I know it's irrational, and likely due to my incredibly low self-worth. I'm working on that. Hopefully this week will sort of be an immersion into my deep empathy issues and maybe help rid me of them, at least to get some proper perspective on what things should be valued and what should not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tapiotar View Post
choie, more congratulations to you for taking this step. I applaud you for writing about it, too -- it lets a little more healing light into this dark source of pain for you. Besides, it can hep and inspire other people with the same or similar problems. Heck, as soon as I read the thread title I got up and threw out and/or recycled 20 pieces of paper.
Awesome! Thank you, I know people feel like that after episodes of "Hoarders" too. It's hard coming out of the (very messy) closet like this, but yeah, I think it's important to, as you say, let some light in. Just like allowing this cleaner guy enter the apartment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tapiotar View Post
One thing that helps me is that I have declared two places in my apartment to be clutter-free zones. No matter if things get a little sloppy elsewhere, those two spots will always be clean and tidy. They are little oases, and having them helps me keep the rest of the place tidier.

Every time I donate clothes and knick-kancks to Salvation Army, or nicer clothes to a women's shelter, or take boxes of books and cds to the Friends of the Library sale, I feel a little lighter and freer. I wish you that wonderful feeling of freedom.
Thank you, Tapiotar. Oh yes, freedom... that's precisely what I'm seeking. This is a heavy burden for me, especially since (as I mentioned) I work from home, so I rarely get any relief from it. Except for going out to my shrink and various ER visits due to panic attacks, I'm rarely apart from my squalor. Maybe that's why I feel such kinship with it. (Or vice versa. It's a chicken-or-egg thing. Am I having anxiety/agoraphobia issues because I'm living so horribly, or am I living horribly because of my issues? Probably a little of both. It's definitely a vicious circle thing, which is why I'm hoping breaking that cycle will maybe be cathartic in other areas as well.)
  #21  
Old 04-29-2012, 02:10 PM
Maastricht Maastricht is offline
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Choie, here's one thing that you might not have thought about, that may help you go through with this. And that is, that many people, both in the cleaning business and outside of it, LOVE to work on an clean-up job like this. The number one reason is that they will see such a HELL of a lot of difference in just a small time. Talk about a rewarding job!
The next thing is, that you called them in (so while you might have your difficult moments, you wil not fight them every step of the way). Which makes their job a lot easier.
And third, your clean up job is not a tragic one. Things may be dirty and messy, but once that is gone, all that is left is a happy (well, happier ) choie and three happy cats. These people are used to tragic, and that makes your job a walk in the park. The contractor probably already loves you.

Have you ever seen the movie: "Sunshine cleaning"? Or read "Stuff?" I think you would love both.

Last edited by Maastricht; 04-29-2012 at 02:13 PM.
  #22  
Old 04-29-2012, 03:10 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Originally Posted by choie View Post

Then, very close at second place, is the fear of throwing things out. I know I've mentioned this before in threads on hoarding, but... I actually (ugh this is embarrassing) feel sorry for things that are unwanted, what you hu-mans call "garbage." I can anthropromorphize just about anything, and usually do. So there'll be a tug of guilt for anything I've had for a while that ends up consigned to the garbage. An unworking lamp (just like that infamous Ikea commercial), a broken mug, old kitchen utensils that used to be in my childhood home and I can remember my late mom using, you name it.
I totally understand this. I have a really hard time letting things go also. (My house is a shithole as well, but it's been better since my fiance moved in. I've tried the whole Motivated Moms binder where today we vacuum the living room, etc, and always fall off the wagon.) The longer I've had things the worse it is - my ex gave me a bottle of wine ages ago that he got for me on some trip or another. I've never drunk it and now I feel so weird about it - if I drink it now, I'll feel sad about it, but if I don't drink it it will still be there...

ETA - I love antique stores but find them so incredibly sad - here are all these things that somebody used to love, and now they're contextless junk. Especially things like old postcards that you always find in antique stores - somebody cared enough to save them, and then what? Did they die? Did they not care anymore?

Last edited by Zsofia; 04-29-2012 at 03:11 PM.
  #23  
Old 04-29-2012, 03:23 PM
Lasciel Lasciel is offline
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Good on you for taking this step.

I had a couple of suggestions for you for some of your specifics.

First off - if your trash place does any level of recycling, then most everything you throw out -- broken lamps, small appliances, etc are going to be pulled out and used as the building blocks for new things. Think of it like a karmic reincarnation for objects - this sad old lamp is tired and ready to move on to his new life as a set of freshly created brass candlesticks that someone will love and cherish! Having a grounded, reality-based, and specific thought in mind that items will be re-used or re-purposed can maybe help you feel less like you are "abandoning them" when it's time for them to move on.

Secondly - you aren't the only one who keeps stuffed childhood animals - I have boxes of old childhood books that I can't even read anymore because they are too old and fragile, but there is no way I could throw them away. People get attached to all sorts of things - it's just how we are.

This is a short Youtube clip that demonstrates this pretty perfectly - humans get attached to things really easily - it's a very positive thing. I bet that you are extremely empathetic and helpful, and that you care deeply about your friends and family. if the downside to that is that you feel the need to "rescue" stuffed animals and feel bad for inanimate objects, then that's ok!

Finally - you said that you're really bad at, and didn't have much childhood modeling for, looking forward to things in the future. Most people are really bad at that - we aren't very good at predictions at all, but we still try. What you might want to do is have your sister or a friend write up a description of a scene where you have a nice small dinner party, or a couple of friends over to watch a movie. If so, you can post it to your bathroom mirror or your fridge or your computer desk, where you'll see it regularly, and that can be a help for you visualizing good things happening in your newly clean and de-cluttered place!
  #24  
Old 04-29-2012, 05:38 PM
Rachellelogram Rachellelogram is offline
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Some good advice that I've seen in action, which is really helpful for people who ascribe specific memories to physical objects: if you're worried about throwing away something, even though it's broken or you NEVER use it, take a picture of it before you throw it away. Then you can always look at the picture. All of the memories attached to that item do not require that you keep the item itself. As long as you can see the picture later, those memories won't fade away.

Also, after this, if you can afford to hire a cleaning lady to come in once or twice a week, DO IT. Then you have a clean place that stays clean, and it doesn't cost you any effort to keep it that way.

And you can keep your stuffed animals, but they'd be better out of the way. How about a corner hammock for them to sit in together? Surely that's a better way to treat them than living in the middle of a huge mess.

Last edited by Rachellelogram; 04-29-2012 at 05:42 PM.
  #25  
Old 04-29-2012, 06:20 PM
choie choie is offline
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Sorry for the delay, guys. I was out getting some paper towels and spray cleaner. Which as my sister teased, is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maastricht View Post
Choie, here's one thing that you might not have thought about, that may help you go through with this. And that is, that many people, both in the cleaning business and outside of it, LOVE to work on an clean-up job like this. The number one reason is that they will see such a HELL of a lot of difference in just a small time. Talk about a rewarding job!

The next thing is, that you called them in (so while you might have your difficult moments, you wil not fight them every step of the way). Which makes their job a lot easier.

And third, your clean up job is not a tragic one. Things may be dirty and messy, but once that is gone, all that is left is a happy (well, happier ) choie and three happy cats. These people are used to tragic, and that makes your job a walk in the park. The contractor probably already loves you.

Have you ever seen the movie: "Sunshine cleaning"? Or read "Stuff?" I think you would love both.
Wow, Maastricht. I wanted to quote this whole message because it's so awesome. Thank you, I hadn't thought about that aspect--that at least I'm doing this willingly, rather than under duress due to some external pressure (family, social worker, landlord, court edict...). That makes me feel much better. I'm sure I'll be resistant to some of the cleaner's activities--at least, internally, even if I try not to let it show that throwing out some random piece of junk is eating my heart out.

And nope I haven't seen those films, but I'll definitely check them out. Thank you so much!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia View Post
I totally understand this. I have a really hard time letting things go also. (My house is a shithole as well, but it's been better since my fiance moved in. I've tried the whole Motivated Moms binder where today we vacuum the living room, etc, and always fall off the wagon.) The longer I've had things the worse it is - my ex gave me a bottle of wine ages ago that he got for me on some trip or another. I've never drunk it and now I feel so weird about it - if I drink it now, I'll feel sad about it, but if I don't drink it it will still be there...

ETA - I love antique stores but find them so incredibly sad - here are all these things that somebody used to love, and now they're contextless junk. Especially things like old postcards that you always find in antique stores - somebody cared enough to save them, and then what? Did they die? Did they not care anymore?
Oh God girl, you're making me cry! Yes, that's how I feel. These things were loved once, and now they're not. That disturbs me on several different levels. It's nice to know someone understands this feeling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lasciel View Post
Good on you for taking this step.

I had a couple of suggestions for you for some of your specifics.

First off - if your trash place does any level of recycling, then most everything you throw out -- broken lamps, small appliances, etc are going to be pulled out and used as the building blocks for new things. Think of it like a karmic reincarnation for objects - this sad old lamp is tired and ready to move on to his new life as a set of freshly created brass candlesticks that someone will love and cherish! Having a grounded, reality-based, and specific thought in mind that items will be re-used or re-purposed can maybe help you feel less like you are "abandoning them" when it's time for them to move on.
Aw. That is a nice way to put it! I have no idea if there's any recycling done (well, other than the official recycling day, which is Friday), but I'll try to imagine there is because that's helpful. (And thank you for saying "him." I have a running argument with my sister, because I always call objects "him," and she says, "why isn't it a girl?" But that's crazy talk! Everyone knows inanimate objects are male. Sheesh! )

Quote:
Secondly - you aren't the only one who keeps stuffed childhood animals - I have boxes of old childhood books that I can't even read anymore because they are too old and fragile, but there is no way I could throw them away. People get attached to all sorts of things - it's just how we are.

This is a short Youtube clip that demonstrates this pretty perfectly - humans get attached to things really easily - it's a very positive thing. I bet that you are extremely empathetic and helpful, and that you care deeply about your friends and family. if the downside to that is that you feel the need to "rescue" stuffed animals and feel bad for inanimate objects, then that's ok!

Finally - you said that you're really bad at, and didn't have much childhood modeling for, looking forward to things in the future. Most people are really bad at that - we aren't very good at predictions at all, but we still try. What you might want to do is have your sister or a friend write up a description of a scene where you have a nice small dinner party, or a couple of friends over to watch a movie. If so, you can post it to your bathroom mirror or your fridge or your computer desk, where you'll see it regularly, and that can be a help for you visualizing good things happening in your newly clean and de-cluttered place!
You're so kind and I hope I can do that! I do over-empathize with things, and I probably do with people as well, though I tend to blockade myself from them (perhaps that's what the trash is partly for...) but I definitely tend to feel things deeply. Reading Peanuts made me cry as a kid. I think I've mentioned this before but I have old editions of Peanuts books where as a kid I'd gone through the entire thing and drew smiles instead of frowns or sad faces on Charlie Brown, Linus and Snoopy's faces. I'd also write little thought balloons near Charlie Brown's head after Lucy or whoever insulted him where he'd say "Big deal, I don't care what you say!" or whatever witty comeback an eight-year-old me would have dreamed up for dialogue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rachelellogram View Post
Some good advice that I've seen in action, which is really helpful for people who ascribe specific memories to physical objects: if you're worried about throwing away something, even though it's broken or you NEVER use it, take a picture of it before you throw it away. Then you can always look at the picture. All of the memories attached to that item do not require that you keep the item itself. As long as you can see the picture later, those memories won't fade away.

Also, after this, if you can afford to hire a cleaning lady to come in once or twice a week, DO IT. Then you have a clean place that stays clean, and it doesn't cost you any effort to keep it that way.

And you can keep your stuffed animals, but they'd be better out of the way. How about a corner hammock for them to sit in together? Surely that's a better way to treat them than living in the middle of a huge mess.
Hee. I actually do have them up on shelves or in a basket, so that's one little bit of organization I do. I like the idea of a photograph too. That's very helpful, thank you!

Thanks to everyone in this thread. You've all been so amazingly thoughtful and supportive. I angsted so much about posting this but I'm glad I did. I'll definitely post tomorrow night and let you guys know how Day 1 went.

Oh and I just took pictures of my "before" apartment, yucko. You'll all be happy to know (I hope) that the cleaning place called to confirm earlier and I said "yes," so I did have a chance to cancel and affirmatively decided not to. Yay?

Last edited by choie; 04-29-2012 at 06:21 PM.
  #26  
Old 04-29-2012, 06:24 PM
Alice The Goon Alice The Goon is offline
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You've been so open and willing to be vulnerable in this thread, I can't imagine anyone snarking or being mean to you. It took a lot of guts to let us know this about you. I applaud you.

I've always wanted to live in Manhattan. I'd be willing to clean the place every day if I can move in!
  #27  
Old 04-29-2012, 06:47 PM
maggenpye maggenpye is offline
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I'm in the throes of a(nother) clean out myself.

I like to think of sending my old things off to the Op Shops as a triple threat of goodness:

1. My home is tidier.
2. Op Shops use the profit for charitible works.
3. The things go to people who will love and appreciate them all over again.

I just gave away a shopping bag's worth of art supplies that the Kid has never used - they go back several birthdays. I thought I was doing so well, until the friend I gave them to handed me a huge (hee-oooge!) skein of wool in my favourite colour as thanks. Space saved = 0. Joy = 1 Squillion on both sides.

Last edited by maggenpye; 04-29-2012 at 06:48 PM.
  #28  
Old 04-29-2012, 07:48 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by choie View Post
3) Stuff I feel sorry for. I kind of think of things as... well, not really "alive," or sentient, or whatever -- I'll cop to a lot of issues but I'm not that crazy to think my broken chair is a living creature. I don't talk to it or anything like that. My psychological smorgasbord does not include delusions. However, as I mentioned earlier, if it's possible to anthropomorphize something, I will. Rather stupidly and self-destructively, I like to name things. I named my reclining chair "Oliver" (it's olive-colored) and my mouse"George" (as in "I'm gonna love it and keep it and call it George" from the Bugs Bunny cartoon). My computer du jour is always "Computy." (Okay, that's not a very creative name, so sue me.) Anyway, of course now that "Oliver" is broken I'm going to feel ridiculously guilty throwing him it out, but that's what will need to happen at the end of the week.

In short (too late!), anything I've lived with long enough to "get used to it," so to speak, becomes part of me and I feel like it's presumptuous of me to feel more important than either bugs or garbage. Yeah, low self-esteem is a problem for me, why do you ask?

I mentioned this before but do you guys remember that old IKEA commercial where they showed a broken lamp set out in the garbage, and this Swiss-accented guy explains that it's broken and no one wants it, and finally at the end of the commercial he says something like, "And now you're feeling sorry for the lamp? Get over it, it's a lamp." That's totally me.
I have issues like that, too. I first knew things were getting out of control when I once got up in the middle of the night, convinced Something Extremely Important had been thrown out and started going through the garbage. Then I went wait, WTF, this isn't normal or right.

Yes, I feel sorry for broken things, abandoned things – you aren't the only one. One reason my current job is so appealing is that I get to FIX things!

Still, it's important that YOU be in control and not the things. Sometimes you just have to throw something away because, you know, it's broken. But, you know what? If apologizing to the dead lamp (or whatever) makes it easier for you to toss it then apologize to it. It's OK. We're looking for results here, right? And the result we're looking for is for you to have a cleaner, more orderly residence. Whatever works is OK. Sure, it's quirky and eccentric but you'll be quirky and eccentric with a clean apartment! Trust me, you're not the only one who has a little ceremony or ritual when tossing items you've had for a long time.


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Originally Posted by choie View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by FairyChatMom View Post
Have you always been inclined to live in clutter, including when you were a child, or is it adult-onset clutter? If you stay overnight in a hotel or at a friend's place, do you find yourself awareness of clutter changes?

Do you think if you had a specific, written out schedule for doing chores, it would give you the self-discipline to control the clutter? For example: "Daily 7AM - scoop cat box. Daily 8PM - wash and put away all dishes, wipe down counters and sink. Tuesday morning - dust. Wednesday evening – vacuum."
Ooh interesting. I tend to chafe against assignments, but perhaps that kind of regimen would be of use to me. I remember a few years ago, after the leak I mentioned in my OP and my super came in and noticed how yucky the bathroom was and the fact that literally every fixture required fixing (but I hadn't had the courage to ask him in to get to it), he and a couple of the other maintenance workers came in and simultaneously fixed the stuffed-up tub, the leaky "u-bend" under the sink (under which I'd had to place a pail), fixed the faucet so it poured strongly instead of just a dribble, and repaired the broken ballcock in my toilet, plus gave me new tiles and painted the place. Anyway, after I had this basically brand-new bathroom, I made it a big point that after every use of the sink I'd wipe it down with a sponge so there was no sticky soap remnants, etc. Of course that eventually faded away.

But it could very well be that having a regular schedule would be of very much use to me. It's sometimes easy to lose track of time since I work from home and usually that includes weekends too (which makes being around this mess practically 24/7 all the more soul-destroying), but having a literal schedule could be helpful in many respects. Great idea, thank you!
I have “schedule chafing” problems, too. On top of that, for the past few years I've had wildly erratic schedules. I'm also concerned that you tend towards an all-or-nothing evaluation of your efforts, based on your posts.

The way I got around it is by NOT scheduling a set time, but planning a set TASK. For example, washing dishes (I don't own a dishwasher): I don't schedule a particular time, but I do force myself to do this every day between getting dressed and going off to work (or leaving the house, or some other arbitrary mark). If for some reason I can't do ALL of them I at least fill up the dishdrainer and view that as progress, because the next day I'll do more dishes, and then next day... So while the dishes may not get done by 9 am they WILL be done before I leave for work/whatever. This results in less time-chafing but still gets results, and I don't beat myself up so much for being “late” or not quite completing a task.

Likewise I might assign myself a half an hour of filing just after dinner, which I have to do before I go off to watch TV or read a book – there's not a set time for that half hour, but the half hour must be done in sequence, between A and B.

Quote:
Originally Posted by billfish678 View Post
Congrats! Unless you've got dead cats, used diapers, and 20 year old vienna sausage cans buried in there somewhere I doubt the people that come to help you are going to bat an eye. Hell, they will probably relieved as hell and you'll be their favorite recent client.
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Originally Posted by Maastricht View Post
Choie, here's one thing that you might not have thought about, that may help you go through with this. And that is, that many people, both in the cleaning business and outside of it, LOVE to work on an clean-up job like this. The number one reason is that they will see such a HELL of a lot of difference in just a small time. Talk about a rewarding job!
The next thing is, that you called them in (so while you might have your difficult moments, you wil not fight them every step of the way). Which makes their job a lot easier.
And third, your clean up job is not a tragic one. Things may be dirty and messy, but once that is gone, all that is left is a happy (well, happier ) choie and three happy cats. These people are used to tragic, and that makes your job a walk in the park. The contractor probably already loves you.

Have you ever seen the movie: "Sunshine cleaning"? Or read "Stuff?" I think you would love both.
Hell, having helped landlords do post-move-out clean ups I'm not sure I'd bat an eye at the used sausage cans. The point that for the clean up crew this will probably be a relatively happy job is a good one.

And I also heartily recommend the book Stuff – it gave me quite a bit of insight and motivation into my own hoarding tendencies.

I once did a clean up on an apartment where an old lady had died. The people who should have cared for her got lazy and slack towards the end, and she didn't have the physical ability to cope. I had to shovel knee-deep dogshit out of her front room, then scrub down the place. Dirty clothes discarded on the bedroom floor NOT because she was lazy or crazy but because she physically couldn't cope with laundry in her final weeks. It was so, so, so sad. Mummified mouse skeletons were the least of the sad horrors in that place.

Seriously, I've done clean ups where we had to wear masks because of the stench, and heavy gloves due to the... stuff... both filthy and broken. It's the moldy books that make me cry, though – not on the job with the tough guys I worked with, but just the LOSS of the written word.

So, really, it sounds like your place is FAR from the worst I've seen, much less the worst that a group that does things like crime-scene clean up have seen.

Doing clean-ups for landlords made me realize on a gut level that I wasn't the only person who was a slob and in fact there were people a hell of a lot worse than me out there.

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Originally Posted by choie View Post
I know the cleaner will be making certain to ask me about most of the things he'll be throwing out, and the things that are truly important to me are relatively obvious things, like photos or (please don't laugh) old stuffed animals or memorabilia from childhood, or things like tax records/bills and so on.
Hon, I still own my very first teddy bear, the one given to me a week after my birth. Not only that, I have my deceased sister's first “teddy cat”. You are NOT the only one! Now, I have whittled the collection down to basically those two highly emotion-laden examples, but then, that's why I kept those particular two. The rest were donated to a charity and went to sick kids in hospitals.

For me, recycling and donating are HUGE – I can get rid of stuff so much more easily if I know it's going to be “reincarnated”. I'm slowing getting rid of my stash of knitting/crochet needles and extra yarn by giving “kits” to people interested in learning to knit. I used to have every single pair of eyeglasses I ever had in my life - until someone told me the Lion's Club takes eyeglasses and refurbishes/recycles them for people who need them but otherwise wouldn't be able to get glasses. Have you considered what you can donate and send on to another home/another life? Do you think it might work for you?
  #29  
Old 04-29-2012, 09:22 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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I know intellectually that it works REALLY well (but not enough to do it myself - Himself has to start it) that if you say "I am setting a timer for 20 minutes and I will do nothing but clean until it goes off" that you will get a shocking amount done in that 20 minutes. Yes, that's the Flylady, but sometimes she's totally right - you can stand anything for 20 minutes. What I need to do is find a way to let Himself know that he needs to make me do that at least once a week, because I am such a bitch about it.
  #30  
Old 04-30-2012, 12:49 AM
Becky2844 Becky2844 is offline
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choie, from checking on your thread tonight I see your posts about (among other things) your feelings for cast-off stuff. Tomorrow might be jolt; as you're choosing what to get rid of try telling yourself This is a thing. I choose to let it go and clear the way for personal relationships. (Your niece, guitar teacher, etc.)
  #31  
Old 04-30-2012, 01:13 AM
Nava Nava is online now
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Originally Posted by choie View Post
It's especially the shame, that's issue number one. Just as you say, they do claim that they've seen every kind of mess. In fact the guy I spoke with on the phone was so kind and reassuring me on just that point, that they've seen everything, and indeed that's on their website as well. Heck might as well give 'em a plug: Home Clean Home
Your link was wrong, found the real one: Home, Clean Home

You've already answered the questions I had, so just wishing you serenity.
  #32  
Old 04-30-2012, 01:18 AM
Nava Nava is online now
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Part of my psychological issues involves my inability to "see" the future, if you know what I mean-- not that I want to be a psychic but that I've always had difficulty envisioning myself in a different "place," and that difficulty makes me think that it therefore won't happen. I can't even envision past this week -- hell, past this Monday. The unknown future frightens me and thus I try to pretend it doesn't exist.
This is something you share with my sister in law, who is a hoarder. She can't imagine what a room will look like with a change of furniture until she sees the furniture actually in place; she's easily "taken in" by my decluttered decorating style, my rooms always look to her like they're bigger than they are.

My brother and having people in the house keep the hoard in check, but... they've got a large flat with lots of storage space plus three Open At Your Own Risk storage rooms in the building's garage, and she wanted to buy a fourth (Bro put his foot down). She gets hand-me-downs from friends with daughters older than hers, but she's unable to hand down to anybody; because, what if she has another kid? Once she bought a dress for a wedding; it wasn't quite what she had in mind, but it was ok, so she bought it; then she saw another one which also wasn't what she had in mind, but she liked it better, so she bought it; then she finally saw what she'd had in mind, so she bought it and it's the one she actually wore: she still has all three dresses 11 years later, two of them never worn. Because, what if she ever needs them?

Last edited by Nava; 04-30-2012 at 01:20 AM.
  #33  
Old 04-30-2012, 01:58 AM
choie choie is offline
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Originally Posted by Alice The Goon View Post
You've been so open and willing to be vulnerable in this thread, I can't imagine anyone snarking or being mean to you. It took a lot of guts to let us know this about you. I applaud you.
Thank you so, so much, Alice. I've just been blown away by the kindness and acceptance in this thread. I can't tell you how much it's helped. As I said before, I was debating whether to start this topic, especially when there had been a couple of others along these lines that had been so interesting and encouraging to read (and sure, somewhat depressing, at times).

Then I figured it might make the process easier for me if I sort of journaled my way through it, and then I checked that "Ask the..." compendium and noticed there hadn't actually been a "Live Hoarding Cleanup!" -- sort of a reality show in SDMB message board form -- so maybe this would be a new angle for others to watch as well as a method of charting my progress.

Of course I've spent the evening cleaning up for the cleaning guy. A tradition from time immemorial. I can imagine my grandmother saying, "What, he should know how messy you are?" It's still awful but at least the floor easier to navigate without so many freakin' water bottles everywhere. (I've been drinking a lot.)

Anyway in preparation for tomorrow.. well, later today really... I took a bubble bath with lavender (it's supposed to calm babies, why not myself?). I laid back amid my icky bathroom and closed my eyes in this lovely warm bubble-laden water and thought, "This time next week I'll be able to relax in a beautiful clean bathroom, and after that I'll walk into my main room (it's a studio, remember) that will be just as peaceful and inviting as this bath." It's hard to fathom right now but that's what I'm trying to envision. To keep my eyes on the prize, as it were.

And now for an abrupt change of topic, I'm suddenly wondering... am I supposed to tip this guy at the end of all this? I know I'm paying the service directly, but it'll feel weird after spending this much time with this one cleaner (a total of 35 hours!) without giving him something extra as a gratuity or whatever. Hm. Maybe I should call the service and ask what's expected, if anything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by maggenpye View Post
I'm in the throes of a(nother) clean out myself.

I like to think of sending my old things off to the Op Shops as a triple threat of goodness:

1. My home is tidier.
2. Op Shops use the profit for charitible works.
3. The things go to people who will love and appreciate them all over again.

I just gave away a shopping bag's worth of art supplies that the Kid has never used - they go back several birthdays. I thought I was doing so well, until the friend I gave them to handed me a huge (hee-oooge!) skein of wool in my favourite colour as thanks. Space saved = 0. Joy = 1 Squillion on both sides.
That's wonderful. I think the only stuff I have that is likely to be useful are the books I know I won't be reading, or reading again in some cases. (I mean, seriously, a copy of Joan Collins's Prime Time? I don't mean to be a book snob but honestly! Where the hell did I pick that up? Oh wait... I think it was a Book of the Month thing back when I was in college.) Most of my excess books are mystery paperbacks, which I was given by someone else cleaning her house. I'm not as catholic in my mystery tastes as she is, so I'll likely never get to read those books. Then there are some random books I read once and will never do so again, such as Farnham's Freehold by Robert Heinlein, which to me felt like a creepy paean to incest, and a guidebook to the videogame Doom, which was fun in its day but that day was back in 1994. What a bizarre library.

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Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
I have issues like that, too. I first knew things were getting out of control when I once got up in the middle of the night, convinced Something Extremely Important had been thrown out and started going through the garbage. Then I went wait, WTF, this isn't normal or right.

Yes, I feel sorry for broken things, abandoned things – you aren't the only one. One reason my current job is so appealing is that I get to FIX things!
That sounds ideal! What exactly is your job, if I may ask? I don't remember if it was mentioned in your other thread.

I remember when I was little I used to make sure all my shoes were next to each other so they could talk amongst themselves and none of them would be lonely. God, what a neurotic kid I was. (Also, lonely myself, so I guess I felt like I was giving good karma, so if I let my shoes have a 'social life', maybe I would have one too.)

Quote:
Still, it's important that YOU be in control and not the things. Sometimes you just have to throw something away because, you know, it's broken. But, you know what? If apologizing to the dead lamp (or whatever) makes it easier for you to toss it then apologize to it. It's OK. We're looking for results here, right? And the result we're looking for is for you to have a cleaner, more orderly residence. Whatever works is OK. Sure, it's quirky and eccentric but you'll be quirky and eccentric with a clean apartment! Trust me, you're not the only one who has a little ceremony or ritual when tossing items you've had for a long time.
Thanks. You're right, whatever gets me through it. If it somehow enables me to do what needs to be done, I might as well just accept it. I'm almost certain this is precisely what my shrink would say. (I realize I haven't told her about apologizing to garbage yet.)

I like your idea about aiming for one task. And I'll definitely be grabbing that Stuff book. The Kindle edition only, though! No more actual physical books until I've emptied out some of the old ones!

Quote:
Seriously, I've done clean ups where we had to wear masks because of the stench, and heavy gloves due to the... stuff... both filthy and broken. It's the moldy books that make me cry, though – not on the job with the tough guys I worked with, but just the LOSS of the written word.
Oy. I can relate. I've mentioned elsewhere the agony of visiting home after my mom died and my father was preparing to sell our house, and seeing my mom's book collection sitting in the driveway, rain battering their leather covers while waiting for garbage men to pick them up. To this day, it pains me to think of those books she treasured being treated so horribly.

Quote:
For me, recycling and donating are HUGE – I can get rid of stuff so much more easily if I know it's going to be “reincarnated”.Have you considered what you can donate and send on to another home/another life? Do you think it might work for you?
Yes, definitely. As I said the books are the only real things I think that would be of value. Normally I'd include clothes, but because of my moth problem, I don't think they'd be donatable. (Is that a word? It is now.) If the cleaning guy cleans my kitchen he might unearth all my dishes, which if cleaned could certainly be donated. I mean, I coudl use them myself, but honestly they have a bad association with me now (after being in my kitchen-from-hell for so long) that I'd prefer to give them away -- as long as they're thoroughly cleaned -- or toss them altogether. I also have a rather bizarrely large collection of glass vases, amassed when I was working at Lincoln Center for one of its constituents and we'd have dinners for patrons. We lowly workers were allowed to take home the flower centerpieces, which included glass bowl vases. So I've got like twelve of the damn things, even though I don't really like flowers. (Because they die. Why would I want something with such a short life span that I only have to throw away eventually?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia View Post
I know intellectually that it works REALLY well (but not enough to do it myself - Himself has to start it) that if you say "I am setting a timer for 20 minutes and I will do nothing but clean until it goes off" that you will get a shocking amount done in that 20 minutes. Yes, that's the Flylady, but sometimes she's totally right - you can stand anything for 20 minutes. What I need to do is find a way to let Himself know that he needs to make me do that at least once a week, because I am such a bitch about it.
Heh. Yeah, I think I used to do five minute clean-ups in between commercials when I had a regular TV. That was quite a while ago though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Becky2844 View Post
choie, from checking on your thread tonight I see your posts about (among other things) your feelings for cast-off stuff. Tomorrow might be jolt; as you're choosing what to get rid of try telling yourself This is a thing. I choose to let it go and clear the way for personal relationships. (Your niece, guitar teacher, etc.)
It'll be hard, no doubt. Actually just having a stranger among my stuff will be jolt #1, so I'm prepared for a whole pot-hole-filled road's worth of jolts tomorrow.

Better get to bed so I can get psyched up tomorrow morning. Thank you again everyone for your extremely encouraging and generous support!
  #34  
Old 04-30-2012, 06:11 AM
KinkiNipponTourist KinkiNipponTourist is offline
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Whew! Made it to the bottom. Lessee, it's 8pm Monday, Tokyo time, making it 7am Monday your time.

I'll be up awhile, checking in here. This is so exciting! Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life!
  #35  
Old 04-30-2012, 06:15 AM
Alice The Goon Alice The Goon is offline
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Do you have a plan for keeping it clean? I really think that you should. Maybe something like- clean the kitchen completely right after dinner every night, pick up in general every day, and deep clean every Saturday, or something like that? I know that if I don't have a schedule and just go all loosey-goosey, I don't do shit and things get away from me.
  #36  
Old 04-30-2012, 06:32 AM
Napier Napier is offline
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Choie, good for you! I am happy for your progress and for the promise of tomorrow! Or toweek -- what do you call next week? Well, congratulations on getting where you are right now.

I think you should not feel guilty or embarrassed about anything during a time period over which you are improving what you most need to. The more I think about this the more obvious it becomes.

Also, for what it's worth, I enjoy your posts. They seem, well, professional.
  #37  
Old 04-30-2012, 07:00 AM
Tapiotar Tapiotar is offline
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I know intellectually that it works REALLY well (but not enough to do it myself - Himself has to start it) that if you say "I am setting a timer for 20 minutes and I will do nothing but clean until it goes off" that you will get a shocking amount done in that 20 minutes.
This is a GREAT technique. I use it myself, not just for cleaning, but for exercising when I don't feel like it, or tackling any necessary but unappealing chore. If 20 minutes seems too long, set the timer for 10. Chances are, by then you'll be into the task and want to keep going.
  #38  
Old 04-30-2012, 07:35 AM
Tapiotar Tapiotar is offline
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For me, recycling and donating are HUGE – I can get rid of stuff so much more easily if I know it's going to be “reincarnated”. I'm slowing getting rid of my stash of knitting/crochet needles and extra yarn by giving “kits” to people interested in learning to knit. I used to have every single pair of eyeglasses I ever had in my life - until someone told me the Lion's Club takes eyeglasses and refurbishes/recycles them for people who need them but otherwise wouldn't be able to get glasses. Have you considered what you can donate and send on to another home/another life? Do you think it might work for you?
It's such a great feeling to know your old things are going to help someone who needs help, or give pleasure to someone who needs a grace note of pleasure.

But even for things that are broken and not reusable (though, as someone said upthread, they might be recycled for parts at the trash station), you may take the idea of "reincarnating" the object and use your tendency to anthropomorphize to help you. Pretend you are a Buddhist and wish the item a more fortunate rebirth when you throw it out; imagine that by throwing it out, you are freeing its spirit to go to a better life. It isn't any nuttier than apologizing to trash before you throw it out, and if it helps you, then it helps.

Looking forward to hearing how things go today. You are doing a good thing. Again, kudos to you.
  #39  
Old 04-30-2012, 07:53 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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That sounds ideal! What exactly is your job, if I may ask? I don't remember if it was mentioned in your other thread.
I'm a cobbler. I fix shoes, belts, purses....
  #40  
Old 04-30-2012, 08:12 AM
billfish678 billfish678 is offline
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Pretend you are a Buddhist and wish the item a more fortunate rebirth when you throw it out; imagine that by throwing it out, you are freeing its spirit to go to a better life.
When I finally threw out all my Window ME disks I told them I hoped they burned in hell for all eternity. Now THAT felt good.
  #41  
Old 04-30-2012, 08:12 AM
Lsura Lsura is offline
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This is a GREAT technique. I use it myself, not just for cleaning, but for exercising when I don't feel like it, or tackling any necessary but unappealing chore. If 20 minutes seems too long, set the timer for 10. Chances are, by then you'll be into the task and want to keep going.
I do this too - I do 30/10s and 45/15s, based on some of the ideas from Unfuck Your Habitat.

Best of luck this week, choie! I know it's going to be stressful, but you can do this.
  #42  
Old 04-30-2012, 08:40 AM
choie choie is offline
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Thanks guys! OMG they came early. Last post before It Begins but I wanted to give one more thanks to y'all. What kind of guys dealing with neurotics come a half-hour early?! Argh! Not mentally ready yet! (Or even dressed).

They threw me in the deep end while I was planning on wading in slowly. Ah well. In for a penny, in for a pound.

I'll speak to you guys later when the first day's through (or maybe at half-time if I need the courage). But many many thanks for your support, and a big warm hug to those who popped in to acknowledge your own problems in this area. Thanks!
  #43  
Old 04-30-2012, 08:42 AM
Anne Neville Anne Neville is offline
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Originally Posted by choie View Post
3) Stuff I feel sorry for. I kind of think of things as... well, not really "alive," or sentient, or whatever -- I'll cop to a lot of issues but I'm not that crazy to think my broken chair is a living creature. I don't talk to it or anything like that. My psychological smorgasbord does not include delusions. However, as I mentioned earlier, if it's possible to anthropomorphize something, I will. Rather stupidly and self-destructively, I like to name things. I named my reclining chair "Oliver" (it's olive-colored) and my mouse"George" (as in "I'm gonna love it and keep it and call it George" from the Bugs Bunny cartoon). My computer du jour is always "Computy." (Okay, that's not a very creative name, so sue me.) Anyway, of course now that "Oliver" is broken I'm going to feel ridiculously guilty throwing him it out, but that's what will need to happen at the end of the week.

In short (too late!), anything I've lived with long enough to "get used to it," so to speak, becomes part of me and I feel like it's presumptuous of me to feel more important than either bugs or garbage. Yeah, low self-esteem is a problem for me, why do you ask?

I mentioned this before but do you guys remember that old IKEA commercial where they showed a broken lamp set out in the garbage, and this Swiss-accented guy explains that it's broken and no one wants it, and finally at the end of the commercial he says something like, "And now you're feeling sorry for the lamp? Get over it, it's a lamp." That's totally me.
I thought I was the only one who was like this.
  #44  
Old 04-30-2012, 09:02 AM
billfish678 billfish678 is offline
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Breaking news just in! Ebay servers crash as system overloaded with massive numbers of questionable nicknacks suddenly for sale!

Just teasing. Good luck!
  #45  
Old 04-30-2012, 09:04 AM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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They probably came early so you couldn't hide.

ETA - Lsura, I am now in love with Unfuck Your Habitat.

Last edited by Zsofia; 04-30-2012 at 09:04 AM.
  #46  
Old 04-30-2012, 09:37 AM
Nawth Chucka Nawth Chucka is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anne Neville View Post
I thought I was the only one who was like this.
Maybe it's the circles I was raised in but I don't know anyone who isn't like that. We're taught to love and empathize w/ inanimate things starting w/ dolls, sometimes it sticks.
  #47  
Old 04-30-2012, 10:45 AM
Anne Neville Anne Neville is offline
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Does anyone else get the desire to hang onto old books because re-reading them can help you relive an earlier time in your life? There's an element of not wanting to admit that a particular period of my life is over to it, too. I'm having trouble culling my book collection because of this. I'm also having a lot of trouble admitting that I will probably never be as thin as I was twelve years ago, so I should get rid of clothes from then that don't fit any more. Maybe being pregnant can help me with that- everybody knows that your body changes shape after being pregnant, and it's not my fault if that happens.

My clutter is almost all made up of books and clothes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nawth Chucka View Post
Maybe it's the circles I was raised in but I don't know anyone who isn't like that. We're taught to love and empathize w/ inanimate things starting w/ dolls, sometimes it sticks.
Yeah, I've already decided to be really careful on encouraging our baby to empathize with her toys. I don't want her to destroy stuff for fun, but a little less empathy than I have with inanimate objects than I have might be nice.
  #48  
Old 04-30-2012, 12:34 PM
Snickers Snickers is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lasciel View Post
First off - if your trash place does any level of recycling, then most everything you throw out -- broken lamps, small appliances, etc are going to be pulled out and used as the building blocks for new things. Think of it like a karmic reincarnation for objects - this sad old lamp is tired and ready to move on to his new life as a set of freshly created brass candlesticks that someone will love and cherish! Having a grounded, reality-based, and specific thought in mind that items will be re-used or re-purposed can maybe help you feel less like you are "abandoning them" when it's time for them to move on.
To take this a step farther, perhaps (as long as it won't make you feel bad): by hanging on to all these items, you're preventing them from moving onto their new lives. Currently, they're stuck as they are, as soon as they're gone from your home later today, they'll be liberated.

I agree with everyone else - it's taken courage to post about this, and you'll need more to get through the cleaning. And you can do it. I have no doubt.
  #49  
Old 04-30-2012, 01:01 PM
Maastricht Maastricht is offline
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Choi, have you arranged for fresh paint or new flooring? You might as well , if they are overhauling everything already.
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  #50  
Old 04-30-2012, 02:35 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Choie, I know everyone is waxing enthusiastic about how much better you'll feel when this is done, but I hereby give you permission to NOT feel better immediately. If you do, that's great, but it can take me a couple weeks to feel better about a major overhaul/cleaning/reorganizing. Sometimes I feel a little disoriented, like the space isn't quite mine at first. You may not feel this, but if you do, know that you're not the only one to go through that. Tell the well-meaning folks that while yes, it's cleaner and more organized it's a big change for you and you'll need a little time to adjust to it all.
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