Living a Perpetual Episode of “Twilight Zone”

I just read an article titled: “Our Mom was a Hoarder.” by Jennifer O’Neill, inside of Yahoo Parenting.The article’s main purpose was to help others “who remain silent in their shame about hoarding or living with a hoarder…”It was written by two siblings who grew up in a home that was overrun with clutter and mess and disrepair. After their mother passed away from cancer at the age of 59, they had to go to the family home to clean it out and get it on the market for sale; and that is what prompted the telling of their story.

The Mommy, Daughter and son lived behind their front door in secret. No one was allowed over or inside their home.  (Anyone who follows me, TheTidyTutor.Com, knows that story, you don’t have to be what the world labels a HOARDER to not want anyone to see how we keep – or don’t – keep house.)

The article shows photographs taken by Geoff Johnson (the son) and the purpose of the article and photos is said best in a quote by (I would love to say “Martha’s son” but they never mention their mom’s name… So I will just have to say…) the photographer and Hoarder’s son:  “For me, it’s like taking these pictures is showing what we lived through, to hopefully help other people.” And by “other people” he meant everyone who keeps the secret and shame regarding hoarding or living with a hoarder.

One of the things mentioned, and highlighted as if it was illogical, was that their mother (who remains nameless) worked in human resources, was active in the community, and took part in school clubs and organizations.

That kind of infuriated me.

WAIT! You mean someone who couldn’t keep house could get it together to do things that benefited society?! OH MY GOD! REALLY?!

Holy crow people! Keeping house, being organized, is a learned skill! Just like music is!

Listen, this only causes shame because our society has placed a black mark on those who can’t keep house and on those who have become so tired of trying to do what they have never learned to do or have never been given the opportunity to learn that they give up. When we think about learning organization, there is such a feeling of futility. We can’t measure up so we just don’t even try.

The shame is on society. We live in a perpetual episode of “Twilight Zone.”

Remember the episode with the young beautiful girl who lived on a planet where what was the norm for beautiful was anything but that to us?

Instead of having hideous features as acceptable and desirable, we see spontaneity and our overly optimistic easily sidetracked natures as something that needs medication to over come instead of being applauded for all of its many virtues.

Do we berate and judge those who can’t be flexible or can’t enjoy the small things in life while putting off the supposed big things like laundry and dusting? Do we berate and judge the artist and poet because they get distracted by a sunrise or a deep-seated feeling?

What if we lived in a world where everyone was expected to be musical? What would happen to those who were not given the opportunity to learn music because they were expected to just know it?

Wouldn’t they be living in shame? Would they let people in their homes to see that there was dust on the guitar frets and the piano keys?

I have people in my course who are well past 50, even past 60, who felt that they would NEVER get their homes cleaned up and organized but lo and behold it happened!

Why? It’s freaking simple!

They needed to learn how! Just like those who don’t have inborn musical ability need to learn! And I know how to teach them how to get organized, and love them and accept themselves!

As if they need accepting!!!!???

Here is the article link I reference so you can read it.

And here is my course, Tidy Tutor University, so you can take it. Www.TheTidyTutor.Com/ttu/

I love my students with words that can’t be conveyed.

I pray for them and all who need and will come to me, sincerely, every morning.

Thank you for being part of my world, if this blog speaks to you please leave a comment below.

Much Love!

Leave a Reply 13 comments

Linda Johnson - Reply

Good writing!

Rose Sally Cleansheets - Reply

SO powerful and loving 🙂

Kathleen Cathy Crampton - Reply

Kathy not only speaks this truth, she walks this truth and lovingly invites any and all to join her. What she does and what she shows you really changes lives. Thank you, Kathy!

Carolyn Weber - Reply

Luv reading this..thank you..

Kathleen Bannan Martell - Reply

This really spoke to me, Kathy. I am 63 and grew up with older parents in a 720 Sq foot house with my parents and older brother. My Mom was a very good housekeeper in that tiny space but she never taught me how to keep house. My husband and I now live in a 3000 sf house. I am not a hoarder but I have way too much clutter. I watch Hoarders a lot. I might be signing up for your course soon. Thank you.

Jessica Romero - Reply

I think you’re off the mark, here. Messy people might be messy because they didn’t learn how to clean. Hoarders hoard because of profound mental issues. Teaching a hoarder to clean will never make them better.

C Elizabeth Sheehy - Reply

Hoarding is more, oh so much more, than just “inability to clean/do housework” It is a profound mental illness and a form of child abuse. I have compensated for being abused as a child of a narcissitic, sociopathic hoarder by getting a degree in Home Economics – Believe me, I KNOW how to keep house!

Dear Mama’ KNOWS how to “keep house”, but would much rather browbeat and manipulate me into doing it for her. Her stuff is of more value to her than her husband, children, and grandchildren. Even her pets might as well be stuffed toys because that is how she treats them.

I believe you mean well, but you seem to have little understanding of true hoarding behavior.

Debbie Gunter - Reply

I understand you are trying to sell your services, but hoarding IS a mental illness. Dismissing it as merely being untaught about cleaning is like saying people with severe depression just need to learn how to chill out, or that people with austism just need to learn manners. Maybe it would be better to sell your services by focusing on people who are not mentally ill, but just need to learn organizational skills.

Hélène Blackburn - Reply

I would of loved to comment the article. I think that some people just don’t understand the difference between a hoarderer and OC.

Katherine Rizzo Roberts - Reply

I just read a blog that the daughter writes, and it shows a very different view of what their home was like than the Yahoo article had. The issues their mother had was not just being a mess/hoarding… The children were not able to close the bathroom door, there was no running water except for the bathtub, the house was in great disrepair and it effected the children greatly.

While I have helped people who were in this shape with children living at home, they wanted help and reached out to me, and they got the help that they needed. The people I am talking about hated how things were and would have at least put up a sheet on the door to do what they could have to take care of their children as best that they could given their inability to make the change without help. In this circumstance where the children were hurting so much, and obvious lack of concern is present, there is much more than being OC going on here.

But there are very good people living in very embarrassing and even unsafe environments, similar to this, and there are way more than we know of, because of the social stigma. Once you begin to get buried, with no hope for help, it get’s worse and worse.

Rose Sally Cleansheets - Reply

I’ve just read some comments concerning the article that Katherine Rizzo Roberts “The Tidy Tutor” wrote. I am a student of Kathy’s, and thought perhaps you might like to hear a comment from a student’s perspective. I WAS the person in the article that Kathy made reference to. I KNOW her inside and out, because I was exactly like her. I lived like this most of my life. I know I am not a hoarder……many would think looking inside of my house though, (back before the TTU) and think that I was. They would have been wrong. We people who are right-brained, think, learn, digest, respond and react to life and situations differently than people who are not “right-brained”. We just don’t understand HOW to be functionally organized. Or how to clean. It baffles us. We can’t just pick up a book on “how to organize” and read and start doing it. It is totally confusing to right-brained people like us. Before I joined the Tidy Tutor, if you could have seen my house you would have thought I was a crazy person. I functioned perfectly normal outside my front doors. I was social, I knew people, I fit in, nobody would ever suspect that inside my house looked like a bomb went off. I had many professional people (doctors, therapists) tell me it was just the way I was. I was depressed. I just didn’t like housework. I was just going to have to accept the situation and try to live “like that” if I didn’t “get my act together”. No one EVER could tell me HOW to “get my act together” though. I was counseled for a long, long time for my depression. I have taken SO many combinations of medications. When I finally had had enough, I went trolling for help on the internet. I found a few of Kathy’s videos on YouTube, and BAM!! I got “it.” She got “me.” I, for the first time in my life had that “AHA” moment. I Was Not Crazy. I Was Not Stupid. I was right-brained and I just did not have a CLUE how to organize or even how to clean. People will read this, and think to themselves… could anyone NOT know how to clean. It’s so simple. Well, NO, NO, NO…it isn’t. Not to “us”. No one would willing live in a house garbage on the floor that you tripped when trying to enter a room. No one would “willing” live in a house with so much filth in the kitchen that you could never cook a meal and had to order take-out all the time. God forbid the take-out person should ever step foot inside the door. No one EVER got past my front door. EVER. Believe me when I tell you that if you met me, you would never suspect I lived like this. And, it wasn’t because I wanted to, it was because I did not have a CLUE as to how to manage a home, how to clean, where to begin… to pick up the first bit of trash. I know that hoarding is a disease. Hoarding is NOT our problem. We simply, and I not stress this enough, we are simple without the “skills” to know what to do to live a clutter-free, organized life. No one ever taught me. And, I know that a lot of people are in the same boat. I have been Kathy’s student for only a short time, and those pictures you see in the article…..those pictures that could have easily have put MY picture into….they don’t exist any more. I have almost got my whole house under control. I UNDERSTAND for the first time in my life how I think, and how to learn. Kathy does not tell us how to clean….we know how things are done. We just don’t know how to implement a schedule, how to organize ourselves enough so that we can actually DO something and KEEP it done. Kathy know the difference between a mental health diagnoses of Hoarder and people who are like “us”. She has helped me and SO many other people. I hope that anyone reading this comment, who has lived their lives like we do, like I did, will join us. Your life CAN change. You are NOT a failure. You just need someone who is also “Right-brained” and “gets us” to explain how to start.

Cheryl Mesman Sabine - Reply

There are those with an official diagnosis of “hoarder” which is definitely a mental disorder. There are many, many others who are afraid they might be hoarders because of the mess, feelings of being overwhelmed with the mess and their inability to get rid of the mess even if they do try to clean it up. Symptoms are very similar.

mighty1 - Reply

I read the article, “My Mom was a Hoarder.” I loved what the son said, ““She had a problem and just couldn’t overcome it.” I think that speaks volumes for the compassion he had for his mother. Hoarding used to be clumped under a diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Hoarding now stands alone as a separate mental disorder in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) used by the American Psychiatric Association. I suspect there will be more research on it now that it is its own mental disorder. There are many researchers who have had some success teaching family members/loved ones of the hoarder how to communicate with them and how to effectively help them. Most often hoarders begin their disease after suffering a tragedy in their lives, such as the death of a loved one.

Leave a Reply: