Not Really a Beginning

After much thought, I’ve realized there isn’t exactly a good place to jump into this story, so I’m just going to start. As I write more posts, hopefully a through line to the narrative will develop. If not, that’s okay too. It will have been a fruitful exercise at least. An exorcizing of demons.

1071221_supermarket_pushcartLet’s tackle the title of this blog first, shall we? When I was growing up, there got to be a point where there was a shopping cart in my bedroom. My mom bought too much at Sav-On one day and couldn’t carry it all so she took the cart home with her. Instead of returning it, the cart ended up parked in my bedroom.

Maybe I should back up.

My parents are hoarders. I didn’t realize it at the time. This was before there were popular TV shows chronicling the freaks who store empty ramen noodle cups in their cabinets or leave rotting food across their living rooms. This was before I knew about the word “hoarder” and before I knew there were other people out there living like me, going through what I was going through.

I was hoarded out of my bedroom by the time I was eight or nine. Filled with my parent’s stuff, my stuff. Stuff and more stuff. And then the shopping cart ended up in there. I couldn’t walk in the room and could only access the toys that were nearest the door. I slept on the living room floor on a fold-out couch/chair thing. I had a bedroom and a bed. I just couldn’t use it.

Before that, I had a normal room. I could play on the floor and put my toys away in drawers. I had a nightlight and a bookshelf. The rest of the house was a shambles, but I had my room.

But then, one day, the hoard from the rest of the house crept into my room. It’s like my parents made some kind of effort at first to keep my room clean. However, a piece of stereo equipment appeared in my room one day. Then the empty boxes from Christmas gifts. Then some clothes. Then it all got stacked on top of each other in the towers of junk that characterized the rest of the house. Finally, I couldn’t sleep in my own bed anymore because my mom put stuff on on it and I wasn’t allowed to move it. Then I couldn’t walk into my room all the way anymore. Then I couldn’t walk in it at all.

By the time the shopping cart made its appearance, I could only walk about two feet into the room. My backpack hung on the handle of the cart like I could just pull that cart out of there and parade down the street with it. Like I’d accumulated things to take with me on a journey and I was just waiting for the right time to leave. It was in my room, after all. It must have been my things. My mess.

When I turned twelve, my mom spent a few weeks clearing out the entire room. She painted it, cleaned it. I had my bed back and my room back.

From that moment until I was in my early twenties and moved out, my room was the cleanest in the house. Cluttered like a teenager’s room, yes. But the cleanest. And I fought hard to keep the junk from encroaching.

And yet (and yet) if I left a soda can in the living room, my mom would thunder and bellow, “I can tell you’ve been through here. God, can’t you pick up after yourself?” I’d sheepishly rinse out the can per her instructions and put it in the trash bag just like she wanted (but I never did it right) and wait until I did something else wrong to be corrected and chastised.

Now you know why this blog is called what it’s called. Not sure where I’m going to go from here, but I hope you come along with me for the journey.

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8 thoughts on “Not Really a Beginning

  1. Wow. My grandmother had some hoarding tendencies, so I sympathize. (Not to mention our current back neighbors, whose backyard is full of a constantly growing pile of junk…) I hope writing about it helps with the catharsis, at least. I admire your willingness to share the story, too. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Sarah! I think just about everybody knows somebody like this. It’s frustrating and was difficult to grow up with. Still, it feels good to talk about it openly for the first time.

  2. Freegirl

    My room was the cleanest in the house as well. I was very adamant about none of the hoarding junk being allowed in my room. I think the fact that we are willing to talk about it and jump in to tell our story based on where we are personally is really the healthiest route to go. Thanks for sharing. It helps to know we are not alone!

    1. I know it was my mom first, then my dad. But other than that, I’m not entirely sure. Well, I know it had something to do with my birth. I’ll write a post about it, I’m sure. 🙂

  3. I read the first story and it was sad, but now that I’ve read them all, you really have my sympathy. I watch Hoarders and usually want to hit someone. Not nice, I know, but they’re so irrational, they drive me nuts. I always think how much the cleaners are helping them and how grateful they should be, and they just sit on a lawn chair and freak out. Part of what is so frustrating — among many things — about your story is the requirement that YOU be clean when nothing else is clean. That
    doesn’t make an ounce of sense. I really hope you keep writing. You really have talent. The other nice thing about writing? It’s so orderly. You create the world of words. You’re in control. I wish you all the best!

    1. It’s very frustrating watching people be irrational. I watch Hoarders, too. It’s sort of cathartic, in a way. And yes, I could never clean anything right. That’s what drives me crazy to this day. The OCD aspect. Thank you so much for your encouraging words about my writing, by the way. A lovely thing to hear from an English teacher. 🙂

  4. My Mom was a hoarder too. When I moved out on my own I had no idea how to clean my apartment or put things in cabinets. When we moved my Mom from our small childhood home to a new condo we threw out so much junk that we filed four large dumpsters. She never forgave us for getting rid of all her “good stuff”

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