My mother's home is about to be condemned... Need encouragement and ways to shake the shame!

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She was a class 5 hoarder, with trash 4+ feet throughout the house and so full she could no longer get in. We rescued her 8 months ago, got her cancer surgery, and established in a memory care unit near our home. Her house was like this for at least the last 30-40+ years.

The town she lives in just gave us 2 weeks to move the cars off her house lot, and the inspector found two more in the bushes, total 3. There is one very poor man whom I paid to mow the grass all fall, so I have left him a message to see if he wants anything he can haul off on the outside, including the cars.

I have a lot of shame because I grew up there and was blamed by narcissistic mom for the mess. I know in my heart that was not true, because I have 6 children, 5 at home and who are home schooled, and I live on a small farm with all that entails, and my house is clean.

I am embarrassed I have not been able to get the place cleaned up even just on the outside. I plan to hire a hoarding specialist in June, the first oppty I have to spend significant time 5 hours away from home.

I could use significant amounts of encouragement at this time!

30 Comments

read this OUT LOUD as many times over as you need to believe it: IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT.

Honey, I want you to print that up, hang it on your fridge, your bathroom mirror, the computer screen, and wherever else you might be paused. You did not do this. It was a life your mother chose, NOT YOU.

I am so sorry that you are stuck with this mess; is there anyway of getting out of it? It sounds to me like you already have enough on your plate. How is the house Your responsibility? Do you want this house?
Surprise, you are your own separate soul, mind, personality. You are ordered, sane, and caring.
I think hoarding must be a type of mental illness--I am not diagnosing it, it just seems that from those I have experienced who do it, there is usually the other crappola that goes along with it: Fear, paranoia, and too much self-awareness.

I would not be "surprised" if they never flushed their toilets. ( I do not mean to be gross, just illustrating my point:)

They want to hang on to everything that is "all about them," because they are empty, shallow souls who cannot get out of their own way. It is a sad phenomenon, but it is a crazy world anymore, and people seem to develop strange behaviors as coping mechanisms.
Instead of reaching out to others in a helping, giving, productive way, they retreat and gather garbage. How can that be healthy or normal?

It's a shame and it is embarrassing, but it's not how you are. Those who are sick never think there is anything wrong with them.

Surprise, you are fine. Take deep breaths ( but not around your Mother's house) and focus on the task at hand, knowing you are handling the situation out of duty, not shame. I'l bet we could eat off the floor of your lovely home:) Take care, xo
I'm sorry Surprise...but I totally agree with PamelaSue. This is not your fault. As much as it hurts to know that this was how you lived and how she lived for many years. Your mom is sick...it is a disease. Not one that is inherited. So you cannot blame yourself. The situation of clean up can not be done by you. She would have to come to terms of letting it go before anyone could do anything. It's better that it happens like this. It's out of your hands. I work for someone who is borderline hoarder. She was divorced and then lost both of her parents around the same time. I clean as much as I can, but I cannot throw things away. So corners of her house there is stacks of mail, clothes, and lots of stuff. It's really hard for me to leave things this way.. but she would regress to worst conditions if I were to remove the mess. So as much as you would like to take the blame. It's up to her to get the help. Don't blame yourself.
We had to get a company in that specialized in order to get my in-laws home taken care of too. I think it was paid for by money that I found stashed in drawers all over the place but my brother in law arranged for it. We felt really ashamed too, though Mutti, who had chornic severe untreated mental health issues, had been the one to refuse all help and threaten to call the police when help was sent anyways. The nice city social worker who helped place her when things finally completely fell apart for them, after Pop died of his aneurysm he refused treatment for, understood that we felt bad about it and wished so badly we could have seen the end coming and done more somehow. She smiled and said she saw a lot of this sort of thing, and even that she'd seen worse. We thought the roach swarms and various odors and hazards and taped over covered over rooms and furniture that had been urinated on were bad enough.

My mom's place was OK for an estate sale company to come in and do most of it. I still had a fair amount to prepare and pick up afterwards. My cousin, whom I admire, did most of her mom's place herself, but she had only lost housekeeping ability and become a hoarder for the last 7-10 years. I came up and helped with the bathrooms and she had some friends help too. It was not done overnight. There were hundreds of full trash bags (the big kind) involved, she had to divvy it up and not put them all out at once.

Maybe you could donate the excess cars? There are a lot of charities who want cars, and even if they are just parts for scrap it could be of some help.
I'm the child of a hoarder, so I know how bad it can be. There is nothing to be ashamed of, since you haven't been living there. A hoarder loves to buy things, but doesn't like to throw things out. Sometimes it is because of laziness -- it's easier to just stick something in the back room than it is to properly dispose of it. Sometimes it is because everything has the potential of being needed again. Trying to convince them to get rid of it causes an unbelievable amount of anger and anxiety.

Hoarding is classified as an obsessive-compulsive disorder. There seems to be a genetic component, but if it hasn't shown up yet in you, it probably won't. I have the opposite tendency -- I often donate or trash things before I should. The idea of clutter is terrible to me. It is probably because of what I saw with my mother.

I hope the cleanup goes quickly, surprise. And I hope you find some good things amongst all the clutter.
Ditto, JessieBelle:) Some of the hoarders lived through the Depression, which Used to be given as a reason for saving a bazillion plastic margarine tubs and extra lids. Now I am absolutely certain that was a convenient excuse. For my Mother, at least:)
Hugs and hugs to you - you have received wonderful support in above posts - so sorry you have had to deal with this sort of thing. How and where we are raised is out of our control. Take care.
I know what you mean, Christina. My mother taught daycare when she got older, so egg cartons, chicken pot pie shells, TV dinner trays, etc. built up. Nothing was thrown out. Food never went bad in her mind, even if it was 20 years old. Cans and boxes of food climbed to the ceiling. There was no cabinet or table space available.

Christmas stayed all year, just got moved to my old bedroom for most of the year. We had to plow a path to get through the bedrooms. Now there is only one room that is hoarded. It has my mother's old clothes -- racks and racks of awful, worn out things. She won't let me touch them, though. I guess they are who she is, so I leave this room alone.
IT IS NOT MY FAULT IT IS NOT MY FAULT IT IS NOT MY FAULT
Printing....

Thankfully, my mother is no longer living in the home, and it is the only house on the block, without even across the street neighbors.

I feel a lot of anger at many of the "leading families" in town, all who live within a couple of blocks, who simply turned away from the problem especially when I was a child living there. Now that she is out of town, they finally want something done, and now. It seems like it would have been more helpful a few decades earlier!

When we rescued mother, hubby took her to the doc and I walked around the house taking pix for our guardianship case. The bushes are completely grown up 20+ feet high, so no one can see into her private retreat from the world. She had a couple of brown kiddy pools full of mosquito larva, broken plastic chairs all over, garbage bags she changed her mind on throwing away, full (!!) bottles of ?? and empty food wrappers, you name it. She even had a little storage building for tools, but then the lawn mower was pushed under a porch. I also found one of her dogs she had lost and had been looking for, under a tarp where she covered it when it died. The car(s?) is/are full up to the windows, and there were mouse feces on the dash. Ew.

I will gladly pay someone well who can clean this up for me so when I hire that professional hoarding cleanup this summer, I won't have to see the garbage on the outside!

I guess I don't like being told I have to, NOW, since we have the high school state science fair this week, and Holy Week next. I will not be able to be there - maybe that is better. I completely understand about the town wanting it cleaned up, and now is probably better than when the mosquitoes start again.

Christina, you are right about the toilets. Ooh bad memories deleted here!!!
Bless your heart, dear Surprise:) We are beside you and behind you. Big Hug!

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