When Being 'Sentimental' Is Actually Hoarding

As anyone knows, those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Buuuuuut, we're not talking about my extreme minimalism today. We're talking about someone else's problem. The opposite problem that my sister has had her whole life. Hoarding!

One of the biggest differences between my oldest sister and I is definitely our capacity to be sentimental.

You see, I never feel it. She ALWAYS does.

We joke about how she's the family 'historian' because somehow she remembers every event that's ever happened and can recount exactly what everyone was wearing when it happened. Chances are good she could tell you what the weather was like that day. Even if it was 30 years ago.

Unfortunately, being sentimental takes up a lot of space! Along with those thousands of memories come thousands of 'souvenirs'.

It goes so much further than photos, of which she has plenty. She's the type of person who still has her own baby teeth even though she's close to having her actual baby's baby teeth to add to the stash. She's the type of person who has 500 dinner plates in every style..........juuuuuuust in case.

I've had so much fun over the years giving her crap about her 'hoarding'. In her closet, I'd pull out the crop top she wore when she was in 10th grade. It would be shoved in tight right between the MC hammer pants and tie dye shirt from her freshman year spirit day in high school.

It was always just 'her thing' to save things. She'd save trinkets from decades ago that seemingly had no meaning at all. But now that she's got two little ones of her own, she knew the space was running out. Their toys are moving in and her sanity was moving out.

She once told me that finding real estate to store all her 'stuff' was becoming a full time job. It stressed her out...like, a lot.

So, last weekend she had to look at herself in the mirror and get serious. She just white knuckled it and de-cluttered...but for real this time.

She started with the obvious stuff...the photo albums, the love letters, the greeting cards, VHS tapes etc...

She found all kinds of trinkets that she had kept for decades but wasn't sure why like these 'precious moments' statues she displayed in her room in elementary school but they didn't really have any significant meaning to them now.

But after years of denying that her problem with 'saving stuff' was to the level of 'hoarding', she found one item that really took it home for her. She admitted she was absolutely, no doubt, for sure, painfully...a hoarder!

It was in pristine condition. How could she have kept this...garbage, essentially...for so long, without it breaking?

What you're looking at is an empty eggshell decorated like a baby in a basket decorated like a baby's crib.

This eggshell is 24 years old!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She made it in high school for a class where they had to carry around a fragile eggshell and treat it like a baby so they'd get an idea of parenthood.

I don't think you're appreciating what you just read...she SAVED AN EGGSHELL FOR 24 YEARS! It was a class project for crying out loud! ZERO significance.

I had to look up the definition of 'hoard' just to be sure that's what this was called:

noun

a supply or accumulation that is hidden or carefully guarded for preservation, future use, etc.:

YEP. What she did with this eggshell and the other trinkets is the literal definition of hoarding. 'Accumulation...Carefully guarded for preservation'.

And before you say I'm making fun of people with a REAL hoarding disorder, let me stop you right there. I truly think she struggles with the REAL thing...Like any mental problem, there are varying degrees of it. Luckily for her, she's on the mild side. Her house is clean and there's plenty of room to walk around...but if you were to open a closet, you might get caught in an avalanche. She hid it well...very well.

Here's a synopsis from the MAYO CLINIC:

Hoarding disorder:

Overview

Hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs.

Hoarding ranges from mild to severe. In some cases, hoarding may not have much impact on your life, while in other cases it seriously affects your functioning on a daily basis.

People with hoarding disorder may not see it as a problem, making treatment challenging.

It wasn't until she started texting me these photos that I realized it must have been exhausting emotionally wondering how to let go of these sentimental items. For someone like me, they're just 'things'. They're pieces of material with no meaning at all. I cherish anything special to me in my mind and heart. And some might say I have a problem on the other end of the spectrum.

I throw greeting cards away moments after reading them. I have no attachment to things ... at all. Wonder what that's called? lol

The good news in all of this is that thanks to that 24 year old eggshell...she was able to get it together and get out of denial...For now, at least. She organized the closet that she once couldn't even close properly.

Check it out now:

What I'm saying is there's HOPE...

I'm proud of her and the most important lesson of all, is that she says she feels calmer, more at peace. And as much as she loved knowing all of her 'memories' were 'in there somewhere if she could only remember where she put them', now she knows they're in her heart, where the 'real estate' is limitless!

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