It’s been about 5 years since I last visited my childhood home. It’s a compulsive hoarders home now, thanks to Mom’s mental disorder. Lynn and I snuck in while Mom was out and did a tiny purge of her hoard. You’d never even be able to tell we’d spent 2 hours working on a 4×4 foot area just putting spare papers in recycling bins. We removed 4 bags of trash and yet, it didn’t make a dent in her hoard.
How bad could it be?
I took photos while we were there of the general state of things. Given so many years have passed without anyone else stepping inside, I can only imagine how high the stacks are. Oddly enough, I found the CD of photos as I cleared out my basement decluttering my own junk.
I knew the photos were going to be bad, but they still took me by surprise when I loaded them up on my computer. If you’ve never seen photos from inside a compulsive hoarders house before, brace yourself. I know you’ll probably wonder how could anyone live like this? I don’t know if you can call it “living”, actually. I think having to survive in such a space is reducing to merely “existing.”
This was my home once. I lived here with my sister through all my childhood, and only left when I went away to college. I have good memories of birthday parties, Christmas mornings, and watching Sunday morning classic movies on PBS. And I’m willing to bet there are physical remnants of all my memories still left inside that hoard.
Now, we stay with Lynn when we visit my hometown. Mom comes over to Lynn’s house to sit with us for a while and we make thin small talk. I’m curious to try to get over to my old home while Mom is out again. I probably won’t get in because neither Lynn nor I have a spare key. But I want to see how the old place is holding up…or quite likely, falling apart. On the other hand, do I want an even worse mental image of my home if I should see it in such disrepair? It’s like when you visit an ailing relative in the hospital right before they die, and they’re frail and forgetful…they’re not the vibrant and fascinating person you remember anymore.
I do want to know how my Mom is existing, though. It’s important to me to understand what her daily life is like. No matter the mental disorder, it pains me to think of her living in such conditions. I wish I knew how to make it better…and I wish she actually wanted it better, too.