I have an 81 year old friend named Sandra. I have known her for many years but have learned a lot about her more recently. I've heard her talk about how she can't do anything because she has so much stuff. You see, Sandra is a self proclaimed hoarder.
I offered to help her for many months. She declined all my offers. Separately she had told stories of others helping her in the past. Mostly throwing things away without regard to her feelings or just throwing them into one of the spare bedrooms making them totally inaccessible.
At some point she stopped saying no and started saying things like oh my house is a mess I need to clean it up first. She even asked me why I wanted to help her fearing I wanted to take her treasured fabric. I told her I had similar issues of too much stuff in the past and wanted to share what I had learned and to help her be able to get back to her sewing machine. I finally said I wanted to come visit her, not her house. She agreed to my visit.
I arrived on the appointed day. She greeted me at the door and let me in. I had no idea what to expect but had heard talk.
The entry was very inviting. No clutter. I could not tell she had a cat as there was no litter box odor. I stepped into her living room and saw two card tables stacked with stuff. There were things piled underneath as well. She had totebags around her full of paper and who knows what.
I took a seat across from her in the only other open chair. We talked a little and I told her my history of too much stuff. She shared her story and basically told me that shopping for fabric was her therapy. It was the only thing that made her feel good. I told her she was probably going to have to let go of some things to be able to make headway. She teared up and nodded her understanding. I told her it was an option that I not help her. She paused and then asked where I wanted to start.
i asked her if I could take a peek through her house to see what I was dealing with. There were things stacked along both sides of the hallway. The kitchen table was piled high. Her sewing room door was piled with stuff. The guest bathroom was clean and free of clutter. Her bed was clear but things were stacked at the foot and the far side. Both of her closets were blocked by piles of stuff. She uses her master bath for storage and things are piled along the walls. The entry into the bathroom was blocked.
I went back to my seat in the living room. She asked me where I wanted to start and I suggested her clothes because that seems to be something with less emotional attachment. She made many excuses. I reminded her I didn't have to do anything but she wanted my help.
I went and sat on the floor in front of her chair. I just started dumping bags on the floor dealing with the contents as we went. There were a lot of papers only she could deal with and I put them in her stacks. I sorted things into other categories using boxes and bags she had under the table. Grouping like items will allow us to deal with them as a whole later on. After a few hours we had a few bags of trash and a small giveaway pile.
I left after we setup our next meeting. I took the bags of trash and giveaway items not knowing if she would go through them and retrieve items. It will be a long road but I think I can make a difference.
To be continued...