A couple of weeks ago, I watched about 5 episodes of the documentary series "Hoarders." First I watched it alone, and then one morning, Electra hung out with me and we watched it together. I was a little hesitant about her seeing it, because she is so young and because the content of the show is actually very disturbing. At least to me.
Hoarders takes you into a world of 3 million people in the United States who suffer from the obsession and mental illness of hoarding. They are people that you bump into at the grocery store or flea market, who seem to be HAPPY about the fact that they are shopping and finding deals and accumulating things that they may or may not ever use. In most cases, they never use what they buy. Sometimes they buy several cases of perishable items and put them somewhere handy- for when they need it. They also save garbage, afraid that if they were to throw anything away, it will somehow curse them. To throw away the pie your mother gave you two years ago is very much like stepping on your mother's back.
Small pathways are cut through the debris piles of their homes in a horrific representation of what they do every day. What they do everyday, is try to reason away all of their problems by collecting everything that falls into their path. Good as prey you are if you live with them.
One woman explained it like this. One reason why she was a hoarder, was because when she was a little girl, her father was the garbage man. She was ridiculed and harassed in grade school by other children because her father was the garbage man. She would go home after a long day of torture in the learning of all things worldly- to discover her father loading more found objects onto their plot. She went from one to the other, day in and day out for about ten years at least...
Who wouldn't be a hoarder after that?
The alternative is to be someone who is obsessive compulsive.
Have you ever seen this behavior? Do you know anyone who can't leave their house, because it takes them 3 hours to complete the ritual they are committed to by mental illness.. Their goal? To take a shit without getting feces on their hand while they wipe their ass. If all goes well, they can leave their house within the next two hours, if they didn't get shit on their hand. Sometimes, their houses are so sterile and clinical that no life should be allowed to exist there at all if they had their way. The most insane example of a sterile and completely whitewashed home I saw, belonged to a gay man who had been the victim of some kind of unspeakable abuse as a child. You wouldn't just think he was clean and worthy if you went into his home. You would be looking for the exit and denying your thoughts.
Ironically, both hoarders and OCD people suffered the same affliction. They were never made to feel worthy, an eternity after they themselves had been victims.
I can be both. I can find sentiment in every scrap of every crappy inch of my day- just to hold on to something. I can also over-analyze every stain on the muddied ragged pulse of the "sinless" Universe around me... and SO discard it in fear, awe or ignorance... and repeat - by either throwing away or saving ALL I ever do. Balance is as balance can measure. You follow?
Today, Electra climbed in bed to wake me up, and asked me if she could look at the shoe box under my bed of my grandmother's possessions. She is a grandmother I met once as a baby, and that was the last time we met. My daughter knows her as I do, from this box of trinkets, of depressingly personal and average artifacts that you have tried to draw the energy of a matriarchal bloodline's soul from... who's voice once rang clearly through your skull.
I think Electra took something magnetic from her great grandmother's box today. I don't know what it was, because even though this box is so important to me that I keep it, and I keep it in the original condition that I received it in.. I let her take it.
I don't have every object memorized that she could have run with, because I am afraid to disturb this box of artifacts and equally afraid to keep the box under my bed and take no risk with airing and scattering it's contents. It means so much to me and equally so little that I cannot face either sentence.
What does this box mean to my daughter?
We all live under a microscope, regardless of how it pays off.
I read to my daughter- the fairy tales that my mother read to me. I saved or recollected them and she and I repeat them together. Sometimes, she brings home the capture of one I have forgotten or a new one, which I fully embrace.. and sometimes I choke it trying to memorialize it.
And so we hoard.