I’m 28. I still haven’t moved out of my parents’ house.
In a way it didn’t make sense before because I’ve moved eight times since 2001. And now that we’re buying a condo I’m moving again! Yay! Argh.
Since we’re staying put for a while it’s time to grow up and empty out my old room. But my parents are hoarders, so this is easier said than done.
Exhibit A: their basement (there’s a bar under there somewhere)
Exhibit B: Their offices
Alright, the living room isn’t so bad:
But my own room needs help.
About half of that is my sister’s and my mother’s stuff. But that means the other half is mine. I was a hoarder too. Oh I want to cry.
How do you move out of a hoarder’s home?
These strategies DON’T work:
Trying to throw things out.Your trash will be edited and you will find it right back where it started. Hoarders can’t bear to see anything go to waste, particularly if it has meaning to the person it belonged to, even if it has no meaning to them. When I went home last spring I tried to purge a 55-gallon trash can’s worth of primary school projects and souvenirs. I found about half of the items back in my bedroom the next time I returned.
Removing everything all at once. The sudden substantial loss will be easily noticed by the hoarder. It will also add to their stress and make them more defensive. They’ll work harder to keep the stuff around and this will make life harder for you.
Trying to tackle the clutter while the hoarder is around. They will notice what you’re doing, and they will panic.
These strategies do work for me:
Pack up anything and everything and take it off the premises. Then dispose of it where the hoarders can’t see you and where they won’t find the items.
Get your friends and neighbors to help you. Quietly explain the problem to a few neighbors or friends that you trust. Ask them for a little space in their trash cans so you can discard the items you need to be rid of. They will likely be more than happy to help. The holidays are not a good time to try this though, as most of our neighbors weren’t around and I didn’t want to interrupt those who were.
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!
What makes this all so frustrating is the amount of energy it takes. There’s only so much we can fit into our car. There are only so many times we drive up to Philly from DC each year. It’s exhausting to have to do all of this just to throw things in the trash in another state. But as you’ll see in the coming posts, I did get rid of some stuff and it’s better than nothing!
Just remember — you’re moving OUT not in with a hoarder. It’s hard to get the stuff out and keep your sanity. But leaving will keep you more sane than staying.