I call it the show you just ‘love to hate’. It’s one of those programs you find difficult to turn away from, even though you are on a roller coast of emotions the whole time. In the beginning you are sympathetic of the subject, but by mid show your temperature is elevated only to go back into hoping they get better. I am talking about the A&E network show, Hoarders. This invasive experiment follows the lives and struggles of people with a disorder known by the inability to let things go. You and I may not be sitting on a mountain of outdated magazines right now, but chances are we have some stuff in our closets that need to be discarded.
The official description of ‘Hoarding’ is a pattern of behavior that is characterized by the excessive acquisition of, and inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that would seemingly qualify as useless or without value. Compulsive hoarding behavior has been associated with health risks, impaired functioning, economic burden, and adverse effects on friends and family members. The interesting thing about every episode of the show is the stories associated with the people. None of them seemed to see the snowball effect happening in their lives. Nearly all of them had no tendencies to hoard early in life, it was something that happened as a result of something else. This tells me we all have to be careful of managing transitions and tragedies.
The statistics are still a bit sketchy about exactly how many suffer from compulsive hoarding. Mostly because it is a disorder people are too ashamed to seek help for. I want to share some similarities with hoarding things vs. emotions and how we can see a breakthrough.
- Hoarders don’t usually start out like that: If you pay attention to the narrative, you find these people had a normal upbringing. It wasn’t until some disappointment or trauma that they turned to hoarding as a way to gain control. In life, we need to connect with a circle of support to help us keep things in perspective. Bad things happen to good people. That does not negate our ability to bounce back. The one thing we always control is how we respond to trouble.
- Hoarders become blind to the effects their behavior causes: There is always the sad moment in the episodes when a family member is pleading with them to stop doing this. What began as an intervention quickly escalates to a confrontation. During this, the hoarder starts to defend the ‘why’ of their behavior. It’s difficult at times for us to see through our blinders. I believe that true breakthrough begins at the point of aggressive accountability. We can’t sugar coat our lives, instead we must come face to face with where we really are.
- Hoarders who are helped had to make a choice: This sounds so simple but it isn’t. A choice is an open do to a new reality. Each individual is presented with the opportunity for a fresh start. If they take it, resources show up and helping hands are dispatched to get rid of the clutter. If not, they are free to live as they have. The choice boils down to, will they love the dysfunction more than their freedom. We have people around who are ready to step up for us. But no one is obligated to want your breakthrough more than you do. The choice is always ours.
We were created free moral agents. This means we have a right to choose for ourselves. But we also are bound to live with the consequences of our choices. Emotional ‘hoarding’ doesn’t just show up one day. It is the byproduct of unresolved anger, seasons of unforgiveness and broken dreams. The power to reverse its effects is always within reach. So decide to love an uncertain tomorrow over a disastrous yesterday.
See you at the TOP!