Who would be on a reality TV show?

When I meet someone for the first time, I realize now that I may or may not be a "stranger" to them. It's an unusual predicament to meet someone for the first time and be unsure if they know about your past (at least a small window into it), or whether you are a completely blank slate.

Recently, I shared with someone I had met for the first time two months ago that my mother and I had been on the show last year. From the look on her face, I could tell that she was a bit in shock. I can only imagine the thoughts running through her brain:

"She's look so normal."

"She's one of those kinds--attention-seeking drama queens."

And I could also tell that she also struggled with the first glimpse of who I am in relation to the disclosure that I had been on a reality TV show, and not just any show, but "Hoarders". Her next comment was priceless,

"We'd just been discussing this topic this morning--who would be on a reality TV show?"

Let me start by saying that I would probably never again choose to be on a reality TV show, save for a follow-up episode of "Hoarders". I lost a piece of anonymity by being on the show that I can never reclaim, something that makes me a bit more sensitive to celebrities who complain about the paparazzi. That said, I am hardly the target of paparazzi, and never will be which is quite fine with me.

I would also like to say that I'm just a regular person--a mom and wife and friend and daughter--and in other circumstances would have never caught the eye of producers for any TV show. I'm pretty much an average person. I'm not overly dramatic, hardly what one might call a drama queen. I have owned and worn proudly a t-shirt with the message "I don't do drama".

But I chose to participate and encouraged my mother to do the same for several reasons. First, I felt like I needed a voice regarding what I had grown up in and survived. I believed that I could make a positive difference in the lives of other people who had grown up with a mentally ill parent or a parent who hoards. I knew that I could stand up and say, "I exist; this is real; it sucks; life can be better; healing is out there." I have heard from enough people who have grown up in similar circumstances to know that I achieved that goal.

Secondly, I needed help fixing the situation my mother was in. I was not required or obligated to help my mother, but I wanted to be a part of the change. However, I knew that on my own, I had no expertise or the resources to be effective on my own. I needed something bigger. Being a part of the show allowed me to get the house cleared out, as well as to move my mother toward getting the kind of lifetime help she needed.

As it turned out, my mother didn't take advantage of the ongoing help. I knew that it was not my job to babysit her, forcing her to make or go to the appointments. In fact, if she had no initiative to go, it would be a waste of her time and the therapist's, too. However, my mother has not recreated the lifestyle or suffered with the personality issues that she demonstrated prior to the show. When things start to accumulate, we verbally cue her to straighten up, ask her questions to help her make logical decisions, and she follows through to straighten up. This would never have happened before the show.

The cost of a massive clean-out of a hoarder's home is not pretty. I could never have afforded it on my own, and neither could my mother. Prices run in the thousands, and homes with "extreme messes"--feces (animal or human), mold, etc.--can run in the ten-thousand plus range. Remember, that is only for clean out, not for any repairs.

Something that I didn't realize at the time--when we made the decision to do the show--was that being on TV like that placed me under some heavy accountability. Not to fix my mother, but to work on me. This was a most wonderful "hidden" blessing.

In addition, I have connected with other COHs via the internet from all over the country because of the exposure of the show. I have met two other children who also were on "Hoarders", and I hope that I will have the ability to reach out and encourage even more as the days and months go by--that's why I write this blog.

Who would be on a reality TV show? You might be surprised, and you might be even more shocked at their reasons.


Unknown said…
I think now a day most of the celebrities are going to be a part of reality shows well i am a mad fan of sports and i use to Watch ESPN Live
SisterTipster said…
Thanks for what you gave us. I am newly introduced to the topic, and it caused me to ACT~sometimes seeing others and then seeing ourselves is a start...Thank you.

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