Hoarding Lies and the Truths that Set Us Free

Growing up, I was taught to believe many lies that surrounded the situation in which we lived. There are many of them, but I want to give each one a little time separately. I'm going to start with the lie that I believed for the longest, and my last post in this series will be a truth I've stumbled upon recently that set me free from the lies my mother sold me.

Today, I want to focus on the lie that haunted me long after I'd left home, long after it could possibly be true. Yet, I believed it.

If it weren't for me [the child], our house would be normal.

To be perfectly honest, there was never a time that I can remember that my mom straight out told me that the mess in our house was MY fault. It probably happened, but that statement doesn't haunt me. What haunts me, and I've heard from others that they felt the same way, is the underlying belief that our parents were once something greater before they became parents and became burdened.

Even seven years after leaving home, I returned to work in my mother's yard. At one point, she was home from work and allowed me into the home. It was worse than I had remembered it. The next day, my aunt and uncle came with a chipper to help in the yard. She allowed them into the house to use the bathroom. They also saw how bad the house had become. (They would later that fall do a forced clean-out.)

In my horror, I remember telling them that I thought it would be easier for her after I had left home. My uncle looked at me in disbelief and asked me why.

"Because if she hadn't been a single mom, working full-time, raising a child, her home wouldn't be like this!" I blurted out.

"Your mom was like this before you were born, Ceci."

And that was 12 years ago. It was ten years before we appeared on the show. Things never got better (until after we did the show). But somewhere within me, I still believed that the state of chaos and constant disorganization were my fault. Sometimes, that lie still haunts me. When I visit my mother in her much-improved apartment, I feel as though if life had worked out differently for my mother, she wouldn't have fallen into this.

If she hadn't had me...her life would have been better.

Then the story of Joseph and his brothers came to mind. Joseph was his father's favorite, and he was loved above his brothers. God had touched him with the gift of prophecy, yet in his naivete and youth, he shared a prophecy with his brothers that they didn't care for. So that faked his death, and sold him to Egyptian traders. 

Joseph's life in Egypt was event-filled, and yet no matter what, Joseph remained a man of integrity. Even in jail, he was blessed. He became one of the most powerful men in Egypt although he had been brought to the country in shackles as a slave, sold by his own brothers. I don't know about you, but I would have been greatly dejected by this twist of fate. He was tested again and again throughout his time in Egypt, but he trusted in God and did what was right.

Later, Joseph was reunited with his brothers and father. After his father's passing, Joseph tells his brothers,

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20)

I'm no Joseph, mind you, but his story reminds me that the struggles we face don't define us. Our response to them, our openness to being used in God's will is what forms our character within us. My mother may or may not have been better off without the responsibility of raising me. We'll never know that for sure. But I believe with everything within me--no, I know! that all the bad that has happened is still within God's plan for my life. 

I continue to be humbled and given opportunities to serve others who are affected by a loved one's hoarding, and sometimes I even get the opportunity to share with a HP what it looks like from my side. I truly believe that ability to be open to them and to share without reserve is a humongous blessing for them, and for me.

The truth is, no matter what may have happened, God has meant for good to come to me in my life. And if He means that for me, you can be assured He means that for you too!

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.(Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)


Sarah said…
I believed the same exact thing.

I remember I asked my mother once why she didn't clean and she said that she didn't have time to clean because she was a working, single mother. I have no evidence, but I'm certain that her hoarding has only gotten worse since I moved out 7 years ago.

These are the types of lies that keep children of hoarders silent because we believe that we are part of the problem and, therefore, bear some of the guilt. Thankfully, time and distance prove these lies to be false and lift some of the emotional burden off the shoulders of the children.
Ceci G. said…

Thanks for letting me know that you felt this way too! There's such a sense of safety and justification when you know you're not the only one who feels/felt this way.

You're right about creating distance. It does illuminate the lies, and with time, faith and hope, the emotional burden can be lifted.

Hoarding isn't our problem; our HP isn't our responsibility, but I know I've found that my HP's issues have left me with burdens of my own. Makes me understand the statements about generational sin...but I'm so glad to know that it doesn't HAVE to affect me forever, or be passed on to my kids!
I have felt a little bit that way, but fortunately I had five siblings to sort of share that load, that it was the sheer QUANTITY of kids that made the mess, not me as an individual. But I do remember feeling as though there was more we as children should have been doing. I don't think my younger siblings internalized it so much, somehow they managed to escape the guilt, or at least it seems that way. Hm maybe I will ask them about it.

Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

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