Stuff | Mark’s Remarks


I know I’ve often told you how appalled I am with reality television. I also know you’ve caught me contradicting myself, eating my words, and putting my big, judgmental foot right in my mouth. I’m only human.

I admit it; I’m addicted to a show called “Hoarders.” Perhaps it is because I am a neatness nut. Perhaps it’s because I am much like a person watching a train wreck. I can’t stop watching.

Hoarders is a show about people who simply have too much stuff. Sometimes, the stuff is piled so high they can’t even walk in their homes. Some of the hoarders hoard trash. Some of them hoard animals. Some of them hoard things I can’t write about. Many of them live in unsafe environments. It’s all very fascinating and interesting to me.

I do know I am not getting entertainment value out of watching other people in misery. Good for me.

But as I have continued setting the DVR and watching this show every week, I have noticed common themes.

Most of these hoarders are from dysfunctional families. There’s a reason they hold onto things. Apparently, the acquiring of “stuff” fills a momentary need. After the “high” goes away, they just go get more things.

As I watch, I am reminded about how deeply wounded many people are. So many people have come from homes with well-meaning parents who have not measured up. So many have come from homes in which they experienced mental and physical abuse.

Many of the hoarders have lost loved ones in tragic circumstances. Almost always, the hoarding escalates after the loss.

I think most of us who watch will say things like “Why don’t they just get up and work? Why can’t they just throw that away? Why can’t they just clean up?”

Apparently, hoarding is like any other addiction: it’s hard to control. Some people from dysfunctional circumstances or who have faced a loss turn to other addictions. Hoarding is an addiction.

If there is any humor in any of the mess of “Hoarders,” it would have to come with an- other common theme I have realized: many of the hoarders are teachers.

Some custodians and principals will grin a little at this. Many of them have implored those of us with classrooms full of bags of toilet paper tubes, plastic bottles, and dilapidated bean-bag chairs to throw it all out!

I had to smile a little at last night’s episode. A lady named Vera was keeping cicada shells, dead birds, and other interesting items in her house. She had an owl frozen in the freezer.

Yes, she was sick. She had lost her husband, who she said was the only person who loved her. She had retired from her job. She had little left in her life.

Her children cared about her, but they didn’t understand her “collections.” They wanted her to throw it all out.

When this poor woman was able to face her grief, she was then able move on with allowing the pros to help her clean up her house. Her house soon became livable again. It looked great.

During the show, I wanted to somehow say “Hey, I know you are keeping the cicadas and the owl to show your students.” Although I was appalled a little at her house, I understood some of her madness.

In the end, as a reward for being brave and allowing others to get rid of most of her hoard, the organizers converted one of her spare bedrooms into a “nature room.” They displayed her bee hives, possum fetuses, bone collection and what have you. It was a room that kids would like. Field trips welcome.

When the lady saw the room, she started to cry. So did I. I’ll admit it. I’m a softy sometimes.

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