Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom
Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother’s Compulsive Hoarding by Jessie Sholl
I’ll confess, it’s a bit difficult to say that I loved a book about someone’s painful life struggle, but I really did love this book. It’sÂ beautifully written, easy to read, and the author cleverly interlaces story telling and factual information about hoarding.
The author, Jessie Sholl, lived with a mother who was initially a pack rat and who became a full-fledged hoarder after the death of her long-term boyfriend. But as Ms. Sholl makes clear, hoarding is just one symptom of a larger picture of poor mental health. Her mother isn’t just a hoarder and otherwise completely healthy and normal; not did she have great mental health prior to her boyfriend’s death. You only have to watch the show Hoarders one time to realize that the issue is way more than “For Heaven’s sake, clean up your junk.” Ms. Sholl’s mother is abusive, loving, capricious, unreliable, self-centered, indecisive, cruel, and generous, all at the same time.
At times, Ms. Sholl seems as stuck in her own efforts to break her mother from hoarding as her mother is stuck in continuing to hoard. Both repeatedly take their assigned role in this particular unproductive dance of push and push back. Unfortunately for her, Ms. Sholl tries repeatedly to clean and declutter her mother’s entire house in a major, exhausting effort, in the blind hope that once it’s clean, her mother will be able to maintain the house. Of course, just throwing away everything you can lay your hands on and scrubbing everything else with bleach does not solve any of the underlying issues.
Ms. Sholl final frees herself by 1) refusing to take her part in the dance any longer and 2) admitting to others that her mother is a hoarder and a woman with many mental health issues. In some ways, this very last section of the book is my favorite. I was a mental health counselor for many years, and one of my biggest beliefs if that you are never alone. No matter how crazy, how weird, how embarrassing your secret is, if you will let it out, you will quickly find that it is a secret shared by many, many of the people around you. In fact, Ms. Sholl eventually discovers that two of her friends have mothers who hoard. They could have been supporting each other all along, if they had been able to overcome their shame and let their secret out. I’m glad Ms. Sholl finally did let her secret out and shared with all of us, as well.
Today’s Mini Mission
Declutter something you have kept for sentimental reasons.
Today’s Declutter Item
I bought this bracelet for my mother some time ago at an antique store in Seattle of all places but due to a problem in her arm she can not wear it so she gave it back to me. I had no desire to keep it so I sold it on ebay. I hope the new owner will enjoy and appreciate it.Â Australian Stirling Coin Bracelet.
Something I Am Grateful For Today
Catching lots of green lights when I was out and about today.