It's been two years now since I heard a doctor say, "It sounds like we may be dealing with OCHD - Obsessive Compulsive Hoarding Disorder."
Since that time, it became clear that all three adults in the family had beliefs and behaviors that contribute to excess accumulation of stuff:
- Bryan loves to collect things, and avoids dealing with his own stuff, much less the stuff of others.
- Meg loves paper and boxes, and hangs on to things she thinks she can fix.
- Tara loves deals, and has a knack for finding "valuable" stuff that's cheap or free.
Some good stuff has happened in the dozens of months since we learned about OCHD:
- Bryan learned to let go of some things.
- Meg discovered the joy of donating and discarding.
- Tara got married and furnished her new home with a 17' van full of furniture that used to fill our house.
We put a lot of our stuff into boxes - about 300 of them - and fit them into our basement family room.
You can see the original "box shelf" I constructed out of 2x4s - I thought the stuff would fit into the 49 boxes I can slide into that unit. In fact, I filled three "box shelves," and ended up having to stack boxes in front of each shelf and the fireplace to boot. So I've probably got more than 300 boxes, but 300 sounds sufficiently overwhelming for now.
Now to start eating the elephant...