Anyone see the season premiere of TLC’s Hoarding: Buried Alive? This particular family really stood out from others I’ve seen on this show or A&E’s Hoarders. First, the exterior of the homes don’t reveal the secrets inside the houses (the woman owns two homes). The outside of the houses are beautiful. The camera catches two grown daughters who haven’t seen their mom’s home for a decade and getting into the first house meant literally climbing on top of things stacked so high their heads actually hit the ceiling. The daughters are devastated and the heartbreak is clear on both their faces as well as their mother’s. So bad is this woman’s home, she must go to a local gym in order to shower each day. Her second home, meant to be a source of income as a rental house, is actually caving in. The first thing the women notice is the bathtub on the second floor is exposed and could realistically fall at any moment.
I actually looked around my own living room and tried to imagine having to climb to the ceiling to get past clothes, boxes and trash. I looked at my sofa and tried to imagine not being able to get to it or not being able to see the TV because it’s hidden by boxes six deep. Jan, the woman featured in the episode, had lamps laying on their sides on top of clothes, not being used. Her bathroom is not functional at all. As her second daughter tries to enter the home, her mom, standing behind her, says, “I’ll give you a boost” to which her daughter says, “I don’t need a boost. I need a Valium”.
I tried to imagine all of this and couldn’t. Anyone who knows me knows how sentimental I am. I keep a lot of stuff. My son’s drawings, love letters from high school, my first paycheck stub from my very first job – I have it all. It’s all organized upstairs in the guest room. And it’s all in one plastic box in the closet.
I imagine it takes a lot of courage for these people to come forward, especially considering the fact they seem to work double time to protect their secrets. I also imagine they must be truly isolated. After all, their family members don’t call and say, “I’m stopping by. Put the coffee on”. Most of us take for granted that a phone call like that means a quick tidying up, maybe wiping the counters down, but for a hoarder, it’s not even remotely realistic.
Human nature is a mysterious thing, isn’t it?