If I was another 20 pounds heavier, I would not get up those stairs.
This has nothing to do with levels of fitness, but with the fact there are piles of boxes and stuff from floor to ceiling up 2 flights of stairs and along the hallways. In the bedroom there is a narrow pathway between the door and the bed, while the bed itself is a merely a mattress on top of more boxes of stuff. The living room door has been removed and a curtain placed there instead to allow access. If you are too wide, you risk getting wedged.
I have no idea what colour or design her wallpaper is.
Most people are guilty of holding on to things because they might come in handy one day, rather than being of daily, weekly or even seasonal use. We've all experienced that feeling of having thrown something out, only to discover it would have been the ideal solution to a problem 2 weeks later. But this relative of mine has taken it to a whole new level.
It has become a burden. She knows she needs to do something about it. She could make a small fortune selling it all at car boot sales or on eBay. She knows this too, which is why she couldn't take the other route of throwing it all out. It has all become too big and too scary to even know where to start.
She knows its dysfunctional. This level of hoarding is the kind of thing they make Channel 4 documentaries about.
Every time Maggie, the kids and I go on holiday and rent a place for a week, we get by with a minimal amount of stuff. The cottage or apartment we stay in has all the furniture, fittings and kitchen utensils needed, but beyond a handful of books, games and DVDs left for the guests, it will be uncluttered.
We live for a week like this and love the sense of space and lack of responsibility for decades of accumulated stuff. We resolve to have a major clear out when we get home and adopt a considerably more minimalist lifestyle.
Of course, once home and faced with all the stuff, either it is useful or it has sentimental value of some kind - evoking memories of a time and place we'd forgotten until we picked it up and were reminded. Now, with that memory fresh, we don't want to lose it. To throw away that object would be like throwing away access to a memory. The decision to discard it is scarier than putting it back with a promise to deal with it another day.
My problems with physical hoarding are nothing like the level of my relative, but I've come to realise I have a deeper problem with hoarding ideas - interesting bits of information, something to learn, something to try out, things to do, stuff which will definitely come in handy one day.
I have endless folders, boxes, bags and piles of scraps of paper with things scribbled on them. I have hundreds of emails sitting open in my inbox ready to look at in depth when I have the time to spare. Typically I have anything from 15 to 25 windows open in my browser, with web pages I need to come back to when I've got a moment.
Each of these thoughts, ideas and bits of information has potential. Each one kept with hope and expectation of solving problems, improving my life or improving the lives of others if I harness it right.
Discarding them would be throwing away possibilities and dreams.
I don't harshly judge my relative for her compulsive hoarding, for I am guilty of exactly the same thing, just expressed in a slightly different way.
My name is Kim. And I am a Hoarder.