Friday, October 26, 2012

The Experiment

"Why is the house like this?" I would ask.
"You want to know why the house is like this? You want to know? It's because of you! You are always in the way, asking us questions, bothering us, you make the house like this!"

I heard this blame incessantly from my hoarding parents (HP) while growing up. It made me marginalize my relationship with them, burying myself in school, extra-curricular activities, books and TV. I really wanted to test their accusations and validate my feelings that this wasn't me.

First Steps

At the first opportunity, I moved away from home to go to university. I was away for months. This was the beginning of an experiment, to see if their rants on me were true. Then on my visits back home, I felt my first sense of vindication, the place was just as bad, if not worse, then from when I lived with them.

Moving Away, Far Away 

During college, I had decided to move abroad. In reflecting on the move, I would say that was an extension of that experiment. Here I didn't just move out, but I moved away only visiting every few years. I sought to establish more and more of my independence, so that they were not expected to do anything for me, and not have any fuel to use against me for why they couldn't clean up the clutter in the house.

Eventually I met and married my lovely wife. She came from a very different family and upbringing than me. She is one of 6 children, growing up in a 4 bedroom apartment, along with her parents and her grandmother. Their place was filled with people. My home was filled with newspapers, boxes, and recent purchases from Costco. My parents home was much larger, 5 bedrooms, 3 baths, ground level and basement, but filled with stuff - clutter.

So our new life is decidedly different from what I grew up with. We live in a 3 bedroom apartment, have 3 kids and have kept 'stuff' to a minimum.

Every so often I will get a book. "What do you need it for," she demands. She might be right, that it is a book I don't need to hold onto. The difference is, that I can put my books together into a box and donate. Oh, dropping a box of books at a second hand book exchange can feel so good, so empowering.

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