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Letter to mom

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pizzalover posted 3/17/2014 07:19 AM

So, I think I've talked about this before, but my mother is a hoarder. My brother and I confronted her about it a few years ago, but nothing since. I've been talking in IC about how it makes me feel. My assignment, due today, was to write a letter to my mom about it. I wanted to share it. I'd appreciate any feedback. I haven't sent this yet, but I am planning to.

Dear Mom,

I need to discuss something difficult with you. I am very concerned about your hoarding. I know brother and I addressed it with you years ago, but we havenít had a conversation about it since. Your hoarding scares me. I am concerned that you will get hurt in your house. I worry that you will not be able to get out the back door if there is a fire in the front of the house and it is blocked. I remember that there was a mattress in your living room Ė I worry that it will fall on you and you wonít be able to get up. I worry that you will fall down your basement stairs again because of all the stuff on your stairs. I wish that I would be able to come over to your house for dinner or to watch a movie, but there is no room for me there. I worry that you donít know what food is expired or not in your kitchen Ė I worry about this since when brother, BH, and I came over to your house for dinner years ago, both of the salad dressing bottles said that they had been expired for a while.

I have given you hints about me helping you to deal with this. I have offered to come over and take all of my things out of the house. You have not seemed willing for me to do this. I canít speak for brother, but I am sure that he would help get things out of the house as well. I am willing to help on weekends to go through things in your house that you no longer need. There are websites that we can sell things on like Craigslist and EBay, or we could donate things.

I avoid clipping coupons for Harbor Freight to get free stuff so that you donít have more stuff in your house. If I need something or want to get something for school, I'll buy it.

I donít want to buy your more items for your house at Christmas, etc, which I why I give you gift cards or money. I hate to see you bringing more junk into the house.

When I told you about the yard sale at school, I didnít think that you would ask other people for things to add more stuff to your house. I thought that you would go through your things. I have a hard time saying no when you ask me if I want something. For example, the other day with the encyclopedias - it took me many times of saying that I didn't want them until you finally accepted it. I know that you mean well, but I don't need more stuff. Also, the yard sale is about getting rid of things that we already have, not buying stuff to sell.

I am scared to talk to you about all of this. I feel angry that if you donít let me help you now, I will have to deal with your house when you die, NOT that I want that to happen, but inevitably it will. I have no idea who the executor of your will is, where it is in your house along with important papers,etc. I realized that I donít even have a key to your house in case I need to get in to help you. I want you to live for a long time.

I am dealing with my dysfunctions in therapy now. It's extremely hard, but I am owning up to it. I didn't realize how bad my dysfunctions were until I hit rock bottom. I don't want you to hit rock bottom, but you need to deal with this now. I am willing to help or to assist you in getting the help you need.

Obviously I would like to sit down and talk to you about this in person. I don't want this to continue to be a rift between us.

I do love you and I wait to hear from you.


somanyyears posted 3/17/2014 09:35 AM

..your letter is heartfelt and sincere, but from what I've learned by watching 'countless' episodes of Hoarding programs over several years, the hoarding is a result of deep psychological issues steming from some traumatic loss in their life and the gathering and holding everything is their security to avoid any more loss..

..there must have been a devastating event that occurred in your mom's life that triggered her need to accumulate all and everything.. it's about their sense of controlling their personal world, but without the 'normal' sense to limit and organize it all. The piles of stuff just grow out of control.

..taking in animals is often a part of the problem..

..I've been called a hoarder, albeit an organized one, but told that I started gathering and collecting as a result of the trauma of the infidelity. It was my escape from facing the double betrayal. Stuff became my focus.. it just didn't all get tossed in a pile in my living room.

..I fear that while your letter is well intentioned, it is going to take a lot more than that to convince your mom to stop her hoarding and address her real issues of 'WHY' it's happening.

..sending hugs of support to you and your mom.


She-Ra posted 3/17/2014 09:51 AM

That is a really nice letter and well written. SMY is right about the hoarders mental state. I'm very sorry you add dealing with this.

I hope she reads your letter with love and that will help be a stepping stone to make changes

pizzalover posted 3/17/2014 14:39 PM


.your letter is heartfelt and sincere

Thanks! If was hard to write.

..taking in animals is often a part of the problem..

My mom doesn't have this problem, although I worry that underneath items in her house we'll find dead bugs, etc.
luckily, my mom is not as extreme as some of the Hoarders episodes (that's only from what I've seen in the commercials because I won't watch the show - too painful) but it's obviously still a problem.

..I fear that while your letter is well intentioned, it is going to take a lot more than that to convince your mom to stop her hoarding and address her real issues of 'WHY' it's happening.

I know one letter won't solve all of the problems, but at least I'll feel good that I've addressed it and let her know how I feel.


I hope she reads your letter with love and that will help be a stepping stone to make changes

Me too.

cinnamongurl posted 3/19/2014 00:51 AM

I have this same issue with my own mother. But I live in her house. She travels a lot, and when she does, SO and I get to work cleaning and clearing, it seems an endless cycle. Just before she left for her month in FL, we had a real heart to heart. She said (as she often does) I just want to get a dumpster and dump it all. This time I said to her, that I didn't think it would help. That there was more to it then just throwing it all away. She's already BTDT, but still continues to "collect".This time she agreed.

She said she saw all of the internal work I have been doing and wondered if maybe she needed a little professional help sorting out her internal pain. I told her when she returns, I will help her to find an IC that specializes in hoarding and OCD type disorders. She thanked me for helping, and for helping save her house from foreclosure, and for opening up to her and SO and allowing them to help me heal. (Before final dday, I had kept a great deal of my pain to myself, not realizing how much I was damaging not just my relationship with BSO, but with others as well).

Hoarding is a form of OCD in which the hoarder tries desperately to hide the pain in external things. It becomes an addiction, and This is how they "dose" so to speak. They know it's not right, they don't know how to fix it so the cycle just keeps repeating until something(usually a sort of rock bottom) makes them have to take charge and make a change. Your mom probably needs some IC to confront the reason(s) for her behavior and the skills to work through it and become healthy. Do you think she would be open to this? (((Pizzalover))) I hope your mom begins to heal and learns to live in a safe and healthy way!

(Edited for clarity)

[This message edited by cinnamongurl at 12:54 AM, March 19th (Wednesday)]

pizzalover posted 3/24/2014 14:43 PM

Cinnamongirl -

I am sorry what you are going through with your mom. I am not sure if she would be open to therapy (she actually once said to me, in so many words very close after D-day, "Don't spend your money on therapy, he's never going to forgive you."), but if she responds to my letter by wanting to speak in person, I will bring it up.

I mailed the letter today - I was a little scared to put it in the mail - but I will update you all on what happens.

rachelc posted 3/24/2014 15:16 PM

my husband's mother is a hoarder. Our children - all in their 20s - have never been to her house. I've heard every excuse in the book. We finally just left the state but not before the siblings started to split apart on how to handle this. I wrote her a letter like this. She carried it around in her purse and showed people like "look what a bitch my DIL is."

She is mentally ill. And it's the big elephant in the room. FIL is obviously in denial. That's where my conflict avoider hubby learned how to deal with things. Just don't talk about it and it might go away....

I cannot think of an event that happened to her nor has she ever mentioned anything. However, my FIL grew up in the exact same type of situation with his own mother. This is not lost on me how things seems to travel down the heredital path.

Whatever happened to these women has something to do with their relationship with their husbands - I'm convinced of this as it didn't start until they were married a while. They could't leave. I can. It perplexes me.

good luck pizzalover!!

[This message edited by rachelc at 3:17 PM, March 24th (Monday)]

pizzalover posted 4/1/2014 15:20 PM

So it has been almost a week since I sent the letter to my mom and she hasn't responded to me. I role played in IC last night about what to say to her. I am planning on calling her tonight while BH is by my side. I am extremely nervous. I worry about her so much. I can't keep burying problems. I have to call her and talk to her, even though ignoring it is the easier route - it is not a route I am going to take. I think my mom buries things too. I don't think she wants to deal with her dysfunction like I couldn't deal with mine. I ignored it and buried it and it just got bigger. I will let you know how the call went.

HUFI-PUFI posted 4/1/2014 15:45 PM

pizzalover - I have to call her and talk to her, even though ignoring it is the easier route ...

Life can become very frustrating as we try to deal with the reversal of roles from child to caregiver as our parents grow older and we're forced to deal with family issues.

As you know, hoarding is a very complex issue to deal with. You need to understand that your efforts, altruistic as they may be, may not suffice to help your mom in her disorder. More often than not, professional help is the most effective way of dealing with the underlying issues that lead to the hoarding.

I applaud you for trying to address your mom's hoarding but you need to continue your focus on your own healing, first and foremost. I don't want you feeling hurt and rejected if your letter doesn't spark a positive response. Good luck with your phone call tonight.


cindergirl posted 4/1/2014 18:32 PM

I wish I had specific advice for you, but all I've really got is a giant helping of empathy. My mom is a hoarder, too, (among a myriad of other mental health issues,) and it has caused huge rifts in the family. My father divorced her. My little sister isn't speaking to her. Her best friend is barely communicating with her. And my older sister has moved out of state in large part to avoid dealing with her on a regular basis. For my part, I have learned that I have to keep her at arm's distance. I love her, but her dysfunction is more than I can handle. I have learned to set boundaries. I have lost countless hours and entire days sorting through her belongings, throwing stuff away, organizing, and taking things off her hands. It's a never-ending cycle and I can't continue it. I wish you all the best. somanyyears speaks wisely. She needs professional help. You will not be able to save her from her hoarding as well-intended as it is. Collecting stuff is definitely a band-aid for deep-seated psychological problems. Even my mom recognizes this. She described it as filling an emptiness inside her with accumulating things. There's a dopamine hit gained in acquiring each new thing. Basically, hoarding is a form of addiction. Perhaps you could gently suggest she think about why she collects things? Perhaps thinking about it will get her on the road to thinking about self-improvement.

EvolvingSoul posted 4/1/2014 19:11 PM

Hoarders! We'd unite but there is never enough room for us to all get together in one place.

Seriously, though, props for facing this directly. Whether your mom responds positively or not, learning how to deal with difficult emotions and situations directly instead of the "lalalala I'm not going to think about that right now" method is such a valuable life skill.

I have hoarding tendencies myself and my mom is a pathological collector of whatever it is she's into. Right now it's birds. So. Many. Birds. Fortunately she has the space and money to keep them well cared for but that in itself means that there are really no brakes on the acquisition process. She's now the person that people come to to find a home for a bird they can't or don't want to care for, so it's just snowballing. And, some of them breed and make more! The larger ones will probably outlive her and me.

Let us know how it went with your mom.

pizzalover posted 4/2/2014 07:25 AM

Well, I called my mom and she didn't answer. Either she wasn't home or she doesn't want to talk to me. I just said in the message that my letter was not meant to hurt her, but I am concerned about her and that I love her and care about her. I told her I would call her back in a few days.

I then called my dad - he is remarried since him and my mom got divorced in 2001 or 2002 - I can't remember the exact year. I asked him about my mom's hoarding and when it started (the hoarding was one of the main reasons that he left). He said that when they got back from their honeymoon, my dad saw my mom's bedroom for the first time. He said it was absolutely filled with junk while the rest of her parents house was neat and tidy. He told me a story about when my brother and I were young, my mom was away for the day on a garbage night. My dad gathered up 32 bags of crap from the house and put it outside, but for some reason the garbage men didn't come and my mom saw all of the trash bags and took them into the basement (she was soooo pissed at my dad). My dad said those trash bags sat in the basement for years and were not opened.

I hope to hear from my mom soon. I do love her and care about her.

pizzalover posted 5/8/2014 13:39 PM

I realized that I never updated you on what happened. I got a call from her a few days after I called saying she didnít get my message and that she would contact me when she wanted to talk. She called me when she knew that I would be at work, so obviously she didnít want to get me on the phone. I didnít call her back, but then decided on Easter, which was about 2/3 weeks later to say ďhappy EasterĒ. She answered the phone and seemed really happy to hear from me. I didnít bring up the letter at all Ė we just chit-chatted a little bit. I brought up Motherís Day to see what she would like to do, and we decided that we will probably go out to breakfast together. It felt good to break the ice. Maybe she never called me back for fear that I would want to talk about her hoarding. My IC told me that writing the letter was a good thing because even if it didnít help her to work towards fixing herself, she at least knows how I feel about the whole situation. Iíll keep you updated.

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