It takes courage and love to present our imperfect and authentic selves to the world, but it is truly the only way to connect with others. I hope this project inspires everyone to rethink how they might be able to turn any shame, guilt, sadness or anger they might feel about themselves or their upbringing. This is my story:
For years, I didn't face my past. I was really ashamed of how I grew up. When I was 11, my parents moved our family to an abandoned school building in rural Colorado. I lived there for 6 years, without plumbing, central heat, or full electricity. In the isolation of the prarie, my parent's hoarding tendencies became fully developed.
Compulsive hoarding is a "disressing and debilitating pyschological condition" characterized by the inability to dispose of excess or unused things. It is estimated that in the United States, approximately 15-million people (or 3-5% of the population) suffer from hoarding disorder. Beyond a lack of functional living space, I also grew up with the anger, resentment and depression that is commonly associated with hoarding.
I never invited friends over, and I didn't speak to friends about what my home life was like or how I felt about it. At the time I didn't understand what hoarding was. I felt very alone in what I was going through.
Like my siblings, I left for college never expecting to return to that abandoned school house. But as it always does, life threw us a curve ball when my mother suffered a terrible accident and was left severaly brain-damaged and in need of care. I started taking trips back home to help my father care for my mother. In revisiting my past, I realized there was much that was unresolved within me that I had been avoiding.