Our apartment is not Hoarders level bad, but it could get there easily if I allowed it to. I don’t allow it to because clutter triggers my anxiety.
This pandemic has been hell on my hoarding-related anxiety and on my depression.
I know, on an academic level, why people hoard things. I even have a very good guess as to the reasons behind my husband’s hoarding. But knowing the why doesn’t help; it doesn’t ease my anxiety, it doesn’t make me more empathetic… I think it actually makes me even more frustrated and depressed.
This is one way that having a psychology degree can be a double-edged sword. The knowledge is helpful when you’re looking at the behavior of someone you don’t know. But when it’s someone you live with and you have emotional ties to, it feels like it makes things worse.
The hoarding is a major anxiety trigger for me. It’s limited to his “office”, but sometimes, it seeps out into the rest of the apartment. My husband has this nasty habit of setting things down “for now”, but never picking them back up. I refuse to pick it up. In my mind, my justification is that I didn’t put it there, he did. I shouldn’t have to be picking up after a grown man. So then it sits.
As I type this, I’m looking at a pile of cardboard that needs to go out of the recycling. I look at it and I am seething, both at him and at myself. I’m seething at him for just piling it up and not taking some of it down with him to the dumpster when he took out the trash. I seethe at myself for being so overwhelmed by a pile of cardboard that I freeze when I think about having to haul it out by myself.
I’m resentful. I resent being the one who has to clean. I resent having to tiptoe around his anxiety because if I don’t, then he becomes passive-aggressive and tries to emotionally manipulate me and make me out to be the bad guy because I expect him to help me keep a clean house. Then I start keeping score.
I shouldn’t be keeping score, but I can’t help it. I feel like I carry more of the weight around here and do 90% of the emotional labor in this relationship. This comes from my past; I grew up in an abusive household where I was both scapegoat and maid. I had to clean the whole house while my father sat on his ass and ordered me around. I feel a lot like this now. Except I’m an adult and I don’t live in fear of my husband if I refuse to do it.
I try to clean, but I feel like it’s a losing battle. It’s also becoming very difficult for me to keep pushing on and on. I clean up, but he brings in more crap and sets it down, never to pick it up again.
I think I might be at the end of my rope. Actually, I think I’m hanging on to a thread as far as the hoarding is concerned. I’ve contemplated going into that room and just getting rid of everything that I think is garbage. I’ve even considered ratting out my husband to the landlord as a wake-up call. I’m mortified at the thought of maintenance or the landlord coming in and seeing that room.
Again, not a picture of the author’s actual garage…
I’m not even going to get into how our rented garage looks. That does look like an episode of Hoarders. I’m angry that we pay extra a month to rent a garage to house all the crap he brought home and never used. We need to clean it out, but I’m both overwhelmed at the idea of how much stuff is in there. I’m also mortified at having to open the garage door and having everyone see how bad it is.
I could go to therapy, but the issue here is that I don’t want to tolerate this hoard anymore. I’ve lived with it too long and I feel like I’m enabling him by not saying anything. I’m hanging onto that last frayed strand of rope. I’ve lived with it long enough. I don’t have the time nor the patience to live with all the physical crap. I don’t have the luxury of waiting until he admits that he has a problem and gets help for it. If this makes me sound cold, then so be it. I have to think of myself. This is wreaking havoc on my anxiety and my depression. I don’t want to end up having another nervous breakdown and spending a week in a behavioral health facility because my anxiety and depression have reached the levels of suicidal ideation again.
Don’t laugh. The last time this happened, it was because the idea of going to work triggered panic attacks and I felt like such a failure that I began thinking about suicide.
I have few ways to escape since the pandemic started. I feel trapped, both by a virus and by someone else’s physical crap and emotional issues he refuses to deal with. I’m exhausted, too. I feel like a failure because I can’t keep my house clean. Short of staging an intervention, I don’t know what else to do.
Because of my lovely picture (which is in constant need of maintenance), I cannot talk to many people about the constant weight on my shoulders. This situation is not helped by the recent loss of the two closest friendships I have, which happened as these things do, with only small amounts of shared blame.
I’ve been limping along for a while now, managing occasionally to feel like life is worthwhile and these wonderful times of hope are mostly because of my wonderful husband, the one person in the world that I am not afraid to cry with, the one person I know will not think less of me, or dismiss my pain.
This wonderful husband just got a short-term contract (four months) in a city six hours from here. It is a wonderful opportunity for him, one which I happily encouraged him to take, but I cannot go with him for various reasons.
During the day this seems like something I can manage; after all, he’ll still be here on the weekends, and it’s only for a little while.
But at night, the darkness invades my heart, and I cling tightly to him, terrified by the thought of being apart from him for even one night. Because along with being my best friend and soul mate, he is frequently my salvation.
It is because of him that I have not dropped out of grad school under the overwhelming apathy that threatens to prevent me from finishing assignments.
It is because of him that I can sort through my often tangled feelings and come out the other end feeling like I might be okay.
It is with him, and only him, that I can say that haunting word “depression” and not feel like I have to have a treatment plan all mapped out for his perusal.
Five days a week without him is five mornings I have to get out of bed and go to class. It’s 80 waking hours that I cannot debrief in his arms. It’s five evenings of dread, knowing what’s coming when I get too tired to fight it off, and it’s five nights of hugging my pillow, praying sleep will come before the melancholy attacks.
Happily-ever-after dies when his suffering takes center stage. There is no room in my home for me. I am not enough or I am too much. HE TAKES EVERYTHING OVER. There is no room for my anguish and sadness. There is no place to hide my face. There is no safe place. He has taken them all.
Gave up a dear friend, she was toxic to our relationship, but I loved her like WHOA. When my mother passed away in 2007…Michele would have known how to be present. She would have known what to say and when to be silent. She would have reminded me of things I had said. She would be encouraging. But I couldn’t reach out to her. When all doors where closed and all paths were blocked… I turned to Jesus… the first place I should have gone.
Work becomes more important. I am valued here. I am celebrated for my vision, my word, my inappropriate humor. I am secretly trying to think of ways to work overtime and contribute more to after hours events.
I explain my desires, my needs. I dive deep, despite the risk, and ask for him to play the role of Daddy and let me be the little girl who needs to be safe and protected. He shames me. He has starved me out. I fall deep into self loathing and hatred. Trust has been severed. Heart has turned stone. I have shut down any trust I ever had. I never speak of my sorrows or pain to him anymore. Initially he’ll try to help…. But then…. In the next couple weeks, when we’re arguing, he uses it against me — ultimate betrayal.
He is constantly nudging me and giving me looks to act appropriately.
I can’t be me…when he’s around. I celebrate with joy when he leaves the house.
I run around foolishly and make a huge mess.
I confront him. Air out my grievances. He doesn’t remember any of it. I am in a puddle of hormonal rage and anxiety. I AM NOT CRAZY! God speaks to me clearly and tells me to commit to doing a 40 day fast. During the fast, he shows me his favor. He shows me my strength. I emerge as a warrior. If I can fast for 40 days, I can fucking do anything. My faith is stronger than ever. Jesus will never fail me. I need to commit to only relying on him for all my needs. Mortal men are the most pitiful of creatures. Why was I so blind?
He leaves me a note by my nightstand. It’s this long paragraph of lovely words I’ve heard before; Something about him recommitting to us, to me, and becoming the man he needs to be for me.
((( Pause for rolling of the eyes )))
The time and energy for him to write that letter, he could have just taken action. He is all talk. TALK TALK TALK TALK!
If he wants to be the man for me… then bring me coffee in bed, don’t let me worry about putting gas in my car or its maintenance needs. Remove money as a concern for me. Obtain employment that can carry the family and cover us with health insurance so I don’t have to … be the man of the house. Be the spiritual leader that we need. Be the captain of the ship. Be honest about who you are what you need. Don’t suffer in silence. Don’t be so chicken shit. Run interference for me so I can be the wife, mom, and Christian that our family and community craves.
((It’s not too much to ask.))
Emergency room visits, doctors that are worthless, procedures and surgeries that do more harm for his crippling debilitating disease. Come to terms with the fact that I will his caretaker. Make plans for WHAT IFs. Keep accurate medical records. Organize it all. Learning to be knowledgeable about his health conditions. Understand his lack of memory is not his fault. Pain is all consuming. Find a support group. Learn to ask for help. Cry more. Learn to be ok with anger but try not to let it consume your soul. Ask Steve the hard questions. Write down his eulogy. Face the facts. Time is not on our side.
He comes in this morning and interrupts my workout. I take my headphones off and he informs me that he can hear me laughing all the way on the other side of the house… it’s a 2800 sqft house. So what? I can’t listen to my podcast and laugh in my house now? HE FUCKING TAKES EVERYTHING FROM ME!!!!!!!!
I asked him about having another baby. Nope. He took that away from me too.
I mentioned Viagra and invoked world war three!
His only autonomy in our relationship is the ability to say no. No to my advances. No to all my solutions.
It’s the only real strength and control he has. He builds constant brick walls in conversation.
When he looks down on me and berates my music choices because there is swearing… that does not make me want to be better or do better. It just makes me feel as if I’m in a play and I have no idea what my lines are, what role I’m supposed to be play.. He just makes me feel like a total fuck up.
A rift, a fault line separates us. We are on divergent paths. I don’t know where to go from here. I have read all the books, signed all the contracts, invoked all the spells, prayed and fasted, repented for my wicked ways only to cover my face and cry, “ABSALOM, ABSALOM!”
He was my fuck-buddy. The sex, oh man, the sex, the sex was the kind of sex I didn’t even know I craved until it smacked me in the face. Then it became like oxygen – or, at least, crack.
More than the amazing sex, this man was someone I could talk, really talk to about the things I have no other place to share. Things that I didn’t know I really wanted to dialogue about. Dirty things, yes – yummy, dirty things. But also spiritual, political, intellectual things.
My husband simply isn’t that person for me. I won’t give you all the details. It really doesn’t matter and it’s not much different from a million other stories. For me, though, it is. This is my story.
Leaving my lover is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do; it hurts. But I know that it’s necessary to say goodbye. Goodbye to the crazy drama. Goodbye to the possibility of wrecking my marriage. Goodbye to the fear that my children would hate me if it all came crumbling down.
And goodbye to filling that hole – the one that craves passion, excitement, and a really good fuck – in my life.
His name is John; hers is Yvonne. He is 76 and she is 74. They dated all through high school. Then they broke up and married other people, had kids and grandkids, and all was well.
Then John’s wife got cancer – ovarian or cervical – either way, doesn’t matter. He took care of her, always believing he could do more. Then she died.
John got on with his life. He was sad, but dealing.
One day, John’s son looked up Yvonne and found out she lived only 30 minutes away. She was married to someone and had kids and grandkids and even a great-grandkid.
Some time later, John’s son showed him the obituaries. Yvonne’s husband had passed. Cancer. John went to pay his respects. After all, he and Yvonne had once dated. They talked a bit and promised to keep in touch.
John and Yvonne were married two years later.
They have been married about six years now.
Two years ago, Yvonne was diagnosed with cancer, cervical or ovarian – doesn’t matter. It was the same cancer that killed John’s first wife.
John said NO!
He wanted to fight the cancer. He wouldn’t let cancer take his wife again.
John goes to every doctor appointment. He keeps track of every medication and dosage and when and how she is supposed to take it. He sat with her while she went through chemo. He shaved her head – and his – when she started to lose her hair. He isn’t letting her go without a fight.
They don’t know what the future holds, or if the cancer has spread.