We want to introduce you to our newest associate, Jesus Esparza. Jesus has been working on client’s home organization projects with us for the past several months and has been doing an outstanding job! We’ve asked him to also be a contributor for our blogs and he has obliged. He will be a regular contributor in the future as well. We hope you enjoy what he has to share as much as we do!
I Live With a Hoarder
I live with a hoarder, my mom. Now that the initial shock is over, let me say that as someone who is organized, it is NOT easy. I think the best way to describe it is that you feel shut off from the world. No one ever comes in, because, I mean, what would they say!? Stuff comes in, though, and the walls of stuff cave in on you to the point where you’re the only person who can fit inside of the room. The truth is, hoarders create walls, both literally and figuratively.
At First, Organization Was the Hoarder’s Enemy
Two years ago I made the decision that I was going to “clean up.” Things were painfully slow at first. The curious thing is that I was moving as fast as I could! Unfortunately, the fast pace I was working at was not making my mother happy. I was moving everything every which way and at the end of it all, she didn’t know where her things were. Even though she didn’t know where they were before, she finally had a scapegoat: me. She wasn’t interested in helping me sort things out because I wasn’t offering her a manageable timeline. I just wanted things done.
Taking New Actions Produced Results
I realize now that in trying to get things done as fast as possible, I was actually slowing myself down. Taking on a project of that nature and that size requires a couple of things: patience and compassion, two things I didn’t start factoring into the equation until just recently. Once I did factor them in, something curious started to happen: I started to get results. Little by little, I started to see SPACE.
So far, I’ve managed to finish cleaning out and organizing the kitchen and living room. After two years of work, that alone is reason enough to celebrate! What’s more is that I’m incredibly close to finishing our bulk storage closet, laundry, and sun rooms. It’s funny because I only started those projects about two months ago and they were the rooms with the most clutter. All of this progress has been due to a few adjustments in my organizing technique. First, I gained my mother’s trust. She’s gotten attacked plenty over the years for the mess. Heck, SHE even blames herself now. But that sort of negativity doesn’t get anyone anywhere. Feeling guilty just made her feel more overwhelmed and hopeless; in other words, less productive. I knew that in order to get anywhere I had to build her up, not tear her down. I let her know that I wasn’t just in it to get rid of things; I wanted to make her life easier and more enjoyable. In the end, that’s what convinced her to get involved. After all, she wanted that, too!
Now Our Organizing Puts the Hoarder in Charge
Another thing I did was to increase communication. In the beginning, I didn’t know what she did or did not want to keep. I left piles for her to look through. (When neglected, piles get bigger. Surprise!) No one wants to look through a huge pile. It just wasn’t working. Now, when I need her to look through things, I let her know and she gladly comes over and helps. It makes for great bonding time! Thanks to these changes, I have been able to make HUGE strides in just hours. And she likes the results! It’s a good feeling to know that I’m making positive changes and that she’s happy with them.
Last night I was working in the bulk storage room, and at the end of the day, even though there was still plenty left to do, I couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief. Things are finally happening, and it’s all been thanks to just slowing down a bit.