Update to hoarding husband woes - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 3 Old 09-03-2006, 09:31 AM - Thread Starter
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I posted a week or two ago about my decluttering attempts in the house in general, storage room and kitchen in particular and the rage and anxiety that decluttering brings out in my husband.

We met with our therapist over this issue a week ago Friday and it was a good session. We met with her again this Friday and I opened the hour by saying how I felt that in our first meeting no one had even begun to try to understand why DH felt so much rage and anxiety over tossing material possessions.

A week ago, I decided to weed through all of our towels and toss the tattiest, dingiest ones. He actually agreed with my choices for a change. So I bagged them to take to the donation station and as he was on his way down to the car with the bag he said, "But what if the water heater bursts and you have 120 gallons of rusty water flooding the place?" (Mind you, I did keep 6 junk towels for the three of us for beach going, swimming pool, dog bathing, etc.). So when he said that, I said, "A) In that case NO amount of towels would save us and B) IF and WHEN that happens, we are two intelligent, resourceful people and I'm sure we will deal with it." He walked out the door with the bag of towels in DEEPEST mourning .

I mentioned this to the therapist and she said to him, "OK. Why did getting rid of the towels bring up so much emotion in you? Your face turned red just relating the incident. Where's it coming from?" So he started to analyze the question. It was like watching the layers of an onion come off. It reminds him of all the times that his parents have helped him out financially and at his age that is embarrassing to him. In his mom's home, nothing is lacking and that gives him a sense of safety and security and the perception of lack gives him a feeling of GREAT insecurity and last but not least, tossing material possessions is a painful reminder that he doesn't have much (anything?) to give HIS kids when THEY get married. When he said THAT he started crying and that's when I knew he had hit on the REAL reason for all the rage and anxiety. Not logical maybe - his kids don't want or need our old towels, it's just symbolic of the bigger picture - but when you layer all the emotions over his reaction to decluttering, I can BEGIN to understand the reaction.

I just thought I'd share. Maybe it will help someone else.
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#2 of 3 Old 09-03-2006, 05:44 PM
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Thanks for the update. It reminds us how important it is to search for the underlying reasons for our hoarding, and how those feelings start coming out when we start the decluttering process.

It's really great that you can be emotionally supportive to your DH. (and Kudos to him for agreeing to therapy)

Mom to DD1 (11/1999),  DD2 (07/2003), and DS (11/2012), all born at home and cloth diapered. 

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#3 of 3 Old 09-03-2006, 05:54 PM
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that sounds like it could be one of the issues around here. I had never thought of that. Thanks.
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