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#1 of 35 Old 01-02-2007, 02:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'll make a long story short. My mom is a packrat. Her house is very cluttered. The week before Christmas my dad said to me "35 years of misery are in these 2 rooms (meaning the storage room and sewing room). You can't even walk into them. So they went to Florida for a couple weeks, so i decided to tackle the rooms. I've come a long way and think I am finished with what i can do myself. I've thrown out so much (Which my mom will be very upset)but it was like old rotten things, broken things, things that the elastic rotted out of, things she picked out of someone else's trash that was broken and was going to fix (I remember these things from when i was a child living at home)...so we threw out about 10 huge garage bags I could fit into (I'm 5'10") and we burned a ton of other things that could be burned (we borrowed a trailor and loaded it up and took it to our house), and we donated a bunch of old clothes and stuff that someone could use...anyway, i knew that when she got home she would be really upset, becasue she's the type of person if you throw a magazine away, she flips out, and always sees treasures in people's trash- so i knew she would be mad at me, but I did it because my dad needed it...because he's losing his sanity I think. Anyway...now something terrible has happened. To make a long story short, their poodle was hit by a car yesterday. I had to make the call to tell them. My mom is so very heartbroken and i feel so badly because i keep playing the what if games...but anyway, the point is, i don't know what to do now.... I messed up her house (will be in her opinion), she'll come home to find that and flip out and is already heartbroken about her dog (My dad said she may have a heart attack, which I hope not)...so now i feel about 1 inch tall... which is making me feel even more guilty for ever deciding to start to clean out her house. I'm spending the week at their house for my brother, i don't want him to be alone (because he's the one who left the dog out to go potty and through he was tied to the chain, but wasn't). My brother suggested maybe messing the rooms back up to make it look like we really didn't do anything, which I guess if i just clean up the other rooms so they are spotless that would be possible, but my husband says just leave it alone...I just don't want her to be disappointed and heartbroken and upset with me all at once.

Thanks for any advice
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#2 of 35 Old 01-02-2007, 03:05 PM
 
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That's a rough situation. I don't know if I can offer any good advice but I couldn't read and not respond. Maybe you could leave a sympathy card for her about the dog so she can see that you recognize her grief over that, and include a note about your motives when you cleaned the house.

- You wanted them to have an organized space so they can live without frustration.
- You didn't want them to spend hours and hours doing it themselves.
- You understand that she might be upset, but you hope she realizes that your intent was to be helpful and to enrich their lives.


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#3 of 35 Old 01-02-2007, 03:08 PM
 
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i don't think messing up the rooms will fool her for one moment. better to face the music.
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#4 of 35 Old 01-02-2007, 03:11 PM
 
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I'm assuming your dad knows that you cleaned the house? IMO, you and he should tell her about your cleaning together. It was his feelings that prompted you, and to have her hear both of your feelings together might make it more understandable to her.

On the flipside, maybe this will be just what she needed, and she will thank you for it. I know depression can be associated with hoarding things like that, and with what you are doing, maybe it will help her get a positive outlook.

I'm sorry about her dog.
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#5 of 35 Old 01-02-2007, 03:21 PM
 
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She may deep down be grateful though it may take so time till she realizes how nice it really is so have space and not clutter.

It would be a terrible fire danger to have all the stuff piled in the house. Good for you purging.
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#6 of 35 Old 01-02-2007, 03:34 PM
 
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Is there anything she really, really would love to have a special space for? For example, would she like for one of the rooms to be turned into a library, or painted a particular way, or... If you could think of something she's really wishing for, and make that a reality and the basis for the decluttering, then maybe she'd be so exicted about the transformation that she'd appreciate the efforts?

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#7 of 35 Old 01-02-2007, 03:50 PM
 
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First, I want to say how sorry I am about sweet poodle dog. What was his or her name? Did it pass away?

Second, I want to totally commend you for all your hard work. You are so full of heart for wanting to help your mom. I know if you were my daughter I would be standing so proud and so gleeful. There is nothing (to me) that feels better at home than to be clear and clutterfree! I agree that many times depression and hoarding go together. Also, when a person is depressed they find it incredibly overwhelming to make decisions about what to throw away, and donate. And it is very very difficult and almost near impossible to take action. So again, great job trying to help your Mom.

Third, it is always best to be honest. Trying to mess up the rooms in my opinion is not honest. I would tell your Mom first that you are soo sad and sorry for the poodle, then I would say that I am sorry that I invaded her space and took it upon myself to make a decision about what to do with the two rooms.

Fourth, I agree with Koala and the idea to make those two rooms something new, something fresh, something she's dreamt of. And in times of grief especially with the passing of loved ones, pets, it is a good time to have a new beginning and having a new hobby, a library room or whatever she wants would be a great thing.

Last thought. Know your intentions were full of love, and know that you were really doing your best ... which is all any of us can ever do. Try not to beat yourself up, and stand up tall to your 5'10 frame! Feeling one inch tall won't help anything. Stand up tall beautiful lady.
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#8 of 35 Old 01-02-2007, 04:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the enouragement.

Yes, my dad knows about it, but said he wasn't going to tell her, because it would ruin her vacation, but now it's ruined, but he still isn't going to tell her.

The sewing room, is the computer room too, although you could barely even get to the desk. We found 6 irons, and 12 pairs of scissors and broken glass and all sorts of stuff in the piles of material that were in there. She is always complaining she doesn't have scissors, well now she'll have 12 pairs.

The storage room has shelves in there for all her canning stuff, which I think a lot of it will have to be thrown in the trash, but I didn't touch that. I don't think pickles from 1989 would still be good. We were never allowed eating the stuff growing up because my mom didn't want us to waste it. She has the same problem with grocery shopping...she'll hoard up on things and my dad is always throwing about 200 dollars worth of food away at the time. she'll buy it, and stash it (She has 3 frigs) and forget it's there... just like with everything else, she forgets what she has. MY dad tells her "If you tell me what's in that box there, you can keep it"...and she says she'll have to look in it...my dad says if you don't know what's there, it's junk. However, while cleaning the storage room I found a book she got when she was 7 years old that she thought was lost, and tapes my dad first made when he was learning to speak english. So we did find some treasures. I also found all my fisher price little people, barbies, all my brothers legos and toy cars, and some others toys. I'm sure there are a ton still out there, the shed is packed to the ceiling, same as the garage.

I'm just praying now...

Thanks for the ideas...

She wants a florida room, but neither of those rooms could be turned into one, but i'm hoping since we are beginning to declutter, she'll get on track with it.
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#9 of 35 Old 01-02-2007, 05:23 PM
 
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Ooh, since you found some neat memories, can you display them in a prominent place and make them look nice?

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#10 of 35 Old 01-02-2007, 06:12 PM
 
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Ooh, since you found some neat memories, can you display them in a prominent place and make them look nice?
Oh, yes! How about a memory wall displaying some of your mother's treasures? Put a nice chair with a side table there for her to sit and look at the items - maybe include a journal and nice pen and a beautiful new mug for tea. Call it her reflection corner.

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#11 of 35 Old 01-03-2007, 10:01 AM
 
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This may sound a little harsh, but maybe it's a good time for your mom to deal with the changes you made to her home. She will be grieving (I'm so sorry about the doggie. I still cry when I think of my dog who died 5 years ago.), and perhaps the loss of all that stuff won't seem so huge in this context.
You did the right thing. All that stuff being in the house was very unhealthy in several different ways. It sounds like you were respectful in dealing with the stuff, too (not sending it all to the landfill). I've known a couple of hoarders, and it seems to me that the idea of the stuff that they are hoarding being useful is important to them, almost on an emotional level.

Another way you might be able to help is by making an emergency supply area in your parents' basement with some shelves for canned goods, so that your mom can put things by for tough times, but it will be organized and nonperishable.

This is a really tough situation.

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#12 of 35 Old 01-03-2007, 10:20 AM
 
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I agree with the idea to make her something so she can see her treasures. I don't think it will make everything perfect, but it just may help her see that you were trying to help.
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#13 of 35 Old 01-03-2007, 10:37 AM
 
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I would also personally call and tell her before she gets home what you did. It won't be quite so shocking if she is hearing it before seeing it, and she'll have time to get used to the idea that you've cleaned the room out. Put a positive spin on it and say that as a late christmas present, you cleaned out those rooms and you're going to help her go through her stuff and organize it better. Just let her start to wrap her head around that you've done something before she comes home and just sees it.

My dad is a bit like that, his office is a disaster, he doesn't keep things for sentimental value as much as 'I might need that' - but he has so much he doesn't need. He lashes out at us if we try to help but gets pissed when he can never find things, etc.

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#14 of 35 Old 01-03-2007, 01:38 PM
 
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Glad that you had permission from your dad. Maybe talk to your dad and ask if you should tell her before she comes home?

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#15 of 35 Old 01-03-2007, 01:50 PM
 
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Wow, nothing too useful to say but s..
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#16 of 35 Old 01-03-2007, 02:56 PM
 
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i would tell her in advance if you can. i think the positive spin as a late christmas present would be nice. i would maybe say, "i cleaned up the house for you," and also try to clean, but maybe not declutter the rest of the house. i think displaying her treasures would be great. if you have access to a photo or two of the dog maybe you could frame a picture for her, too, or make a photo album? if you have time/money you might get her a little something (consumable) as a welcome home present. i'm thinking fruit basket on the dining room table or something like that. something that would look nice and help spruce things up, but not be long lasting clutter. maybe some flowers?

i think you've done a great thing. i hope she's not too upset. do be sure to point out the treasures you found. maybe display them somewhere.

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#17 of 35 Old 01-03-2007, 05:44 PM
 
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I think your dad should be the one to tell her before they get home. He's the one that needed it done for his sanity. You did them a favor. There should be no guilt involved on your part. (regardless of the dog) I like the idea of framing a few special things for your mom. It might help alleviate the trauma for her.

Be prepared for her to be very very angry. I had to do something similar in a work environment before and it did not go over well even though my boss had told me to do it. The receptionist was a hoarder and kept every rubber band, newspaper, and envelope that crossed her desk. It looked so bad coming into an office that was all about image that when she went on vacation I had to chuck it all. She never talked to me again.

Maybe this will be a push in the right direction for your mom to get counseling regarding this issue.
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#18 of 35 Old 01-03-2007, 06:05 PM
 
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While I don't think it was right for you to do any of that while she was gone, it's done now. I wish that you didn't have to wait for the end of the vacation to find out how it will affect her.

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#19 of 35 Old 01-03-2007, 08:27 PM
 
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I realize it'll be emotionally upsetting for your mother, but none of that stuff would have gotten done if someone hadn't done it. Also, the fact that you found glass is a hazzard that shouldn't be there...even broken stuff is a hazzard. She may not like it....but she will grow to like it for all the space she gains. Freeing up clutter is so healthy.

About the dog...that's sad and horrible and sad....nothing can be done to fix that...
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#20 of 35 Old 01-03-2007, 08:36 PM
 
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not only should your dad be the one to tell her, he should have been the one to do it, considering he says it makes him so miserable. this sort of put you in the middle. and, while I know your heart was in the right place of course (my best friend's mom is a hoarder and an animal-hoarder and my best friend cries when she goes over there)- I hope you don't set yourself up for disappointment when those rooms are cluttered up again in a few weeks/months. it's a very, very pervasive psychological disorder, and just like you couldn't put the responsibility on yourself to cure someone of addiction, or OCD, this is your mom's battle. I know you did it out of love. hopefully she will see it that way too.

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#21 of 35 Old 01-03-2007, 11:39 PM
 
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Maybe this will be a push in the right direction for your mom to get counseling regarding this issue.
This is a good point, keep in mind that often the hoarding is almost a secondary issue, the stuff helps the person feel safe because something else is a problem. For example, I saw a show about a woman who started hoarding after her house was broken into, it made her feel safe to be surrounded by stuff - she said even that she figured if someone broke in now they wouldn't even know what to take.

So if the underlying issue is not resolved, most likely the stuff will return.

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#22 of 35 Old 01-04-2007, 01:12 AM
 
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Oh man. My grandma has a horrible hoarding problem too. I wish I could bring it up with her but it's really a taboo topic. I would love to help her purge that stuff! It is awful. My grandpa built an addition onto their house and she filled it to the brim.

s
I hope your mom can appreciate your hard work and see the opportunity in the new space. Maybe she will surprise you and actually be excited.
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#23 of 35 Old 01-04-2007, 11:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, I have a feeling the rooms will be filled again shortly, but I am going to offer my time to sit down with her and go threw all her stuff and figure out what we can donate together. I just wanted to show her it's not her 'lack of space' but that she just has too much stuff, that she will never ever use.

For the people who said my dad should of done it, well, if he was to do it, he would rent a dumpster when she's not home and throw everything away. A friend of his did that to his hoarder wife...rented a dumpster while she was away on vacation with friends. he threw everything out, even photo albums, it was a mess...he just lost it. Well to make a long story short, they got divorced shortly afterwards because she just could not forgive him...and i just didn't want to see my dad go overboard like that (which i could see him doing)

I've been talking to her about the dog etc, and I even told them about another poodle puppy in the area where they were vacationing in (They are very hard to come by where we live), so they may go look at it. I know it's real soon, but i figured, i would give her that hope to let her know that maybe God just wanted Ennis to be in their lives for a little while, and there is another doggie out there...(My dad had just lost his mom right before we gave them the puppy and the dog has been there for his "vents" my mom said, and he's taking it hard- apparently she's crying even more, for him, because of the whole thing"


But on another note, the things we recycled, where things like glass jars, plastic containers, lids to things (I still have an entire box of lids that have no matches).

Question: What would you do with socks? I have about 500 socks with no matches, I've gone through all of them, and they have no matches... i don't know if there are somewhere in the house, but they are socks from when I was a kid...would you just throw them out?


I have collected 7 trashcans full of clothes (to save), that noone can wear, but i didn't want to get rid of them, i figured we can go through them together.


It's really amazing when you realize how much people have, that don't need. I don't save anything, i guess, her hoarding made me realize that i don't need 'things' to be happy.


Thanks everyone! I will let you know how things go.
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#24 of 35 Old 01-04-2007, 11:50 AM
 
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It must be so hard to lose her sweet poodle. Poodles are amazing dogs. Really, they are more like humans than dogs. Was it a toy?

If you search yahoo for "messies" you will find numerous yahoo lists for families of people with hoarding disorders. I also suggest Sandra Felton's books on living with "messies" (sorry, that's the name used for people with obsessive hoarding disorders). The information is excellent and there may be some really good advice.

Personally, I would clean up the rest of the house and put that stuff in the empty rooms. In fact, I do that all the time in my own home. Once items are removed from the hoarder's sight for a while, they do not notice that it is gone. However, they do tend to notice large spaces. It is hard to overstate how upset they can get when their stuff is rearranged or discarded. So if you can use some of that old storage space to make the common areas clear, I doubt she will notice as much.

I think that stealth is the key for those actually living with hardcore hoarders. It is hard to understand why, but some seemingly normal people have odd hoarding issues. I personally have dragged many a drum liner to the curb full of old newspapers and plastic bags that our hoarding relative has a compulsion to store. Actually, I was thinking: "only ten trashbags? that's really not so bad"

Regarding the socks: If in doubt, throw it out. That's my motto. So throw away all of those socks and don't waste another minute of your life thinking about creative uses for unmatched socks so they don't go to waste. Nip that sort of thinking in the bud.

Regarding the clothes: I respectfully disagree with you about the clothes. This is your chance. If nobody can wear them, get rid of them. A true hoarder cannot make decisions like this, they can be paralyzed into indecision. I have never had the guts to get rid of someone's old clothes, but if I had the courage I would do it.
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#25 of 35 Old 01-04-2007, 12:57 PM
 
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You might consider joining us on this website.
http://www.childrenofhoarders.com/forum/index.php

I'm going to take the unpopular viewpoint here. This was a major violation of your mom's personal space. If your father wanted to clean it up, he shouldn't have made you the bad guy. You could have helped "him" clear out his own living space. He has the right to do that. You don't.

Chances are, she won't appreciate the effort. Would you? There is usally something else going on with hoarding, not just a messy or clutter issue. Cleaning out a hoarders mess is very truamatic for them. Unless it's a safety issue, they are just going to recreate the mess. But, now with hard feelings also.
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#26 of 35 Old 01-04-2007, 01:12 PM
 
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That children of hoarders website looks really interesting.

I'm ok with OP helping her father clear the stuff out. Just because it is traumatic for the hoarder doesn't mean it isn't also traumatic for those who choose to live with the hoarder.
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#27 of 35 Old 01-04-2007, 01:20 PM
 
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You might consider joining us on this website.
http://www.childrenofhoarders.com/forum/index.php

I'm going to take the unpopular viewpoint here. This was a major violation of your mom's personal space. If your father wanted to clean it up, he shouldn't have made you the bad guy. You could have helped "him" clear out his own living space. He has the right to do that. You don't.

Chances are, she won't appreciate the effort. Would you? There is usally something else going on with hoarding, not just a messy or clutter issue. Cleaning out a hoarders mess is very truamatic for them. Unless it's a safety issue, they are just going to recreate the mess. But, now with hard feelings also.
I agree with you. It was not OP's space, not OP's stuff, not OP's relationship.
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#28 of 35 Old 01-04-2007, 03:19 PM
 
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Is there anything she really, really would love to have a special space for? For example, would she like for one of the rooms to be turned into a library, or painted a particular way, or... If you could think of something she's really wishing for, and make that a reality and the basis for the decluttering, then maybe she'd be so exicted about the transformation that she'd appreciate the efforts?
I think this is a great idea...

to you. What timing. I hope that your mom surprises you by being grateful for what you did...

Tracey, mama of 5 beloved children here with me on Earth and one precious son I will meet again in Heaven 6/17/09 - 9/6/09.

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#29 of 35 Old 01-04-2007, 03:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That's why I didn't do the entire house, because if i did that I think she would have a breakdown. My brother and husband helped with it too, and my dad (well in spirit), all knew things needed to be organized somewhat.

I will get rid of the socks tonight (garbage man comes tomorrow) and a few other things.

The thing you need to know about my mom is, when she has company coming she'll clean up all the rooms till there is nothing in them, and throw it into the shed, garage, storage or sewing rooms, or her bedroom...that is how it got so bad, because she then never goes through the crap she threw into those rooms. My childhood memories include seeing how fast we could clean up the house before his brother or sisters got here (My dad's family lives in canada and would made surprise visits and call when they were 1 hour away).

My dad's sister is coming to spend a couple days with them in 2 weeks, so when they get home, she will go on a cleaning spree, so that is another unmeantioned reason I started this, in hopes that while she cleans, she'll throw out, and get rid of...

Thanks for the support and ideas. I really have no idea what it feels like to be connected to stuff. I personally wouldn't care if someone threw away everything i owned...but that is just me.

I'm a member of that website already, but thanks for the link. I found it after I watched that one documentary on hoarding...thank-goodness my mom was nothing like that- the one where the lady couldn't even sleep inside her house because it was too messy.


Thanks everyone.
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#30 of 35 Old 01-08-2007, 03:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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just wanted to let everyone know, that she was not mad. she does not believe i threw anything away! I have no idea how though! She asked me about a few things and i didn't remember seeing them, so she just thanked me and hugged me and then blamed my dad for the mess...but i know it will only stay clean a few days....I told her i would come over and help her organize her things, but she doesn't want to get rid of anything.

I told my father with all we got rid of you would think it would of made a huge dent, but really hasn't.


Thanks for all the support
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