Is hoarding hereditary?

I’m asking for myself, not a friend.

My mom was a hoarder and I didn’t even know it. How could I? I spent most of my time out and about or in my own home. There wasn’t much to compare my house to growing up.

Due to my (mostly) single parent upbringing, having a ton of stuff surround me was normal. I had a bunch of stuff in college compared to my roommates. That was me. Lots of interests accrue lots of stuff.


When my mom died early this year, I knew she was holding on to too much. Too much food, too many papers, too many future plans that made no sense, too long to a limb that was killing her, too long to my sister who made the choice to leave us. Too long to unrealistic hope and prayer instead of being proactive and doing what needed to be done. It was nothing short of awful to witness, watch, endure, and argue with her during that time.

I picked up self-help books, tried to set up an estate sale, and threw out (very very very expired) food. Only recently, six months later to be exact, did I realize she was a hoarder. It’s a hard pill to swallow. The denial that plagued her latched onto me. I’m still in denial, I think.

I was so focused on trying to extract what potential, if any, monetary value out of the items that I was missing the big picture: clean the fuck out of the house and move on with my life. The best I can do is a tax write-off for donations and hope that a yard sale might happen. I got caught up in sorting, clean, disassembling, researching, etc. You need to know the MSRP to figure out the price to charge. You need to deep clean to get more money out of a dehumidifier you know you’ll never use. You need to find that damn mink coat so you can get some money because financially drowning isn’t fun.

Too many things and not enough time.

Last week, I heard a lot of news I did not want to hear. The consensus: My mom was a hoarder; I’m living in a junk house and can’t go through these belongings alone. I had bitten off more than I could chew, just like her. I was stubborn about how things should be done and in what order, just like her. I only wanted the help that I wanted, not what I actually needed.

Just like her.

I need help and I shouldn’t be picky. The part of her that’s part of me wants to do things my way. I’m smart, I can figure it out. I’m her daughter, so this my responsibility. That’s not how things work. I need to suck it up, ask for help, and take what I can get before I end up in a vicious cycle of getting nothing done. It’s a scary wake up call.

As I go through my own belongings, I can see how her habits, good and bad, influenced me. The spiritual side of me finds meaning in her fall from grace. Her decline taught me how not to live. Was her death supposed to be a lesson? I still debate with myself on that.

All I know is that I need to clear this house and in a sense, clear my head.