You know what I really love? When a friend is weeding out their clothes and finds a few things that make them thing of me. When that friend brings those things to me and says, “Hey, these made me think of you. I’m not sure if you’ll like them or not, but I was getting rid of them and thought you might want them.” Sometimes it’s a small garbage bag full. Sometimes it’s just one or two things. But I’ve gotten some REALLY nice things that way.

But you know what I really hate? When someone (sometimes a friend, sometimes more of an acquaintance) is going through all their clutter getting rid of things and shows up (sometimes with a call ahead to say, “Do you want to look through a few things?” and sometimes without any advanced warning) and says, “Here, I’m getting rid of these, you can have them or get rid of anything you don’t want, just as long as they’re not in my house anymore.” And leaves 3 giant garbage bags full of clothes. Half of which I couldn’t possibly do any more with than to leave them at the thrift store. Or just throw away. Because sometimes there are things I would be embarrassed to even give to Goodwill.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I really REALLY appreciate when people think of us and want to give us things to help us out. But the thing is, I am not your dump. I really do appreciate that you thought of helping us out, but I’m not an automatic sorter. In fact, I tend to get anxiety when it comes to organizing things–anything, not just clothes–and especially when it comes to then getting rid of those. Lovely side effect of having been yelled at my whole life for getting rid of ANYTHING.

Let me put this into slightly clearer terms. My whole life has involved way too many clothes. Too many things in general, but especially clothes. Many of which I never liked. We were yelled at for having them everywhere, yet we weren’t allowed to get rid of very many. Even when we bagged things up to get rid of, they often just sat there for months and eventually the bags got torn back into (to try to find something, or by cats, or just because so many things had been piled on them that they burst open and spewed their contents). I can hardly remember what the floors of any of our houses looked like, but I distinctly remember clothes. Layers upon layers of clothes. Especially in our bedrooms. Even in the rare instances that our hangers and drawers were full, there were still clothes enough to carpet the whole floor–and thick enough that you had to take a distinct step UP into the room from the hallway.

So at this point in my life, when I’m allowed to get rid of clothes, I’m trying to. I’m trying to downsize. Yet I still feel constantly overrun with clothes, trying to figure out what to get rid of.

But you know what? Despite all of that, being treated as a dumping ground is not the element that irritates me the most. In fact, I still really appreciate people’s attempts to take care of us (however misguided). Know what I REALLY hate? The implications I’ve gotten from some people that I should keep any clothes that fit me, even if I don’t like them, and that it’s rude and ungrateful of me to be particular about style and get rid of clothes I don’t like. Now, this implication has mostly come from a few people who aren’t even those giving me the clothes. They also honestly probably have no idea how many clothes I have or why I need to weed them out. (Not just my own clothes–my children’s clothes too.)

So I can’t really blame them. (Except that they see the clothes I’m wearing and it’s not overly flattering to think that they think I just wear any old clothes no matter what they look like.) But several people who have made such implications are people who knew me my whole life, knew my family and saw all the results of the hoarding. They know how hard it is to get rid of things at all. Some of them have even personally witnessed me paralyzed, trying desperately to figure out how to get rid of something. And yet they seem to think that I should just keep whatever’s given to me.

If you know someone is a COH, or has hoarding tendencies, please don’t treat them like your dumping ground because “they’ll take anything.” That’s enabling. Or worse. And please, PLEASE don’t berate them as ungrateful when they DO get rid of things. When you’ve been told your whole life that you can’t get rid of anything, and you’ve finally gotten to the point of being able to do so relatively guilt-free, having more guilt laid on you for trying to simplify your life doesn’t help anyone. At all.

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