Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How to confront a Hoarder

Today I told my mom that she is a hoarder. About a week ago, I wrote to the A&E show "Hoarders" and they are now interested in telling our story. The trick is, however, that I have to get her on board. They don't confront or ambush anyone, so she has to agree to participate before they will come to our house. If you know my mom at all, you know that the chance of her first admitting she has a problem, then agreeing to address it on national TV seems less likely than a quick overhaul to the US Healthcare system. At this point, however, I'm willing to try anything.

I spent my day thinking about what I was going to say, how I was going to say it and researching intervention tactics. No sense in recreating the wheel, right?

The hour finally came and I met my mom at a local restaurant (neutral territory...excellent). We started with the usual chit-chat, ordered an appetizer and then BAM...I drop the bomb. "Mom", I begin "I have something to tell you and I need you to hear me with an open mind and try not to react until I've said what I need to say." She would later tell me that she thought she was about to hear an engagement or pregnancy announcement...not quite!

I continued to explain the situation, all the while remaining calm and trying not to put her on the defense. Based on past attempts at intervening, I fully expected my mom to shut down and refuse to talk about the house. To my complete shock, I couldn't have been more wrong. My mom listened while I relayed my experience of living in a house I did not feel comfortable inviting friends to along with my ever-increasing concern for my younger sisters that still live there. I could tell it wasn't easy for her to hear, her body language had slowly changed from sitting up straight to a subtle slouch of the shoulders and hunched back - nearing fetal position.

I knew it was very difficult for her to hear, but this was my only chance. I was on a mission - if I succeeded then my mom (and family) would have a chance to turn things around. If I failed, the house would be a lost cause in my eyes and the chance of my youngest sister being taken away would become a terrifying but likely possibility.

I can't describe the joy I felt when, at the end of my plea, my mom agreed to talk to a producer the next day. I had just achieved the impossible! My mom was going to talk to someone about getting help! I was completely aware of the fact that my mom had simply agreed to talk to a producer, not actually do the show, but you could have told me Johnny Depp was waiting to whisk me away to his private island where we'd live happily ever after - I was equally as excited.

We concluded our dinner, my mom feeling uneasy (she wanted to do some research about the show) but curious, and me feeling surprised and victorious!


  1. Congratulations, Amy! I'm very happy for you - I'm so thankful to have discovered there are so many of us who have lived through this, and can support one another. Unless you've lived it, you can never really understand...

  2. So very true Matt, best wishes to you!