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Rose is a special education teacher who loves adventure, whether it’s travelling to other countries or taking road trips to explore little towns.  She makes scrapbooks to remember her travels.  She likes to attend festivals and explore markets.  She feels there is too much rigidity in the world and likes to have fun!  Here is her story of lived experience. 

I’ve always felt like a black sheep.  I grew up in a very ordered and strict European household where the mantra was children are to be seen and not heard, although I was barely seen. I felt I had very little control. At some point I stopped being quiet and started voicing my opinions which weren’t well received.  I didn’t act the way my parents expected me to. My mum says, “You’re too much.  You’re going to say things that upset me".  I'm just speaking my truth.

I’m often outside what is considered the “norm” and if you’re outside the norm you’re looked at differently.  There is more judgement when you don’t adhere to conventional thinking.  I love the grinch because he’s not Santa Claus – he’s fun and open about his feelings.  


I realized I had a problem with hoarding behaviours when I married, and we consolidated our belongings. My former husband was often out of work, and at one point I was working three jobs.  Chaos ensued. I have also moved a bit – from a two-bedroom home in Vancouver, to a three-bedroom home in Toronto, then my current one-bedroom home in Edmonton. I didn’t downsize my belongings. There’s only so much space.  My parents wouldn’t visit.  I had pictures covering every wall – my father said my house looked like a museum. I don’t have people over – I often feel disgusted with myself –those feelings are more “there” when people are around. I’m letting people see my ugliness. 


I acquire when I feel I don’t have control.   Hoarding gives me a whole level of control – it’s like comfort food.  Going into a store is like going into a twilight zone. I can acquire whatever I want. The other side of the coin though is that it keeps me in my own prison.  I battle this monster every day. Any upsetting situation can trigger the acquiring. I know I’m not managing my emotions, but I get a fake high when I buy something. Then, when I get home, I can drop the bag and not look at it again. I feel awful because I realize I did something for the sake of the monster.  I made the monster grow.  


I don’t want to live in this environment.  It’s overwhelming. I would have to run away to a hotel just to breathe.  My home is an eyesore, but I have a blind spot.  I know I need to let things go.  People want to help me, but I need to process this myself.  I did manage to recycle three bags of paper this week! 


Group support helps me to figure out why I have this problem.  It makes me pay attention to my emotions and my actions. The facilitators pose questions that I can ask myself that I wouldn’t have thought of.  I can share and encourage and support others with similar issues. There is no judgment. I wish people would not be so quick to judge.  There is a story behind the stories.  I wish people would be compassionate.


My hope for the future is that I will slay the monster.   

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