My husband is a hoarder. We’re not quite at TLC channel special levels (yet), but it’s pretty bad. My house is overrun with his collections: Comic books. Star Wars figures. Horror movie DVDs. Various movie and TV show memorabilia from all of his favorites. We could probably charge decent money for tours of our home from like-minded guys of a certain age—if we actually had room to display it all properly. But we don’t. Even with his basement “man cave” dressed up with display cases and every Container Store trick in the book for storing his media, we live with action figures in the kitchen and big stacks of magazines growing dusty on the bedroom floor.
The guy won’t even part with things that most people would ditch, like old hole-filled t-shirts that are “too comfy” to replace (fortunately, only worn around the house) and spent razors. Just yesterday, I threw out three empty antiperspirant containers.
As a reformed collector, the clutter makes me a bit crazy. Between his stuff and the kids’ stuff, piles of junk pool in little eddies at the corners of our lives, growing and growing until someone (i.e. me) makes it disappear. And because I can’t deal with my stuff on top of all their stuff, my things are usually the easiest to jettison. That way, there’s at least a little space to breathe.
I’ve tried suggesting that he cull the herd a bit (surely we don’t need all the back issues of every magazine he subscribes to?), but the thought of it sets him on edge and often leads to some of the biggest battles we’ve had in our marriage. I’ve taken to secretly recycling some of his old stuff behind his back—and I haven’t been caught. Yet. But I’m worried that I’m going to toss the wrong thing one of these days.
I feel bad doing it. The armchair psychologist in me sees where all of this is coming from. My husband grew up poor, and didn’t even have a bedroom to call his own until I met him in college. (He’d slept on the living room couch.) What little he had growing up often had to be given (or thrown) away, as there simply wasn’t anywhere for him to keep his stuff: His Star Wars toys. His comic books. All of his favorite things.
And so we’re paying the price (literally) as we rebuild his long-lost collection and supplement it with those things he could only dream of owning once upon a time.
I know I could have it worse. My husband could have far more expensive (or life-damaging) addictions. He could be on Ashley Madison trolling for women, rather than on eBay hunting for a Princess Leia action figure in mint condition.
But there’s a reason why I don’t throw out those Pottery Barn catalogs the second they arrive—because at least in those pages, I can imagine what life would be like with a little less stuff in it. And it’d be a beautiful thing.
Can anyone else relate?