Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Growing Up Hoarded, Part 3:
Thalia from Tetanus Burger Answers Questions

Metal runs via Tetanus Burger.  Used by permission.
As of October 2011: 
38 trips to the scrap yard;
16.5 tons of metal removed; 
Not counting old cars. 

What would you do if you inherited not simply a houseful of hoard, but an entire junkyard?  (To read Part 1, click here; Part 2, click here.)

Thalia and her sister Tara have been blogging about their experiences cleaning up their father's junkyard - and garages - and work areas - since June 2010.

The shows you may see on TV focus mainly on two things: a kind of train wreck fascination with the visual scope of the (worst) hoards covered, and the anguish the hoarder endures trying to give up any little piece of his/her "treasure."

What is rarely touched upon is what growing up in a hoard does to the children.  How does it impact them socially?  Do they inherit the distorted thinking that "there's a use for that," for everything?  Are they angry, hurt, confused?

Thalia of Tetanus Burger, for whom I hold more admiration for her courage and raw honesty than I can ever express in words, agreed to this e-interview in hopes of shedding a little more light on this issue.  To help those children and teenagers who are even now living with a hoarding parent, and wondering if something is wrong with them.


7) You and your sister share writing and photography duties on the blog. Have there been times when the hoard (or the blog) has strained the relationship between you, or has it made you closer than perhaps you might have been otherwise?

The blog does not strain our relationship because I am very careful about what I write on it. 

Rusty Jones makes an appearance on Tetanus Burger
whenever an old car is towed away.
8) On a lighter note, tell me about your jones for Rusty Jones, your red-headed, handle-bar mustached cutey mascot. How was he “born,” and if you ever saw him walking towards you in the flesh, would you flee in terror, or run up and embrace him?

He came about because as a child of the seventies I got his jingle in my head one day as we were junking a car and I thought it would be perfectly ridiculous to have him as a mascot.  Besides the fact that he is a cartoon, he is not, actually, my type.  Perhaps he is the Brawny paper towel guy's type?

9) Tetanus Burger the blog started in June 2010, and I’ve been following almost from the beginning. Refresh me: when did the actual clean-up start? At the current rate of cleanup, health and weather permitting, when do you think you’ll truly be done?

It started actually when I moved back in the summer of 2001; I don't recall what I did, except come back from living on my own out in the sane world where I learned something about what normal looked like.  But I have been told by Tara that my moving back was definitely an impetus to get things going.  My father was still there then and somehow my sister managed to convince him to start getting rid of stuff.  I don't know how; maybe he finally realized he was retiring and so didn't need to keep all these cars.  Honestly, I don't know; logic had never made a dent before so why should it have then?  It went well for a while there, but then Tara got busy and stopped helping.

After my father went in the nursing home, despite the fact that he was no longer there, it all just kind of sat for a few years, until I finally realized that we were free to clean the yard.  Yes, it took a couple of years to realize that.  So there's been a new push since last year, which is when I started to blog to help keep things rolling and to garner encouragement because frankly I just don't get that from this family.

I have no idea at all when it will be done.  I really don't.  I can't even in fact imagine what this yard would look like cleaned up.  I honestly have no concept.  It has been a junkyard all my life.

10) Besides the train-wreck fascination of the pictures, I’ve followed your blog because both you and Tara are gifted and very funny writers. Any plans to do something with that skill?

I don't like to talk about what I really do for a living, which does use those skills, or related ones, because I would like to remain somewhat anonymous.

11) What would you like to say to a young person living with a hoarding parent? What has helped you to grow and find strength and peace as you deal with the mental and physical debris?

I would tell them that it is not their fault.  Their parent's behavior is not their fault and that there is nothing whatsoever they can do to change their parents even if it were their responsibility, which it isn't.  Also, get out as soon as you possibly can.  They are fucked up.  It's not you. Trust me, it's not you.

As to your second question I don't honestly know.  Some kind of stubborn resolve that this is screwed up and needs to be righted, maybe.  Or pure anger and rage at the way I was treated and am still being treated in a lot of ways.   Honestly I think that's what it comes down to: rage.


Two things you can do right now, dear reader:

1) Add a comment to show your support for Thalia and her courage in opening up about this very difficult subject.

2) Download this attached .pdf prepared by Children of Hoarders.  It would be great if COH was a big, well-known organization with bucketfuls of money( they do accept donations), who could afford to print out multiple copies and leave them in places like schools, pediatricians' offices, and youth recreational facilities - anywhere a child of a hoarder might find one, and realize s/he is not alone.

For now, they are asking for volunteers, to please print out what copies you can afford, distribute them where you can.  And pass the word.

Thank you.