If you feel that you are living in squalor - you may feel that your situation is hopeless. When I say squalor, I don't mean the kind of messiness which can usually be cleaned up in a day or two, I mean the kind where you can no longer use much of your living space for it's intended purpose.
You may be wondering if you lack the physical or genetic ability to ever have the kind of home you dream of. I don't know the genetics involved, but I do know that if you have a deep desire and motivation to live differently, it is possible to improve your life dramatically. The greatest single distinction between people who die in their squalor and those who conquer it, is that survivors can RECOGNIZE that they have a problem and they really WANT to change their lives. They want it so bad, they are willing and ready to do the work.
Change may not come easily, and there may be backsliding, which is normal and expected, and you may need continuous support for a while to maintain a home you can function in and not be ashamed, but know this - you ARE able to change. You have everything it takes inside you...but you do need to allow yourself to see, trust in and start building upon all the wonderful strengths and talents that make you worthy of living in a comfortable and clean home.
Today I discovered an astonishingly candid and insightful website called "Squalor Survivors" that is one of the best resources I've ever seen for people living in extreme clutter and squalor.
The stories and photos of the heart-wrenching transformations moved me to tears. It is so painful for people to let others in to their deeply private and embarrassing shame. Yet is it also intensely therapeutic to do so and this site allows people to share, open up and know that they are not alone.
www.SqualorSurvivors.com has been lovingly cultivated since 2001 as an outlet for others to "come out of the closet" and get support to overcome their squalor. The author is an incredibly brave, intelligent, and articulate woman who experienced her own breakthrough and overcame squalor. Sadly she calls herself "pigpen" (her name is Jo.) But what she is doing for people living in their own private hells is what I would call "angel of hope".
Here are a few excerpts from the story of her site in her own words...
"The purpose of the site now, besides displaying Kimmy's original photos, is to offer encouragement, support and advice to people who are living in squalor, and who have decided that they want to change their behavior, beliefs and attitudes, and clean up their houses. I believe that seeing the photos and reading the experiences of others who have lived like this, and especially those who have managed to change their living conditions, can be motivating and empowering for people who would like to follow that same path.
By "offering encouragement, support and advice" I do not mean enabling. I do not think living in squalor is okay, because I think you deserve better than that. I also know that the combination of circumstances that can lead to someone living in squalor can be complicated, and that by the time someone arrives at this site with a severe housekeeping problem, they are probably carrying years of negative self talk ("I'm lazy, I'm a slob, why can't I just get my act together?") and self-defeating behavior that's not going to be changed overnight.
Celeste's first instruction to Kimmy, "Quit hitting yourself over the head", is still the first thing we would like to say to new people arriving here. No matter what mistakes you have made in the past, you can't change your past, so there's no point in wasting energy berating yourself for those mistakes. Believe me, you're going to need that energy for more productive purposes!"
I have worked with and am currently working with clients who are experiencing some of these issues in varying degrees and all I can say is that this gifted woman has nailed the underlying emotional, decision-making, and avoidance of pain issues to a T. She offers wonderful advice to help people change their lives in a way that only someone who has been there can do it.
No matter how much you tell people they are not alone, it's hard for them to believe it. Everyone I meet suffering like this thinks they are the only ones or the worst. This site reaches out and proves to people they are NOT alone and there IS hope! Not only are you not alone...but you CAN overcome - if you really WANT it. When you have a clear vision, and you really deeply want it, you will make the time and get the support you need.
You can do it!
There are people who will be there for you! See the NSGCD Referral Site for organizing professionals specializing in chronic disorganization.
I provide coaching as well as in-home services to guide you in making changes and in making the tough decisions that you must make so that you can change your life and achieve your vision!
If you feel you are at level 3, 4 or 5, I strongly recommend you seek treatment from a qualified specialist in hoarding behavior - See the OCD Foundation's Hoarding Website and the Children of Hoarders Support and Treatment Referrals.
As Jo Says:
"You will start to overcome your squalor the moment you believe you deserve better than squalor. When you know in your heart you won't settle for squalor any more."