Tuesday, August 23, 2011

God bless Elizabeth Vargas

Seriously, the most awesome thing I've seen all day are Elizabeth Vargas' facial expressions in this 20/20 special about children of hoarders. As she clambers through the hoard, it's actually kind of funny to watch the spasms of horror cross her face. This is a woman who probably should never play poker. After mountaineering her way through the hallway to the living room in what seems to be a state of shock, she picks up and puts down a mustard bottle and then a ketchup bottle, clearly thunderstruck by the fact that they are being stored on the living room floor. (Apparently, she keeps hers in the fridge. Huh.)

There was something very validating about being reminded that growing up as a child in a hoarded home is, to most people, completely foreign and simply unacceptable. 20/20 clearly articulated some of the most damaging and lasting effects of growing up this way. Continuously receiving the message that your parent's junk is more important than you are leaves lasting scars. The feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness have a way of following you, although they are most unwelcome companions.

Watching the show was a little difficult for me. But I also felt uplifted by the profiles of hoarders' children who have grown up and gotten out, moving on to create lives of their own. And to Jason Brunet, whose mother was featured on this show and on Hoarders -- your brave message of hope is actually even more awesome than the expressions on Elizabeth Vargas' face. You're right: there are people out there who understand. And there is always hope. So to those of you who are still living with or struggling with a hoarding parent, to those of you who feel worthless and helpless and like nothing will ever change -- it does get better. It truly does.

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