I've been over at her place every single day for a week and a bit.
We're "declutterring" on a massive scale.
How massive? Here's an example: the cleaning supplies. Over the past week, as we came across them, we piled them onto a big black shelving unit. (It's in the upper left hand corner of the photo below.)
Today, I put them all on her kitchen table to sort through.
It took all day.
I don't have any more pictures: I don't want to embarrass her. Let me just say we started last week by clearing some paths so we could take things to the front porch (donations) or out the back (garbage) -- and we're just grabbing the low hanging fruit.
Take a look around the room you are reading this in. Multiply by five and twenty. Now think of every room in your house. Multiply again.
As you can imagine, it's stressful, mentally difficult and physically exhausting for both of us--and I'm terrified that the minute we have an empty spot, she will see it as a spot to be filled up.
We've been talking a bit about limits, boundaries and how to say No to herself when she wants something. Yesterday, she wanted a dresser. ("The drawers were just the right size for sweaters," she told me. "They were so deep!") Today, a new bathroom vanity. ("It's an $800 dollar vanity on sale for $300!)
We talked it through.
I am hoping that as she moves through her cleared out hallways and entry ways, as her eyes make out each object on a flat surface and she sees empty spaces around her, she will feel their peaceful effect. I'm hoping that that feeling will be so wonderful it will help her change her hoarding habits.
It's a lot to ask of a feeling, really.
It may be working. She's always delighted --and relieved-- to have the stuff gone at the end of each day. And I'm going back again tomorrow.