Wow. That is the first thing that I thought after finishing Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller. It is a true account of the author’s life as the child of a hoarder. My emotions ran the gamut while reading: disgust, pity, awe, admiration, and astonishment.
By all accounts, Kim had a “typical” childhood. She lived in a nice little Long Island suburb with two loving parents. She was a good student and made friends. However, she took great pains to hide what was going on at home. She never invited friends over, she showered at the local gym, and she created a “decoy” house down the street at which her friends’ parents dropped her off. She kept up an insane schedule of acting classes, dance, and other extracurricular activities to keep her out of the house. She focused her attention on getting into college so that she could escape and live a normal life.
Kim’s father was a hoarder, and while her mother was not; she was a shopaholic and an enabler, which made the situation worse. Both parents suffered various medical issues over the years, which also contributed. Kim endured living conditions that included fleas, rodents, soggy floors, piles of trash, rotten food, and the absence of running water. After she became an adult, she became obsessed with keeping her home clean and clutter free. She also began having nightmares about living in a filthy house.
Kim eventually had to come to terms with the damage that her upbringing caused. Over the years, she began letting her closest friends know the truth, and they helped her immensely. It was interesting that she found it difficult to place any blame on her parents, but instead, maintained a close relationship with them and accepted them for who they are.