This is a teen-written article from our friends at Teenink.com.
By Anonymous, Bolivar, MO
I am a hoarder's kid.
The roaches and mice were childhood companions, and filth wore the pants in the family. Growing up, I always wondered why no one came to save my brothers and me. Were we not worth rescuing, or did no one know? How could they not know? There were more than enough clues –- like the flea bites on my arms and the dirt in my hair – but no one ever asked me if I was all right. No one ever asked me.
If they had asked, I would have lied. While other parents were teaching their children the Ten Commandments, mine were teaching me loyalty. “We are family, and families keep each other's secrets,” my father would say. The problem with that: the secret was overpowering my life. I was not like the other kids.
I never had sleepovers, birthday parties, or play dates. Since I was the only girl in the family, my room was built inside my brothers'. My space could barely fit a twin bed, a dresser, and a hutch. I was a writer even then, and what little room I had was overflowing with crumpled papers filled with depressed words.
Outside my room was the mountain range of clothes, trash, and Power Rangers otherwise known as my brothers' room. I took the same path every day –- I eased my body around the bookshelf, dodging the football toy bin, and hopped on my brothers' bunk bed ladder to reach the door. On the other side of that door lay the horror of the living room.
The floor was buried under mounds of Coke cans and fast-food wrappers, and the front door was never locked -– never even fully shut. If you took a left turn you'd find the dining room, which I don't ever recall actually eating in. Instead it contained a big freezer that once held food, long ago eaten, with dishes on top piled as high as the clothes on the floor. Straight ahead was the kitchen, with a buffet of moldy dishes for feasting roaches, and a fermenting fridge. This was also the place that held our washing machine and dryer, so naturally, the carpet was made of our clothes.
Taking another left you'd arrive at the only bathroom, where the toilet was never flushed and used toilet paper was rarely thrown out. Our shower worked if my parents remembered to pay the water bill and the pipes weren't frozen, but during the winter it was a good day if I was able to take a shower.
The last room of the personal hell I called “home” was my parents'. It had an orange shag carpet that was outdated in the '70s. It also contained a heater and an air conditioner -– the only ones in the house –- and a TV that my parents paid more attention to than their children.
I am a hoarder's kid.
But I am more than that. I am a girl who chose to rise above her past and fight for the future of others. I am a survivor. I am someone who is not defined by decisions that were not her own. I am a person who chose to denounce the influences of her childhood.
I am going to college this fall to become a social worker. My plan is to help neglected children. My hope is to make the invisible visible. I am a hoarder's kid, but I am so much more.