Saturday, April 16, 2011

Living In Squalor



I was watching "Hoarding: Buried Alive" on Wednesday night. I love that show because it does multitudes for my self esteem. I love to gape and gasp at the slothful slovenly conditions these people voluntarily live. I can't get my head around why they would  choose to reside in such filth and clutter and chaos but mostly it blows my mind that these people are so brazenly selfish. Most of them live alone, having sacrificed family and precious relationships over their altars of garbage. The people featured on the show all seem to be poisoned by the same toxic gruel; A recipe laced with tragedy, chalked full of loose screws drowned in gallons of foul selfishness.

I think I hate selfishness the most of all things noxious in human beings because selfishness is the root and pulse of every vile deed. All of us are innately selfish to a degree but  the hoarders' selfishness is epitomized in such an explicit heap they make it easy for me to feel superior.  They provide an extreme benchmark to which I can compare myself and say, wow Lisa, you're only, like, a level one hoarder (selfish), so you're still OK with the world.  I feel justified to ridicule them on the TV and sneer when they blubber about how they 'just don't understand why' they do this. Cry babies. I tell them why. I belittle them as they lament over their hoard and waffle over the possibility of exchanging it to get their families back. I would spit on them (in a virtual anonymous way) if I could. For one sick, self-aggrandizing hour, this show provides me a pretend world to unleash my hate-venom for all things selfish.  Until I met Kelaine.
Kelaine is an eccentric artist who hoards banana peels,  penguins and frogs. She says she got that way because her mother didn't love her and never made her feel welcome in her own house growing up. Kevin, her live-in boyfriend of 11yrs, was begging Kelaine to reclaim just the kitchen and living room so he could cook for her and entertain company. Kelaine snarled that Kevin's expectations were 'unrealistic'. But upon later sessions with her gentle, coaxing therapist, Kelaine came to realize something poignant about herself and she chokingly admitted, "I've never said I wasn't selfish...No one in my world matters to me as much as I do. I mean, that may be wrong...but its honest." She was visibly regretful that she'd made Kevin to feel like her mom made her feel and the sorrow of it caused her to decide to change her hoarding ways. And with that I decided I liked Kelaine.

Rarely have I witnessed a person, so put on the spot, own up to their selfishness without excuse. All it took was someone who didn't judge Kelaine and showed her an ounce of kindness to spark a little flame of introspection and *pouf* love motivated Kelaine to change.  And in that moment I realized someone should spit on me (in a metaphoric pseudo kind of way).
There's a nugget of truth a wise friend of mine just said to me a couple days before I watched this episode. His words punched me in the throat and rang in my ears:  "And oh, this thing about 'loving the sinner, but hate the sin' is about the most disingenuous piece of manure ever. People who spout off that non-sense hate other people's sins, but not their own"--David Cho.  Here I just wrote a dissertation on how to play nice and make friends meanwhile, I'm holed up with my television ripping total strangers a new one.
 

Shame. on. me. 
Though I'll probably continue to watch Hoarders because I think I'm addicted to the show. But I'm going to give the folks a little more grace from now on and not snark at the TV so much. Fortunately for me there is no camera crew filming my selfish indiscretions (wouldn't you like to know) so I gotta give these brave people props for putting their junk out there and trying to change, which is leaps ahead from where I sit.

6 comments:

Christina said...

You make yourself sound so evil! Good thing you are not :) Here's to watching more hoarders!

Lauren said...

I love you. Lots.

David Cho said...

Oh geez, if you are gonna quote me, at least correct my grammar/typo first.

How times have changed. Back in the 90's, tabloid talk shows like the Jerry Springer Show were my outlet for self-righteousness. Now Reality TV has taken their place, but the concept remains the same.

Great entry!

Lisa said...

heh heh, I'm not the typo police...um, I actually don't see what you messed up?? Anyway, after about 70 people read this I realized I used the word 'our' instead of 'are'...ugh, so humiliating:(

David Cho said...

It should read, "People who spout OFF that non-sense...", not spout OF. I am sure there's more.

Lisa said...

erm, yeah. My mom just pointed out 7 more as a matter of fact:( It appears I need an editor, lol