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Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother's Compulsive Hoarding (Anglais) Broché – 28 décembre 2010


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PROLOGUE

DON’T KICK ME OUT!” MY MOTHER SAYS WHEN I PICK UP the phone. It’s a little hard to understand her, though, because she’s laughing so hard.

“What are you talking about?”

She can’t be considering inflicting a visit on me. That is not going to happen.

“I’m putting my house in your name,” my mother says. “You have to promise not to kick me out after it’s yours.”

“I don’t want your house,” I say. “You couldn’t pay me to take your house.”

“You have to take it.” She stops laughing. “I have cancer.”

My first thought: My mother is going to die.

My second thought: I can finally clean her house. She hasn’t let me inside in more than three years, not since the last time I cleaned—or, rather, gutted, it.

David, my husband, is standing in the doorway between the living room and the kitchen, watching me. I mouth the words Cancer, my mom has cancer, but he doesn’t understand. And why would he? I don’t understand what’s happening myself.

“Mom, please. Just tell me what’s going on.”

“Okay,” she says, sounding suddenly drained of all energy. “I had a colonoscopy and they found a polyp and it’s malignant. I have colon cancer. I want the house in your name in case the bills are higher than my insurance—that way they can’t take it away.”

“What did your doctor say? Tell me exactly what he said.”

At this, my husband comes over and sits down next to me on the couch. He lifts our dog, Abraham Lincoln, onto my lap, thinking his presence will comfort me, but I shake my head and allow the dog to squirm off. I already feel myself floating away from here, already mentally searching for a way to fix my mother, like always.

“They won’t really have a prognosis until the surgery,” she says. “But with the house in your name, it’ll be yours no matter what.”

She says it as if she’d be bestowing the most spectacular palace upon me, rather than what her house really is: the source of so many years of frustration, embarrassment, and grief. I can’t imagine anything worse than being legally responsible for that house. Except my mother having cancer.

“Jessie, will you do it?” She pleads. “Will you let me put my house in your name?”

“Will you let me clean?”

“Yes.” Her lack of hesitation makes me even more worried. She must not think her chances are good.

“Okay.”

* * *

MY MOTHER IS a compulsive hoarder. She’s one of those people who dies because the firemen couldn’t get through the piles of newspapers and clothes and books and shoes and garbage, whose junglelike lawn makes the whole block look shoddier, whose friends and neighbors are shocked when they finally see the house’s interior: They had no idea their friend/daughter/nurse/teacher lived that way. They had no idea anyone could live that way. Yet an estimated six million Americans do.

I’ve long searched for the perfect concoction of begging, conniving, and bribing that would finally make my mother throw out the trash and keep her house clean. Because I know that if I could get her to unclutter her house, her cluttered mind would follow: Somewhere under all the filth is a reliable mother, a consistent and compassionate mother; somewhere under the heaps of moth-eaten sweaters and secondhand winter coats, the cardboard boxes kept because they’re “just such good quality,” the jar after jar of unopened jumbo-sized facial scrubs and green clay masks and aloe vera skin creams, the plastic forks and dirty paper plates and gum wrappers and dried-out pens and orphaned Popsicle sticks. Every surface covered, crowded with layer upon layer of stuff. I know she’s in there; I just have to find her.

I make the preparations to fly to my hometown of Minneapolis from New York City, where I’ve lived for most of the last decade. I tell no one that while I’m in Minneapolis for my mother’s surgery the majority of my time will be spent filling up garbage bags and hauling trash from her house, that my muscles will ache so badly I’ll barely be able to lift a coffee mug to my lips, that only an hour-long soak in a scalding-hot bath at my dad and stepmom’s house at the end of each day will erase the layers of filth and grime from my skin. Only my husband knows that part. I tell no one else because it’s my secret. And I tell no one at all that in spite of our complicated relationship, the thought of her dying is absolutely unbearable and that if that happened I would be shattered into a million pieces and there would be no way, no one, to put me back together.

© 2011 Jessie Sholl

Revue de presse

"Sholl explores the psychological reasons why being merely a pack rat can erupt into full-blown hoarding. By the end you're sympathetic to both mother and daughter and understand how a parent's obsession can become a child's."
-- People magazine, 3.5 stars (out of 4)

"With her bold prose and ceaseless courage, Jessie Sholl tells a mother-daughter story like no other. Get ready for a visceral read: just a few pages in to DIRTY SECRET, you'll be scratching your ankles, dabbling your eyes, and -- when you're finished -- frantically cleaning your house."
- Stephanie Elizondo Griest, author of "Around the Bloc" and "Mexican Enough"

"Mining a story of damage inflicted and damage sustained, Jessie Sholl conjures a narrative of surprising interconnectedness, even uplift. Wry and illuminating, Dirty Secret is an empathic and insightful memoir."
--Dave King, author of THE HA-HA

"When a grown child tells the story of a troubled parent, three things are needed: exacting detail, unflinching honesty, and - most of all - unconditional love. Jessie Sholl's "Dirty Secret" beautifully contains them all."
- Dan Koeppel, author of "To See Every Bird on Earth: A Father, A Son, and A Lifelong Obsession"

"Suspenseful and novel-like, Dirty Secret is a wonderful, respectful introduction to the world of a hoarder and the tribulations suffered by both the individual who hoards and their family members."
-- Fugen Neziroglu, Ph.D. author of Overcoming Compulsive Hoarding: Why You Save and How You Can Stop

"From a literal mess of a childhood, Sholl has emerged to tell a compelling and sparkling-clean story that will captivate anyone who has ever tried to let go of the past."
-Elisabeth Eaves, author of "Bare" and Wanderlust"

"Sholl coaxes tragicomic elements from the depressing proceedings—as when everyone contracted a seemingly incurable case of scabies, courtesy of her mother’s hellhole, or the time she discovered the cremated remains of her mother’s longtime boyfriend buried under a pile of yarn, two lava lamps and a stack of old newspapers. Most poignant, though, is the secret shame and embarrassment of her mother’s strangeness that Sholl lugged around for so many years. Eventually, she found sympathy and understanding... Affecting and illuminating."
- Kirkus Reviews

"[Sholl] offers a compelling and compassionate perspective on an illness suffered by an estimated six million Americans that has only recently been explored through reality television programs."
- Booklist


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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 97 commentaires
54 internautes sur 58 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Brave Look 31 décembre 2010
Par A Far And Away - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
I feel like everyone knows someone who has a problem with hoarding but it's hard not to look at hoarders and think, 'wtf, just clean it up!'

Jessie Sholl bravely throws herself (and her family) into her haunting and amusing memoir. The best thing about this book is that it's 100% readable, a page-turner really, and it's also extremely informative about hoarding and having someone with a mental disorder entwined in your life. Sholl combines her own stories with researched facts about hoarders that fit snugly in the story. She delves into the complex cycle of hope, frustration and defeat intermixed with humor and honesty will ring true to anyone who has loved a person with a mental illness. If you've dealt (or are dealing) with mental illness/hoarding you'll read this book and think, 'I'm not alone, this is my story too.' If you haven't had a personal experience with a hoarder this will give you insight into the behavior and open your eyes to a new world.

There are many facets of the book beyond the hoarding - daughter-as-mother relationship, parents growing older, etc. Sholl explores these areas in a subtle, genuine way. Bravo!
39 internautes sur 42 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Sholl shows it all, with love 2 janvier 2011
Par Janice Erlbaum - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
My mother is a schizophrenic hoarder. This sentence is hard to type, but reading Jessie Sholl's candid and caring memoir about her somewhat similarly affected mother has made it a lot easier, because I'm reminded that I'm not alone, and that in the absurdity and sadness of the situation there is still room for compassion. Jessie describes the emotional landscape around her mother with clarity and precision; I found myself nodding along at thing I recognized from my own life. With this book Jessie has found a way to help dispel the shame and secrecy around this painful condition, not just for herself but for others. A very inspiring memoir from a very good person.
17 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Mental illness through the generations... 4 janvier 2011
Par Jill Meyer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Jessie Sholl's new memoir is the story of how a child grows up with a mother who's in the grip of a mental illness. Whether bi-polar, depression, Asperger's, or any of a myriad of diagnoses that could be attached to her mother, Jessie went through most of her life ashamed of her mother. The mother, Helen, was a "hoarder" and acted inappropriately much of the time. Jessie never knew how her mother would behave in any situation; I can't think of anything much more difficult for a child than never being able to count on a parent for help, never knowing how the parent would react, etc. And "through the generations" is the unfortunate fact that much of Jessie's mother's illness is attributable to the mental illness in her own immigrant family.

"Dirty Secret" is as much the story of how Jessie, as a young adult, was able to let the "dirty secret" of her mother's behavior be known, as much as it was revealing the "dirty secret" of her mother's home in Minneapolis. We all have "secrets" we feel we must conceal from others. The problems we try to hide from others are often heavier than they should be and when we acknowledge/talk about/reveal them, the result is most often a feeling of complete liberation.

Jessie Sholl is a good writer and her story is replete with those curious "details" about others' lives that are most interesting. She waited to write her memoir until she seemed fairly comfortable with the facts of her mother's illness and the effect on the lives of those around her.
16 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Painfully true 7 mars 2011
Par P. Lozar - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
My mother was a hoarder, so the subject of this book was inherently interesting to me, and I read it as soon as I could get hold of it. I found myself saying "YES!!" time and again because so much of the mother's behavior was familiar: valuation of "stuff" above everything else (including her family), resistance to getting rid of anything, denial that there's a problem, tendency to blame someone or something else for the clutter, inability to organize, insistence on the unique value of every item, etc.

The author points out that not all hoarders are alike: e.g., her mother was a compulsive spender, while mine was a compulsive saver. But, while severe hoarding is often triggered by a trauma, the behavior can be remarkably similar despite different circumstances: my mother was a child of the Depression, while the author's mother grew up in the sixties, but they still had kitchens full of out-of-date products they couldn't bear to throw away. Other authors have described the syndrome in more clinical terms, but this book gives the sense of what it's like to LIVE with a hoarding parent.

What I found most compelling about the book, however, is how well the author described the children-of-hoarders mind-set: She felt responsible for taking care of her mother, and obligated to keep trying to put her mother's house and finances in order, even when it was clear to everyone around her that her efforts were futile. It's almost impossible to convey how life-consuming this sense of responsibility for one's parent can be; but, based on my own experience, I feel that the author totally nailed it.

I suspect that the annoyance some reviewers felt with the author is because she was as obsessed with "taking care" of her mother as her mother was with hoarding, and the process of trying to shed her obsession with her mother can sound like hating her mother. But I felt that she (mostly) walked the fine line between frustration with her mother and compassion for her mother's illness. This is an admirable and courageous book.
22 internautes sur 25 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Haunting and brilliantly written 31 décembre 2010
Par Caroline Leavitt - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
This is no ordinary mother-daughter tale. Sholl's brilliant writing hooks you in the first sentence, and doesn't let up even after the last page (How could I ever stop thinking about this book?) A true tale of her mentally-ill mother's compulsive hoarding, the book is fierce, funny, deeply compassionate, and impossible to put down. I cannot wait for her next book, but right now I'm still compulsively thinking about this one.
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