Gransnet forums

Gransnet cafe

Welcome to the *Gransnet Café. This is a non-judgemental space for you to pop in for a cuppa with some virtual friends, seek out advice for a particular problem, or share an update on your life - important or trivial. Feel free to have your say and chat about your day, but please leave any arguments at the door. If you're struggling to find someone to talk to in real life, or are simply looking for a bit of a chat, this is the place for you.

My husband left me and now the house is a tip

(147 Posts)
Unigran4 Mon 08-Feb-21 00:13:05

My husband walked out in 1978 leaving me with two girls aged 3 and 5. Up until then, I was organised, despite having two little ones, the washing and ironing was always done, the bills paid, the housework up to date, and the house fairly tidy (but never pristeen!)

Over the next 10 or 12 years I barely kept my head above water, but when the girls were both at secondary school, I got myself a job and gradually the financial worries were not so great.

But the house...! Oh my goodness! It was stuffed full of goodness knows what. Two rooms were unusable, oh I cannot tell you the state the whole house was in. And sadly, it still is.

They say the state of your mind is reflected in the state of your house, but, come on, he left more than 40 years ago! My friend suggested that I actually hadn't got over him leaving, but, apart from the first few years (maybe 5), I managed to pick myself up and successfully saw my daughters through to happy lives with happy families.

What are your thoughts?

moggie57 Mon 08-Feb-21 00:21:54

Get cardboard boxes and get rid of the rubbish.then when charity shops open .you can take them .oh and British heart foundation is telling me that you can send stuff free of charge through the post as long as it ways under 5 print out the free label and take to a pick up point.look at their website

avitorl Mon 08-Feb-21 00:32:16

I think it's your turn now to live as you would like to. Start by de cluttering,get you house straight and perhaps redecorate to go forward to the next phase of your life.
It can be liberating and I wish you well for the future.

MayBee70 Mon 08-Feb-21 00:53:59

Unigran, that’s exactly where I am. I really don’t know where to start and the pandemic means that I can’t even have a garage sale or get the family to go through everything.

Buffybee Mon 08-Feb-21 00:56:43

I am a reasonably tidy person, although not to the extreme.
I feel that you could become overwhelmed with the amount of work you will need to do and do nothing.
So, I would suggest doing a set amount of time de-cluttering every day. Set a time, maybe 15 minutes and a time when you know you will be free every day, then just do it every day.
Set an alarm on your phone and stop when it goes off.
Don’t miss once, make it a rule.
You will be amazed at what you can achieve in this small amount of time every day.
Let us know how you get on.... as that famous brand says, “Just do it”.

Summerlove Mon 08-Feb-21 01:50:29

Why do you think you are holding on to so much?

Might be time to start teletherapy to try to move past whatever is blocking you.

mumofmadboys Mon 08-Feb-21 06:46:33

I think Buffybee gives good advice. Start with something small like tidying a window sill if you have stuff dumped on it or a top of a chest of drawers. You'll soon start noticing an improvement. Good luck with it Unigran4.

nanna8 Mon 08-Feb-21 06:57:53

I’d get one of your daughters to help you. Now is the time whilst you have limited movement! Get some cardboard boxes ready and do a room at a time. Go for it and be ruthless. After you have done a bit ‘reward’ yourself with a cuppa so you don’t get overwhelmed.

M0nica Mon 08-Feb-21 07:55:15

Do you remember the tv programme 'The Hoarder next Door'? Here a psychotherapist worked with hoarders because he believed that many people's hoarding grew, as yours had done, as a result of a major trauma in their lives and several of those who took part were women with a story behind their hoarding that is similar to yours.

Hoarding is now recognised as a mental health disorder. Here is a link to the NHS site on this matter

I think you should speak to your GP or Community Psychiatric nurse first. The recommended therapy is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)

Another useful site is

Visgir1 Mon 08-Feb-21 08:20:04

See if your girls would help you, sort the place out, but be brutal - not used it for ages bin it or try and sell it, and while your at it seriously have a think about do you still need a house that big? You and the house have done the job. New home new start might be the answer? Your girl have grown up talk to them seek out their thoughts. Something smaller and just yours might be the best thing?
Good luck

Humbertbear Mon 08-Feb-21 08:39:26

There is a very good article in today’s Times about clearing your house. It’s about a woman who visits and helps you sort. She uses - regift, recycle, rubbish, repurpose,reuse, resell, refurbish and reminisce. You have a box for each. I find that its easier once you start. We had thousands of books but once we got rid of the first tranche it was much easier to get rid of more. Similarly, my collection of very large china platters which I used when I catered for parties , back in the day.
I would think your girls would enjoy helping you. Who knows what they may find?

Calendargirl Mon 08-Feb-21 08:55:29

I have a friend whose house was in a similar condition. After her husband died quite suddenly, I went over one day to help her ‘tackle’ the spare bedroom.

I got such a shock. The room was piled high with ‘stuff’, clothes, furniture, magazines, paperwork, books, bric a brac. You couldn’t cross the room to get to the window, it was so, well, cluttered was not a strong enough word. It had been used as a dumping ground for anything and everything. You just didn’t know where to start.

We ended up by compromising and spending the entire day sorting out her airing cupboard, which encompassed an entire wall in her bathroom. Clothes, towels, bedding, toiletries, piled high on every shelf and available bit of space.Everything was taken out, sorted, either dumped, charity bagged or put back neatly folded. She was so thrilled, and I’m sure it has stayed tidy.

What I’m trying to say is it’s so easy to say ‘go in with a few cardboard boxes and be ruthless’. Sometimes it is all just so overwhelming, and I know my friend was mortified to let anyone else know how bad it had got.

Should add, although her house is still quite cluttered and very lived in, she has made headway with her sorting out, and is in a much better place. I would have carried on helping her, but Lockdown came along and put paid to that, but I’m sure the tidied airing cupboard gave her the impetus to see that it could be done, albeit not all at once.

sodapop Mon 08-Feb-21 09:05:55

I agree with MOnica this is such a long standing problem I think you need some professional help to deal with your emotional issues Unigran4.
As others have said it can seem like an overwhelming task so just set yourself goals to clear small areas at first. I'm sure your daughters will help you. Good luck.

NanaandGrampy Mon 08-Feb-21 09:13:24

I think its the volume that has you overwhelmed so I'd start small. Choose a room - any room - Put 4 bags or boxes in there, label them keep, donate, sell and dump. Then set the timer and go in for say 30 mins.

At the end of the time take out any boxes that are full and seal them. Then shut the door .

Next day - or the next time you feel ready repeat.

When lockdown allows you have boxes ready to go to charity or to be listed for sale .

Its surprising how small chunks of time and small amounts make a difference.

Good luck.

Oopsadaisy1 Mon 08-Feb-21 09:17:05

I don’t honestly think that your husband leaving you over 40 years ago has much to do with it, as you say you were OK initially.

Give yourself a Month to make a start and do small amounts of clearing a day.

If you haven’t started to make a difference in 4 weeks then it’s time to admit that you need help and see your GP, as it’s not just a problem about your husband. It’s probably a Hoarding issue.

Sarnia Mon 08-Feb-21 09:28:53

Hoarding is often a result of a state of mind and this may have been triggered by your husband leaving you. It seems that having lost him you are holding on to what you can. When it comes to clearing out it may not be a simple case of filling carboard boxes and taking them to charity shops/local tip. You may find it emotional and difficult. In that case you may need help to tackle the job ahead of you. It probably seems like a mountain to climb but start with small steps and bit by bit you will start to see an improvement which will give you the impetus to continue. Good luck with it all. I hope it goes well. thanks

V3ra Mon 08-Feb-21 09:49:22

Unigran4 do you sleep well? I particularly like a tidy bedroom, it's my sanctuary. That's the room I'd suggest you start with.

Redhead56 Mon 08-Feb-21 10:46:29

When my abusive husband eventually left us I was relieved but numb. My life was in chaos and the house reflected that.
Things did change and I eventually settled down again. The past can still feel raw at times and my husband gently reminds me. That it is the past and I have moved on from that terrible time in my life.
Like many you have had a rough time but life is short you now need to move on. Dust yourself down and take each day as it comes. De clutter a little at a time don’t be sentimental about it it’s just material. Don’t rush just do it and you will feel a weight is lifted. Everyone has given you good supportive advice do something positive with it.

timetogo2016 Mon 08-Feb-21 10:50:17

Buffybee is spot on and you could find a gem worth some money,how exciting.

Tangerine Mon 08-Feb-21 10:52:35

Will your daughters help you?

I believe there are professional de-clutterers (is that the right word?) so could you engage one?

Could you do one room at a time?

I wish you luck. You seem to have done such a lot for your daughters and I hope they try to help.

Wong Mon 08-Feb-21 10:56:03

How about asking your girls to help you do a gradual clear out?

paperbackbutterfly Mon 08-Feb-21 10:56:06

My husband had 3 sheds, collected over 50 years of never throwing thing away, too full to walk into and it was defeating him. I suggested he filled one black bag every week and put it in the bin. It's took a while but it has worked. He didn't feel like it was too much to throw away in one go.

trisher Mon 08-Feb-21 10:58:09

Plan to put the house on the market. Set yourself a date, think about downsizing so you can't take everything. Then start clearing. Tell your daughters what you are doing and invite them to take things which mean something to them. Remember buyers will want to see every room so everything has to be cleared.
You might want to wait until charity shops will take stuff.

CarlyD7 Mon 08-Feb-21 10:58:14

I suspect that you've simply got used to living in a mess - it can happen. My suspicion is also that when you clear it out and live in an organised house, you will realise how much it has been affecting you all this time. I agree with the others - get yourself some boxes: label them Charity, Rubbish, Another Room, etc. and get cracking. A good read on this (I've found) are a couple of books by Kerri Richardson. Good luck!

BlackSheep46 Mon 08-Feb-21 10:59:11

Little by little is SUCH good advice. Don't even think about doing a whole wardrobe - do one or two coat hangers at a time. Stop blaming your husband - he's long long gone and you have all survived so well. Well done you. Pat on the back for you. The early times must have been tough but you made it. Now's your time to celebrate !! Go to it - get shot of the stuff that's holding you down (maybe even the house itself ??) and enjoy your time now. One little trick is to promise yourself a reward (even a coffee and a biscuit ) WHEN you have done a bit of clearing out. Good tip: ALWAYS do what you hate doing FIRST then do the things you like. Be strict with yourself about this too. START NOW THIS MINUTE !!