Growing Up With a Hoarder
Kimberly Rae Miller grew up in a flea-infested home filled floor to ceiling with junk. Read an excerpt from her new memoir, "Coming Clean," about how she survived her family's secret shame.
I didn't rebel like other kids my age did. I didn't long to be kissed by boys or wear brand name jeans. My wildest fantasy—the focus of all my efforts—was college. College would rescue me. On paper, I was the all-American girl. At home things had reached an unfathomable level of squalor.
Between my father's love of paper (and just about everything else he could get his hands on) and my mother's depression-fueled shopping, our house had started to resemble the remnants at the bottom of a garbage can. Soggy junk filled our living space. When I was fourteen, the boiler broke in the middle of winter, but we could never allow a repairman into our mess, and so we lived without heat, without showers. Instead we joined a local gym (I lied and said I was sixteen) and each Sunday we would go through the motions of a workout so that we would feel justified in using the locker room for our weekly shower.
I was lucky: instead of acne, puberty had brought with it dry skin and dry hair. I could go a week without washing my hair and still look presentable. Rubbing alcohol and cotton balls sufficed for spot hygiene maintenance to keep body odor under control.
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