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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.

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  • Later—I don't remember precisely when—the pipes in our house started to decay, causing flooding throughout the house. We shut the water off at regular intervals, turning it on to flush the toilet a few times a day, knowing that each time we allowed the water to flow moisture would escape and drip through the downstairs ceiling that had started to rot. The house smelled musty and moldy, and my trips to the ER for asthma attacks had become so frequent that the hospital eventually sent me home with a ventilator of my own. Two out of our three bathrooms had stopped working because of various levels of disrepair and so we all used one bathroom on the second floor. The door no longer closed all the way because there was too much junk in the hallway, and no matter how many times we pushed it away, everything would fall back into its rightful place eventually. We settled for pushing the door closed as far as we could for maximum privacy. Unused, the tub had been converted to yet another place to hold things.

    Fleas were as much a part of our summers as swimming and ice cream. The dogs would bring them in from the backyard, but we couldn't set off a bug bomb and get rid of them like our neighbors did—there were too many places amid the trash for them to hide. We spent the summers being eaten alive by them. I would capture them between my thumb and forefinger and cut their slim little bodies in half with my fingernail, watching my own blood seep from their severed bodies.

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.
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