Are hoarders afraid of the future?

There are some TV shows I watch with guilty horror, and I'm not just talking about The Shire.

These are shows that are at the same time so compelling and so horrifying that I want to turn them off yet I cannot look away.

You know the ones I'm talking about - Hoarders, Extreme Hoarders, and anything else that involves rooms full of cardboard boxes, old newspapers, unworn and out of date clothes. You get the idea.

My husband and I look at each other. "How does it get like this?" we ask. "How does this happen?"

How does it happen indeed! I'm no psychologist but I wonder if hanging onto things pathologically has something to do with fear.

It might be fear of loss, fear of there not being enough, fear of not knowing who you really are. Or it might be fear of the future. Let me explain. I did know a family of hoarders some years back. When we visited their place not only were we overcome by the masses of memorabilia from the past, but I also noticed that most of their conversation was about things that happened years ago. The only conversation about anything to do with the future was filled with anxiety and worry and dread.

Someone told me that he holds on to stuff because he moved around a lot as a child. He never knew what was coming next and holding on to his possessions was his way of feeling secure when his circumstances appeared to be insecure.

I moved around myself as a child. When we came back to Australia from living overseas, I had no idea of what was coming in my future. I could only imagine a black void because everything was different and unknown. That was the time in my life when I really treasured my possessions. I deliberately brought things back with me that symbolized my life so far. I would have been devastated if I had lost them at that point.

Fortunately life in Australia was not just a black void and fairly soon I had friends, a purpose, and good experiences on which to build. I was able to begin letting go of the physical things I had brought with me and trusted my memories would be just that - good memories.

As life has gone on, I've seen that there are more good things to be had. Plus I'm not afraid of what's to come at the end. I'm not afraid of death (although I might be a teensy bit afraid of the process of dying) because of my faith in Christ and as I get older I'm finding I need less and less to hold on to things from the past.

What do you think? Do you hang on to your stuff from your past because you are afraid of the future?