Hoarders: Family Secrets 1.2 – Joyce & Kimberly

Welcome back, both readers and the original format of the show!

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Reminder to any new folks: hoarding is a mental illness that affects entire families; we treat them and the illness with kindness. Many of the family members and hoarders read our boards and comment, so be decent and thoughtful with your words, please.

Joyce, Huntsburg, Ohio

Joyce is angry. Oh, is Joyce an angry woman. She is spitting mad and barely knows where to direct her anger… Well, that’s not completely accurate. She points it almost completely at Wallace, her husband for over thirty years.

At first we think this is a classic case of a shopaholic who resents people messing with her things–the most difficult type of hoarder to have breakthroughs. She doesn’t think she’s a hoarder, first of all. And she throws out the old yarn of she can clean any time she wants to, she just doesn’t want to.

We have eyes and can see the house, how the piles come to her chin. She’s a hoarder. But can she clean this house by herself? I don’t think so. And there in lies the real issue (for her, at least). Wallace won’t help. At first we think, “Well, she brought it all in! She made the mess, she should clean it! Poor Wallace, forced out of the house and stuck in two clean rooms…”

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That’s a pretty tidy fridge for a hoarder’s house. We’re told many times that he won’t ever wipe down the fridge. Hmm.

Fortunately she has a very loving family, and they are all desperate to help her. When Wallace’s sister Bonnie does a walk-through with living cupie-doll Dr. Melva Green (oh, do I adore Dr. Green!), Bonnie begins to cry, murmuring, “Bless her heart, oh bless her heart!”

We all know that when the family rallies behind the hoarder, their chances of healing go through the roof. Bonnie says to the cameras how she just didn’t know, and she feels guilty that she didn’t ask more questions. But Joyce gets a much needed hug from Bonnie and begins to cry, too. “I was embarrassed and didn’t tell nobody.”

I think that’s a common problem–it’s embarrassing, especially when your house had been the center for social engagements, and you no longer can have people over because of the state of it. But take note, anyone struggling: Bonnie didn’t judge her, didn’t get onto her. She just loved Joyce back, and here come the waterworks with me again…

We have Dr. Green and the fabulous Standolyn Robertson on task to help this woman who claims she can clean up at any time. And we all rolled our eyes at that, didn’t we? And then the picture begins to unfold a bit differently. Standolyn sees garbage and a dirty plate in the sink–it belongs to Wallace.

“I was going to let it soak,” he says. The napkin, too? “What are you trying to do, waste time about a napkin or get to work?”  UM. One, Standolyn and a team have been working, and two, Wallace has done nothing.

Joyce’s complaints about her husband not helping are taking on a different relevance to this whole thing. Now, she’s clearly to blame for her action as a shop-a-holic, but she’s taking ownership of it and working on it.

And she does! They get the whole house clean, her family couldn’t be happier, and Joyce… Well, Joyce isn’t sure about staying married. Maybe just in name only. I get it.


Joyce is in therapy to address her anger and depression, and she and Wallace are still together… as roommates. This family, though, remains one of the loveliest. It all comes down to support in the end, doesn’t it?


Kimberly, Toledo, OH

Kimberly pulls up to her house in a hoarded out vehicle. This… does not bode well.

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Oh, Kimberly… :(

We see inside her house, and it looks like the place where a person has given up: food, paper, refuse, and animal droppings litter the floor, where you can even see it. It’s not just stuff in bags and boxes, it’s filth. Everywhere you turn there is garbage, and she’s reduced to sleeping on the floor in one clear spot by a heater, where she eats, as well. Once she’s done eating, the paper gets tossed with no concern about fire safety.

Her daughter Shelby is incredibly worried about this in particular. She knows that if things don’t change–and soon–her mother will die in this house, either by illness or by fire. It’s a tinderbox waiting to go up in flames.

Kimberly has severe depression; we’re not made privy to the reason why, but something traumatic happened in her past when her husband was away, and everything in her life took a turn for the worst. She lost her marriage and son; Shelby stuck it out as long as she did because she didn’t want her mother to die alone.

The problem is that it caused Shelby’s health to deteriorate. At age 10 she was diagnosed with osteoporosis. Hoarding affects more than the hoarder.

Dr. Zasio arrives (isn’t it lovely to see all of our old friends on TV again?) and says that Kimberly got to a place of out of sight, out of mind.” Kimberly believes she isn’t on anyone’s mind, so she’s out of sight, hiding in filth, not worthy of anyone’s attention.

Of course this isn’t true, and she has people who dearly love her. It takes a full day’s work to get her to see it though, dragging her heels (and sleeping in until Cory Chalmers gets her up and moving) and needing to look at every little thing.

Dr. Zas finally convinces Kimberly to at least say that something happened long ago, even if she won’t tell anyone what exactly it was. We have the ability to see how she’s weighing herself down with guilt and sorrow, piling on the trash in her house and car to bury herself, hide herself away from the horrible things that have happened. Saying something bad happened is like her hand coming up out of the water.

And her children (and even ex-husband!) are there to pull her out. Boy, is there a change in her from this point! She’s ready to go, light and energetic, happy and smiling as they clear out the place. (Just imagine how great she’s going to feel when she finally lets go of all of it!)

Edited to Add: There was a moment during the clean up when former fireman Cory realized something was burning–plastic was melting on one of the floor space heaters. Had they not acted quickly, that’s the worst nightmare of all hoarders’ families: the house going up in flames. Great job on that!!

Her daughter Shelby is in tears when it’s all finished, so unbelievably happy that her mom has a clean place to live, a bedroom, and is on the road to self-respect. Kimberly says the Hoarders crew are “my angels.” Yep.


Kimberly is eating healthier, living better, and attending therapy, learning how to love herself and find self worth. She’s maintaining the clean house and even takes projects on herself! Good job, Kim.


Show discussion:

I’m amazed at how I turned on Wallace, guys. I loved Dr. Green saying, “You wanna be right? Or you wanna live in a clean house?” Nitpicking he said, she said malarky isn’t going to solve anything. Big picture: can you shut up, clean up, and sleep in a tidy house, wrapped up in your silent rightness? Or do you need the tickertape parade? Because the tickertape parade ain’t gonna get the house clean or address the underlying problem.

I’m so happy the show is back, and I’m incredibly happy to see that they had two successes right off the bat. The key is the family and looking at the underlying issue. It’s almost never the stuff, right?

(And thanks for your patience today! I had a child graduate high school, so that took precedent. :D)