Hoarding Till It Hurts: Thoughts on “Coming Clean” by Kimberly Miller

Jessica Swanda
4 min readApr 3, 2018

“Hoarders was on TV for two years before I could bring myself to watch it. . . I wanted to see what the world saw when they were exposed to hoarding. The houses with children were the ones that broke me down. I remember what it felt like to look at a parent who loves you and to be ashamed of the them, and be ashamed that you are ashamed. . .

Episode after episode, I cried. . . because I knew there were people, millions of people who watched shows like this for fun. People who laughed and feigned gagging, who would never really understand what it felt like to live like that.”

Kimberly Miller is heartbreakingly honest in her memoir “Coming Clean.” She shares what it was like to grow up with a father who hoarded and a mother whose coping mechanism was shopping, how it impacted the person she became, and how she deals with it even now as an adult.

Before the show Hoarders came out, I think many of us didn’t realize what a real and disturbing compulsion hoarding is. I think many of us still don’t quite grasp it. I have a friend who we’ve teasingly called a hoarder, because she saves little tokens from every concert, fancy date, or trip she enjoys. She may have a lot of stuff, but she’s not a hoarder in the same way Kimberly’s dad is.


As Kimberly painted a picture of the terrible disarray her childhood home fell into, I felt sick to my stomach. I cannot imagine living in such a condition, even as a child. Her resilience astounded me. Kids can overcome so much more than we give them credit for.

She found a way out of the mess, but time and time again, she was struck down from places of well-deserved fun, relaxation, and peace by her fathers’ towers of paper and her mother’s compulsive shopping. Yet time and time again, she rose back up.

She loved her parents unconditionally, even when they embarrassed her, used her, and disappointed her. Their relationship is far from simple, but it’s proof that “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

Jessica Swanda

Freelance writer. Travels the USA full time with her husband. Writes about travel, faith, books, and business. More about me: https://proofisinthewriting.com/