Health and fitness writer Kimberly Rae Miller has an enviable life with a tidy home, a flourishing writing career and a doting fiancé. Miller was a high-achiever in high school and college and excelled as an actress, but all along she was hiding a secret shame. While she pretended her life was happy and normal, in reality, she was living in appalling squalor and filth. Her father’s hoarding habit was so uncontrollable that her parents had to abandon more than one home due to serious safety hazards. Miller refers to herself as “the girl who grew up in garbage.”
Having grown up before hoarding was recognized as a specific disorder, Miller was an adult when she began to research the issue and find comfort in others online with similar stories. She finally “came out” to her supportive boyfriend, now fiancé, about her parents’ living conditions and found further relief from sharing the secret.
Although her youth was impacted by her parents’ hoarding to such an extent that she once tried to end her life, Miller harbors no ongoing resentment towards her parents. She attempts to understand how their troubled childhoods may have caused the disorder to develop in otherwise bright and loving people. In spite of their flaws, Miller’s parents fiercely adored their only child, and the strength of that love may be what allowed her to survive emotionally even in the most dismal, external circumstances. The author’s health and wellness blog demonstrates how different her current lifestyle is from the way she grew up. If anything, Miller seems to have emerged more determined than ever to live a well-organized, conscientious life.
Hoarding has become a topic of fascination in recent years, with many television shows and books examining the disorder. In addition to hoarding, book clubs may wish to discuss the issues of secrecy and rising above a less-than-ideal childhood. Miller has answered some commonly asked questions in an interview with BookBrowse. And as a bonus, she has extended an offer to speak via Skype with book clubs that choose to discuss Coming Clean.
-Suzanne Summers LaPierre, Kings Park Library