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One Year Later

This page commemorates the one year anniversary of the start of the Living in third degree squalor...where do I start? thread.


What can I say? As "Kimmy" living in Third Degree Squalor (you saw the pics!), it was fate that I sat down on May 20th, 2001 and shook as I dared to type a cry for help. Expecting ridicule and to feel even worse for my trouble, I shook again as I checked the next day to see if anyone in the world cared, or for that matter, believed me. I was at wit's end that day - suicidal - and would rather have died than face my squalor one last time. If anyone had ridiculed me at that vulnerable moment, I think I would have gone home and died in my mess, rather than ever face the world again.

Without each and every one of those contributions on Julie's thread and here at SS, I would NEVER have been able to escape my mess and misery. YOUR efforts at posting encouraged me to do what I could not find the energy to do in years..."something". Together you all turned my tears over Squalor into tears of joy over laughing and joking about it! Who could ever forget Pigpen's mouldy futon and my sink pudding? While seriously suicidal to us beforehand, together ALL of us transformed such "atrocities" into works of art, to be hung with pride in our Gallery and no longer be whispered about! Gradually, through humour and love and so much damn support, you ALL made me WANT to tidy and WANT to clean. I had NO WILL to live back then...but you all rallied round and made me WANT to live. Words can't express how much I BEAMED the day I read all the thrilling congratulations the day I cleaned my kitchen the first time in six years!!! It was the first day I had truly felt I was worth anything at all for a long time. That day, my sink pudding became a badge of pride!

One kitchen eventually turned into a whole house free of Squalor...and a passed inspection...and a Warrior Princess. Without you ALL, it would have been a trip to a psychiatric facility...or a funeral for me and my animals. Your support saved not only one life.

But the fear cycle again reared its head, when I had to take, develop and send those Squalor pics to Celeste! How brave she was to open THAT envelope! How brave Pigpen was to present them on SS! Again, I awaited ridicule...but none came. In fact, I think the most laughs came from me, as I was FREE of that mess!

While I never had a doubt the Squalorees were REAL friends, the times the media popped up, proved to me just how REAL and TRUE my friends here are.

I've had postcards, phone calls and emails throughout the year...and enjoyed each posting on the first thread and the second...and now the explosion into a whole website of our own, compliments of the brilliant Pigpen!

How can one begin to thank human beings who have exorcised the demons killing you? One can't...one can't list all the names, one can't list all the occasions, chiefly because somehow I fluked getting into the notorious "contact" form here...and I dare not chance getting out of it, lest I never get back! ha ha! Otherwise I WOULD name you ALL!

Squalorees, THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY TIDY LITTLE HEART that beats only because of you ALL and the time you took out to help a girl when she was down and drowning in Squalor...when the rest of the world (other than her fine psychiatrist) would have turned away in disgust.

Because of YOU, I am me...and around to enjoy it.

I only hope for one more thing, that is, one day, that we ALL can meet in the flesh and I can have a REAL reason to cry again!!!


I'll see you on the second one!

- And if I sounded like a Queen recounting the past years trials and joys...it's because I damn well am one!!!!



Life is mostly froth and bubble, Two things stand like stone, KINDNESS in another's trouble, COURAGE in your own. from Ye Wearie Wayfarer ~ Adam Lindsay Gordon (Australian poet and sometime police officer)


This thread made me realise that I was not alone. I was not the only person in the world not to let people in past the front door. It made me realise that I am still a nice person even if my house is a mess. I may not have reached perfection, my house is still somewhat challenged, but I am on the way and as Flylady says Baby steps, baby steps.

I have met some wonderful people through this. I am so impressed by how far Kimmy has come, have felt incredibly angry at how other people made her feel and am so proud of her for rising above it. If it wasnt for Kimmy's original posting I wouldnt have met the wonderful people I have.

On the tidying side, my lounge is fairly tidy, am keeping my hot spots under control, my bathroom is tidy, my kitchen is waiting for my 18 ds to wake up and we will do the dishes, but apart from that it is tidy. In my bedroom all MY clothes are put away, am not even going to go near dh(FH)'s stuff and the bed is made.

Getting there,




My dear fellow Squalorees,

As I told Kimmy, trying to sum up what this last year has been from my viewpoint is difficult.

Kimmy's initial message was the starting point. Amidst my concern for her was my growing appreciation for everyone who replied.

The focusing on strengths, compassion, humor and companionship has made a world of difference to many people, not just Kimmy. The loving concern found here, the friends I've made, has given me confidence I never had before I met you all. I have more trust in my own decisions and a greater appreciation of what is good in my life because you've reminded me to look at what works. When I falter, your support gets me back on track.

I've often wished that I could have you with me all the time: Kimmy, Pigpen, Bless, Jaspper, Steph, Louise, Noah, RU, JacqueDeJunker, BD, mopsy, Karianne, AH, Val, Amelia, etc. Hmm. My car is going to get a little crowded!

Thank you for sharing your struggles and triumphs. Thank you, most of all, for being YOU.

Much love,

Celeste angel smiley


Angelina Hedghehog

To all Squalorees, but to Kimmy, Pigpen, and Celeste in particular,

I discovered Julie Morgenstern's site and the Third Degree thread in August, bought OFIO in September, and had my equilibrium disrupted on a sunny, summery Tuesday shortly afterwards.

That thread formed one of my.... I don't even know what to call it.... Linchpins? Touchstones? Connections to reality? Safety net? Unknowing support group?

At any rate, it was a source of strength when I wasn't sure which way was up. It reminded me that it was and is possible to come back from disaster. It was a helping hand that I hadn't asked for (couldn't ask for, really) but was there when I needed it, without asking.

Kimmy, you asked for help. You showed your weakness, and in doing so, showed your strength. The thread you started allowed others to show their strengths, too. I can't imagine how many people you have helped, simply by starting that thread.

Celeste, I know that you have disavowed any claim to wisdom, admitting only to experience and a way with words. Be that as it may, I have found your messages to be the text equivalent of a phone call from a caring, trusted (and *wise*) friend.

Pigpen, your candor and willingness to share a part of your life you'd probably just as soon forget (in full mildewy detail, no less) are awesome. Your generosity in setting up the Squalor Survivors pages (yes, yes, I know it was a good excuse for you to fiddle with HTML and php and all that...) is impressive. And your return to school is inspirational.

The Third-degree Squalor thread and its offshoots have meant a lot to me. I'm grateful to the generous souls who have made it possible.

Thank you.




The third degree squalor thread changed my life. The women who posted on that thread are funny, wise, loving, witty, smart, compassionate...oh yeah, and did I mention funny? The high point of my day was coming online and checking out what they had to say.

The low point was having to go offline and go to my job. I was working as a school cleaner. I was knee-deep in perfectionist job squalor, unable to choose any kind of career path for fear of making a mistake.

As Kimmy cleaned up her house, some of us talked about putting her photos up on the web. I was too ignorant to know that all we needed was some server space, and UBB code. That was lucky for me, since it meant I took my first steps in HTML and on July 14 created "Squalor Survivors" (a phrase coined by BlessthisMess in the thread and shamelessly stolen by me.) That first page was a train wreck! People using Netscape Navigator couldn't even view it. But I enjoyed doing it, and I'd like to think I've improved, a little.

Finally, it dawned on me that the same advice being given on the thread to help Kimmy escape squalor, would also help me to escape my job rut. No more perfectionistic all-or-nothing thinking. Instead of waiting for the 'perfect' job to be revealed to me, I would take action and pick a 'good enough' one instead. Since I enjoyed tinkering with this website so much, I decided to take a Business Computing course at the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology. BlessthisMess promised to help keep me on track, and it wasn't long before her services were required - I hit my first hurdle filling out the application form, paralysed by perfectionism already! (Thank you, Bless!) But now I'm a student at NMIT, part of a great class, having fun and even actually learning stuff! If it wasn't for the third degree squalor thread, I might be missing all that and instead mopping the same floors over and over again.

I am very grateful for, and in awe of, Kim's courage in posting a year ago Her bravery in sharing her photos! Looking at Kim's photos and realising the sheer scale of what she accomplished is inspiring. Her actions have helped so many people. (Thank you, Kim!)

And the way a group of women scattered over the planet connected via keyboards and monitors, transistors and copper cable, to share their experience and support and empower each other is awesome.



Onward! onward! toiling ever,
 Weary steps and slow,
Doubting oft, despairing never,
 To the goal we go!
from Ye Wearie Wayfarer
~ Adam Lindsay Gordon