Friday, January 23, 2015

Been a bit too long! Time for an episode of ... From the Mouth of a Hoarder!

It has been over a month since last post, and I am still on the limited contact with my hoarding mother.  Phone calls from the car during my work commute, 3 times or so a week.  

It may seem mean spirited to laugh at some of these things, but it is honestly laugh and find the humor, or scream until my mind goes.

"...[Talking about the gas line rupture that occurred in the later 1990's]... You know, now that I think about it, I think that had 'HELP'."  (Intimating that the neighbor that lives in the turn that she hates did it).

"I cannot find ANYONE to put bars inside the basement over the windows.  Lowes does not sell them and Home Depot said no one carries them ready to install."  Fort-Elderly-Hoarder anyone?

"...[After mentioning that I was picking my car up at the body shop in time to take it on a trip this weekend]... I don't know, I would not want to drive it all that way after just picking it up from the shop.  What if something went wrong?"  Um... small bumper repair from hitting a raccoon... and there is the manufacturer care plan and I also have AAA, plus I suspect there is a Lexus dealer in Washington DC.  Maybe two.... Ai yi yi.

"...[Starting the paranoia craziness after I mentioned I was going to DC to stay with friends and to attend the new auto show.] Are you leaving a light on?  Why not?  Your cats need light!  What happens if someone breaks in?  They might leave the door open and let your cats out!  They would never survive that!  They might hurt them!  Is anyone checking on them?  What if one gets its claws caught and hangs itself?  I could rip an arm off!  I would not leave my place like that, even if I did have monitored security...."  Not telling her that I have someone staying with the cats as my old girl is almost 18.  

Referring to the neighbors and how 'trashy' she thinks their homes or yards are.  Calling the next door neighbor in the trailer a "Trailer Tramp".

Asking if I have moles that peel off and bleed... EWWWW!

Talking about her nasty, crusty feet.

Asking about hair removal on my face, even though that is not one of my issues.  

Talking nonstop about a free sample of Clinique anti aging lotion she got, obsessing about the wrinkles that 'just appeared'.  She is 78 or 79...

Fat shaming her cat.

Focused on appearance, weight, etc. of everyone around her.

She is continuing to spiral into paranoia and negativity.  

Hoarding... No one wins.

I need to use my voice recorder and keep track of these things so I can recount them accurately, and as I have said before, she says so many sexist, racist, classist, sizist, and any other 'ist' things you can think of... It just boggles my mind.  And she is like the energizer bunny and the negativity just keeps her going and going.  

I am starting to notice what could be the early onset of dementia in our conversations, or could be just the continuation of narcissism.  

I guess when you make the choices she has, and those choices led to such singular and complete isolation... small things become big things, then they become the only things.  

Sad.  I still hope for better for her, but that is all I can do.  This is, and always has been, beyond my control.   If is not her fault that she is so severely mentally ill, but it has been her active choice to refuse to address it in any way that is constructive and would move her forward, and it continues to be her active choice to be intentionally cruel to anyone she comes in contact with that she does not feel offers transactional worth.  

Hoarding.  No one wins, but perhaps for those raised in the shadow of the hoard... We can recover.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sunday, December 14, 2014

It is that time again... From the Mouth of a Hoarder...

The only sentiment I can start this off with is ... WOW.  She has been on a roll lately... and not a particularly positive one at that.  I would advise if you are eating or drinking that you return at a time when you are not... Consider yourself warned!

And now to the next episode of FTMOAH!

"Are your feet rough?  Mine are so rough.  I have sharp crusts on my heels, and for the last two nights I cut and ruined two new pair of socks!"

After getting a recommendation from her general care practitioner re a cream for her feet...

"I cannot believe the difference!  After only using the cream a couple of days I can just roll the skin off my feet in layers!"


"...And I bought a sports bra thingie, and I use tape to attach to the ends of the tag plastic things so they do not flip away or hit the floor and one of the cats get it, those things could puncture their esophagus just like Mr. Dimwiddy [who died of sepsis after a fish bone punctured his esophagus in the mid 50's...]"

I will keep this one short and sweet, or short and nauseating...  You get the idea.  Her other comments have focused on her obsession with whether folks decorate for Christmas or not, her criticism of their lack of taste in decorations, and her speculation as why folks would decorate without having small children in the home.  She has also been focused on the behavior of a couple of acquaintances who are struggling with dementia/Alzheimer's disease, asking questions that start with "Do all people like that...[insert the behavior she finds aberrant]"...  Her amazing leaps of assumption and medically incorrect causality continues, all while she continues to live in the museum of long held grudges, petty misunderstandings, and simmering resentment.  

Have to find some humor from this, because if I did not laugh, I fear I would start screaming.  

Thank you for reading, and have a great week!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

This and that... Thanksgiving 2014

Hard to believe the holiday season is upon us again!  I understand the biochemical changes that occur as we age that changes our perception of time, but when you experience it first hand... WOW:-)

This Thanksgiving I did something different.  I did not make plans with other folks, I decided to have a quiet holiday home with my cats, one who is quite elderly and is becoming more and more frail as that days go on.  (I am not much of a fan of the Thanksgiving Day fairy story promulgated by schools to hide genocide and other atrocities... But I honor the desire of folks to come together to show thanks... Ahem).  These past few weeks have been full of interaction, socialization, and crazy work schedules, and I wanted just a few days of solitude, not in a self pitying or self isolating way, but just time to enjoy my own company and that of my furry family.

I took off the day before Thanksgiving, and the day after, so I had a 5 day weekend.  Really, I should have worked, but I was determined to not let the 'shoulds' intrude.  And for the most part, I have not.  I had a few invitations to share Thanksgiving with friends, but I politely declined, for the most part without a lot of explanation... and none was required.

And how has it been?  It has been FANTASTIC!  I have gone shopping with a friend once, and treated myself to a handbag that has been on my wishlist for the past 2-3 years.  Other than that, my only interaction has been the Turkey Trot I ran Thanksgiving morning, and I set my own personal record.  10 minute and one 9 minute miles.  It was cold, but it was absolutely perfect.  I had purchased wonderful organic, fresh food and my favorite wine, and a friend gave me a pie from my favorite bakery.  I was lazy around my apartment, and ran when I felt like it, often midday instead of early morning.  These past few days have been ones of quiet indulgence, and I will get back on track on Monday.  I purchased cold weather run gear online, and am planning my marathon training.  (And hoping I have not herniated around my mesh screen... more on that later, if it is indeed an issue...)

I am not planning on repeating this planned solitude at this Christmas/New Year holiday.  I will visit my family of choice, and then something new... For Christmas or perhaps New Year's eve, a friend and I are planning a quick trip to a beach, just to see the sand and surf, and although it will be cold, I look forward to running on the beach and on the boardwalk.  Just an overnight trip. I already have a schedule filling up with social/holiday mixers, parties and engagements, and I am glad I took this time for myself, for the cats.  I strongly fear that my almost 18 year kitty may not be here at Christmas time.  

How does this relate to hoarding?  I called my hoarding mother as I was leaving the grounds of the state complex that hosted the Turkey Trot.  Oh my.  Oh MY.  

The comparison could not be more definitive.  She was MISERABLE.  She has 2 folks/separate families bring her plates each year, and she compares them to what she could have/would have/has done in the past.  (I do not object to her fantasy of her cooking ability... but having eaten her food for too many years... um... NO- she once again revises history...) She has resentfully watched the neighbors, and found most sadly lacking.  She has disgusting names for each that she openly despises, things like "the village idiot"  and "trailer trash" and other names that serve her to depersonalize and dehumanize these folks, which is a common mechanism that those with power and control issues utilize.  She also speculates endlessly on the couple of neighbors she does not out-and-out hate, but they always come up lacking, wasteful, or some other judgement.  She could have made her day special.  She just had to buy a new TV, she could have done something to enjoy it- movies, got her favorite food in, something.  She did none of that.  She called her cable provider and railed about how she does not want the 'On-Demand' part at all, despite having the fact that many of the movies are free.  She railed about paying over $100 a month for cable and 'NOTHING IS ON".  She carped about the magazines she receives (over 20 subscriptions!) and how they are 'nothing but ads' and how she does not care about fashion, because, seriously... all older folks who do not work do not care about that stuff...  Really?  <<Headdesk>>   Or in this case, thumping my head against the steering wheel.  She ranted about her TMJ appliance.  She complained about not eating out because people will stare at her... Of course, everyone is looking at her.  She just was on a negative roll.  She criticises those with pride in their appearance, and pride in their home's appearance, outside and inside.

I asked her... "What nice thing can you do for yourself today?  What would you enjoy?"  That started another rant of how the holidays were miserable for her as a child, etc.  I hate to tell her, mine were no picnic... But it is not the oppression olympics, and no one wins that type of discussion.  She just can't do it.  She cannot do anything to enjoy herself.  It is heartbreaking.  She finally asked what I was doing, and I told her.  She started her crap on my running, running in the cold, etc.  I changed the subject.  She then asked, "What are you doing today?  I thought you would be somewhere with a bunch of people like you usually are..."  I reminded her that I had planned this this way, and what my plans were.  She responded with "Oh- did everyone else have something to do, or have gotten tired of you?"

ARGH.  She misses the point.  In her mind, I am doing the holiday alone because I could not attach myself to another group/family.  The saddest thing?  I may have misread her comment- she might have meant to be humorous- which I doubt, but she seemed to derive a bit of pleasure from that assumption.  How sad, she wants me to be as, if not more, miserable that she is.  

I ended the call because I just could not let her attempt to pull me into a negative space.  I had talked to her neighbor two days before, and she again talked about how increasingly negative, and nutty, my hoarding mother was becoming.  Today is my final day before I return to work and a nonstop schedule for the next few weeks.  The blogging of this is the only headspace I will allow her to have, and I have not talked to her since Thursday.  I am sure she will be surly and pouting when I do call her next week.  

<Sigh>  I cannot wait.  Hoarding... No one wins.  NO ONE.  Hope everyone had a lovely week.  Thank you for reading.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sharing a blog from the Huffington Post that resonated... 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A call I have been dreading...

Oh ye gods.  I got a phone call I have been dreading.  Nothing imminent for my hoarding mother, but still a call no one wants to get.

My hoarding mother's neighbor called me today.  Asked if I have spoken to my mother recently, and proceeded to tell me that she has concerns regarding my mother's deteriorating mental health, outlook, and has concerns that she may be in early stage dementia.  My mother will be... 78?  79?  For the sake of conversation let's say 79 on Christmas Day.  

I have noticed the decline, the increase in revisionist history, and what seems to be increasing forgetfulness in our 3 or so phone calls a week.  

I also know that there is nothing that I can, or she will allow me to do, that will help this situation.  It is simply heartbreaking.

The neighbor stated, "I hate to say this, but it would be easier on you, on her, on EVERYONE if she just drops over dead rather than requiring placement in a facility for care."  

No pressure.  Ugh.  I cannot do anything, and I will not be sucked into this.  Unfortunately my mother made many decisions years ago that will adversely impact her now.  Decisions like:

  • Driving everyone away who has ever cared about her or tried to help
  • Isolating herself behind a level 5 hoard and time after time, choosing the stuff and her need for power and control over addressing her issues
  • Using me for narcissistic supply if I would allow her to- she sees me only as an extension of herself, not as the individual with rights and feelings that I am
Sorry for such a downer after my happy blog...  Onward I go.  I choose to protect myself, and to ensure my quality of life is what I deserve.  I cannot want it more than she wants it for herself, and I cannot fix this for her.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 27, 2014

What did I expect?

Hard to believe that it has been a month since my last post!  In that month, not much as changed, other than I have been focusing on work (and working too damn much), doing some consulting, trying to have a social life after what is often 60-75 hour (or more) workweeks, and a bit of running... oh... and sleeping.  A little bit of that too.

My hoarding mother is still in her self created world of limited experiences, drama, and petty annoyances overblown to huge crises.  Nothing new there.  

What is new is October heralded two major life events for me.  One is the eight year anniversary at a job that I love (most days) and the other is the completion of a major personal goal, one that has eluded me for 2 years.  I ran a 1/2 marathon this weekend.  And I rocked it, if I say so myself.  Over 32 hours later and I am still in my happy spot, and I am proud of myself... something I cannot say I have ever experienced before.  

Now some folks may be saying to themselves, "So you ran 13.1 miles.  So what?"  And I can understand if you are.  This is a personal, personal goal.  Me against myself, I was not racing the other runners, I was racing ME.  In the past 4-5 years I have slowly lost over 100 pounds and resumed running, an activity I abandoned when I was in my early 20's.  Recently, (2013 and 2014) I have missed 3 half marathons that I have trained for due to a badly scarred Achilles tendon injury, a life threatening and nearly 11 pound tumor 3 months later, and 11 months after that, rupturing my mid line incision.  

Just 11 weeks after a second abdominal surgery, I ran my first 1/2.  I had hoped to run one in September, but it was too soon, as the one 3 weeks earlier was as well.  I had been thinking about this race and was concerned I was not ready.  As is my way, I am either full go or full stop, and in September when I was cleared to run on hills and outside, I hit the road with a vengeance,  logging in 112 miles in a month (and not even a full month, more like just over 2 1/2 weeks).  Predictably to everyone but me, I over trained... And I hit the wall in early October.  My Achilles tendon injury flared again, and I feared that I would have to try a race in November as it looked unlikely I was going to meet my goal.  I did a lot of figurative self-flagellation, and was really frustrated.  

At the last minute, I registered anyway and decided to give it all that I had.  It would be for the experience if not for the likelihood of success. And by registering that late, there was little chance of backing out without losing my registration fee.  Then reality set in.  I had been adding lifting and weight work back into my routine, eating a bit differently, and mixing in other cardio with my runs, but doing frequent but short runs.  WHAT WAS I DOING?  There was a 3 hour sweep, but in my researching races I mistakenly thought this race had a 2:45 sweep.  I am not a fast runner.  My personal record recently is under an 11 mile minute, but my usual is in the mid 12 range.  There was NO WAY I believed I would finish this race before they packed it up.  

Now, several friends had said they wanted to support me in this, cheer me on and cheer me at the finish.  I was honestly touched, appreciative, and also determined that I was not going to have my imminent failure be witnessed by those I hold in such high regard.  I also felt this race, this particular race... Well, it was personal.  This was me against me.  This was me against the medical crises of the past year.  This was me against my own body... or me WITH my own body.  

Long story short, I did it.  I beat 2:45 by 50 seconds. I did it!  I realized the night before that all the negative self talk was going to ensure that I did not succeed, and I was engaging in 'all or nothing' thinking, and hoarder think.  Going to the worst and most hopeless scenario.  The day before I focused on eating and resting, and changing the commentary feedback loop in my head.  The day of, driving to the race, I focused on thoughts of consistency, being strong, and failure was not an option.  I set the goal of between 2:30 and 2:45 to finish.  I was READY.  I was going to do this.  And do it I did.  Was it easy?  NO.  Was it challenging?  Yes.  And I reveled in every mile, and although I would not be able to run a marathon, I felt I could have continued another 5-7 miles.  I had been fighting the injury and the extreme pelvic pain from my surgeries for the final 5 miles, but I was doing okay, and I powered past the pack I was running in the last few hundred yards.  I was so happy and overjoyed.  I DID IT!!!!!  

For me, it was NOT an empty success because I was alone, but that much more striking because of it.  I raced me, and I won.  And I was there to celebrate it at the finish line and to cheer others as they finished. I ran slowly, steadily, and I did it.

Now, this is where hoarding comes in.  I was so happy with my pictures, my medal, my prize, and most of all, the knowledge that I actually did this, that I called my hoarding mother to tell her the next day, which is today.  (I let my friends know via Facebook, and the celebrations are continuing throughout the week... some folks were a bit disappointed I did this on my own, but they understood it.  And I love them for that!)

Ugh.  Why do I do this to myself!?!?  She has no concept of how big a damn deal this was to me.  NONE.  She immediately started with how my father had heart disease an I should be careful... Basically intimating that I was going to die.  I was gobsmacked.  I figured she would find some way to turn the conversation about her, or minimize my achievement, or focus on how crazy she thinks it is, or how dangerous (a woman running alone on the highways... GASP!) but this?  Really?  And she knows how freaking important this is to me.  She cannot even step out of her own stuff for a moment to be proud that I succeeded in completing something that did not come easily.

To my credit, I did not let her steal my pride in overcoming so much, and in achieving one of my goals.  Just five years ago if you would have told me I would be running a half marathon and getting a finisher's medal I would have laughed myself silly. I got off the phone quickly, and my response was one of incredulity.  

I got home and got out of my little car, and as I grabbed my handbag out of the back seat, I noticed the 13.1 sticker I put on my car the day before.  Not to brag, but to remind myself of my ability to overcome, and to never flood myself with self-doubt again.  That 13.1 sticker represents so much.  I did it.  I DID IT.  Before writing this blog, I was looking at full races for the spring.  I hope to do 26.2 before the end of next summer.  And I will do it.  My time frame may be different, and it may take many tries before I achieve it, but I will do it.  The silver lining I took from growing up in the dysfunction and abuse of a hoarding household is dogged persistence and resilience.  It has served me well thus far... And the next race, whether it be a 5K, a 10K, a 13.1 or a 26.2... I will let whomever wishes to come support me and cheer me on do so.  It does not matter if I finish before the race is over, all that matters is that I try, and keep trying.  Not only with running, with letting others be there for me.  That is a lesson that I have to keep learning, but I will get it. 

And my mother?  Her response is just another example of her illness, and her dogged refusal to see anything other than her own limited view of the world.  

Hoarding... no one wins.  But, maybe I can make the best of the challenges I have faced.  I honestly do have little other choice, as I believe life is meant to be lived at full volume.

Thank you for reading!