Thursday, April 16, 2015

Is it appropriate to title this with a curse word?

Apparently I have more work to do.  I thought this woman could annoy me, but that I had en-armored myself enough that she could not penetrate what has been lovingly (and not so lovingly) referred to as my armadillo skin.

Yeah.  FAIL.

Busy cycle at work continues.  As I write this, I am taking a quick break from a creating a PPt presentation for a presentation to a law school and our largest renewal grant.  I write this from a hotel room in my home state, approximately 80 miles away from my hometown, and 6 hours away from my home in another state.  Against better judgement, I let my hoarding, narcissistic mother know I would be nearby, and tentatively made plans 'to make plans' to meet for dinner on either Wednesday or Friday of this week.  I have not seen her since April of 2013- the last time I was able to attend this particular conference- 3 months before the health issue that nearly took my life with two major surgeries in 10 months, just for a frame of reference.  So I called her to firm up these plans.  

Yeah.  No.  Ever heard the saying "Some folks have a problem for every solution"?  This was my mother.  I offered a couple of options.  We could meet somewhere half way.  I could pick her up at her door and drop her off.  We could do one of two nights, as my conference schedule and my presenting schedule have me in harness until May 1st.  Her demurrals included the following reasons:

  • Her taillight on her 22 year Honda is burnt out- she did not want to drive.
  • She does not want to be out, driving or riding, after dark because of all the deer.
  • She does not feel well due to an ear infection (that she spent 20 minutes telling me how much better she was feeling since her doctor's visit).
  • She does not want to leave when the despised neighbor 'in the turn' is home to see her leave.
  • She does not want to be away from her property at night as if she is, hordes will descend to steal, vandalize and pillage.
You get the picture.  I finally said to her that it appears a visit is not going to work this time.  She very effectively manipulated it so I 'did the deed' to kibosh the whole thing.  I was annoyed and hung up.  I had no more than walked away from my phone when my text indicator went off.  It was her neighbor who had called to check in as our call ended.  Mom was complaining to her that I was so close but could not find the time or effort to be bothered to come see her, she further speculated that it was because she thought I thought I would be asked to help her with something.

My first thought was ... F_ck you.  (Not the neighbor, but my hoarding mother).  I am so done with all of this.  She has driven me nearly mad with her manufactured drama regarding being bitten by the neighbor's puppy and her ear infection, and her recent increase in really screwed up statements (charming things like the police should not have the ability to treat a narcotic OD and all druggies should die and she has not seen a movie since 'Home Alone' because all movies have nothing but screwing and killing and drugs).

I am still processing this, and I realize it is yet another gaslighting/ambient abuse tactic, but I am so sick of it.  I creep closer to making the decision of going from low contact to no contact.  And I know this latest bit of asshattery was a punishment for setting and maintaining boundaries... but who is being punished here, really?  I think she will be disappointed to know it is not me.  I have been able to make lovely plans with friends for dinner each night that I had previously held open, and my trip has been more pleasant.  I also never doubted that her view of our relationship is sharply transactional, and I do not measure up, and that I only exist as an extension of her... I am merely a supporting cast member in her drama with her as the protagonist.  

I am done.  I am not making any more efforts, no matter how minor, to accommodate her.  My friend pointed out that at 78 or 79, this quite possibly could have been the last time I saw her.  Honestly, I suspect she will outlive me, but I doubt she will be provided another opportunity to see me.  In the 16 years I have lived in an adjoining state (7 hours away) she has never attempted to visit, not even during any surgery that I have had.  Granted, that made my life much easier... but it also sent me a clear message.  

Just restating the obvious.  I have no biological family.  I have never had a mother, except my lovely grandmother who did the best she could to fill that gap.  However, I have the most amazing family of choice, my friends.  And my FOC is who I will focus my love, my friendship, and my efforts on.

Have a great evening everyone.  Thank you for reading.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Nearly 5 weeks later... I finally come up for air!

Took the day off today, and engaging in some self care.  Being a bit of a slug, lots of kitty love, and planning a long run here in the next hour or so.  This past month has been absolutely one of the busiest and most challenging grant and presenting seasons since I started my current position 8 1/2 years ago, and I just got through this onslaught.  It might not have been pretty, but it all got done.  A brief breath before the next cycle, but...  Enjoying the moment!

A lot has happened in the past 5 weeks.  Nothing earth-shattering, other than my hoarding, narcissistic mother's poor decisions and inability to see anything other than her own world view.  And as I have spoken of ever since the creation of this blog, she is getting steadily worse.  

Things that I am noticing that she is continuing to devolve on or has done that is just awful are:

  1. Her shallowness on appearance, weight, aging, natural disease progression.  Not a conversation goes by that she is not focused on a stranger's weight... "He is the biggest person I have ever saw!  I do not know how he could even walk.." This includes obsessing on folk's wrinkles, gray hair, and weight and either way, it never measures up to her standards or how she perceives her aging.
  2. Her delusions that she has a special relationship and connection with all animals.  She continues to give strangers 'snack baggies' with dog treats (she no longer has dogs) that she carries with her, and no one is the consummate pet parent she is, although she routinely abuses her cats by locking them in a carrier for hours if they 'misbehave' and smacks them with magazines.  This week she is going through the rabies shot series since a neighbor's puppy got out and she attempted to wrangle it into her yard, and got bitten for her efforts.  The pup is now in quarantine, taken by animal control that she called, and she has yet to speak to the neighbors, and did not let them know the night of the incident where their dog was.  
  3. Her assertions that she is psychic.  She keeps intoning "WHAT is GOING on?  This is CRAZY!" while talking about randomly 'thinking' about a person she went to school with, worked with, etc. then she immediately sees an obituary in the paper.  Do me a favor and don't think of me, okay?
  4. Her intentional cruelty to others.  Name calling, horrendously incendiary sarcasm and elitist, classist, sexist, and racist things pour out of her mouth.  She again called an overweight person a 'fat ass' and a 'fat pig' and was laughing and proud of it.  She also demonstrated how little she knows me or what I stand for when she stated that she was surprised at her own reaction, but she would expect that from me.  WHAT?!?!?  <<Head desk>>
  5. Her immense understanding of most everything based on a random experience 50 or 60 years ago.  She was going on about bones in food since an acquaintance she knew died in the 50's from a fishbone.  She takes everything to a unstable and unbelievable level of 'worst case scenario'.
  6. Her rumination, resentment, and decision to be miserable.  Yesterday she was telling a story where a relative lent one of her dresses to a relative and NEVER GOT IT BACK.  I suspect that a lost dress from the mid 50s has little relevance now, and everyone involved in the manufactured drama has been dead 30 or 40 years.  Let it GO.
  7. Her revisionist perspective of history.  I am simply amazed at her ability to recreate history in a way that suits her best.  Like my entire childhood.  Oof.
  8. Her inability to maintain reciprocal relationships or maintain set boundaries.  She has been kvetching incessantly on folks that she not only burned a bridge with, but actively launched a scorched earth campaign to destroy them and now she is miffed that they do not have anything to do with her.  REALLY?  I mean... REALLY?  Oh then there is the continued discussions of the hair on her lip, of skin tags, moles, and crusty feet.  GAK!
None of these are new things, but... OH MY.  Do they get recycled in a manner that is just patently painful.  Low insight, and no empathy.  It makes me so stinking sad for her, but I also have a shining example of what I do not want, and the diametric opposition of how I chose to live my life.  And I choose to live it at full volume.  

The wonderful things in life outnumber the challenges.  I have a crazy, busy job and side consulting business that I (both) simply adore.  I have my two diva kitty-cats, and I have my running efforts and the races I am training for... but most importantly, I have wonderful folks in my life that are more than friends, they are family.  I am focused on experiences and relationships, not things.  I hope I have my priorities right, and that I will continue to learn, and sometimes, heal from the experiences that shaped who I am.  I choose to live life at full volume!  I am celebrating my birthday (46) by jumping out of a plane with several friends.  I have many races to run, with two goals by winter... running a full marathon and running an obstacle race like a Tough Mudder or a Spartan.  I also enjoy my quiet moments alone, and I revel in every moment with my cats.

Life is good, it is peaceful, and I refuse to allow her to define (or defile) it. 

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Long work days, long phone calls, narcissism and hoarding...

This past month has been a busy one.  Unrelenting grant deadlines, work fundraisers, and time sensitive projects have been consuming my days, and evenings.  Despite my efforts for balance, I once again find myself working 75 hours a week, or more... Not including my consulting jobs on the side as well.  Not a 'look how/busy/important/martyred I am' statement, but just setting the stage that I am barely hanging on by my fingernails.  I am making time to work out/run 6 days a week, but due to the subzero temps and the snow and ice we keep being pelted with, my marathon training has not progressed the way I had hoped, and I am only 2 months out from the race I hoped to run.  With that being the case, I will need to re-prioritize, and move forward.  I have been trying to stay a bit more connected to friends (and failing miserably) and I have gone out on a couple of dates recently, and have gone out a handful of times with one gentleman in particular.  

I am still keeping my hoarding mother on the low contact plan, calling her 3-5 times a week for very limited amounts of time during my commute.  Her deterioration and her increased narcissistic behavior continues.  She is aware of my work expectations, consulting deadlines, and other things that I choose to tell her in very limited doses.  She is simply exhausting to talk to.  She continues to operate in a weird, paranoid worst case scenario type of mentality, and due to her mental illness has no ability to self regulate, self soothe, or see any other perspective but her own.  

Our conversations... if you can call them that... consist of her skipping from subject to subject, including her speculation about the neighbors, her nosey questions about things that are none of her concern (financial questions regarding folks and the like), a lot of fat shaming and appearance shaming of those she knows and those she does not know, violent and vigilante type ideations for manufactured affronts and long forgotten petty grudges, and bizarre and incorrect assumptions on a host of topics.  

It is absolutely sad.  At the beginning of the month my former brother-in-law (married to my half sister) committed suicide.  He and I had stayed in contact, and life had not gone well for him of late.  It was sad, ugly, and my heart broke that he was in so much physical pain that he did not see any way out but that way.  Then my mother got wind of his passing, and the probing, inappropriate and morbid questions began.  She wanted to know how he killed himself, if he had pets, how long it was until he was found, did he die instantly, did he still own the house he did, who that would go to... you get the idea.  And she was baffled and angry that I would not acknowledge that I knew anything or not, and kept repeating that those questions were not anyone's business and if she could not find another subject to discuss I would end the call, and I did.  

Next call, she would eventually come back to it.  She was absolutely excited to talk about it.  After about two weeks of lower contact, she has tried to be more subtle about her questions, and she has made several derogatory comments about my sister and the fact that her last husband committed suicide, and now an ex husband as well.

SERIOUSLY?  That is the connection she made?  I just ended the call immediately.  I am absolutely sickened... and dealing with the relative that was still in contact closely with him and knowing more details than I ever wanted to is disturbing enough.  This gentleman was always kind to me, was the only father my niece every knew, and I am sorry he is gone.  I wish him the peace he never found in this life.  

I know the next thing that is coming.  She will go to the county seat and get public records that include death certificates and the like.  And I hope for her sake she does not tell me.  When a guy I was dating in college was killed in a car accident, she went and got the death certificate and got her hands on the autopsy report.  I was beyond livid.  

It hit me that this is another form of hoarding... the insatiable need to ferret out information and the like.  I have to say that she simply exhausts me.  Her self reported arguments with the utility companies that she calls a half dozen times a week, and her over the top sarcasm and insults to the folks is deplorable at best, and she is proud of her intentional cruelty.  

All of this stems from the misuse of power and control, feeding her addiction (for stuff and gossip) and the narcissistic personality traits that many who are this extreme side of hoarding demonstrate.  

Is there a point to this post?  Not so much, sadly.  Life is extremely challenging, and rich in experience for me.  2015 has already been a hard, hard year for many close to me.  I am close to losing my nearly 18 year old cat and our final days, weeks, months are precious.  And my mother?  

She exists in a small world where little things become big things, then they become the only things.  She did not ask to be born mentally ill, or to grow up in the abusive home she did, acquiring a significant trauma history.  She does, however, choose to not address anything and to focus all blame onto everyone around her, then criticizes and 'drags her cross' that she is alone and has no one in her life to help her.  

I finally have, in a very direct fashion, told her that sometimes folks live to experience the consequences of their decisions.  Folks that will not allow others to connect, that cannot engage in reciprocal and not transactional relationships/friendships often end up alone.  It is sad, but those who choose to self isolate often end up getting their wish, with terrible consequences.

All I have to say is this will not end well.  Hoarding, no one wins.  No one.

Thank you for reading, and if you are in the snow and ice impacted areas tonight, please stay safe and warm.

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.