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!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

I wonder if we can do a Hoarding Show that is a spoof of the Twilight Zone?

My conversation with my hoarding mother was a hodge-podge of all her usual strategies and manufactured drama, but she has some new scenarios but same old modus operandi.  The highlights of this conversation included:

She finally had the test she was scheduled for the day she hit the deer.  Or according to her, the day the deer hit HER.  Anyway, apparently she needs a stress test as it appears she has a blockage.  She has been complaining of symptoms that appear vascular in nature for years... edema, more pronounced in the left leg, shortness of breath, the list goes on... But she has successfully blocked any opportunity to diagnose the source of her concerns.  It also hit me that after all the drama she hyped about temporal arteritis, she has not mentioned it for weeks, and I believe she never did have the test.  She was started on treatment, but I am not clear if she is still taking the antibiotics.  It is only her eyesight, cognition, etc. that is at risk!  So with this potential heart blockage, it is hard to tell what the deal truly is.  She has a significant family history of it, and already the denial is beginning.  She states that she does not understand how this is possible since she 'does not eat junk' and 'never adds table salt.  

Seriously?  Most everything this woman eats comes through a drive through window or is some highly processed crap from a box or a can.  I am just gobsmacked.  And not to make this about me, but it also hit me that with my father dying of heart disease as most if not all of his family has, and with her potentially having heart disease, I will need to continue to work to eat healthy and to exercise as I am post menopausal, and this also has impact for my estranged 1/2 sister.  But I digress...  

Her conversation moves on to a two women with several foster kids moving into the large house across the street.  She is continuing her assault on at least 3 other neighbors who have the misfortune of living near her/moving near her, and now she has another person or family to antagonize and obsess over.  Another group of folks to add to the list to send flowers to!  

She is also obsessing about being on an antiretroviral medication to help avoid another outbreak of the shingles, and is less than thrilled that it is a medication that is advertised heavily on TV to treat herpes simplex infections.  God forbid anyone think she had herpes!  The horror!  I gleefully advised her that shingles, chicken pox, etc. was a form of the herpes virus.  I just gave her something to think about...

There is much more, but I will save that for the next episode of 'From the Mouth of a Hoarder'... Coming soon!

As always, thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Serendipity... Back to where we started

The first blog on NotMyHoardingMother was about the events of the June 2012 Derecho that impacted much of the region where my hoarding mother lives.  If you would like to read this entry without going back 130 entries, you can find it here.  

Yesterday I was returning home from a long work day, and I called my mother.  She sounded tired, and stated that she decided to clean the upright freezer.  The same one that had food ruin in it 27 months ago when she was without power for over a week in 90+ degree temperatures and over 90% humidity.  

Her statement?  "Well, it is down there... I might as well use it!"

After all her discussion of having it and the chest freezer hauled away (or totally hoardy, cutting off the cord and using them as storage).  I can only imagine how utterly disgusting that was, and how gross the freezer still is.  She was not listening to anything I had to say about the risk to her cleaning it now, much less storing food she intends to consume in it?

I give up.  She will do as she wants.  

Hoarding... No one wins.  No one.

Thank you for reading!

Monday, September 8, 2014

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

Bang.  Bang.  Bang.

That is the sound on my head on the steering wheel when I call my hoarding mother and she takes a left turn into absolute... Well, judge for yourself...
Let me set the stage for this one.  Last Friday night I attended a Gala in a town 50 minutes away from my home.  I left early 10:30pm as I had a bit of a drive and had been up since 4:30am that morning.  My phone rang and it was my hoarding mother.  She had just picked up her 20 year old Honda from the autobody/collision center in her town (see the previous 2 blogs for THAT story if you are interested) and she had only had the car home 6 hours and was already starting her stuff.

"What is a fender skirt?  Why I am asking is when I look in the wheel well I see a circular rod and..."
That is your strut.  It is fine.  [Explain what a fender skirt is, how it attaches, and what she would see if it were not there...]  "Well, I have NEVER seen that round thing before behind the tire... All I could think is 'here we go again!' and I ..."  Gotta go.  Goodnight.

The next day...
"I found a rubber... well, let me try to describe this... [awkward and useless description of a rubber square with a hole in the center]... What is that to?"  Um... shove it through the phone and perhaps I can tell you...  

"Is there supposed to be a rubber gasket all the way around the hood?"  No.  "Well why not?"  Because it doesn't need it.  "Well I think it should have it!  I think..."

Also today, but a brief respite from the car drama...

"I saw in Dear Abby that it is insulting to call the partner of a gay person their 'friend'.  What is wrong with it?"  <<headsteeringwheel>>

Thanks for reading!  Have a great week!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Yep. I just had to call this morning. Update to yesterday's post.

Oh. Dear. God.

For a moment there, I apparently forgot that the universe revolves around my hoarding mother.  How dare I forget that!

In my 9/1/2014 post I blogged about her inability to get out of her own way to deal with a minor car accident involving a deer.

Also, this weekend was a holiday, a 3 day weekend for me since it was Labor Day.  A lovely weekend spent with friends, good food, and running/training for a half marathon.  I ran a total of 21 1/2 miles in three days, and 9.5 of that was yesterday.  Where this is relevant is my iPhone 5 picked mile 7.5 to die.  And it really died, not just ran out of battery power.  I took a slightly shorter way home, and found it would not charge.  After a quick shower I took the phone to the phone carrier's store in the local mall, and they confirmed that it was done for. 

"He's dead, Jim!"  <Sorry for the Star Trek reference.>

Anyway, I was incommunicado from 12 noon until after 6:30pm, and I broke out my little back up TracPhone.  No data, no hotspot, and since it is a flip phone, I am NOT texting.  My new phone arrives Wednesday.

So this morning I checked my iPhone VM remotely.  I had a rather pissy sounding message from my mother just dripping with condescension.  "Lisabeth, I know you have company this weekend but I need 5 minutes of your time- I have a question that needs an immediate answer.  Call me when you get this."  She called at 6:20pm, and I retrieved it at 7am when I came back in from my run/workout.  

I called her on my way in to work.  She was PISSED when she answered the phone.  I explained my phone was dead, and asked her what she needed.  She began to go off on how she will never ask the acquaintance with a husband with late stage Alzheimer's for anything again, and she is not helping her again, and how the neighbor down back (the one I spoke to on Friday who did not know about the deer strike) told her that she was busy and was leaving to go out of town that weekend (when she talked to her and DID NOT TELL HER she did not have her car).  So we are firmly within the halls of petty grudges and overblown misunderstandings.  They are supposed to READ HER MIND and understand that she might want them to drop everything at an inconvenient time and take her to the rental car place on a holiday weekend.

I switched the conversation back to what she needed, and heard the whole chapter and verse about how worthless her insurance company and the rental car place is, how she is calling the insurance commissioner to make a complaint, how she is finding new car insurance immediately, how she has a call into the regional manager of the rental car place and wants all involved fired, yadda yadda yadda.

Oy vey.  

She simply cannot get out of her own way to be part of her own solution, and her lack of empathy/inability to see any perspective other than her own is absolutely GOBSMACKING.

This is not going to end well.  Right now she is heralding the body shop owner as the hero, and the person is on a pretty high pedestal.  I suspect that fall will be hard and dramatic when mother goes to pick up her car and discovers that there is no way to make the repairs invisible on a 20 year old, three stage metallic paint job on an old Honda.

Thank you for reading!