Thursday, April 17, 2014

Oh YES... It is that time... It is time for... FROM THE MOUTH OF A HOARDER!

Quite the varied list today, and these little gems are just from the past week.  I think the thing that is becoming more and more evident is the phenomena that many COH's refer to as 'hoardy speak', 'verbal vomiting', 'verbal diarrhea' or any other vernacular... it all describes the same types of self centered monologues that jump from ill defined segues to seemly unrelated topics. 

So, here we go.  FTMOAH for you...
"Do your cats get 'crusts' in their eyes? [Without pausing for a response] Well Lulu came over and I noticed [I will spare you the painful, obtuse, awkward description of eye hockey] so I got a hold on her and got a Kleenex and ever so slightly and slowly pulled on it and there was a tube of mucus attached the diameter of a pin!  Like a straight pin!  And there was no hair in it..."

I am not discussing 'mucus' with you.  What else would you like to talk about?

"Well, I could not believe how much mucus..."

Okay then!  Talk to you later. Buh bye.
"Well, they brought a TRAILER in next door.  It is an old one, and I think where they put it it is over the old septic tank the [previous neighbors] stopped using [in 1985 when the sewer came through] and won't that be a bigger mess!  I swear... "

Not your concern, and if you did not want that you could have purchased the property.  And honestly, you know nothing about these folks, and it is not like a trailer is going to hurt the property values in that neighborhood much since there are several within sight.

"Who wants to live in a TRAILER PARK?!?!?  I wonder what the zoning is because I just bet..."

Change the subject.  It is not like the neighborhood hosts Buckingham Palace, and honestly that neighborhood has seriously declined.  Honestly, the trailer might improve things.  

"What do you mean?"

Go outside and take a look at your fence, and your property, then ask me that again.

"You know how I thought there were no kids?  I saw a couple walking to the bus!  It is soooo STRANGE!  You do not see anyone out!  I do not know who those kids belong to!"

You have to interact with people to know them.

"I just want to be left alone!"

"I saw a guy walking with headphones in, and he was walking fast!  He was so big!  He was easily 400 pounds and I am sure he could not walk far... [clucking her tongue disapprovingly]"

Change the subject please.  You cannot necessarily gauge someone's health, strength, endurance by weight.  And fat shaming someone?  No thank you.

She is really getting worse, and more and more negative.  

Hoarding, no one wins.  No one.  

Thank you for reading...

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Bang... bang... bang... That is the sound of my head repeatedly striking my desk.

This week I have been graced with two calls from my mother's sister, who is also on the hoarding scale and shows the narcissistic behavior common to many severe hoarders, without the immediate cruelty.  She has to be 'provoked' but she has integrated the whole 'revenge' or vigilante outlook that is characteristic of my mother.  But that is another story, for another time.

For those of you who have not read before, I have very few surviving relatives.  Sadly, the ones I do have, almost all of them demonstrate behavior consistent with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Hoarding, and also show power/control/addictive features.  The only time one of them contacts me is when they want something.  Money.  Information. To dump some bit of unpleasantness to further whatever secondary agenda they have going.  It is simply exhausting.  A gentleman I used to see for a few months once asked how it was possible that I turned out the way I did with the outlook I have, when my family is so manipulative.  That is easy... I had an intervening adult... my paternal grandmother.  Without her, I would have been lost. 

But anyway, late last week my aunt calls.  'Mimsy' goes on and on about this refinancing she has to do since the bank messed up her attempt and now her payment is higher, etc.  She also had to get a loan to do repairs on her 20 year old minivan, and the cost of the repairs honestly exceed the actual cash value of the van.  She speaks in the rapid fire verbal vomiting common to hoarders, and I have honestly done other things and not said a word for an hour, two hours...  She finally got to the point and asked me for money.  She only has $67 after her bills are paid each month for gas and food, etc.  

I have no problem helping someone that needs it, if my assistance is going to allow them to return to self sufficiency, or levy other resources.  This is not that case, as she is 70 years old and has a 20 year mortgage and is on Social Security.  She is living beyond her means.  I advised her that I would consider it AFTER we met, and I reviewed her income, her expenses, her eligibility for assistance like heating and electric assistance, food banks, and eligibility for subsidized housing, as her health does not allow her to care for the house she has.  

That was not popular, and the call ended pretty quickly after that offer.

Today, the phone rings and I snagged it.  It was nearly 11am.  She was fast talking and panicked.  She immediately asked if she woke me up.  Um... NO.  I get up between 5am - 6am every morning, working or not.  I was getting ready for a run.  I shared I ran my first 5K race post-op from the major health crisis I had this summer/fall.  She has no frame of reference, and immediately moved on to why she was calling.  Her bank might need an appraisal, and she does not know how she would pay for it, since they will not allow it to be rolled into the principle of the loan.  She was starting to hem and haw, trying to figure out how to ask.  I advised her that she should talk to her loan officer and ask about options for a credit increase on her credit card, or getting a signature loan.  That was not what she had in mind.  She was going to ask me to pay it, and she could 'pay me back'.  Um... NO.  I reiterated my offer to help her explore options and to develop a meaningful budget that is supported by social service programs she is eligible for.  She declined.  

The call ended relatively quickly again.  My 1/2 sister used to pull this type of crap too.  It simply amazes me how naive they assume me to be, that I cannot see their grooming efforts and their machinations.  There is a reason I live hours away from all of them.  Apparently, even to them, I do not exist as a separate human being with goals, dreams, desires... I am simply an Ativan salt lick, an emotional tampon, or worse, an ATM.

Thank goodness for the family I have created... because my maternal family is incapable of having reciprocal relationships, everything for them is transactional, and singular in nature.  Sadly, the few remaining on my dad's side are in their 80's, frail, and I simply do not know them.  I choose to live hours away, and if anything, I will move FARTHER AWAY at the time I choose to leave this area.  My health, my happiness, and my emotional quotient all depend on keeping firm boundaries and lots of space between my mother and her family.

Hoarding.  No one wins.  No one.  Thank you for reading!  

Meme time again, sent to me by readers!

Monday, March 17, 2014

And we arrived at Crazy Assumption-town at warp speed!

Oh dear...

My mother's neighbor called her today.  My hoarding mother had been obsessing over when she would return from vacation and clucking over her neighbor's schedule and by extension, wasteful spending.  

The neighbor has 2 small dogs, both of the miniature or teacup variety.  Long story short, one passed away due to Pancreatitis, and the little dog was only 5 or 6 years old.  Sad.

As I expressed my empathy and condolences for the neighbor, my hoarding mother was starting to obsess on the dog's young age, and suddenly interjected this gem...

"You know that Pancreatitis is caused by feeding an animal 'people food' and I just wonder... You know 'that guy' [the neighbor's live in fiance'] has a dog and although [the neighbor] claims all the dog gets is dog food, I just wonder... He has a dog and I bet he feeds it table scraps all the time because that is how men are, and he is so big!  I just bet that..."

[Interrupting her monologue...] You know that is a huge, huge leap of assumptions, right?  Sometimes young beings die.  Sometimes the reason is not linear or causal.  

"Well!  Why I think that is when I asked what she was going to do with the body she said she would bury the dog, and that she would 'do it herself'."

So based on that you have decided he intentionally or unintentionally killed her dog?  It could not be due to the fact he is 15 years her senior (the man is in his mid 70's) and has just had surgery and has back problems?  Or that the little dog was hers long before he came into her life, and that it just feels right to do this?  Wow.  WOW.  Gotta go!


Seriously?  How sodding mean and non-compassionate.  Instead of offering support, she is judging.  And coming up with an ugly thread to the story.  How can I take anything she says as based in any sort of reality?  I cannot.  That is the answer...

Just a wee vent.  Have a great rest of your week.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

It is that time... It is time for... FROM THE MOUTH OF A HOARDER!

Been a bit serious here in the blog for a bit.  It is time for another installment of FTMOAH!
"Does your cats get a 'crust' in the corner of their eyes?... [Goes into graphic description of the eye hockey of one of the cats and her crazy method of removing it]..."


"Not at all?  Well, 3 of mine do, and I cannot figure out why.  They are not sick, not running a temperature, but ...[description of eye gunk and the effervescent sneezing of one of the cats]... I cannot figure out why.  I think it is the furnace running.  That has to be it..."

My furnace runs, and my cats do not have that.  Do you think it might be the dust, mold spores, etc. from all the piles of stuff?

<Changes subject>
"...[Fat shaming one of her cats]... then again, one of your cats is pretty fat too..."

Not anymore.  Has not been since her strokes in 2008 and her brush with death/septic blood infection in 2010.  She weighs 8 lbs now.

"EIGHT POUNDS?  How old is she?  17?  Oh, Lisabeth, she is going to DIE SOON!  Don't make the mistake I made with ... [veers into the bad end of one of her cats that she had live until almost 22 years old]..."

Gotta go.  Not having this conversation.
"...[Fat shaming a young woman she saw at Walmart earlier that day]... she had to be 3 feet wide and when she turned sideways, she was that thick at least... <clucking tongue> that is TERRIBLE..."

Change the subject, please.

"Why?  All I am saying is..."

Oh, I am very clear on what you are saying.  I have heard that particular refrain my entire life.  STOP fat shaming and commenting on people's weight, appearance, aging process, or disability to me please.  You do remember that I once was morbidly obese and weight continues to be an up and down struggle?  Not listening to this anymore.  Now can we talk about something else?  No?  Okay- bye then. <Click>   

I had a recruiter contact me about a position that is available in Hawaii.  Just to give her something else to obsess on rather than the normal  5 or 6 subjects, I mentioned it.  And I was correct, she is stewing in her own juices about it.  

"What would you do with your cats if you move to Hawaii?"

They would go with me.

"How?  They would DIE.  They would never survive that trip in an airplane."

It is 19 hour flight with stops, and so I would drive ...

"...[Cutting me off] You cannot DRIVE to HAWAII!  You CANNOT DRIVE OVER WATER! ..."

Um... if you would let me finish.  Depending on if I got a relocation package, (if I did, I would ship my belongings and car from the East Coast) if not or a smaller one, I would rent a truck and tow the car, and the cats and I would drive it to a port in CA.  It would be rough, but I could do it in 3-4 days, then ship the truck contents and my car over...

"Yes, your car... You just had to have that car... what will you do with it?"

Ship it over as well.  But, I need to look at the job and the specs they sent, see if the income will be sufficient for the higher cost of living, and what relocation would be involved.  It is NOT a different country.  HI is part of the US.  The cats will be fine.

"No.  They will not.  They. Will. Die."

Gotta go!  <Click>   
The cat stuff is another attempt to get under my skin.  She knows I am simply nuts about my cats, that they are my furry family.  She is constantly inferring that I am a poor pet parent since my one cat passed due to brain cancer at age 13, and my other kitty due to kidney issues at age 12 or 13 (turns out she was much older than the rescue reported, which does not matter to me either way).  My eldest kitty is almost 17, and the younger one is almost 10.  My eldest has had significant health issues her entire life.  Kidney issues, strokes, seizure disorder, slight spine injury at birth, and arthritis.  She is thin and is losing her hearing, but is on my lap playing with the tie on my blouse as I type this, purring her little heart out.  My other kitty is asleep on the bed behind me, and she has a serious heart murmur and osteo arthritis from the broken bones (abuse) she had as a kitten- but is my little comedian and acrobat.  They are pampered and loved.   If this does not get her anywhere, she will try to find another way to get under my skin.  Good luck with that.

The last call with her she kept asking about what different folks jobs or pensions pay.  Each time I simply told her I did not know, if she was that curious, ask the person.  Each time that elicited sputtering and demurrals.  I am keeping her on the 2-3 calls a week plan.  It keeps me sane, and the days where I do not talk to her are so much less stressful.    

Ahhh.  Hoarding.  No one wins.  No one.  Enjoy your week!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

I have no words to name this one...

For those of you of you who regularly read, (and I thank you!) my blogs are documenting my hoarding mother's continued slide into paranoia and abject misery.

Two most recent points to note:

Her absolute conviction that a neighbor is stalking her, has been in her house, steals from her daily, and has had her in a rifle scope (she states she saw the laser sight beam following her).  

Her absolute refusal to be part of her own solution.  For anything.  

To the first point, she has now purchased multiple driveway alarms.  Click here to see the Harbor Freight description of the alarm.  They are cheap and battery operated.  She has had one in her kitchen for many, many months to alert her if the cats get up on the sink.  <Ahem>  She is now obsessing and determining strategic locations to place them, and is considering buying a video baby monitor to monitor the garage.  She already has an intercom system to the garage that is on listen mode all the time.  She has gotten huffy that when she starts this trajectory of monologue I either ask her to discuss something else, ask her if she has done any of the safety planning/stalking protocol things we have discussed (one example can be viewed here), or I end the call.  

The first segueing into the second point...  Her refusal to be part of the solution.  The natal point of this blog was a Derecho that hit her area hard in late June/early July of 2012.  She was without power for many days, and through her decisions, she made a truly difficult situation horrific.  You can read that blog entry, 'The Derecho and the Elderly Hoarder', here.)  I had attempted to send her a generator and attempted to problem solve with her, both at the time, and after.  She is not having it.  I worked to develop a safety plan with her after she was bitten by one of her cats and required emergency hospitalization and surgery.  No go there, either.  That happened in July of 2010.  For nearly 4 years (and LONGER) I have attempted to work with her on contingency/emergency preparedness, safety planning.  And this type of strategy?  It is the basis of the past 25 years of my career.  So I do know just a small bit about it.   But,  unless it comes from Dr. Oz, Oprah, or a Wonderful Stranger in a doctor's office waiting room or shopping at Walmart, it carries no weight with her.

So... After an extremely busy and personally stressful week, I was dropped off by two friends, and was awaiting the arrival of two others to go to dinner and shopping.  My text message indicator sounds, and it is my hoarding mother's neighbor, the one I have contact with and who tries to check in on her from time to time.  She was going to call my mother to ask if she needed something from Lowes, and wanted me to call her and talk her into allowing her to purchase a generator for her to have, as another major winter storm is bearing down and was to arrive today with massive icing and snow accumulations.  Her neighbor expressed several frustrations:

  1. That my hoarding mother keeps her cell phone number such a zealous secret from EVERYONE.  I am actually surprised she gave it to me.  It does little good to have it, as she never has it turned on.
  2. She refuses to take common sense and reasonable preparation steps to ensure that she is not in a crisis if something unexpected happens.  And it is not a money thing, she is very, very secure and has the funds.
  3. She refuses to listen to anyone, but is furious if people do not treat her advice as gospel.
  4. She will not let anyone do anything for her, then is angry that no one helps her.  She honestly expects people to know what she wants, when she wants it, and how she wants it without being told.  And what she wants is often CRAZY.  

I told the neighbor I appreciated her efforts, and this was a lost cause.  She agreed.  Although she gets and supports my staying away, I got a good helping of the Appalachian expectation to fix this for my mother.

I cannot fix it.  Mother is the only one that can... and she refuses.  She did not ask for the trauma in her life, the abuse.  She did not ask for the severe mental illness she is locked into.  Where I hold her accountable is her refusal to do ANYTHING to help herself, and the impact her behavior has on others... and the impact it had on me... an innocent child who did not 'ask' for what I got growing up, and still do not 'ask' for what I get now.  <Sigh>  But I realize that I cannot do it for her, and the only person I can help/change is myself.  My one success is I shall never put a child through the utter hell I experienced growing up, and the wrenching mess that I am still involved in as an adult because I choose to maintain a relationship with her, honestly, for my own safety.  If I totally estranged, her harassment, her stalking, and her propensity for physical violence/harm and scorched-earth revenge would be unequalled for me and all those close to me.  All from a tiny, frail looking 78 (?) year old woman that walks with a cane...  

Hoarding.  No one wins.  NO ONE.

Thank you for reading.