Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Okay folks, it is time for From the Mouth of a Hoarder!

Today's FTMOAH is a doozy... 

In the US many high schools and universities put out cards that have a local contact that is part of the Alumni contact, but is basically a multi-class directory that is then sold to folks.  I had thought those had gone by the wayside like many publications of that sort, displaced by social networking media and the internet.

Nope.  I received three, one for my high school, one for the university I attended for undergraduate and one for my graduate school.  The cards immediately went into shred folder, not because I am secretive, but because folks who know me are already connected via social networking sites, and I am wise to how this particular scenario plays out.  Nothing bad, and for some, quite enjoyable.  

My hoarding mother got one.  And she went simply ballistic... Calling the 1-800 number and demanding to 'be removed from the list NOW!' and telling the hapless call center person her dramatic and sad story...  A story that I have heard nearly 5 million times that includes:

  • She was not allowed to go to parties or to socialize so why would she now?
  • All she did was go to class and then go to work.  
  • She did not have any friends in school, so she does not know or care about 'those people'.
  • A long, drawn out story about someone who came into her cake and candy supply shop in the basement of her home in the early 80s who told her they told the reunion committee for her class her address and she went absolutely batsh^t crazy on that person, screaming 'Why?  WHY? I do not want anything from them!' and similar sentiments.
  • How she has never attended a reunion and does not intend to start now.
She planned to go into the local Alumni contact's office, who happens to be our former insurance agent, and she loathes him.  She planned to go in and demanding that her information not be included, and telling him what she thinks...

You get the idea.  Another person I should send flowers to when she is gone.  It is just so sad.  Granted, I took the 'geographical solution' and 'poofed' on many folks from high school, and I own that behavior, and I know I have hurt many folks I did not mean to, I just needed to be able to live and do so from outside the shadow of the hoard, or her toxicity.

I feel I had little choice... but the friendships, both consistently maintained and rediscovered are precious.  It saddens me that my mother makes the choices she does.  And as we all know, choices wreak consequences, both positive and negative, as well as natural and contrived.

Have a good one, and thank you for reading.  And please keep our former insurance agent in your positive thoughts.  He may need them!  

Hoarding... No one wins.  NO ONE.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Flying monkeys, wonderful strangers, and a whole helping of guilt for Lisabeth....

I received this last night about 9pm. Yesterday was a supremely craptastic day at work, and all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and I got this via social media.  I was so angry that I was trembling like I was freezing to death in subzero temperatures.  I was very triggered, and felt waves of anger, frustration, guilt, shame, you-name-it.  I cried and scared my cats.

The person sending this graduated from high school with me in my hometown 7 hours away. She is my mother's chiropractor, and her longest running 'wonderful stranger' and now, applicant to be a 'flying monkey' in Narcissistic Mother speak...

I was nearby to my NM in early April, and my mother could not be anything but a problem to any solution and, long-story-short... Declined to see me.

She has not seen me since April of 2013, three months before I nearly died and required 2 major surgeries in 10 months, (the first I was not expected to survive). In the 16 years I have lived in the state that is now my home she has never visited, and besides her toxicity, gaslighting, emotional abuse with  all the pleasant features of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, she is a level 4/5 hoarder, ergo this blog. It is not physically nor emotionally safe to be near her. As those who have read this blog over the past couple of years know, I have been extremely low contact for years.

Today is my birthday, and so far no acknowledgement of it from NM. (Not that I want a princess cake and a bouncy castle, but a timely card and a Happy Birthday call would be, well, motherly.)
Did I mention I loathe all the Mother's Day pathos?

Thanks for reading my vent. I treated myself to a new runner watch/GPS/fitness tracker that I have been looking at for a few months.  I had a lovely morning run in the May sunshine.  I am having a great work day, and plan on a lovely evening. I am over this...  

I did respond to 'Dr. Wednesday'.  My response was as follows:  

I appreciate your honesty and your kind care of her. She thinks the world of you. I tried to see her last month, and she declined. Our relationship is very complicated, and as much as I love her, she will not allow me to be a part of her life in the way that I would like to be or to do anything helpful for her. It breaks my heart, but she is the only one that can change it, and she just can't. If you would like to talk to me my number is ....

I know that Dr. Wednesday is close to her family and may not have a frame of reference.  I also do not believe the timing of this (the evening before my birthday and midweek prior to Mother's Day in the US) is coincidental.  My hoarding mother had a chiro visit with her yesterday.  

Such a little thing, and the maelstrom it awakened in me made me realize that although I have progressed by leaps and bounds, I have to accept that I have been impacted by the abuse I survived, and the craziness I still navigate now as a middle aged adult.  
It (the hoarding, the abuse, the gaslighting) is not who I am, but it has shaped me.  I have to continue to honor and resolve that, like any other human being.

Thank you for reading.  Have a great week.

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