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.

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.