Friday, September 28, 2012

Gloating gets you what?

Wow.  Another phone call with my hoarding mother.  She was bursting with happiness... but the in the way you would expect.  It was more a malevolent capering glee... You see, the neighbor that she HATES just got busted for driving during his license suspension.  Last year he picked up his second or third DUI.  

Now- I do not personally like or dislike this person.  I have little opinion one way or the other.  I do hear about all the things that my mother has blamed him for which include:

  • Posing a dead cat in a snowbank off and on over the course of a day
  • Stuffing leaves and twigs in the rain downspout
  • Entering without breaking into her hoarded garage (see the Derecho Post for why that is unlikely)
And so it goes..  

It saddens me that her life is so small, so bereft of the little and larger happiness that allows most of us to focus on the positive, on others besides ourselves.  The negativity, the rumination, and the violent fantasizing make me sad.  And tired.  And angry.  But mostly sad... for her.   

I think about her inability to let go of any perceived slight or petty misunderstanding ... and her inability to let go of things that she hoards her house, her garage, her life with.

How empty, and how sad.  I wish better for her.  I wish her to be happy.  I wish for a mother that I could visit, that would visit me, and that I could have a typical (whatever THAT is) conversation.  But it is not to be.  I have never had that.  

Hoarding.  No one wins.  No one.  

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Out of the mouth of a hoarder... or alternate title... you cannot fix batshit crazy.

Sometimes I just have to accept that folks that are close to me are going to say things that I cannot wrap my mind around... things that make me cringe that they actually THINK or believe, but they actually say, then go on the attack when they are gently questioned or other information to the contrary is offered. This post might be updated from time to time, and will continue to be direct quotes.

As a therapist friend of mine once said... sometimes folks are batshit crazy.

And the quotes are: 

"Why is it you only see blond haired white women with ... [whispered] black men?"
... Okay ... how many interracial couples have you experienced in your lifetime?
"Nicole Brown Simpson on the TV and a couple I saw at Walmart."

"Why do the channels have nothing but the crap in Egypt? I could care less what happens over there. Does not matter to me."
... after a prolonged discussion of oppression, misuse of power, civil rights...
"I don't care about any of that... I am missing my TV shows or have to keep changing channels."

"I cannot believe the Post Office nor the Library have tax forms available. I intend to complain. It used to be that they had shelves and shelves of them."
Pointed out that most folks e-file, have someone e-file for them, or download the forms themselves.
"Well- I am sure that I am not in a minority that does not use a computer or the internet crap."
Um- you are.
"I am sure all old people do not use the computer."

"Why do [checkout people and fast food workers] talk to me? I want to order, pay and get out."
2 hours later...
"I am so mad I could KILL. I went into Walmart and the checkout person did not say a word to me!!!! I am calling the manager... I have the receipt. Who does that jerk think she is?"

"I am putting [a certain frozen item] in the chest freezer. It keeps it so much colder."
Isn't the temperature the same as the upright freezer?
"Yes, but when I open the door the cold air does not come out at all and it all leaves the upright one."

Phone call that wakes me up during a Sunday afternoon nap... after working a 78 hour work week....
"Do you have the gloves I talked about sending you"
(Keep in mind, these are gloves that have been at her house since approximately 1991)
NO- I told you that earlier today- like 2 hours ago.
"What did I send you in the last three packages?"
Christ I do not know... but the gloves were not in them and are not a priority...
"How do you KNOW I did not already send them to you..."
Because I live a minimalist existence and know each and every item in my house, and where it is located.
"I thought I would get your voice mail"
UM- I am ON-CALL 24/7 and have been for the last 6 FRIGGING YEARS!

Referring to a family friend...
"It would not hurt the kids to come by and take care of their father..."
Um- he is an abusive SOB to his current wife, their mother, and any other wife he has had, and he has been a puke to the kids. He should kiss their feet they even speak to him...
"Well, he has given them a lot of money over the years."
Like THAT makes up for the childhood they lost ....

Panicked phone call- said with high drama "What color was your bike?"
You mean my childhood ones? I had a blue one, a purple one, and a red one...
Painful oral description of my 32 year old 10 speed...
Yep- that's it.
"Oh- I was afraid that someone broke into the building and switched out the bicycle."
Why would someone do that?
"You know how people are."

After informing that I am on my way out of town to catch a flight for a consulting job...
"What about your cats?"
It is just overnight. They will be fine.
"What if you do not come back?"
Pittsburgh IS like the Bermuda Triangle. Seriously?? Someone would miss me on Monday when I did not show up to spread sunshine and light to my staff.

Upon advising this person I had bought a winter hat...
"You know what I do?"
"I buy a $2 toboggan and put plastic wrap under it and tinfoil on top of it to keep my head warm. I would never pay $20 on sale for a HAT."
So- does that keep your thoughts away from the aliens?
Like M.Night Shyamalan's movie Signs?
"You are not funny. I try to give you a helpful tip and see how you are. You are a SMART ASS!"


"Aren't most or all people from New York Catholic?"
Um... NO. And just FYI- NYC and the state of New York are not interchangeable...

"Did you go to school with any that were... um... (stage whisper) that way?"
What way?
OH JESUS CHRIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"How did (a lesbian from my graduating class in High School) know that she was that persuasion?"
It is NOT a persuasion. It is an orientation. How did you know you are heterosexual?
"Why... I was raised that way!"
WOW. Seriously?

"I have had the weirdest thing happen to me today..."
**crickets chirping**
"Are you going to ask me what?"
"Anyway... I am hearing choral music. Inside the house, outside the house, in the car, even in the bathroom."
Are you taking your meds?
"No... why do you ask?"

"I am going to ask you a question and I want an answer!"
"You are over 40..."
"Do you have vaginal dryness? Mine drives me CRAZY!"
Oh... that is what did it...
"What? Anyway.. (launches into long monologue of her issue and strategies to correct it... and I hang up on her...)"

There have been many more, but in the interest of keeping this blog under 1,100 words (which is about 300 words too many) I will stop here. Only one more kvetch...

Repeated phrases that drive me batshit crazy... because they are uttered at least 5 times a conversation...
"Stop and think..."
"That's UNREAL."

My worst fear was almost a reality...

This is a vent blog entry from January of this year.  Sharing...
Recently, working my last nerve is my mother delaying surgery to remove a mass on her thyroid.  Update on that, the surgery is still scheduled although she postponed it from 1/3 to 1/9 because she has too much to do to be at the hospital to check in at 6:30am and wants a 10am slot or later.  I predict her walking out if the doctor runs behind... To be continued...  I guess 6 more days is not a big deal after 2-3 years of avoidance of this thing.  And NO, I am not going home.

Anyway-on to my reason for posting...

I called her the evening of Christmas Day which is her birthday as well, to wish her a Merry Xmas and Happy Birthday.  She received my cards, and our conversation was normal for us.  A little background... I took the geographical solution after high school, and since moving out of state in 1999 have only been home 2 times, and to the same town maybe 3 times.  Our contact is now limited to phone for my self preservation.  Anyway, I hear this loud pounding noise and she whispers, "Did you hear that?!  What is that?!". Like I know!  

Long story short, it is her neighbors trying to kick her front door in since the next door neighbor's house is on fire and vehicle gas tanks are exploding, ammunition is going off, and her grass is on fire.  Now, no mowing for months, no raking, and her fence is locked, double storms over the windows, the water hose is shut off from inside, and she disconnected the doorbell because it scares the cats, 11 nearly feral cats inside, and the front door is completely blocked off, goat paths only and stuff piled at least waist high to ceiling high EVERYWHERE.  The neighbors are stomping fire in the yard, throwing stuff on her roof to put out burning leaves and desperately trying to get her attention/get her out.

She opens the side door and sees the neighbors house, and I can hear her reaction, and she finally tells me what is happening.  I tell her to call 9-1-1 NOW NOW NOW! and to turn on the water hose, and I hang up.  She lives in a rural appalachia, no fire hydrants, dirt road, etc.  the closest fire stations are 4 miles and 7 miles respectively.  The Cliff's Notes on the situation, the folks next door had just sat down to holiday dinner when the homeowner heard something, opened the garage door, and saw fire.  He got his wife, two daughters, and three grandkids out.  Barefoot, no purses wallets, lost all vehicles, including those in the driveway... And the house is a total loss.  Burnt flat.  Several houses nearby have fire/heat damage, and the grass in my mother's yard is burned within 10 feet of her house.  She has siding and roof damage, but her roof was already trashed from hail a few months ago.  That she is delaying repairing.  In the 2 days since... This is where my angst comes in...

1-It has become all about HER and her INCONVENIENCE of it all, and her fear and drama

2-She is obsessing on it yet does not acknowledge the level of danger that was incurred by her HOARDING and paranoia

3-Is now firmly ensconced in the museum of petty grudges as she and the neighbors who lost their home have not spoken for nearly 40 years (and guess who initiated THAT???)

I have posted on my FB about it, and when I find out who is collecting for them I plan to send a donation and post that too since many of my FB friends are in that area.  

My HP is against this and has:
-pointed out they don't speak and it was their fault
-criticized their child rearing
-criticized the woman's decision to be a stay at home mom
-criticized the woman's pride in her yard
-criticized the woman's choice to color her hair at 60 something years old
-pointedly stated that they did not contribute to the flower collection for my father when he passed in 1989 (she nastily, and in the most ugly way ever, REFUSED IT anyway!)

The list goes on and on. I informed her that none of that matters, and they could be the worst people ever, but they LOST EVERYTHING, and I am doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do.  Now in every conversation, I can almost hear her mind working, trying to figure out how to control my donating cash to them.

My heart breaks for this family.  They raised their kids and are helping raise their grandchildren.  Just nice folks.

Narcissism sucks.  Hoarding sucks.  And I am flatly just sick of it.

One humorous thing... In the dark sick sense of humor I have ... 

Yesterday she said how terrified that the fire would flare again (it poured rain all day) and when I pointed that out to her she said, "Yeah, but the roots of grass can catch on fire and it can burn underground and spread and this can happen for a long time afterward!  Weeks or months sometimes!".  I had to get off the phone before I laughed audibly and made things worse.  Ai yi YI!!!!!

The Derecho and the Elderly Hoarder

Friday, June 29, 2012
A Derecho hit a large swatch of the northeastern United States.  My home state was hit, and my home town was hit hard.  A Derecho is basically a 'land hurricane' and it left many folks in many states without power, water, and other essentials after 80, 90, 100+ mile an hour winds and rain.  In triple digit heat and oppressive humidity...

So- the deal with my hoarding parent.  Mom lives alone in a level 4 hoarded ranch-style house.  She is estranged from the neighbors, and I live 7 hours away in another state.  Due to the toxicity of the house, and for preservation of my emotional health, I do not visit.  The last time I was there I ended up with a severe systemic infection/endocarditis.

So- the storm happens.  The phones are out, and mom calls on her cell.  She tells me a tree has fallen across her driveway  and is freaking out.  After some discussion, I find that the tree is actually a small pear tree that a branch has fallen.  Not great, but not the end of the world as we know it.  At that point, the estimate on power being restored is 6 days out.  Mom has 7 cats, one with acute kidney and liver failure and one with glaucoma that requires eye drops 4 times a day.  (Thankfully she is down from 20 cats she had earlier).  I offer to Fed Ex her a generator.  She could have it tomorrow.  She refuses stating that she would not know how to hook it up, cannot get out to get gas, will not ask anyone to get gas for her/accept it if they did, and HAS NOT ONE SPACE TO SET IT (because of the hoard).

Next problem... She states her cell phone is only half charged.  I advise her that she can use her car charger to charge the phone.  She argues that she can't, she does not have the strength to get the garage door up (it is a 3 car garage with one big door).  I ask her to ask one of the neighbors.  She then tells me that she has 'barricaded' the walk through door and has put burglar bars on the windows, so there is no way into the garage.  Not good.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

She calls, and she is upset that power is not on.  She has a huge chest freezer (the same that she found chocolate chips in from 1983 and steaks from 1992), an upright freezer, and 2 refrigerator/freezers.  All are stuffed full.  For one mid-seventies woman who eats out of the microwave normally, does not cook and cannot get to her oven or range top. The chest freezer temp is now 40 degrees Fahrenheit and she wants to argue with me the food is okay.  She reported the house is over 90 degrees inside, and she has cooped all the cats up in the house’s ONLY small bathroom.  No window....  She also reported she is almost out of food, only has Slimfast and cookies.  She flatly refuses to eat any canned food or to use her grill.  She is also furious that her clock radio does not work.  She put a battery in it after all!  I explain to her that is a back up, not to run the radio.

Monday, July 2, 2012

She calls, but I am on a work call, and I cannot click over fast enough, and without wasting time to listen to her voice mail message I call right back.  She has turned off her phone that quickly.

That night a neighbor calls me who I am connected to on Facebook.  She is worried about Mom because the house is closed up tight (no windows open, door shut).  I apprise her of the situation thus far, and the neighbor tells me her brother drove 6 hours to find generators, and brought them to her and other neighbors.  Because she could not get in contact with Mom, (Mom will not give her cell phone number out) one was not purchased for her.  She has stopped her huge SUV in front of Mom's house and laid on the horn multiple times and once for a 1/2 hour steady, but no response.  Mom has her gates locked and has a concealed carry permit, so no one will jump the fence and go to the door.  In fact, if Mom knew the neighbor had my cell phone number/called me she would not ever talk to me or her again.  It is truly a no-win situation.  If we sent the State Police or any Human Service Agency that is doing wellness checks it is likely she would consider them trespassing and a danger, and invoke the Castle Doctrine ... or her screwed up interpretation of it to shoot them.  The neighbor wants to offer to bring her food, ice, and to charge her phone.  She knows Mom will refuse all.  In our subsequent conversations, the neighbor shares a level of guano loco that I only suspected (both revelations are blog posts in themselves) and she has <gasp> been lying to me.  She also operates firmly in a state of delusion, and neither of these things are revelations to me, but it still pisses me off.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I am taking a planned day off from my job.  (She knew this.) She calls my office (SHE NEVER CALLS THE OFFICE!) and speaks to one of my staff ...who advises her to call my cell, which she agrees to, but does not.  She does tell my assistant that the food is running down the front of the fridge and the smell is awful.  Now, since she has no sense of smell/has accommodated to the smell of the hoard, the stench must be horrific.  I do not hear from her on Tuesday, Wednesday, ... not until Friday night.

Thursday, July 5, 2012
On Thursday the neighbor notices that her paper is disappearing, so we assume she is alright.  

Friday, July 6, 2012 
The land lines briefly came up and I caught it at the right time, and I called her.  She put all the cats into a large carrier and took them to the basement where they (and she) spent 16 hours a day sitting on the cluttered stairs in the dark with piles up to the ceiling.  Her flashlight batteries ran out on Tuesday, and she is living on powdered milk and Slimfast.  All the food is still in the freezers, etc.  

She also:

  • Refused to believe that the neighbor had on multiple occasions sat in front of her house and blew the horn repeatedly, calling her a liar
  • Refused to let her charge her cell phone- "I don't want her to look through it or to get my number- it is none of her business"
  • Stated if anyone wanted to get in contact with her, they could have left a note on the fence with a time like UPS or some other ground freight delivery....
  • Made snide and rude comments about several other neighbors who were all dealing with power loss and the heat
  • Was FURIOUS that no one ‘set a generator over the fence’ for her
  • Was INCENSED that nobody set a relief kit over the fence for her
  • Made RUDE and nasty comments about the linemen/linewomen that came from all over the country to help
Thank you for your patience if you have read this far.  I was furious when I could not get a hold of her for several days.  She has a laptop that she bought in 2006 that has never been out of the box.  The neighbor was letting everyone use her hotspot on her iPhone to power their laptops so folks could get information or communicate.  She could have walked across the street and asked a neighbor for help, and to call me.  

She made a truly horrific experience so much more terrible by her past choices, her current choices, her inability to interact with people in a normal fashion, and her inability to let go of petty grudges.  I was torn between letting her (and sadly, the cats) suffer the consequences of her decisions.  I had decided if I could not get any sighting of her by Friday, I was going to drive 7 hours to make contact, charge her damn phone, take her ice... and drive straight back.  At the beginning I started to FedEx her a small generator... but I realized she would either not accept it, or would not set it up/have the room to put it/ask someone for gas.

I learned early as a preteen that I cannot do anything meaningful for her.  She simply will not allow it, but then the criticism begins that I am selfish and thoughtless.  

Saturday, July 7, 2012
The power was restored.  She still has not cleaned out the rotting food, and has continued her diatribe against the neighbors who tried to help her.

She was in a hell purely of her own making... But it does not make that realization easy for me.  I had visions of her dead or overcome by heat... and visions of the response of a small town in Appalachia... where I would have the public judging me for letting this happen.  I cannot win.  That sums up hoarding so perfectly in my mind.  No one wins.

And I predict I will still have a full house and multiple freezers of rotten food to deal with some day.

I continue to think about what I tell my staff... "You cannot want something more than the client does."  I do not know what I want insofar as my relationship with her.  I am just so emotionally numb to this whole mess.

Update, Saturday, September 22, 2012

She still has not cleaned out her freezers.  The chest freezer remains full of rotted meat.  She occasionally asks things like, "How long would it take for  pick-the-item-and-insert-it-here to go over?

No one wins.