Sunday, October 28, 2012

Yet another resource


Again, not specifically focused on COH's and hoarding, but many hoarders are narcissists and engage in that behavior with their children, grand children, et al.

Another resource

In my navigations around the net, I found a resource that was of interest.  Not a COH site, but very, very applicable.

It is 

Check it out!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A moment of levity... sort-of

So I am a sucker for punishment.  In the light of the approaching storm, I decided to call my hoarding mother to attempt some sort of safety planning with her.  Attempt is the key word.  

I did not get a word in edgewise, and surprisingly enough, after the Derecho that hit in late June (see corresponding blog) you would think she would be on red alert.  Not-so-much.

Her topic today was her latest visit to a doctor.  She would not be steered in any sort of other direction.  This doctor graduated high school with me over 25 years ago, and my mother is obsessed with figuring out:

  1. Where she lives, and what type of house... Although she knows she is partnered, apparently in her mind gay=living at home.  WTH?
  2. How much the vehicles she sees her drive cost.  A MB wagon, a 4 wheel drive SUV, and pick up truck.  "She has more cars than a dealership!" 
  3. Obsessing on the amount of patients she has, what the EOB says the visit is paid, and so she figures out her income from there... with no understanding that A- she is partnered to a very successful woman herself B- she got her medical degree later in life and is really just getting started and C- that a medical practice on your own like that is extremely expensive in the terms of overhead, malpractice and liability insurance, etc.
  4. The doctor's weight, why she dresses the way she does, and the fact that she is a lesbian. 
For mother, it is as if it rains cash on this doctor.  

In the midst of this one-sided oration... she says loudly and grandly, "I think you should have become [this type of doctor] instead of what you are doing. Think of all the money you could have made and would be making!"  She then clucks her tongue to herself...

Because money is everything apparently.  It trumps happiness, real relationships and connecting with people, and loving what I do.

I quickly advised her, "Because to me, that is one of the worst f*$%ing job in the world, that is why I did not go into med school after taking (and doing very, very well on) the MCAT exam.  I realized at that point in my life that is precisely what I did NOT want to do... it is what I had been almost programmed to do."

Dead silence for a bit... and finally, a weak and horrified sounding "Oh".  

Yeah.  'Oh'.  The 'Oh' was not that I pushed back or cursed in doing so, the 'Oh' was my priorities are clearly so screwed up that I would pick social services over a profession that could make a lot of money and buy a lot of THINGS.

Two seconds later... "So how much money DO you think she makes?"

Wait.  What?  OH DEAR GOD!

I got off the phone without discussing the impending storm.  Because this doctor's income, assets, and my poor vocational decisions are obviously so much more imminent...

Stay safe everyone.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

A moment of frustration...

For some reason my mother has been on a REALLY negative rip lately.  More so than usual.  Maybe it is me, as my patience with it is growing short, and it has been one hell of a week.  Working an insane amount at work trying to meet grant deadlines, etc... Received several bits of bad news about friends in one horrible day.  Lost someone I admire and respect, and that day found out that one friend had 2 pets pass, and another friend lost her dog, another friend was just diagnosed with cancer, and yet another had emergency surgery and had most of his foot amputated.  

Could I tell her any of this?  No.  Because it ALWAYS about her.  She has no frame of reference for friendship.  I think I only exist to her as some strange extension of her, and my friends are not real.  Now granted, she has never met any of them, save the gentleman that lost his foot, but narcissism SUCKS. If I did share any of this, she will ask 200 inappropriate, morbid, and upsetting questions.

I think many mothers would be able to hear the heaviness in their daughter's voice that something is up.  But her?  Nope.  She is obsessed with the mundane details that she observes about her neighbors... fixating on things like the whether the neighbor's son is attending college, the other neighbor's level or lack thereof of lawn care.  She has worked herself into a dither about the one neighbor's house having the windows open... is convinced that they have a sewage blockage and it can impact her... Her amazing jumps to crazy conclusions based on the smallest of observations are something to hear.

I cringe when my car's Bluetooth asks, "Do you want to call MOM?"  I continue my commitment to check in on her.  But.  It.  Is.  Soul.  SUCKING.  Work will get better, it will be late December before things slow down any, but I know that is only 2 short months away.  My situation with her?  No end in sight.  

This would be funny if not so freaking sad.  The other day I was going to dinner with a friend, and got violently ill as I walked in the restaurant, and it resolved once we left.  Her response... I bet you had a heart attack!  You are 43... your dad died at ...  

Blah blah blah.  I keep realizing that I can only change my reaction.  She is not going to change, except to continue to deteriorate.  Most of the time I am very numb.  I am not sure why she got to me this week.

For those of you who are in the path of Sandy, I wish you safety and minimal disruption of your life.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Today Children of Hoarders lost a powerful advocate

I sit at my keyboard, and I am crying my heart out.  I just learned of the passing of someone special, Sidney Patrick.  Her blog will be continued by Greg, and you can check it out here:  

She was just interviewed a few short weeks ago for the Huffington Post on hoarding.  You can see the video clip here: 

She was one of two friends that guest hosted my blog when I got this started, and has encouraged me to just stop thinking about it and DO IT already!

You are missed.  I will miss your emails, your comments on social media, the funny and irreverent text messages...

Rest in peace.  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Hoarders, hoarders everywhere!

I should have seen it as an omen when I was reading and saw Dear Prudence had someone writing her who was a COH.  She did call it what is was, and offered the resources of the show Hoarders. Warmed my little COH heart.

Then I went out for sushi.  I am part of a loose network of folks that are sushi-afficinados, and roughly 25 of us descended on a nice little local place.  I had a work issue that I was providing some support to staff, so I was about 15 minutes late (and I let them know).

When I got there, the only seat available was near a gentleman I will call 'Ben'.  To give a bit of background, Ben has been unemployed since being termed at an electronics store for being 'overqualified'.  He continues to be 'overqualified' and is in his mid 40's, and has always lived with his hoarding mother.  Last time I saw him, he was complaining bitterly about the township forcing a clean-out of the trailer he and his mother share.  This time he brought his mother with him.  

This is where my descent into hell began.  Since Ben is a larger person (and no shame in that), he had moved to the end of the table... Where he proceeded to talk nonstop about... NOTHING.  He and his mother shared a large plate of sushi and sashimi, and then the real fun began.  Note HEAVY sarcasm.  During the next 105 minutes I witnessed the following:

  • Utensil FAIL. I know that it is perfectly acceptable to eat sushi and sashimi with your fingers... however, it is NOT acceptable to tear it apart with your fingers, dump the rice in the soy dish, and  then dig it out with your fork straight into your mouth, chin on table.  They both ate with less manners than some animals.  Also the long discussion of not being able to use chopsticks because of carpal tunnel?  <YAWN>
  • Chewing FAIL.  It is generally a good idea to close your mouth while chewing, and to NOT SPEAK while chewing.  He and momma sprayed food 'bits' onto their serving plate, their plates, their shirts, the table, and on one occasion... MY ARM.  Also, if I am seated an arms-length away from you and your breath makes my stomach turn even before consuming/masticating large quantities of sushi, I wonder how long it has been since you brushed your teeth.  
  • Conversation FAIL.  They did not stop the nonstop stream of chatter through the entire meal.  Not while chewing, swallowing, or even DRINKING. Also, little concept of conversations evolve, and subjects move quickly, and others may have something to contribute. 
  • Personal Hygiene FAIL.  Did I mention breath reminiscent of a baby dragon's freshly used potty chair?  Please do not ask me about the fingernails...  
  • Personal boundary FAIL.  During the meal they would intersperse conversation to each other, and it was about subjects not generally talked about in acquaintance company.  The job situation.  Whether her disability check was deposited.  When he paid the one credit card with a partial payment.  That he skipped the payment on another.  That they would save their cash and use a credit card to pay for their dinner.  That their card was declined to insufficient capacity for that transaction... you get the idea.  Oy vey!
  • Boundaries of others FAIL.  They shared deeply personal things about folks that were not present that I know for a fact at least one of the people would not want discussed for any reason.  Like the reason his relationship failed.
I could go on for a lot longer, but you get the picture. I was subjected to much of the behavior that I am frustrated by with my hoarding mother, and it made the meal very difficult and triggering for me.  

Oh- and the sushi I left on my plate because I lost my appetite?  They ate it, stating that it was TERRIBLE to leave such good and expensive sushi to be taken back to the kitchen to be thrown away...

It was 2 pieces of red roof roll.  Not newly weaned puppies.

Back to the regularly scheduled program...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

You can't help someone find happiness that is determined to avoid it at all costs...

I should not be surprised... and I am not.  I am, however, disappointed.  Today I called my hoarding mother to check in on her.  And for 20 minutes, input from me was not required.  I heard about:
  • Neighbors that I have never met, and she does not know.  She watches everything they do, and judges their spending, consumption, carelessness... You get the picture...  She often asks how much a certain car, etc. costs, or asks how much a profession pays.  WHO CARES?
  • Neighbors that I know who they are but little else. I have not lived at home for over 25 years.  She talks about them, their relatives, etc. in agonizing detail, and in a very critical manner.
  • A hated neighbor, and accuses him of all kinds of things, things that are most unlikely he is doing.
  • Ruminating on horrendous occurrences in the news.  I work for a nonprofit in which I see the best, and the worst, of what humanity has to offer.  I do not want to discuss this stuff, it is simply morbid.
  • Everything triggers a story.  A long story.  A dramatic story.  A story that I have heard hundreds, if not thousands, of times. All with the same inflection, etc. as if it were being played by a tape.  Telling her things like "I remember that" or "you told me that" just prolong the inevitable.
  • Everything launches a discussion about her, her bodily functions, the bodily functions of her cats, the bodily functions of her neighbors and people long dead.
  • Petty grudges, the museum of unfortunate misunderstandings that became the fodder for lifelong hatred, and other happy things.
Not one topic was happy, or even neutral.  Narcissism is so tiring, yet I keep trying.  It is so sad.  If we had a healthier relationship, one that did not have the bogey of compulsive hoarding hanging over us... we could visit.  We could go on vacations.  We could experience the wondrous experiences the world has to offer together.  We could... but we won't.

Why?  Because my mother's decision to not address her mental health issues... her decision to live in denial, blame, and avoidance.  Oh- and squalor.  Her decision to view life as 'opportunity lost' and see herself as as someone who... no matter what... is the victim of any situation.  

I say it again.  Hoarding... no one wins.  

Monday, October 1, 2012

Another Compilation of Awkward Quotes... alternate title... You cannot fix batshit crazy part deux...

Things have been too serious...

Here are a few more phone call quotes for you.  Sorry in advance for the TMI.  
...After a long, bizarre and tiresomely stereotypical description of some white woman's bubble butt that she saw at Walmart...

"I have never seen and American's butt look like that..."

Whoa.  Wait.  What?  As compared to whom?

"You know... a black person!"

<home alone SCREAM>
"Let me ask you a question... and I want an answer and none of your smart ass comments..."

Oh brother (as I am speeding along a 6 lane highway in heavy traffic drinking my iced chai latte)...

"Do you shave your cooter?"  (This is her new word for 'down there').

Wait.  WHAT?????  Why?  Why would you ask that?  

"I saw a show, The View I think it was, that some lady said that most people under the age of 35 do not have public hair..."

Interrupting her as I wipe iced chai latte off of my windshield and gauge cluster... WE ARE NOT HAVING THIS DISCUSSION!  CHANGE THE SUBJECT!!!!  

"Well- let me tell you what I do... I take the scissors and lay them sidewa..."


"Stop screaming!  I asked you a simple question!"

<dial tone>

Dear god... I hope no one called 9-1-1 as I almost bounced my car off the jersey barriers...

I have a group of folks that I text to when I have these sort of conversations.  That is a gift, and a curse.  I have a couple of wiseacres that will randomly text me and ask about my personal hygiene practices.  At the most inopportune times.