Saturday, November 24, 2012

Been a bit too introspective- more crazy quotes

It simply is not a phone call with my hoarding mother unless we have statements that make my head spin... or me nearly pass out from trying to suppress laughter.  

The most recent include, but are not limited to:

....talking about a neighbor whose step-kids are a little shell shocked regarding their step-mom moving on and finding a relationship...  "And I said since they did not come help with their dad all those years then they do not get a say!"

Wait... what?  What does that have anything to do with anything?  He was an abusive SOB!  They do not 'owe' him or her anything... what?

.... talking about same neighbor's relatives that live next door... "Maybe I am just strange, but I cannot see them being gone all the time like they are... <sniffs disdainfully>"

Seriously?  They travel a few days every other month, and 2-4 weeks in the summer... they both have worked all their lives, and now have the time and resources to travel, to visit their children who live out of state, to experience their RV and their timeshares, and what is wrong with enjoying their retirement?  They both survived cancer, and I think they know what is important to them...

"Well.  They certainly like spending their pennies..."


....talking about the neighbor she loathes... "... And he has a beard now.  Trying to change his appearance!  Well ... HE IS NOT FOOLING ANYONE!!!"

Um... he is a hunter, always has been and always will be.  Many hunters grow beards at this time of year (deer season).

"Well. He. Has. Never. Before!"

Mom, he has.  From the point he was about 18 until in his 30's he did, and I assume that has not changed...

"He is simply doing it to change his appearance so law enforcement will not recognize him!  He is driving without a license, I know it!"

Okay... has he changed his hair color?  Length?  Anything else?  No?  Think that with hair to his waist and being skinny and 6 foot 7 or 8 inches tall that he would be a bit hard pressed to change his appearance radically?


"Do you take [a certain medication]?"


"Why not?"

Because I do not have [X condition].

"Well I do! And..."

< Interrupting her> WE ARE NOT THE SAME PERSON!  I am a different physical person!  You know, the contribution from my father!



"I was scared to DEATH today.  I thought my car was blowing up."

I do not think that is an issue with an 18 year garage kept Honda with 60K on it...

"I heard this vibration and [goes on to describe in pedantic detail how she stopped, started several times, pulled over, checked all the hoardy crap in the car, got out and looked... all in dramatic tone]."

Can we please speed this story up a bit?  Was it your cane or your water bottle or something?  (She just started using a cane).

...dead silence....


"It was my cane.  How did you know?"

If a car is blowing the engine, that is not the noise it makes.  And cars very seldom explode ...

"Yes they do!  I know they do!  I don't know how this stuff works, but I know it can explode!"


"So I have to be in the water at physical therapy! I do not have a bathing suit, and no one sells shorts in the winter!  They told me to wear shorts but all mine are flowy and light colored!"

So buy dark capri sweats, a dark sports bra and a dark t-shirt.

"They will get all soggy and bog down! That is dangerous!"

Buy the yoga gear and get it to actually fit you in a synthetic material.  

"Why should I buy something just for this? And they say it will only be a woman with me in there... but I am sure there will be others and I will not be stared at.  Besides... she said I had to bring my own towel and what all.  For what I am paying they should provide it all!"

They are not a hotel.  It is like a gym where you bring your own personal hygiene stuff.  And isn't Medicare paying the bulk of this?

"You are impossible.  And furthermore it is COLD out. I do not go out right after I shower and I will freeze to death or catch pneumonia!  I could DIE!"

I go out every day after a shower, usually within 20 minutes of one.  I have not died ... yet.  [This is the woman that will go almost 2 weeks between showers and washing her hair].


There were many, many gems after Election Night 2012.  I simply cannot blog them because they are absolutely FOUL.  

I again timed a call to her and did not say anything but "Hello" and "At work, gotta go."  For 20 minutes I kept a mental tally.  I was looking for positive or neutral items verses negative or judgmental items.

She did not require ANY participation from me.  The count was 57 to 0.  Guess what category the 57 was?  <Sigh>

I will start another quotes list soon.  The hardest thing for folks to get about hoarding is it is not the stuff.  The stuff is a symptom of the rigidity and the narcissism, and the extreme mental illness of the person that hoards.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What Thanksgiving is NOT full of...

It is once again the Thanksgiving season in the United States.  Regardless of your beliefs regarding the 'Thanksgiving story'- whether you ascribe to the account the history books promulgate, or you feel that story is a fairy story to hide the ugliness of what really happened... Thanksgiving is a time for family to come together for a magical meal.  Or at least that is what Hallmark Greeting Cards would like us to believe.  For many of us, Thanksgiving is a source of stress, of unhappiness, or of sadness.  Chock full of it.

Being the adult child of a hoarder, I have few happy memories of holidays in general.  Each holiday was marred by my hoarding mother being angry at someone (usually me) and not speaking or participating, or flying into a rage at some point during the event.  If I had this discussion she would point to all the 'things' that I was purchased.  Materially, I had everything most kids my age wanted- except emotional stability at home... a home free of passive aggressive and narcissistic parenting... the gift of being able to make mistakes... not being emotionally, mentally and physically abused... being able to have friendships that included having friends over... the ability to have normal relationships with other family members... the list goes on.

Fast forward to now, I am in my early forties.  I am divorced, and did not have children.  I live far away from my town of birth, and those who are related to me.  Am I sad?  Lonely?  Unhappy?

NO.  Quite the opposite actually.  I have my feline companions who fill my life with laughter, unconditional love, and all the things cats have to offer.  I have the most amazing friends that are my family, and I will be spending Thanksgiving day with one group, and the next day with the folks that I consider my family.  I am off this week, and so far the past 4 days have been full of respite, and quiet enjoyment of my home.  

Why do I bring this up then?  <Sigh>

Because I called her today, to check in.  Her life is full- and it is not of the better things in life.  Besides the obvious hoard, her life is full of unhappiness, loneliness (her cats are just another item to be hoarded and controlled it seems), rumination and a testament to opportunity lost (or more specifically... taken from her).  Her envy of others, her inability to understand the reciprocity of friendships, her constant judgements and inability to see past her own skewed perspective fill her thoughts, her days, her conversations.  Her head, her heart, her house is full of unfulfilled desires, promises, and the hoard.

I will not travel the several hours to my mother's home to share a Thanksgiving meal.  I will spend it with my friends, resting at home with my cats, doing the things I want to do, or conversely... not doing what I wish NOT to. My apartment is furnished in a contemporary yet minimalist fashion, but is not stark or barren.  It is functional, and everything is actively needed, used, loved and has a place when not in use.  I am comfortable with guests any time, and am comfortable with myself, my life, my choices.  

Is my life full of good things?  Yes.  Do I have my challenges and struggles?  Undoubtably yes.  Is my life empty of the most things that made my first 18 years so traumatic, and my first 30 years such a struggle?  Thankfully, YES.  I am able to look at where I have been to ensure that I do not return or continue to do the same things over and over expecting a different outcome.  I honored and have let go of the hurt of a child who wants a mother, who wants connections to those she is related to by birth.  

I have much to be thankful for... and much that is not in my life any longer to also be thankful for.  I hope that someday that my mother will find that kind of comfort in her life.  I keep hoping, but I do not have any allusions.  The only life I can impact is my own.  And I work at that daily.

Happy Thanksgiving to all that celebrate it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


There is a acronym in the drug and alcohol realm of social services.  DARVO...  It stands for:

Reversal of Victim and Offender

It is also very, very apt/applicable to people who hoard.  Like my mother.  

The past several days to past few weeks have been full of her focusing on everyone else... more so than usual.  

She cannot get someone to come give her an estimate on storm damaged trees from the Derecho in late June/early July of this year.  Obviously these folks do not want to work.  It could not be that in a small rural community that she has effectively burned every bridge with any contractor or handyman in the area...

Any time she attempts to order carry out food from ANYWHERE she is not successful because they-
A) speak to fast just so she cannot understand them
B) ignore her totally
C) misunderstand her intentionally
D) give her the incorrect thing
E) it is simply inedible due to some small detail
Her way of dealing with it?  Lashing out verbally and leaving without ordering or taking her ordered item.  That will show them!  Losing her order for a Happy Meal at McD's will be more devastating than the ordeal of dealing with her in the first place...

Watching all the neighbors.  Speculating on where they are going, what they are doing, the trash they set out, making accusations the one neighbor is stuffing leaves and mud in her driveway drain or eave-spouting... <Sigh>

Asking extremely probing and, quite bluntly, intrusive questions regarding my friends (none of whom she has ever met).  "Does she get paid well?"  "How much does a position like that pay?"  "How much did their new house cost?"  Someone mentioned in her earshot at the doctor's office something about fertility treatments and adoption, and she knows some of my friends have done both options.  "How much did it cost to adopt 'Jerome'?"  "How much did 'Nicole' spend to have 'Gertrude'?"  

I finally had enough.  Sandy, the super storm that hit the eastern seaboard was enroute, and at that point I had been unable to get her to do one bit of emergency or safety planning.  I advised her, "You know what?  I think you have enough of your own business to focus on, getting ready for this storm, rather than mulling over everyone else's business and personal decisions.  How about we talk about your plans for the next few days?"

Her response?  A pouty pause- then she immediately started clucking about a neighbor who has a husband with dementia.

As I quickly ended the call, it hit me again, and not for the first, the fifteenth, the umpteenth time... like hoarding, this gossiping and judgmental monologue filled with stories of HOW SHE DID BETTER WITH FAR WORSE is a way of setting up a barrier.  Like the hoard itself with only little 'goat paths' for her to traverse.  Like the narcissism that ensured she pushed me away, and that no one can be close.  Like the abusive use of power and control... all of these are symptoms of the larger issue.  

The issue is within her.  She simply refuses to look at her way of interacting, her choices... so she DARVOs. On all things, to all people.

I say again.  Hoarding SUCKS.  No one wins.  Not even the hoarder.