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.


  1. OH! I have had this conversation. You are dead on about the barriers. Also, we call them "habitrails".

  2. I love the term 'habitrails'! Very appropriate... and sad:-/