Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Progression of Hoarding/Mental Illness

Wow.  Has it been almost 3 weeks since I last posted?  Time flies when you are having fun!  

I have some more conversational gems from my mother who hoards.  I was dining with a friend the other evening, and she always asks about my mother.  She made a very astute observation that had not really occurred to me... I am too close to the situation.  After laughing about the latest dash of crazy conversation...

"You realize that your mother is getting worse, right?  It used to be that when we talked that some of her conversations were a bit more normal.  Lately, none have been, and they are escalating."

That really hit me, and thinking about it, I immediately told her she was correct.  And she is.  Now... what to do about it?  Unfortunately the hell that COH's are caught in is there is nothing I (or we) can do.  You cannot help someone that will not help themselves, especially if they do not meet certain criteria (completing ADL's, do not come to the attention of the County Codes Office, and such).  Yet we are damned by society, the neighbors, et al for being uncaring children for 'letting' his or her parent live in squalor.   So- now onto the most recent...
My mother has an 19 year old import that has been typical of its brand, extremely reliable.  It is garage kept, and although it is hoardy, she is one of the hoarders that is very concerned about outward appearances and she keeps it up and it is in very good condition with only 70K miles on it.  She has burned her bridges at:

  • The dealership in which she purchased it new in 1994
  • The more local brand dealership that opened in town a few years ago... she refuses to go there since they hired (and subsequently FIRED) a person she does not like
  • The local individually owned repair facilities that can be trusted, folks that were friends of my father's... Not only burnt those bridges, but dropped the crazy equivalent of the A-bomb on them
She went to competing import dealer and had her service, had a CV boot replaced (to be expected) and since she RIDES THE BRAKES, her brake pads needed replaced due to wear.  During her visit, they got a speck of grease on the floor mat, and on the aluminum wheel.  Not optimal, but they cleaned it up immediately and completely.  This is after she created a huge scene because a man was in the waiting room coughing, and ended up playing the martyr card by having a dealership person place a chair in the entryway of the dealership between the doors, where she was cold, and where she could drag her cross of woe to each and every person that entered or exited the dealership.  Two days later when I called to check in:

"I am so mad I could just KILL!"

Now what?

"...[going over in minute detail the trials and tribulations of her last visit to the dealership]... so I decided to look at my car, and I FOUND IT! No one can do anything right..."


"Left off one of my valve stem caps! IT IS GONE!  DIRT WILL GET IN THERE!  I went to Advance, and THEY DO NOT MAKE THAT TYPE ANYMORE!  I had to buy 4!  They are aluminum, but I DO NOT LIKE THEM AS WELL!  ...[more ranting]... I called the service manager and I BLEW UP!"
{I will spare you the agony, but she basically sandbagged everything she perceived they did wrong, anything they did make an error on [despite correcting it] and informed him that she would not be back, and she would tell EVERYONE SHE ENCOUNTERS AND EVERYONE SHE KNOWS!}

Seriously?  Over an 19 year valve stem cover that they could have replaced the next time you were in?  Did you think that maybe they did put it on, and it wasn't tightened like it needed to be, or that it possibly stripped?  Or they are human and it got forgotten or dropped the thing?

"...[total disregard of above statement] Tell me how I can look and tell if they replaced my brake pads and CV boot thing, can I stick my head under the car and see?"

The conversation went to hell from there.  I will spare you.  You get the idea.  Pretty soon she is going to be out of dealerships and repair places.  As it is no one will do handyman or repair services on her home, and doctors offices are starting to wait list her.  
The second one still boggles my mind as to how everything is all about her.  There is a stretch of highway in rural Appalachia that she travels to access her RA/Lupus Specialist.  They had a massive gas line explosion that destroyed a section of highway and five homes.  The only life lost was that of someone's family dog that was at home at the time of the blast- which is sad, but it could have been much worse, like the blast in Allentown PA a couple of years ago.  

"Just think- that is CREEPY.  That was a close call."

Huh?  What?  HOW?

"If that would have happened 2 days later, and my doctor's appointment would be been done in its normal time, I WOULD HAVE BEEN RIGHT THERE IN THAT AREA AT THAT TIME!  I could have burned to death!"

Seriously?  I am getting off the phone now.

Sandy Hook... an event of unbelievable sadness, tragedy  and horror.  I know I was one of many who shed many tears over the lives stolen, and the heroics of the school personnel that tried to protect their students.

"First the [pop culture irrelevance] and then [another trivial matter that received lots of press] and now this.  They are running this Sandy Hook thing into the ground.  I am simply sick of hearing about it..."

I had to hang up.  The ugliness that threatened to explode out of my throat was massive.  I have no words.  Selfish.  Narcissistic.  SICK.
Other conversations have been really difficult.  They consist of:
  • Screwed up, judgmental assumptions based on her skewed perceptions, and nothing remotely do with fact...
    • "I guess they decorate for Christmas because they have grandchildren."
    • "I cannot understand all the decorating for Christmas.  It is not like they ever have visitors or even have kids... [clucking over their poor choice]"
    • "I think the neighbors must be running a rooming house with all the cars that are in and out of there."
    • "There are people next door working.  The windows are all open again, I bet that place STINKS.  The basement was full of water (in the 70's).  Why doesn't someone condemn that house?"
    • "Those people must have more money than they know what to do with.  YOU WOULD NOT BEEELLLLIIIIIEEEVVVVVEEEEEE the pile of garbage they put out each week!  A lot of it is NIIIICCCEEEE stuff!  Not tore up or anything!  Why don't they donate it?  People are in need you know!"
  • A whole lotta projecting, gaslighting  and guilt mongering occurs as well:
    • "...[speaking of an elderly, reclusive widow] You NEVER see her, and you never see anyone there but the yard service.  They never had kids, and no one comes to visit..."
    • "...and those kids never once came over to help their stepmother care for their [abusive, bigoted and a hoarder] dad when he was dying at home with dementia..."
    • "...[speaking of a woman recently widowed at the end of the street] She put up all kinds of decorations for Christmas.  She never did that when he was alive.  Who was she trying to impress?  And all that junk in the back yard (which honestly, when I saw it in 2010 looked fine... Mom's house was the worst looking one on the street) why doesn't someone make them clean that up?"
    • "Now I have to get an MRI on my hip!  TELL ME THE TRUTH! What are they looking for that a bone scan wouldn't show?  I swear, that bast@#& at the physical therapy place, my hip wasn't in bad shape [despite advanced osteopenia and osteoporosis] until he made me do those things.  I WANT HIM FIRED!  I WANT SOMEONE TO BEAT HIS HANDS WITH A HAMMER UNTIL HE NEVER TOUCHES ANYONE AGAIN!"
Yeah.  Sorry this is a long one.  My friend is right.  It is getting steadily worse.  I think I am in for a wild, maddening, and sad ride.  I still maintain my commitment to check in on her from afar, but her recent behavior continues to challenge that.  

At what level, can someone (seriously!) have every person they ever interact with 'screw them' in some way before that person realizes that it may not be everyone else?


  1. I would not condemn you if you never contacted her again.

    1. Nelly- Thank you! I am trying... But some days I am very close to my limit. I think blogging about it and supportive comments from folks like you who 'get it' keep me sane.

      Have a great 2013!

  2. Sadly, some people never realize that they are the problem. You are a saint, by the way.

    1. Teresa:

      You are so correct. It is sad that in our discussions that all unfortunate circumstances are, in her mind, caused by everyone else... What a sad space to live in I would imagine!

      Thank you for your kind comments! I don't feel very nice most days after speaking with her, especially when she goes down the track of blame, narcissism, and self made drama and I just cannot quietly let it pass without challenging her.

      Have a great New Year!