Monday, December 30, 2013

Argh! So she CALLS ME AT WORK to insult me!

Guess who just hit the short list of folks that 'Lisabeth will not accept calls from on her mobile or office phone'?  

That would be correct.  My hoarding mother... Actually, I think she is the only person on that particular list.

She called my cell this evening with a question.  Then she asks if I am still at work.  I affirm that, indeed, I am.  The shrieking of a traumatized child in the background should clue her in I am not at home.  She makes the usual 'you are there late' comments- and I let her know I am working on a curriculum for a group in another state on Sexual Assault/Child Sexual Assault/Adverse Childhood Experiences/Being a Challenging Client.  She wanted to know why I was doing it... Because I was ASKED to.  Why me?  <SMDH>  Because it is my area of expertise.  Been doing this work in one way or another for the past 25 years.  She again asked 'but of all the people they could have asked... why YOU?  Or did you contact them and offer?"  Oh.  I get it.  

I am proud of myself.  I kept my voice silky smooth and with no annoyed inflection (a staff member was nearby and commented on it) I stated: "That would be because some folks consider me an expert in my field due to many things, my education, my experience, my tenure, my breadth of service in working with folks impacted by trauma, and my keen understanding of trauma from a variety of vantage points.  I cannot continue this conversation, I need to go.  Buh bye!"

She was still sputtering when I hung up. 

Seriously?  And I know that was really obnoxious of me... but ... it felt GOOD.   

Good night everyone.  Thank you for reading, and best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2014.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Another cat leaves the hoard. RIP Ralphie...

Yesterday was a fun day.  Had friends in from out of town, and I swear we spent our day shopping and eating our way across the mid state.  Eating mainly.  But anyway... as we were leaving the latest round of restaurants, I got a text from my hoarding mother's neighbor.  Apparently one of her cats died that day.  Ralphie, a cat that she found in a snowstorm 4 or 5 years ago.  The neighbor said he had a kidney issue and was blocked completely... but to not let my mother know she had told me.  I apprised her that I had company in, and I would call my mother tomorrow (today).

Today I have been lazy, and did not leave the apartment for any reason.  Tomorrow I will go into the office, and it will be a long day, most likely.  I decided to just get it over with and call her today instead of tomorrow.  When I spoke to her last a couple of days ago she was on her 'psychic' kick again, morosely intoning things like "I feel like something is about to happen.  I just HATE feeling like that!  I do not know what, but SOMETHING is bad is about to happen!"

Okay.  Right.  Talk to you later... So I brace for this call.  And I know that I must seem to be the most unsympathetic person ever, but this is not a normal relationship or interaction.  Ever.  

So I call.  And she immediately comments on me 'not doing anything for a couple of days when all [I] do is run..."  I reminded her that I had guests in... again, choosing to ignore the fact that I know she writes anything I tell her on her wall calendar... things like vacation dates, people visiting, etc.  She complains about the weather, goes on about the neighbors social activities, and talks about how it is so much effort to wash her hair.  YUK.  I think I might escape this call when she intones the morose soothsayer voice and says- "Well, you know how I had a bad feeling something was going to happen?  Well it did."  I was watching my stopwatch on my iPad to see how long she would make the dramatic pause... 32 seconds.  "Ralphie is DEAD."  

She went into the story, and her stories have a formulaic quality... all of them.  She weaves so many tangents and details in to any story that it is difficult to follow.

  • She tries to build drama to finish with a climatic ending 
  • She focuses on what she thought, and her incorrect medical assumption
  • She gave the cat a cat laxative (he cannot pee!) and sat and watched him all night instead of calling the emergency vet
  • Finally at 8 am she starts calling vet offices
  • She talks about all those who failed her by not answering their phone at veterinary offices or the emergency vet- and she did not leave a message at any of them
  • She knew her vet was in until 3pm, and the cat is straining so hard to pee that he is drooling and the inner lid is showing and since she got the voice mail she called the humane society who told her to do the # 9 thing to get a human
  • She did, and took the cat over at 1pm
The long story short is he was completely blocked, in monstrous pain, and his bowel was blocked off.  She was presented with several options, and the vet was not optimistic about any of them based on presentation.  My mother elected to euthanize Ralphie.  She held him, and stayed with him until the end.  My heart does hurt for him, and for her.  Each time I have had to do that, I have had a friend with me to support me after.  She did not.  

Now the real crazy kicks in.  She buries all her animals in the back yard, and there must be easily 40 of them out there now.  She gets Rubbermaid boxes and does all this prep of the body.  I got this huge description of the tote bag they gave her to carry Ralphie home in.  And the kicker?  She kept the bag, and did not leave him in it.  She has alienated many of her neighbors, and several are having health issues and cannot dig a hole for her.  Of course, in her typical way of not seeing anything from any point of view but her own, that is a serious failure on their part.  One neighbor had the audacity to not be home until just an hour ago!  She called some man she used 2 or 3 years ago to dig a hole on the next street over, and he came and did it for her.  He shared that they just lost a kitty this week to the same thing, and a couple of my friends have lost cats this month to renal issues.  

She began wondering aloud if she should start feeding all her cats the kidney diet food and distilled water as a prophylaxis.  She stated that her one cat had glaucoma and a heart murmur, and "kidney and heart are related you know!"

She then rebounded from my lack of agreement on that to maligning the folks next door to her neighbor that alerted me.  2-3 years ago the one neighbor's goats pushed her fence down and got in her yard, and this couple came over and herded the goats out.  My mother was screaming, hitting the goats with a broom, ranting, and carrying on... but now in revisionist historical fashion... she has no idea why they do not return her calls and she has manufactured a whole list of things that she has tried to do that is nice that they are missing out on.  
My response this was to just tell her I have heard all this, and she got Ralphie buried, so it is all good, and if this is going to be the topic of discussion I am getting off the phone.  

WOW.  I cannot even extend my condolences to her in a way that is somewhat normal.  She just cannot do it.  She is now, allegedly, down to 4 or 5 cats.  

<Counting on fingers... Pretty sure it is 5 cats that she admits to...> This is the least amount she has had in 20 years or more.  She has 2 distinct cohorts, ones that are over 10 years old, and ones that are under 2 or 3 years old.

Hoarding.  No one wins.  No one.  Especially dependent children or pets.  

More memes

Greetings! Sharing a few memes from around the web and that have been sent to me by readers. Enjoy!

-Hoarding... It is not about the stuff... That is merely a symptom of a life threatening mental illness.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Goodnight 2013; Welcome 2014... A new year with a new perspective

I have to say 2013 has been one tough year for me personally, and for many that I care about/love.  I had lunch with a friend today who expressed a similar sentiment, and Facebook has been filled with it.  Each year has its share of heartache and triumph, but it seems this year has been full of death, illness, financial crisis, loss of relationships, and the day to day tribulations we all face.

My life has been no different as I look back over the past 12 months.  The exceptional challenge for me was the health crisis that almost cost me my life this summer, and one I am still bouncing back from... but I am here, and physically, I am doing GREAT.  (Although I need to lay off the weight gain now that I am above what my doctor demanded...the holiday season cookies are too good to me!)  Work has been a fight for absolute survival of my organization, and it seems that we often are our own largest problem.  But that is a different blog for a different source.  

So... what is the purpose of this blog entry?  I am continuing my internal inventory and review, because I do not want to get trapped in horrible patterns that I was groomed for by my hoarding mother and the enabling role of my father, (intentionally or not).  I do not want to do the same things over and over, expecting a different outcome.  I wholeheartedly agree with Albert Einstein that this is the definition of insanity.  I also do not want to slip off the balance of owning my own stuff, and learning from my experiences versus taking on responsibility that is not mine... especially for issues related to the hoard and hoarding.  I do not want to 'victim blame' myself, but yet I do not want to give myself the 'get out of jail free' card [a Monopoly game reference for those who have not played] because I have survived such abuse.  Wearing a 'V' like a badge of honor has never been my style.  

From the experiences of this year, and many of the adverse experiences have come in my complicated yet partially estranged relationship with my hoarding mother.  It has been hard, no... hell.  But there are lessons learned there as well.  What I do not want to be.  Keeping a healthy balance and protecting my boundaries.  A healthy level of introspection yet being able to keep my focus on the bigger picture, keeping focused on the present and the future.  I see what staying immersed in the past does... 

Do I have lessons to learn still?  ABSOLUTELY!  I am still learning to be willing to be vulnerable, to show that vulnerability with those who care about me, and to truly be more open.  I am learning to trust a little easier.  I want to thin my thick, tough 'armadillo skin' a bit.  (And part of that has been my work as well... but... not what I want to happen to me!)

If hoarding gave me anything, it gave me the resilience and the 'toughness' to take whatever is thrown my way by life, by circumstances, or by my own choices.  I know I can, because I have.  I know I will succeed eventually, because bluntly, I have never had the luxury to fail and not find a way around it.

I have also seen what lack of self care does.  It may not cause illness, but it allows it to become something huge.  This can be 'illness' in the physical, emotional, relationship, or whatever-else realm.  I did not learn that lesson the first few times around.  After this summer, I may not get another chance if I abuse myself the way that I did.  

I look to 2014 as a new opportunity to consistently practice what I have learned in the past 44 years, but especially, the past 12 months.  

And my hoarding mother?  She regards the new year with apprehension and fear... as future 'opportunity lost'.  What a terrifying perspective, and a truly sad and sick one.

I quote this most every year, and misquote it badly... but one of my favorite movies is 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' with Geena Davis and at their holiday/New Year's celebration a toast is made that is to the effect of "May the best of your past be the worst of your future."  In the spirit of wishing you a Happy New Year that is full of the folks and experiences you value, I wish you the best in 2014 and forward.  And I wish it for me too.  And I will work hard to make it a reality.

Thank you for reading, and more 'From the Mouth of a Hoarder' will be coming in the upcoming days and weeks.  She has been on a roll...

Hoarding... No one wins... But maybe I don't have to lose, either.  Not anymore.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas 2013

Today is Christmas day for those who celebrate.  For my hoarding mother, this is her birthday as well.  She is within striking distance of 80.  Sadly, due to her choices, she sits alone.  She immediately made a snarky comment about being bored and that it is not a Merry Christmas/Happy Birthday.  I let it go without comment.  Sad, but this is a trajectory that she set herself on at least 40-something years ago with me.

So... why this little happy blurb?  For me, this particular holiday has been an exceptionally happy one.  I had a serious medical issue that threatened my life this summer, and I came through it, and am here to celebrate.  I have amazing friends that are my family, and I spent a lovely day with them today.  I spent time with a friend yesterday evening bowling, playing arcade games and Skeeball, and the like until almost midnight.  I am feeling like myself, and my weight is up to where I was pre surgery, and I am working on getting back up to run.  Life is good.  

So I call my mother today.  To wish her positive Birthday and Christmas sentiments.  Not a terrible conversation, but full of the normal hoardy weirdness.  She mentioned that the folks across the street brought her a plate of food.  She picked up a box of Russell Stover candies and gave them to them, not in a friendship way, but in a transactional way.  I did not comment, and ended the call when I arrived at home, telling her I was planning on going upstairs and taking a nap.  This would have been around 4:30pm or so.  She made some comment in regards to 'good luck with that' and I advised her it would happen, I was going up, unloading the car, and taking a nice nap.  So... that happens.  I come in and fall asleep instantly and deeply.  And at 5:10pm... GUESS WHO CALLS...

My hoarding mother.  

<groggily> Hello?

"What is wrong with you?  Why are you upset?  What is wrong?  What is going on?"

I am not upset.  Nothing is going on.  I was taking a nap.  What do you need?

"I don't 'need' anything.  You sound upset... [starts previous rapid-fire questioning]"

You woke me up from a dead, deep sleep.  Remember the final part of our conversation a bit ago?  I said I was coming in to take a nap.  You called for a reason... tell me what it is.  I am wide awake now. 

"Well, I guess I remember that but I did not think about it ... all I wanted was to tell you what just happened..."

Okay.  So tell me.

"Well if you..."

Look.  I am awake now.  Tell me or don't.  Either way I am getting moving and doing some things done since my nap is over.

"You know the people across the street?  [Excruciating description of their home location...] The man called, and they brought me over a plate!  It was enough for THREE MEALS!  It had cheesecake and [continued itemization of the food].  WHAT IS GOING ON?"

It is a conspiracy of food.  Killing you with kindness.  I do not know.  I am glad they can do that for you.  Say thank you, and move on.  Enjoy your cheesecake.  Getting off of here.  

I ended the call.  Wow.  I would like to think one of the last things I would do if someone told me they were laying down for a nap is to call them 40 minutes later.  I would hope that I would not be so self-focused that I would put what I wanted above the other person's plans or needs.

So, since that call, I am enjoying my evening with my lovely cats, watched 'A Christmas Story' and 'Badder Santa' (please don't judge) and had my favorite vegetarian hot and sour soup and veggie egg roll.  

Conversation is always a bit disheartening, but it is what it is.  Just another affirmation of how pervasive the personality aspect/narcissism is that characterizes hoarding.  I remember growing up if I wanted to nap because I was tired or sick, she would simply not allow it, and if anyone had plans that they wanted to do, like me or my father, she would delay, drag her feet, and generally make going a burden, or make us so late that it adversely impacted whatever we wanted to do.  

Holidays have always been weird for me, and I wish I knew enough about hoarding and the collateral damage to children of the hoard to explain my apprehension and weirdness with the holiday.  I am sure I have puzzled boyfriends, roommates, friends, husbands, et al with my awkwardness.  My mother made any holiday rough.  It was like walking on eggshells, and she always found a reason to be angry, to scream, to rage, to pout, and to not speak to me.  More years than I can count, I would get her a gift and she would not open it, or would toss it aside. Some still are in the corner of the bedroom she shared with my father, I guarantee.  That room is hoarded floor to ceiling.  

Contrary to the reasons my mother does not decorate, I do not decorate.  One reason is my lack of religiosity, the other is I live a minimalist lifestyle in a small, open floor plan apartment and simply do not choose to decorate.  

Despite some discomfort with holidays, etc., I have peaceful ones spent with my furry family (my two cats) and with friends.  My family of choice.  No screaming, no hard feelings, no strange patches of rage.  Just fun, food, and enjoyment of each other's company.  The gifts are secondary, and are thoughtful and fun.  In that, I consider it to be a triumph over my upbringing.  

I hope that everyone has a lovely, lovely evening.  If you celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas.  Whatever path you follow, I wish you the best of holiday wishes.  

Hoarding.  No one wins.  No one...  Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Exceptionalism and Hoarding

Just letting some of my 'thinks' see the light of day on this subject before dropping back into my typical lurkdom (relatively speaking)...

Regarding the OCD/perfectionism discussions in countless blogs, articles, listservs and others...

Hoarding... What a condition of such misery, abysmal to nonexistent insight and foresight.  There are many nuances and continuums of hoarder behavior, and much of it is compounded by the hoarder's choice.  

For many of us who have hoarders that are severe (and cruel!) the aspects present may include behaviors from the following (think of a Lichert scale of intensity from 1 to 10):

-Narcissism/narcissistic parenting
-Lack of insight
-Lack of compassion/bankrupt of compassion... inability (or conscious unwillingness) to see there other perceptions, feelings, etc.  (Lack of otherization)
-Addictive manifestation of behaviors, pleasure on the hunt to acquire, shopping/ acquisition highs, and the building of the emotion as the cycle repeats
-Interpersonal abuse... With all the hallmarks of power and control.  Gas lighting... Making everyone else responsible for their feelings... Blame, shame, triangulation, manipulation, etc... Mental, physical, sexual abuse...  Neglect and active lack of nurturing...
-Forced and enforced codependency
-Silencing and stalking

Not a comprehensive list, but you get the idea.  Now, if you have not fallen asleep or deleted this thinking 'brilliant inductive and deductive thinking, Captain Obvious!' then I get to my point.  Finally.

What if the perfectionism, OCD-similar behaviors that do not align with a true diagnosis of said, etc. are actually behaviors on another continuum?

I would call this one 'inappropriate beliefs of exceptionalism'.  For this post, IBOE for short.  Or is it an overarching psycho-pathology that many of these previously listed behaviors are borne of...???

They (the hoarder) are delicate/misunderstood/traumatized/special.  

You are not, and your adverse childhood (and those as an adult) experiences are discounted, denied, invalidated... 

You are victim blamed, and the hoarder is adept at the wonderful stranger manipulation to get others to join in.

Their belongings/'treasures' (blech) are special.  So much more than relationships, living a life that is not focused on opportunity lost, lived in the museum of overblown slights and the castle of disappointments due to always taking the 'nuclear/scorched earth option' to interpersonal relationships.  We have been trained our whole lives that the hoarder, the hoarder's belongings, EVERYTHING except us, rationality, being proactive or getting out of the way to be a part of a solution is precious.

Now think of the concept of 'exceptionalism' as  it is applied.  The strange form of elitism based on many dysfunctional and oppressive constructs that your 'ways' are superior, and everyone should primarily accommodate you, and an expectation of mind reading seems to be a prerequisite skill.

Hoarding.  No one wins.  No one.

From the Mouth of a Hoarder... Alternate title- Clownshit crazy near the holidays

Greetings!  Yes... It is that time again.  Time for more verbal clutter from the mouth of a hoarder.  

Um... Enjoy?

And here we go...
"Think the shelter women would use a wok?  I have one that is like new and I keep all the boxes for things so I can store them back in their box!"

Of course you do.

"I also have an electric skillet that I got that is too big now that it is just me..."

Wait.  Woah.  Are you talking about the electric skillet that you had when Dad was alive, and that dreadful teflon covered mess of an electric wok that you bought in the early eighties?

"Well, I guess it would be that long maybe [Dad has been gone since Spring of 1989...] but I paid a lot for them and they are just like new!"

Okay.  As the director of a shelter, I would accept them and make over them like they were the best thing since sliced bread... but they would go in the front door, and out the back door to the dumpster.  They are 30-35 years old, and the wiring is that old, electronic safety changes, and from an ethical standpoint... the whole 'it is better than what they have now, nothing'... is not an appropriate outlook.  Look at this stuff dispassionately.  It is just stuff, not a puppy.

"Okay... well... I guess I need to rethink this.  Should I donate them to the Salvation Army?"

Um... same considerations, plus they support discrimination and inequality for LGBTQQIAA folks.

"What about the church that has a rummage sale?"

<Banging head on steering wheel...>
"Does a toaster oven bake or does it just heat up?"

What?  What is your definition of the difference?  Never mind.  I would not attempt to bake a homemade pie from scratch in one, if that is what you are asking.  

"Well, I bought one and have not used it yet.."

Okay, here is a thought.  Most of these 'time/effort saving appliances are simply... NOT.  They end up as clutter and you could use the oven or stove top just as easily.
"Did I tell you the neighbor's property sold?  I cannot imagine who would want that long, skinny lot with the foundation of the burnt house still there.  A woman bought it! <reads name> Wonder if she is old or young?  I cannot imagine building a house on that lot!  And the former neighbors could have sold that 2 years ago to someone, and they refused!..."

"Well, HE was in here last night on the porch!  [Describes in excruciating detail of her little 'traps' she sets so she can tell a door was opened.]
"{Whispering conspiratorially} Did you see the news from here today?"



Do you mean Hector?  [The guy I dated through junior high and 1/2 of high school, and some college who was a high ranking director at a local governmental human service agency, who was forced to resign.]

"Yes!  How did you know about this?  Oh- I suppose you talked to him and did not feel the need to share this!  Who had it in for him!  Wonder what happened?  I was talking to Dr. Wednesday [who went to high school with both of us] and she said that she thought he was the fall guy for something that happened a few weeks ago and..."

Look.  I am aware of it.  I have touched base with him and his wife.  It is their business, and I will not speculate or carry gossip or anything that could be interpreted salaciously.  It is over, and I wish him and his family the best.

"... [The barrage of questions start] And I hope he does not lose everything... that would be AWFUL!"

Hector and his wife are down to earth folks, and they are not real invested in material craziness.  Losing everything sucks, but is not the end of the world.

"...[More questions that I will not answer on his wife's vocation, pay levels, where they live, etc.] So who was the person who had it in for him?"

I am not discussing this any further.  Hector and his family deserve privacy.  Would you like to discuss something else?  No?  Okay.  Buh-bye!  <dial tone>
"...[Droning on about her deaf cat and his latest attempts to jump in the toilet... my theory is he is attempting to para suicide to avoid the misery of that hoarded house and the dysfunction perpetuated by her...] Do you remember when your first cat jumped in the toilet [in 1974!]... What a mess!  You remember that?"

No.  I remember you telling about it many, many times over the years, but do not remember it.  

"[Sputtering] But you were right there!  How can you not remember that?"

I do not have consistent memory of most things, if any, before age 8 or 9, and stuff does not really 'fill in' for me until age 10 or so.

"That is SOOOOO STRANGE!  Why I can remember most everything... But then again, you have had a few 'clonks to the head'..."

This has been an issue since long before my fractured skull and concussions, which did not happen until later teen years.  It is not strange at all, all things considered... it is actually quite typical...

"So I am so sick of the KMart Ad with those men shaking their worms when everyone raised so much hell about that little Cyrus girl shaking her butt..."

To those reading this, I wish you a Happy Holiday Season, whatever you choose to celebrate, in whatever way is meaningful to you.  If you do not celebrate, I wish you a wonderful week.  Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Another episode of... You guessed it! From the Mouth of a Hoarder!

I have been a bit negligent in my posting of late!  

I have continued to limit calls in duration, and frequency to preserve what tenuous grip on sanity I have left at this point...

But- without further delay... more FTMOAH!  Enjoy!
...[Droning on about the peeing behavior of one of her cats...] "So, if I put peroxide on it, it will bubble right?  If it is blood?"  

What?  If you drop peroxide in the cat box on the pee, it will foam because of all the other things in there....


You could just take the cat to the vet if you suspect a urinary infection, crystals or blockage.  That is nothing to delay medical evaluation...
"Those people in the 'barn house' have more money than they know what to do with.  They have decorations up already.  I guess they do have 2 little kids, maybe 2 and 4."

It is the first week of December, many folks decorate after Thanksgiving and having kids most likely is not a huge factor.  Many folks decorate whether they have children or not.  

"Well that is just POINTLESS.  I..."

"I went down to the pantry and found a whole large box of those little reusable containers like deli ham and the like come in.  Apparently I bought some, needed some, and used what I had already or bought more.  I wonder if I could use them to.... [insert inane re-purposing scheme here]."
"Do you still like your car?"

You mean the one I bought less than 3 months ago?  Yes, I like it fine.

"Better than your old one?"

They are different.  There are things I like about each.  But I really like this one so far.  

"Did you think about any other type of car?"

I considered a TL, a TSX, this, an ES 350 and a iS 250 hardtop convertible, but I was sensible and got the sedan iS instead.

"A convertible!  Your dad always thought he had to have a truck and a convertible!  I swear... you were almost born on wheels... [interrupting before I hear the story of my birth for the 5,467,309,834th time]."

I love convertibles, and especially hardtop convertibles.  Soft-tops are fun, but I do not want one as a daily driver.

"The tops are so hard to put up and down..."

Not anymore.  Some are so fast and easy if you are at a traffic light and feel a rain drop you can have the top up with a push of a button, before the light changes.

"Well, the soft ones maybe.  In the 50's I had a hardtop convertible and it was so pretty, and none of that top up and down mess.  They just called it a convertible, the tops did not come off." [The link to her awkward description- ]

<headdesk>  Okay, anyway.  Some day I will have a convertible because I like the top down.  Maybe the next car.

"So how much does a car like yours cost?"

Have a great one everyone.  Thank you for reading.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

When is enough, simply enough?

The title is a rhetorical question... on two levels.  I will start with the larger question.

In the past few days, an 11 year old boy was found by a deputy in North Carolina.  He was handcuffed to the porch, and had a dead chicken around his neck.  The video on the story can be viewed here.  You might be saying... "How terrible... Lisabeth... how does this relate?" Bear with me a minute.  If you have the iPad or iPhone app, look at it on CNN/US.  Also, in an AP link that for some reason is eluding me... the information contained in the initial CNN mobile site story is there.  So, between the 3 stories referenced here, and the countless others I have seen over the past little bit, the "Cliff's Notes' are as follows:

  • The perpetrators are both 57 years old.
  • They have 4 adopted children, and one foster child.
  • The foster child was the one who was handcuffed to the porch with the dead chicken around his neck.
  • The woman in the case is a SUPERVISOR at the area DSS.  She is a Department of Social Services SUPERVISOR... Let that sink in for a minute, eh?
  • The police officer that made this discovery was actually enroute to another house when he spotted this.  This was a discovery of misadventure.
  • The man was not cooperative upon being contacted, and one of the kids opened the door and released a dog that chased the officer to his car.
  • When the officer returned, the child was in the house, the chicken was on the porch...
  • In the CNN mobile app this morning (11/17/2013) both a law enforcement official and a member of the press stated that the situation was one of utter misery and squalor.  They remarked on the animals running in and out, and the farm animals roaming on the property.  The entire place stunk of feces and urine, and there was lots of junk...
So- in a word... HOARDERS.  And no one said the word.  And the woman?  In the management chain of DSS.  Wonder how many other children she damned to a life in the shadow of the hoard?  Besides the 5 that are now in CPS custody out of state.  

The upshot is, until all of us as community members make our elected officials, our members of law enforcement, our first responders, et al aware that we consider this to be a form of child maltreatment, and we continue to advocate for the children, there is little hope of a child escaping the hoard without significant trauma, and some do not escape at all.

What can we do?  Advocate.  Loudly.  Many of us, vociferously.  We can contact our housing multidisciplinary teams.  We can contact the Area Offices on Aging, find Hoarding Task Forces, or demand they be assembled, and demand that the focus not be solely on the hoarding person, but on on those in the home as well.

So... switching gears slightly.  I know I have been rather 'on' or 'off' since my surgery in August.  I am still healing, and long story short, things have continued to not be what I would call 'linear'.  

Some of the challenges I have been dealing with include:
  • Continuing to lose muscle mass and drop in weight.  I went down to under 112lbs without trying to.
  • Attempting to catch up and dig out at work, and it has been hellishly busy, and I am still buried from 2 months off.
  • I had an allergic reaction because I am an idiot, (I ate turkey pepperoni despite a text warning me as I was flying low from NY to my best friend's home for his daughter's 3rd birthday party.  I saw the gist of it, but did not connect the dots.  Luckily, I caught it within 3 minutes, purged the 2 slices, and got liquid Benadryl caps that I opened and swallowed immediately.  No epi pen needed... this time.  Now however, I am hoarse, (had NO VOICE for 3 days) and appear to be dead with a cold, although it is not.
  • Went to my specialist who was not aware of the events since June and July.  She FREAKED on me, screaming at me that I was underweight (duh) and needed to gain 12 pounds NOW.  (Double duh).  She disagreed with some of the surgeons decisions, and set me up for nasty and unpleasant tests.  On the positive side, she took me off 2 meds, decreased one in half, and said I should start gaining weight.  I have!  I am staying between 115 and 117 for right now, and I am actually hungry.  And eating!  And now I actually have some energy, and my sleep/wake schedule is resuming somewhat a normal rhythm.  I am losing my 'bracket face' and have resumed the gym, today I did three miles on the stepper.  Not much, but a start.
  • My nerve damage issues have continued to be on or off.  Travel, eating, illness, med changes... it has been UGLY.
  • I had a thyroid/parathyroid tumor scare.  It is not totally resolved, but it is not the frightening issue presented to me last week.
  • Once I am back to near 100%, I will be scheduled for another bone scan, and hopefully, a genetic test to look for BRCA 1, BRCA 2, and other cancer indicators.
Again, I do not need a 'wahbulance' but life has not been all rainbows and puppy dogs for Lisabeth, and I did not expect it to be that way.  I am grateful to be here, to be back at work, to be cancer free.

So... where the piss off at my hoarding mother dearest occurs... 

Last night I attended the wedding of friends.  It was beautiful, and fun.  The reception ended 6 hours later, and since it was relatively early, and I had not talked to her in a few days, I called.  

The call consisted mainly of:
  • Her commenting on how hoarse I sound, and using that as a springboard to talk about her many maladies and to ask bizarre questions.  I will spare you the questions, but they are of the type that comes from someone with nothing else to do but look at every bump, lump, and excretion of her body, and pathologize it.
  • She commented on the 'actress' (GAH!) that had her 'stuff' removed due to her mother dying of 'that'.  She meant Angelina Jolie, the actor and human rights activist, and her mother's death from Ovarian cancer... and her being tested for the breast cancer gene, and getting a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, hysterectomy and her ovaries, etc. removed.  I made the DIRE MISTAKE of commenting that I would be doing the testing soon and might have similar decisions to make (not commenting that she could have done this under her insurance at no cost and refused a few years ago).  She was appalled, and started her BS about breast implants, cancer, and etc.  I cut the discussion off brutally.
  • She said she had something to tell me that was not pleasant, was disgusting, and I knew she was going to turn to discussing her poo.  Again, I will save you the unsavory particulars... but she asked if I was still having 'trouble' (referring to my partially paralyzed colon).  I very quickly and acidly told her I. DID. NOT. WANT. TO. TALK. ABOUT. IT.  She responded with a rebuke that she is just trying to be helpful, and plowed on with her 'discussion' that I would clog my toliet up like she did today, and then attempted to go into the details of the 'event' and its particulars that caused it, her phone calls to plumbers, the recommendation to buy an acid product (that we have at my shelter BTW) and how she used vinegar to unstop it.  I hung up on her.  
Not that this is to the level of anything near the hoarders who severely abused that child.  But- one thing is similar, and it is this amazing sense of entitlement that they do not have to follow anyone's set of boundaries.  They are above or beyond the law, society's conventions, and the boundaries of appropriateness.  It is always about them, what they want, what they experience, their priorities, and their screwed up narcissistic perceptions.  

What was a lovely evening filled with love, fun, food, music and laughter was eroded somewhat in just a few minutes on the phone.  I should have known better.  When will I learn?  And when is enough, enough?  

Dysfunction flourishes in silence.  Abuse grows in secret.  Keeping the secret... protecting the hoard.  After over 44 years, I am done being silent and keeping the status quo.  

Thanks for reading.

Narcissism is often co-occurring with Hoarding...

Sorry, I am extremely annoyed at my hoarding parent, my friend's hoarding parent, and a pair of hoarding parents in the news on the AP and CNN (US) that abused children, and had a small child handcuffed to the front porch with a dead chicken affixed to the child's neck. The news crews discuss the 'misery' of the home, the filth, the smell, the animals- BUT NEVER USE THE WORD HOARDING.

Hoarding- It comes down to the mental illness, the refusal to do anything to help themselves or their families, the addiction, and the abuse/use of power and control.

-Hoarding... It is not about the stuff... That is merely a symptom of a life threatening mental illness.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Wow. How small and inconsequential she has allowed her world to be...

Called my hoarding mother today.  I had been out of town for the weekend visiting a friend, and had not talked to her since last Wednesday?  Thursday?  I am not sure what day it was.

I am sure that I did tell her I was going upstate and that I would call when I returned.  

So- when I called I was not surprised when she had to make a comment about not hearing from me.  "So, what happened to you?"  Why?  "Well, I did not hear anything, so I did not know..."

Okay.  For the sake of argument, let's assume that she DID NOT remember my trip north.  Let's assume that she does not go over to her monthly calendar when we talk and write down any days I mention I might be off, trips I am planning, etc.  (My aunt and 1/2 sister shared she does this.)

If you were concerned something was wrong... wouldn't you pick up the phone and call?  No?  Really?  Well okay then.  So be it.  

She amazes me.  After asking several probing and pretty nosy questions about my weekend, my trip, my best friend's daughter's 3rd birthday party and new house, and getting NOTHING she moved on to the usual subjects.

  1. Her recently extracted tooth.  Think she should use a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water?  I told her to call her dentist.  She said to this- "All they know how to say is salt water rinse..."  Well, okay then, do what you want.
  2. Her neighbor to the rear, and her social activities with her new boyfriend. "She has 'run' with him more in the past few months than she did in all the years she was married to her [former abusive and deceased husband]."  
  3. Talking about her strained relationship with her stepson (the neighbor in #3) and speculating, and offering her opinion on dealing with it, which, by the way is ALWAYS the nuclear option.
  4. Complaining about the next door neighbor, how many vehicles they have, that the yard looks like a 'junk yard' and complaining about all the stuff outside.
  5. Complaining that the same neighbors park 4 cars against the fence to benefit from her dusk to dawn light and do not even turn on their front porch light.  The NERVE! 
  6. How she had planned 'if she ever got the basement cleared out' to put her crappy, hoarded, peed on and gross living room furniture downstairs and have that be the animals' apartment.  "I guess that will never happen... long suffering sigh..."  I did state there are people who help with that kind of thing, that I could give her some names... she acted like she did not hear it of course.
  7. She was complaining about a neighbor of a hoardy acquaintance.  The neighbor of this woman is a Realtor  and at one time this person was moving to a faraway state, and listed the house.  Of course that blew up in a hoarded fury and she returned.  She allegedly, from across the street, overheard this woman tell a visitor that she could not even show the house, it smelled so bad of cigarettes and pee.  My hoarding mother was all indignant, and was getting on her soapbox.  I took the wind out of her sails by telling her ... "It's true.  Remember the stuff you sent me from her?  It simply REEKED."  Sputter, sputter, excuse, excuse.  Stated she has been in her house and she does not smell a thing!  Um... reminded her she cannot smell at all.  Reminded her of the previous dog's incontinence, and the fact she has never housebroken her puppy.  I suspect that subject will not come up again anytime soon.
I was waiting for her to say something like... "Now I suppose you will say my house stinks..." but she did not.  I think she knows better.

WOW.  Nothing earth shattering... but again, the level of insight is spectacularly poor, yet she is still able to maintain her stance of denial.

<Shaking my head>  Enjoy your week, and thank you for reading.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

From the Mouth of a Hoarder - A moment of levity

Sharing a funny moment from a recent conversation with my hoarding mother.

She apparently was watching one of those compilation TV shows where they show video clip after video clip.  This one was of naked people in situations that one would normally NOT expect to encounter naked.  As my State Trooper friend says, any nakey in public is bad nakey....

Anyway.  A gentleman was streaking, and another person chased him down, grabbed his penis, and would not let go and they were fighting.  Later the police arrived and slammed this guy into the face-down control position.  So...

"I am sure landing on the concrete on his 'worm' did not feel very good, and having someone grab it...  [more utter nonsense about men's anatomies]."  

Um, yeah, I am sure it did not.  You do know, right, that although that is a sensitive part, it is the testicles that are really sensitive and can take someone down quickly and it would stand to reason that often trauma to the penis also exerts trauma on the scrotum...

"NO!  I did not know that... I fail to see..."

Seriously?  How long were you married?  (And she was married to Dad almost 25 years, and I do not know the duration of her first marriage, or the second marriage that she does not know that I know about...)

"...what is so wonderful about little boy's and their worms.  All that garbage hanging in front!  Little boy babies are not pretty.  At least little girls are neat and all tucked in..."

GOTTA GO.  <dial tone>

Wow.  I mean... WOW.  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

One more little tidbit...

I did not include this in my last entry because, quite bluntly, it flat pissed me off and I needed to let it roll off, sit a while, and then take a look at it.

Ahhhhh. Dissociation and compartmentalization- maladaptive coping skills we learn to survive our hoarding parents...

In this most recent conversation with the neighbor of my hoarding mother's... She shared that mother has adamantly stated to her (when I married my first, and second husbands and over the years repeatedly) in the most nasty way possible.

"I hope Lisabeth never has children! I do not want grandchildren!"

When the neighbor gently tried or tries to redirect her that my choice to have children, to delay child rearing, to not have children, to adopt, to foster... Is my choice, and not anyone's business but mine and possibly my spouse.

My mother's response to this? "Lisabeth does NOT NEED to have kids. Ever! SHE SHOULD NOT HAVE THEM!!! She doesn't take care of anything and ...[insert 1/2 truth or full out lie here of my current or past shortcomings of character or failure to do what I 'should' have done]."

This conversation has happened many, many times over the span of years since I was living with my first husband before we married. (Which she did not approve of, both the man and living in sin... Strangely, she did not want me to marry the second time or have a wedding because 'I had been married before... And she seems to forget my father was her third husband... That I know of. But I digress.)

Am I surprised? No. Just absolutely disgusted at her arrogance, her hypocrisy her mendacity, her narcissism.

I certainly hope for her sake that she never decides to share these little golden tidbits of wisdom with me, directly or indirectly. She will not like my response... And I am certain this will bring on the final estrangement.

My thoughts currently are this... Ya know mother... Even as a small child- not that I have many memories before about age 8 or 9, but the few hellish ones I do have, and the stories shared by my grandmother and dad's relatives- even as a small, small child I never played dolls to be 'mommy'. If asked if I wanted to be a mother the answer was always an empathic NO. As a teen I never thought about having a child, never daydreamed about kids or a family of that sort. You know why, mother dearest? Because of YOU. I associated being a mother with the abject, batshit-crazy, HELL I lived every. single. day... As I grew older, I made a conscious decision that the crazy ends with me. Abuse is often a legacy- and I am breaking that chain.

Do I regret choosing to not have children? Absolutely not. Maybe if I had partnered differently, I might have felt differently. I jumped into two marriages because I was seeking to find something I did not have... And still truly do not. A place I truly and irrevocably belong. It took my almost 40 years on this earth to figure that out, and thankfully, I can own my own role in my choices and the path I have taken in this life. One of my strengths has also been one of my largest challenges... My ambition, drive, success and work ethic. That is a coping mechanism as well. Like some folks drink or use substances to avoid pain, I work. I also had very little choice but to succeed. In most everything, I had one chance, and failure was not an option. It would damn me to the hoard, or the shadow if it, and YOU. Like in school. I had one shot to get the hell out of that town and away from you. And I went for broke.

Oh- and mother dearest? I was pregnant at my dad's funeral. Despite taking my birth control faithfully, it failed. (Antibiotic use). I got tested at the health center, but they said I was not pregnant. If I would have known I was at barely 19 and living in my car... I would have had to make a difficult choice. And I know that it would not have been to be a mother. But you do not know that. And if you did...

I bet my mother was absolutely thrilled when after battling very early stage cervical cancer from 1997-1999 and later when I had endrometrial late stage dysplasia/early stage cancer in 2007 I had an emergency hysterectomy. This latest health issue that nearly killed me? Took most everything else 'down there'. Soon I will have the genetic testing and if it comes back positive for any of those cancer genes, everything else that is still here is leaving. Breasts too. All of it. I have to wonder if she was relieved at some level when I had my uterus removed and when I decided to remain single and to embrace my fate of walking truly alone and untethered in this world. Wonder if that made her happy? I bet it did.

But... After further thought... Probably not. I could still adopt or still partner with someone with children or grandchildren.

No worries there, mother. Even if it did happen (adoption, fostering or a new relationship with children)... You would NEVER access to the children. Ever. You would never meet them.

That is a promise. Now with this I lay this aside. Strangely enough, normally writing about things makes me feel a bit better. This makes me feel like I am simultaneously going to puke and fall over, my chest hurts so badly. It is not a panic attack or anything of that sort (thank goodness I somehow escaped anxiety d/o and depression...) but I think this hits me dead-center, close to my core. It is like the indigestion-like sickness after getting really sick on tainted food. I think I just purged myself of the worst of it.

For her sake... I hope this is not one 'scab' she wants to pick at. She will not like the results.

Good night all. Thank you for reading.

-Hoarding... It is not about the stuff... That is merely a symptom of a life threatening mental illness.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Egads... She is crazier than I apparently thought

Today I spoke with my hoarding mother's neighbor that lives behind her.  This is the neighbor that tried to make contact with my mother during the Derecho, and my mother gets so upset with if you are a reader of past blogs.

Long story slightly abbreviated, this person and I are Facebook friends.  The biological mother of her two stepchildren died last week while she was out of town on vacation, and prior to her new relationship, they were best friends... But the former wife of her now deceased husband was estranged from her, and she is grieving the loss of her friend, and the circumstances of her death are not making it easier.  And my hoarding mother?  She FEEDS off of misery.  The reader that called her 'Mompire' was dead-spot-on!  I heard about this through my mother's perspective... and I sent her a text letting her know I was sorry, thinking of her, and to call anytime.

She did.  She is also only calling my mother once or twice a week because of her escalating negativity.  The last time I spoke with mother, she shared a little story of how this neighbor "is not the person she thought she was" and that she heard something on the baby monitor she has set up in the detached, hoarded and barricaded garage.  She stated that she called this neighbor, and the neighbor was there with her live-in-boyfriend but did not answer or call back for 90 minutes.  She stated all she wanted was for her to turn on her back lights. I pointed out, again, that her house was so far away that was not going to be helpful... and she launched into the normal rant of calling the police does not do any good, that she was hesitant about going out since she "is not a match for anyone right now." 

So... in this call, my mother's neighbor shared the following:

That my mother did not ask her to turn on the light, she knows this neighbor has a concealed carry (as does she, frighteningly enough!) and asked her to reach her gun out the back window in shoot it in the air... Of course the neighbor declined!

In the following conversation, she shared these additional gems from my crazy mother:

  • Mother has told her on many occasions that she has bought me several cars, including the new Z that I had when I graduated from college with my undergraduate degree.
    • Truth-  NO.  She did not.  My first car was a gift from my grandmother and my father.  (It was my grandmother's then 15-year-old car).  My second car was purchased by me, my third was inherited from my grandmother...  She did give me a nice chunk (about 1/4 of the cost) on the 1990 Z that I purchased after an - idiot totaled my fourth car (that I paid for as well).  I am appreciative, but NO.  She did not buy me 'almost every car I had'.
  • She also asserts that I am so lucky that she paid for my college (undergrad) so I did not have student loans.
    • Truth-  NO.  She did not.  With my ACT and SAT scores I had full scholarships, and SHOCKER, mother never provided the information needed to submit/accept the money to my dad, so he paid out of his credit union account for those semesters.  He had promised to send/pay for as far as I wanted to go... and I worked like a dog every Friday through Monday at a retail store to also ensure I had money.  With my grandmother and my father dying 4 months apart, when my grandmother's house sold, she had went through my dad's check book, etc. and determined he had paid $27,000 for me.  I wrote her a check.  Little did I know, but my personal account that my grandmother was on with me had been closed (and I never saw a cent of the nearly $7,000 that was in there).  Sadly, due to dad dying so close to his mother, she was able to grab the money in my trust fund.  Roughly $500,000 I lost all told, and that summer I ended up living in my car for six weeks.  I made class, and got through it.
  • She has also told this neighbor the revisionist history that our home life was like Ozzy and Harriet- other than my grandmother let me rebel in junior high and high school, and all of that.  The neighbor remembers first hand mother's actions at the viewing and the funeral, complaining to everyone that I was drinking and using drugs, that I broke my father's heart, etc.  News flash for her, I had never even TRIED drugs.  And I had taken, and maxed out on the MCAT and was preliminary accepted to medical school.  And was a Chem/Biology double major.  She remembered when the closed the casket my mother turning on me and she and her sister savaging me in front of everyone.  She did not know they locked me out of the limo, and my best friends took me to the grave site, and I left my hometown that night with my boyfriend, his mother, and my college roommate and returned to dorm.  
  • My mother told her that when dad died, that she was there, holding his hand, blah, blah, blah...
    • Truth-  NO.  She was NOT.  I was.  She was holding court in the hallway with the nurses, talking about him like he was already dead.  I held his hand, watched him go, felt his hand go cold in mine... and when she returned to the room, her first words were "It is your fault your dad is dead..."  The three hour ride home with her was horrible, and when I arrived her sister gave me a helping of the same.

I think you get the picture.  This is basically the 'Cliff Notes' edition.  I knew that she lies, of course, and I knew she reinvents history.  But this is further proof that I have no way of knowing what is reality and what is her manipulation and machinations.  And these conversations with this neighbor?  Not many years ago.  Recently.  As in the past several weeks... because she harps on the same stories over and over again.

The neighbor offered to help as she can, and she asked what I was going to do if she keep declining.  

I simply... do... not... know.  I keep saying it, but this is not going to end well.  Oh- and her conversation with me that she made me POD on some of her accounts and the executrix in her new will, yadda yadda?  She told the neighbor I am in for a surprise... that she is leaving it all to the Humane Society.  And honestly, I hope that is true.  A legacy of a hoarded house and all the trappings that go with it?  That gives me nightmares.  I have never wanted a cent from her, and I still don't.  Sad.  I hope her belongings, and any of the money she still has, keeps her company.  She is reaping what she has sown, sadly.  She sits alone every day, on mother's day, on her birthday, on Christmas.  

Hoarding... no one wins.  NO ONE.  Good night everyone.