Sunday, March 31, 2013

A note to all the blogs and websites that support this blog with a link!


I admit it.  I am woefully ignorant and technologically inept when it comes to Blogspot.  I have many blogs that have supported me, send traffic my way, and the blog owners have given me encouragement, feedback, and launched me.

And do I have their links on my blog home page?  NO.  Not because I do not want to... I desparately do!  Because I am obviously NOT seeing the important step of how to do it.

If anyone would be kind enough to offer advice I would most appreciate it!  And I will keep trying.  I promise. 

A special note of thanks to:

  • All the folks in leadership at the Children of Hoarders website
  • Joe Hoarderson
  • Mother In Law Sitting Between Us
  • Hoarders Daughter
And many, many others that I want to link to and thank. 

Some salient points have been reinforced of late

To those that celebrate Easter, Happy Easter!  Today I spent the day recharging myself, spending time with the 2 most amazing cats (my furry family).  This weekend I took a large part of it off, and although I will have a large price to pay over the next month, I needed these three days ... to only do what I wanted, needed, had to do. 

I reconnected with some friends that I have sadly neglected due to my crazy work schedule the past few months... and I am working to once again achieve balance.  I am really working to move past the 'all or nothing' or perfectionist perspective that I was indoctrinated with by my hoarding mother.  I have a huge list of things that I have a deadline for at work.  And I will get them done.  I should have 'deep cleaned' my apartment (although it is company ready now!) and went to the grocery.  I did not.  Because this weekend, self care was the priority.  And reconnecting with those most important to me... my family of choice.

Now- bear with me, this may be a bit a long and twisty, but...  In the past few months work has been demanding.  Lots of lobbying, advocacy, new staff, and all grants are due for renewal... plus 2 events coming up and ... you get the picture.  I have worked crazy hours, worked every day, and let my life get out of balance.  Somehow I have drug myself to the gym 3 times a week, but it was a fight.  Happily, I am 92 pounds down, and 21 lbs from goal.  Only 8 from a calculated BMI of 25.  Through all of this, although I am an introvert and enjoy my own company, I felt isolated.  I was isolated.  By my own excess... (work).  And to that end, I thought about the isolation my hoarding mother imposes on herself.  About her inability to see things from another perspective, to be part of her own (or anyone else's) solution, to set achievable goals that are set in reality, and to accept responsibility/be accountable for her own life.  Not that I am perfect.  Obviously I am not. 

I spoke with some other COH's online this week, and have lurked in the online support group.  On top of that, speaking to my mother, highlights the true sickness, the narcissism, the addiction of hoarding.  To her and many, if not all, hoarders- their overarching coping mechanisms focus on the abuse of power and control.  Within that framework, several things are relatively consistent with most hoarders, if you can dig deep enough.  They are:
  • Narcissistic and manipulative parenting
  • Lack of empathy or compassion 
  • Extreme rigidity
  • Lack of boundaries and limits
  • Refusal to look at data in a holistic way that would result in a reasonable conclusion
If you were so motivated to look back at the 40-something posts here on this blog (if you are a complete masochist), you would be able to group them into these categories.  Much of my posting has been on the horrendous things that come out of her mouth, and her refusal to see things from any other perspective than her own.  I see her constantly revising history and her rumination and negativity as stemming from the above. 

It appears to me that the life of a hoarder (especially one as close to the utterly dysfunctional/abusive end of the behavioral continuum as mine) is both full and empty at the same time.  It is empty of the things that most find rewarding... like reciprocal friendships, evolving and loving relationships with family, activities that bring joy to them and others... the list could be huge.  What the hoarder's life is chock full of, other than useless stuff, is bitterness, anger, and fear. 

That is simply so sad.  I heard a statistic from a respected hoarding researcher that less than 7% of those who receive therapeutic intervention for hoarding show any sign of substantive improvement.  And more frighteningly... there is a 100% failure rate on curing it.  (Now, I have an email into the person citing these stats so I can annotate/cite them correctly).  That tells me that to date, the current way of treatment is an utter failure.  This, in my mind, would be like working with the perpetrators of domestic violence and asking them gently about the times they used power and control, and asking them to maybe not use a baseball bat on their significant other, but to just punch them.  And the family?  Sorry!  If you are not willing to submit to the continued abuse, you are obviously part of the problem.  Is this a harsh analogy?  Yes.  Exaggerated for effect?  Yes.  Accurate nonetheless?  YES.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Dear Prudence - Hoarding

See the last story/question...

- Hoarding... NO ONE wins. No one.
And, no matter what, your hoarding parent's situation is NOT your fault.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

No appropriately snarky title for this one... Out of the mouth of a hoarder... Take 231,984

What do you say to these types of things?  All are direct quotes from the past few days.  

"You know what that ba$t@rd did when he broke into the garage?  He got in my car and loosened my seatbelt.  Now where it bolts onto the floor, it is floppy!  I have to find someone to fix it!  The last worthless [add the past 5 or so service places she went psycho on] said there was nothing wrong with it."  Could it be because the car is 20 years old?

"I know 'in the turn' [her supersecret name for her hated neighbor- because 'someone' might be listening or recording her phone calls]has been up here again.  He stuffed dirt and sticks into the drain in front of the garage [that has a dirt/gravel driveway and bushes around it].  He also has been cutting branches off my pear tree, and throwing them down like they fell..."

"[Discussing her newest 'Wonderful Stranger' the next street over who seems to be seriously hoardy if not a hoarder herself...] He [hated neighbor] stood and watched while she pulled the stuff out of my gutters a couple of summers ago, and guess what!  Last night all her sensor light bulbs are broken out.  I think it is a bit too much to be a coincidence for her to have lived her over 40 years and this is the first time something like THAT happened.  Why I just bet that he saw her car and..."  SMH.  Of course.  The 2, 3 or 4 year lag time was just to throw you off the case.  

"I wish there were bands of vigilantes I could hire..."  *crickets chirping*
"That s*n of a b!t@$.  I was on my last bag of birdseed, and he took it!  Took my dustpan too.  [Begins long monologue of everything that family has done to offend her since 1968... Such as breathing, existing, stealing soda returnable bottles off the porch in 1975 when he was a preteen, making different choices and setting some boundaries with her.  And a lost dustpan and a partial bag of birdseed is a fate equal to sentencing someone to death.]"

"There has been a black truck in [hated neighbor's] driveway for weeks now!  I first thought it was his daughter's or maybe he found another tramp, but some guy came out today and got in it.  I think he must be renting a room!  That house is too small to be a rooming house!  And you know that 'crony' has to be as big of a piece of trash as he is!  People of that caliber hang together!  Wonder if that is allowed on his probation?  I wonder what is GOING ON THERE!..."  Maybe he has company?  That is sinister!

"[Dramatically]I have a question for you... and I want an answer! "  
*Crickets chirping, with such a hard eyeroll that I think I sprained my eyeball...*  
"What color is the [goes into great and bizarre detail describing the chin spoiler on her 20 year old car] supposed to be?  Chrome?"
No.  It is black plastic, but by this time I assume it is more of a charcoal to medium gray.  Why?
"Well I saw it today and I wondered if someone had switched it out with a crappy one or ..."
The only thing 'chrome' looking on your car is the manufacturer emblems on the hood and the tailgate, and your tailpipe finisher.  Your wheels are aluminum.

There are many more, but it is again the endless speculation and assumptions that are not based in any sort of reality.  

Simply... Ugh.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

She found an unidentified [poo] object in her basement.

Sometimes I am at a loss for words.  Not often... but sometimes.  Last week I called my hoarding mother to check in.  And so the fun began.

"The weirdest and craziest thing happened today.  It was UNREAL."

[Okay.  That statement instantly makes me tense up, since I know that it is going to be one of two things, both that I allow to make me angry:

  1. It will be something so mundane, something that is not an issue or a problem, that she will magnify to the 1,000,000,000,000,000th degree or more...
  2. It will be simply... batshit crazy...
So I brace myself mentally...]

"Aren't you going to ask me what?"

*crickets chirping*

"...[Long monologue of her trying morning and what she meant to do spoken as if she were Sisyphus pushing the rock, which is basically 1/10th of what most folks accomplish in the AM before coffee] and then I went downstairs for the first time in a week and I found it.  [Silence- waiting for me to ask or show interest.  She finally continues on...] It was there at the foot of the stairs! I went outside and checked all the windows, and there are no openings!  It was like a curled up leaf, and it had birdseed through it! [I will spare you the back and forth, but it was apparently poo of some sort.  And her cats never go down stairs.  And she simply would not say the word poo, turd, shit or any other word that describes feces.  When I asked her more than once directly - she would say, weakly... "I guess" but would not call it what it was.]"

"I picked it up with [long boring monologue of the extreme precautions she used to pick up the poo] and it did not have a smell."

Did you smell it?  


Okay, you have no sense of smell.  So it would have to be horrifically smelly for you to determine an odor, correct? 

"I guess."

No way it is a cocoon that hatched?  Is it hollow?  Is it poo?  Could there be birdseed you forgot about in the basement?  [Keep in mind, this is the 14 block basement that is hoarded completely to only 18 inches or so below the ceiling.]  

"No..." And the denial begins.  And the weird description of the poo without using the normal poo-like terms.  She asserts she knows every stick of what is in there.  Every item, every piece.  

I ask if her recollection of that is similar to the recollection that resulted in the harvest of chocolate chips dated 1983 in her freezer (yes- she writes the date on each item in a sharpie, and has as long as I can remember).  Or the steaks she found dated 1991 or 1992.  She got annoyed at that point.

Our conversation evolved to her continuing her escalating monologue of asking herself questions and answering... talking about mice, rats, and other vermin and what their poo looks like.  Well- her conversation.  I looked in my review mirror and realized I was speeding down the highway with a godawful grimace on my face.

She has been throwing all kinds of bread, cereal, and other crap down 'for the birds' and it has been drawing skunks, possums, raccoons and other types of vermin into the yard which she thinks is 'cute'.  She also feeds many feral cats and has found possums and skunks in the jacked up, hoardy set up she has for them.  Surprise, surprise, surprise.  NOT.  About 10 years ago she had a plastic can on the porch with birdseed in it, and field mice chewed through it, and there were about 40 mice on the sun porch at any time, and she refused to do anything about them since they were 'cute'.  Until she saw one go up the foundation and disappear under the siding.  Then she got poison and killed them, claiming none made it into the house.  I call BS on that one.  She also continued to speculate that rat poo looks like big mouse poo.  I replied that depends on what they have been eating:-)

I reminded her of the many warnings I have given her about encouraging the 'critters' to use her yard as a feeding location, and advised her that houses with a lot of stuff in them like hers often end up with some sort of infestation.  She was absolutely beside herself denying that was possible.  She stated the cats would want down there if anything was there, and upon hearing that the stairs would stink of human, the house, and the cats, and most rodents, et al are nocturnal, and she takes her hearing aid out, and confines the cats to the bathroom-gulag-hell at night... The denial went into overdrive.  

She started getting angry when I suggested that a possum or something could have found its way in like the mouse tried to.  [Evil I know, but sometimes passive aggressive turnabout is one of the few benefits I get to these conversations.]

Finally, I asked if there was a State University Agricultural Extension Office in her town.  She could take the 'item' there and possibly know what it was.  Or, stop by Fish and Game.  [They can throw money, I know they will want to thank me!]  She did not say it, but I could almost hear her mind churning ... doing that would acknowledge she had something in her house!  The HORROR!

That was the only solution I offered.  After the Debit Card Debacle... [see a few blogs ago] I am not giving her any solutions.  It is a waste of effort.  She started complaining that she did not want people in the house because they steal everything and no one will do anything right and no one wants to work... Yadda, yadda... BOO.

I advised her that it would be nearly impossible to exterminate the basement with the amount of stuff that was there.  Her response?

"Well.  The only reason I do that is to block the windows so {the hated neighbor in the turn} can't get in here.  It is my security system."

Um- it was that way before {hated neighbor} returned to the area.

"He is escalating!  He will get in here!  It is just a matter of time!"

I am concerned that if you have something in there, the house is a fire/deathtrap anyway with all the stuff and the wiring that has not been updated since the house was built in 1966 or 68 or whenever, and has not been maintained.

"I need to keep those windows blocked!  I have to..."

Okay.  Here.  Gotta go.


Subsequent conversations?  The mystery poo has not been mentioned.  And I am not asking.  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

An unrelated bit of humor

Two of my favorite things... Tardar Sauce and Quiser(sp?)

- Hoarding... NO ONE wins. No one.
And, no matter what, your hoarding parent's situation is NOT your fault.

Sunday, March 3, 2013