Saturday, June 29, 2013

Bizarre conversation

Prattling on endlessly about 'Funniest Videos' which my hoarding mother watches obsessively and tells me about in excruciating detail...

"I fail to see what is so wonderful and the big deal about that worm hanging between their legs! You would think it is such a big thing when men hit it! It hurts as a girl gets kicked in the crotch too! And you don't see all the carrying on and laying on the ground and the like!"

[Apparently either the 'Nasty Files' or the 'Head or ...?' portion of the show has offended her sense of ... Never mind.]

Um. Most generally, when you see a reaction like that it is mainly in response to the blow they took to the balls...

"Well! The WORM is in front! And..."

I cannot speak from experience of course, but from what I have been told, a small bump or shot to the testicles is extremely painful, and in addition to the pain, guys often feel like they are going to crap their pants, blow lunch, or both, and those good feelings hang on for a while after the blow. One of the dangers of having your sexual organs external like that, and from an evolutionary standpoint it is probably to ensure that the testes/semen remain the proper temperature for ...

" I fail to see what is oh-so-wonderful about that mess dangling between their legs that they think is so great... And mothers and their 'widdle boys' with their 'widdle worms'. BLECH! Why I..."

Gotta go. Bye.
I won't even get into her internalized sexism that the male of the species are 'men' or 'guys' and a female of any age is a 'girl'.

Can you imagine if I had been male? I would not have been able to use my recycled name! The outrage she would had! Oh well:)

Enjoy your day!

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

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What is in a name- especially my name? The second generation replacement child...

Last week I had the pleasure of spending time with some of my friends who are Children of Hoarders.  While we are together, we laugh, we play, we come together like family.  We also share experiences from time to time.

We were at a wonderful barbecue place in NOLA, and there were 7 or 8 of us sharing dinners, appetizers, drinks, laughing and telling stories.  I mentioned something and did not think all that much about it...

I was speaking to my respect for my mother.  I know from the past 60-something posts here it would seem that I have little to none for her.  That is not entirely true.  My mother survived a horrendous childhood of incest, domestic violence, and running away to have her baby in an unwed mother's home in the early 1950's.  She was not going to give her pedophile father another child to abuse.  

I get chills when I think of her hiding her pregnancy, planning her escape, and after the birth of her child, giving that baby to the nuns, and being summarily returned to her parents where her hell on earth escalated until she turned 21 and escaped.  

I did not know that I had a 1/2 sibling until I was in my late 20's, in the mid-1990's.  And, in a story for another time, the news was delivered in the most convoluted, screwed up, controlled way ever.  But my mother asserted that my dead father knew, and was okay with everything.  I doubted it at that time, because my dad had made some comments about pregnancy that would be insensitive at best, cruel at worst, if that were the situation.  Dad may have shared my sick and dark sense of humor, but intentionally cruel he was not.  

About 10 years ago, my 1/2 sister shared a secret with me, a secret that she and my aunt had been hinting at that they would tell me 'after my mother was gone.'  I finally got tired of the dramatic foreshadowing and stated that they either needed to tell me or to keep it to themselves, because I was done with the bullsh*t.  

So my sister told me.  Apparently my name is recycled.  I am also a replacement child.  She secured her original birth certificate, and the name given to her by my mother was my first and middle name.  I guess when the hoarders are in the narcissism of hoarding, others do not exist except as a support to the person who hoards.

I flashed to a conversation with my father at one of our family graveyards in a rural town about 2 hours east of my hometown.  I might have been 9 or 10 at the oldest.  We were visiting his father's grave with his mother, and I spotted a small stone that stood to the side, and it simply was inscribed 'Infant Grey'.  I asked my father about it...
Dad- who is that?
"It is my older brother.  He died during birth, many years before I was born."
Why did he not have a name?
"He would have, Lisabeth.  [Looking away and speaking in a strained voice]... He would have had my name."
He would have been _____?
"Yes.  The first born males in our family alternate the two family names.  My father was named ______ _____ and my brother would have been named my name.  I was not born until many, many years later"
If he would have lived, what would your name have been?
"...I ... do not know Lisabeth.  Here comes Mom, please let's not discuss this in front of her.  She still gets very upset about it."
Okay.  Promise.

I was a bit too young to understand entirely, but I understood a sad and profound moment had passed between my father and I.  In later years, he made small references to that, and shared more about his parents.  Apparently my grandmother had quickened early in the marriage, but the birth was difficult and the baby died within minutes of delivery.  She was devastated, and struggled with the grief.  She did not conceive again for many years, and when she did, Dad was the focus of her life.  But, he always felt the shadow of his infant yet deceased brother.

I knew at the moment my sister shared that information that he DID NOT KNOW.  Another piece of my mother's revisionist history.  A couple of days later, the copy of the original birth certificate arrived. It was true.  I was a replacement child.  My years of feeling I was being compared to someone that I could not see or ever measure up to made sense.  I was very upset in the beginning.  As the years passed, the pain has turned into something a bit darker, a bit harder, and masquerades as humor.

I made a sarcastic and self-depricating comment to finish up the story, and looked up from my entree that I was busily picking around on, and every pair of eyes was looking at me, shocked.  All joking and side conversations had stopped.  Faces were a bit pale and eyes were wide, some mouths were open.  For a heartbeat I cringed internally, cursing myself for sharing something so personal, that made me look like the self centered ass my mother has always proclaimed me to be, and something so petty compared to the issues these folks have survived.  What the hell was I thinking?

The a cacophony of responses erupted.  Shock, dismay, regret and multiple expressions of how incredibly SCREWED UP that was (in very blunt vernacular), and I had every right to be disappointed.  Questions about whether I had considered changing my name, questions about how I felt about it now, questions about how on earth I even spoke to her.

I again had a small epiphany of how much I negate and minimize my own experiences, and that I had a right to be angry about this, regardless of the tragic circumstances of my mother giving up this child.  I was not born until nearly twenty years later, when the  high school senior that she was when my sister was born was in her mid/later thirties when I was born.  

There is much more to this story, but the hour grows late.  It simply is, and I move on with my life.  But, I keep being reminded that although I have faced a bit of adversity in my life... I have come out the other side for the most part.  The thing I must learn is to seek support, to allow assistance, and to allow myself to feel without 'gaslighting' or invalidating my own experiences.

Hopefully some day soon... I will succeed.  Thank you for reading!  I will have more 'from the mouth of a hoarder' very soon.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Wood ticks and other errata...

So, if you have read anything of this blog before now, you know that my hoarding mother is *somewhat* delusional and her insight is nonexistent. 

So- several days in a row she was complaining of finding ticks on her, on her clothing.  Today she found a tick on one of her strictly indoor cats.  She again attributes it to 'being outside' and talks about bugs in a manner that approaches a belief of spontaneous generation.

Now, in March of this year she found... excuse my vernacular... a turd in her hoarded basement, and an area in which her cats can never reach or are permitted.  She first decided it was 'snake poo' then recategorized it as 'skunk poo'.  Under either classification she is convinced that her hated neighbor used a credit card to enter her house and place it there. Late May she found a cockroach in the kitchen, and she decided that some bananas she purchased where the source despite checking them for 'passengers' or roach eggs.  Now, this tick on a cat in her house.  I have speculated more and more often since March that her house is tipping from a dry/'clean' hoard into a wet/'dirty' hoard.  I suspect the ticks may be another step in this evolution.  

Several years back she was keeping birdseed in a plastic trash can on her front porch, and to her surprise, she had 30-40 mice living on her screened in porch.  Now, fancying herself a modern day Cinderella (at least in her 'special' connection to animals) she refused to listen to my concerns/my ex-husband's concerns that there were easily 3-4 times what she saw present, and that they had to be gaining access to the house.  She will assert that she does not have a single spider or gnat in her home, and other such claptrap.  When she saw one of the mice go up her block foundation and disappear under her vinyl siding, she finally got mouse poison and killed all her new little 'pets'.  She found they had chewed through the bottom of the can, but steadfastly refused that any made it into the house.

She also feeds feral cats, and the birds.  She throws bread, cereal, cookies, and all kinds of crap in the yard 'for the birds' and keeps wet and dry food out for the cats, and as a result of the rural area, and the untended yard and the goat/horse field behind her she is feeding skunks, possums, raccoons and other vermin.  And they are SO CUTE!  Blech.  She also has found fleas on herself, and she steadfastly refuses to hear how the vermin coming in on her porch and etc. could be 'promulgating' the fleas and the ticks.  She also refuses to entertain the thought that something, or several somethings, could have gotten in through a few different routes/methods.

I guess this is how it starts... the poo, the wet hoarding.  I am sadly convinced that if I outlive her, and we are not estranged, that I will have a hoard of the highest classification to clean out.  Dear GOD.  

One bit of comic relief... a bird pooped on her head today.  And she is, once again, perplexed as to why the bird was flying overhead in that area since there is no power lines, etc.  

WOW.  That is all I have to say.  

Now I am going to bed.  Goodnight all.

NOLA, kidney stones and observations... Oh my! (Think 'Lions, tigers, and bears...')

Back from a lovely vacation.  The getting there and back... not so much.  But being there for 6 days.  And 6 days with friends who 'get me' and the situation with my hoarding mother.  No excuses, no apologies, lots of irreverent and inappropriate humor... and a few observations.  Oh... And alcohol, and the French Quarter!

So- the kidney stone story.  This will be the 'Cliff Notes' version.  Early the wee hours of Monday a week ago, yours truly ended up in the Emergency Department of the closest hospital.  The evolution of events occurred as follows:

  • Lisabeth finished working on some work stuff that needed to be done before leaving for vacation at 2am.  (Hello yet another 95+ hour workweek... Erg)
  • Lisabeth attempted to go to bed at 2:30am, thinking that 3-4 hours of sleep would work.  
  • Not able to sleep, at 3am Lisabeth is having increasingly sharp pains on her right hand side and lower back.  She calls the tele-nurse.
  • The tele-nurse advises her to get to the closest ED now.  NOW.  Asks if someone is there.  NO.  Can Lisabeth get someone to take her?  YES.
  • Lisabeth proceeds to drive herself to the nearest hospital.
  • Lisabeth has a 4mm and a 3mm kidney stone in her ureter.
  • Lisabeth is HATING LIFE until the pain meds kick in.
  • Lisabeth is discharged from ED at 7:30am... so she drives home, showers, and goes to work...

I think you get the story.  For a woman with a bachelor's, a master's, professional licensure, and who damn near busted the ceiling on the MCAT and SATs over twenty years ago... I am a FLIPPING IDIOT!!!!  IQ and common sense are obviously so unrelated.  

So, again, as you remember from past reading and this blog- I am an idiot.  I call my mother on the way home.  And it plays out like this...

Hey.  Thought I would give you a quick call.
"Why are you calling so early?  You never call before 8am!"
Oh.  Um.  Yeah.  Leaving [Judgmental Religious Hospital that I would NEVER use except in the most dire of emergencies] ED.  I have kidney stones.
"What?  How?  Why?  No one else in the family has ever had those!  What causes them?  What are they going to do?  Do you have to have surgery?  I knew a woman..."
[Cutting off the crazy] Anything under 5mm they let you pass.  I have an infection on top of things, and I feel like crap.  I have 4 or 5 prescriptions to pick up when I get to [the town I work in].
"How did you get there?  Did one of your friends take you?"
Um.  No.  I drove.
"YOU WHAT?!?!?!?"
[Cutting off the story I have heard 5 trillion times about a radio station DJ passing out in the bathroom when she and the gospel group she sang with were to perform on air...] Okay. I am almost home.  Talk to you later...
"Do you think that is what is wrong with me?  I have been having TURRIBLE pain in my..."
[I clicked off my Bluetooth before I lost my mind on her.]

I showered, went in, damn near collapsed at the pharmacy, and got stuck staying at work until after 10pm that night.  I was whiter than the white shift dress with all the watercolor print on it that I chose to wear that day.  As I left work that day, I sat in my car in significant pain and so exhausted, and I realized a few things that should be self evident if I were not such a stubborn dunder-head.
  • I am so in harness at work that my life/work balance is blown utterly to hell. 
  • Despite being told to take off a couple of days to rest and pass this thing (NOLA was okayed though!) I went to work.
  • I am not able to keep up this pace and not burn out.
  • Obviously I have so diversification of duty issues at my agency.
  • I would not ask for help.  Not from my friends to drive me to ED, not from my neighbors, not from the tele-nurse who offered to arrange transportation.  I would not ask any of my staff to help that night, and would not accept help from the wonderful folks that offered.
  • I was up almost 44 straight hours.  I had a hard time driving the 45 minutes home, and a hard time keeping my car in my lane/on the highway.  I was seeing double from pain, and had a hard time parking in my garage.  
  • I went to NOLA, and dealt with passing the stone. Pain so intense I was forced to take a narcotic based painkiller prescribed for me.  Dreadful side effects of the medicines... including swelling of my lower legs and calves until my feet looked like Ms. Piggy's.
  • I would NOT slow down or rest.  I pushed, HARD.
I am not entirely sure if I passed the stones or not, but something happened on Thursday, and I felt steadily better ... the pain is nearly gone.  Today my ankles and all other *ahem* symptoms/side effects of the meds have resolved, I hope.  I will spare you that bit of TMI.

During my interaction in NOLA, I had a couple of things pointed out.  (Some of the same things in relation to the kidney stone that friends pointed out to me...)
  • I am killing myself with work.  
  • I am once again 'numbing out' and compartmentalizing so I simply am not acutely aware of my pain or needs.
  • I am so bent on 'not inconveniencing anyone' that I have made some really STUPID choices.  (Driving writhing in pain anyone? Being at the ED solo? Just because I did not want to wake anyone up, but I would do it in a heartbeat for ANYONE.  Whether I knew or liked them or not.)
  • My stoicism apparently knows few bounds... as does my pigheadedness...
  • I was shocked to hear multiple friends describe me this week as reserved and as very 'close to the vest.'  Who?  Me?  REALLY?  <Sigh>  Yes.  Me.
  • Hearing how my behavior hurt others by shutting them out when they want to support me and show their caring.  
  • I have such high standards for myself that I absolutely do NOT have for others.  I was very saddened to hear a friend worry about me seeing her house... and I have heard this many times... and had it pointed out that I do not allow myself ANY slack in my own home/car, and that sends a message to others.  
<Le sigh>

When did I become such a selfish, closed and en-armoured person?  We know that parents who hoard program his/her/their children to disregard their own worth and needs.  The COH is always looking outward and focused on the needs (or perceived needs of others).  In smugly thinking I was doing so much better... I am NOT.  I have taken huge steps back.  I am thinking of the anger from my ex husband in the past years, the anger and hurt from friends when I attempted to not allow (or successfully did not allow) them to help me when I needed it in situations like:
  • Taking me to ED when I was electrocuted in a freak accident in our new home.
  • Coming to ED after a motorcycle crash that dislocated my shoulder and unhinged my elbow.
  • Going to work after being in a 21 car pile up that injured me.
  • Not telling those closest to me when I was the victim of a violent crime for years.  Some, such as my ex, still do not know.
  • Walking in on a robbery in process at a former place of work.
Just a few occurrences...  And I sent a message that I did not intend to.  That I do not trust them, when in truth, I do not see the value in myself and why they would want to support me other than just being nice. That I do not find them capable or competent of supporting me... when in actuality, I have such a hard time with folks expressing compassion or the like to me that I strive to head it off at the pass.

Tonight, I did something thoughtful for someone, really went out of my way... and when they started to show their pleasure and appreciation... I bolted.  Made an excuse and left.  Damn, damn, DAMN.  What is wrong with me?  Seriously?

I will persevere, and I will overcome this.  I have to...  I will not, not... NOT turn into my mother. And her sick programming of 'hoarderthink' is apparently more ingrained and under the surface than I realized. And I am now turning a spotlight on it, exposing it.  I cannot continue the same responses... this is how I frequently get surrounded by narcissistic and self serving people.

Enough.  My journey towards openness continues...

Hoarding.  No one wins.  

Goodnight.  I work two crazy days, then I am off work until the second week of July.  I have a lot of thinking to do...

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Wow.  I dropped off the map for a bit.  Nothing new, just really cool things happening at work.  Presented at a conference earlier this week, at another one getting trained to be an expert witness for my state that ends tomorrow.

So- I think it has been far too serious in here for a bit too long.  So... it is time for another installment of ...FROM THE MOUTH OF A HOARDER!

So- here we go.  And there have been a LOT of them.

"Do you drink the Adkins diet drink?"
No.  I do not do anything that is artificially sweetened.
"Oh, well I ... [prattles on in painful detail about this six pack of this drink that she bought after her thyroid surgery a year or two ago, and yadda, yadda]...  Do you think the women's shelter would want it?"
A six pack of almost expired, 2 year old drink?  NO.  Throw it away.
"But it was EXPENSIVE!  It was almost $6 at Walmart!"
Oh dear GODS!  It is not a puppy.  Toss it.  You have already spent over a half hour talking about this stuff.  I think your time and my time exceeded $6.

"...[Talking about the neighbor FINALLY getting turned in for neglecting a horse.  Let goats eat its tail hair and mane off for the past 10 years, have never had the hooves seen about, etc.] And she was complaining and I think she was fishing to see if I did it..."
Seriously?  Not everyone that mentions something has an ulterior motive.  

"Where can I get a nanny cam?"
"A nanny cam!  I saw them on TV.  I want them to put outside on the porch, in the garage, etc. since no one will come out here and install security cameras other than those things you can see!  Did you know you can have a camera hidden in a clock and ..."
Seriously mother?  I am very aware.  These are not new inventions, and remember that I train in anti-violence and safety planning, and technology as a method of surveillance/stalking.
"Well.  Anyway this camera is so little...

A little background for this one.  I was in her car the first week of May.  Immediately got sick.  Thought I was almost over it, then had some 'issues'.  Long story not as long, I had a bladder/ureter infection that appears to be systemic.  And the doctor believes it stems from my contact with her.  I did mention that I was picking up an antibiotic and why.  She would not let me finish to even tell her the deal.  She immediately started talking about her HORRIBLE kidney pain, and blah, blah, blah.  She goes to the doctor allegedly, and gets a narrow range antibiotic.  

"What did you take?"
"What did you take from the doctor?"
Oh.  Cipro I think...
"Why did they give you that?  You can take that?  I am not able to take that!  It put me in ER!  I..."
[Intentionally cutting her off] Because I am NOT YOU.
"Do you want some more?"
Some more what?
"CIPRO!  I have some from last year... "
"Why not? You would have it on hand and would not have to pay for it!" 
Because I do not need it, and both medicines together with my insurance was under $5.  
"Well.  <sniffs>  Must be nice to have insurance."
It is.
"Well.  All I know is that I have to be good for everything because I have been on such a HIGH DOSE for so LONG and ..."
Um.  No.  
"Why not?"
Where do I start?  One- old drug at a dosage you were taking 35 years ago.  Your doctors give you antibiotics each visit it seems, so you are most likely resistant, or your germs are, and plus it is not a broad spectrum drug.
"Oh.  I guess.  Well anyway, I do not see how I could be sick since I am taking such a MASSIVE dose of ..."

Her new hoarding monologues consist of the following themes:
  • The hated neighbor and obsessing over how she can find out if his driver's license is still suspended
  • The neighbors across the street and the fact they have few visitors since their 20 year son moved out
  • The other neighbors and the fact they have scrap metal in their yard for pick up... 'It's so TRASHY!'
  • The empty lot next door is for sale, so obsessing about that and why it took so long
  • Talking about a neighbor whose husband died 6 years ago and still lives in the large house and has 2 cars... and since the woman is thin and has had basal cell cancer she has decided she is terminal
  • Obsessing on the number of folks who have died on the street in the past umpteen years
  • Obsessing on the stray cats, the vermin like possums, the horse, the hated neighbor's dog, the hawks, and the like
  • Woodticks, woodticks, woodticks... apparently falling out of the sky on her
  • Bugs in general
  • Everything is such a trial, a tribulation, or such a big damn deal... you would think that the normal ADLs that we all do are the sentence of Sisyphus
  • The psychic thing again... apparently she thought of someone and they are now dead
See a theme here?  And each day, the crazy gets worse.  Much worse.  

In less than 6 days I depart to NOLA on vacation.  I hope to check in before then, but if not... 


And YES, I realize I am a
hopeless smart aleck.  Ahem.