Sunday, September 22, 2013

It is never easy, or straightforward, but it just IS. Or, alternate title... That is the best I can explain the unexplained!

Over the time periods represented by the past 79 blogs - I have noticed a continuing precipitous decline in my hoarding mother's grasp on reality, but it is, sadly... not near enough to be actionable.  Since I had a major health issue and major emergency surgery almost 2 months ago, I have been only calling/speaking with her every 3-4 days and getting off the phone if she devolves into paranoia, negativity, or attempts to earnestly invade a boundary I have set.

The things that I have quickly gotten off the phone for include... 

  1. Asking if I have every used Vaniqua (a prescription used for hiristulism [sp]?)as she is quite bothered by hair on her upper and lower lip.  She went to another doctor without dealing with it for weeks... and then complained to the pharmacist.  Despite me advising her it is not an issue, at least yet, she will drop into the self centered world of gross, and it always leads to a discussion of pubic hair... another subject I refuse to discuss with her.
  2. Attempting to discuss her 'crusty, scaly moles' on unsavory places on her anatomy...
  3. Continence pants, bodily functions in gross detail, including lack thereof...
  4. The condition of her fungus infested toenails... And her lack of personal hygiene and denial of that as well.
  5. Asserting that her hated neighbor 'has been in her house and put a turd in her basement'.
  6. Discussing the Castle Doctrine, her conversations with the Sheriff and the State Police that she takes as a green light to shoot someone...  And other violent ideations and expressions.
  7. Criticism of, and jealousy of her neighbors and anyone she interacts with, especially if they *GASP* spend money for pleasure.
  8. Her delusion that she is Snow White.  (Not exactly, but that she has a special gift with animals...)
  9. Inappropriate, confrontational and MEAN behavior in public.  
  10. Medical and pseudo-scientific beliefs that border on the magical, overly causative/simplistic, or spontaneous regeneration.
Her ability to go to the absolute worst case scenario is a sight to behold, and her ability to invalidate and minimize anyone else's experiences is also worthy of at least a published case study.  And the upshot is ... she never seems to change topics or modes of craziness.  She has so self isolated that her world is wee-little-tiny.  

Last week I purchased another car.  My lovely, reliable car that was almost 8 years old and had over 170K without a single problem was approaching the stage where I could continue to drive it, but it was going to cost me... and having no payment would come at a large trade off.  Pay me now, or pay me later!  So it goes.  I traded last week, and am happy with that trade.  My newer car does not have Bluetooth as my old one did, but I am having that installed ASAP... But... where this is relevant... I can use the no handheld phone law in my state to extend the times between conversations to keep me healthy, happy, and working to continue to heal from the events 2 months ago.  Last week I returned to work 'full time'.  It has taken a bit out of me, but I have had some revelations and rediscoveries during this time.
  • By nature of how life-threatening what happened to me was, and how invasive the surgery was... I had weeks at home when I really was not in the shape to do much.  I realized that if something ever happened to me that disabled me/prevented me from working- I would have to do SOMETHING.  Anything.  I could not let my world retract like I have seen in many others, my hoarding mother included.  I would need social interaction and intellectual stimulation on some level, even if I was capable of little else.
  • I am still really only intellectually processing what has happened and the changes that may or may not be permanent.  And knowing myself like I do, I know that I do not want to discuss the particulars of some of it.  Partially because it is personal and something not discussed in polite company, and partially because I want to get through the next few months of assessment and some additional treatment before we determine what will likely be permanent in the nerve damage.  I am still in the place I was post diagnosis of the massive tumor and pre-op, where I expect nothing but a positive outcome, and if, IF... it is not, I will deal with what I have and I will kick its ass.  That is how I cope.  Expect the best, prepare for the worst, and take what I get.
  • That I focus on what people do, rather than focusing on their 'failures' and 'did not dos'.  I again, could not look in the mirror if I lived in the museum of petty grudges and minor misunderstandings...
  • That even well into my 40's... I still would rather have quality over quantity, and that includes life.  When it looked impossible that I would come out of this without an ovarian cancer diagnosis, my stance was, "Who truly wants to live forever?"  Not in a fatalistic ennui sort of way, and not to attempt to be 'heroic'.  Simply said... do I want to die?  NO!  But if I do... The only regrets I would have is leaving my aging kitties, the grief of my friends, and leaving my agency in a difficult position.  That is pretty much it.  I have taken most challenges and risks presented me, loved hard, often, traveled extensively and in places that many would not choose to go... Jumped at chances for formal education and lifelong learning... Excelled at a career that has been as challenging as it is fulfilling.  I have attempted to make the world a better place, and arguably, one could say that my impact has been negligible   BUT- even if I made one person's life just a little bit better, even if I moved the cause of social change/social justice and ending oppression every so slightly forward...  I have no reservations about my choices.  And something is only a regret if you do not take the lesson from it and use if for positive change.
I think that final point, is the thing that is a chasm that will forever separate me from my hoarding mother.  I look at life as an adventure, something I should actively contribute to... not for any karmic or religious reason, not to avoid consequences, but that it is the right thing to do.  My hoarding mother, and many, many, MANY who hoard look at life as opportunity lost.  Everything must have some sort of identifiable gain, and they are stuck in making the same choices over and over.  The saddest thing of all?  They know it will not bring a different outcome.  They are waiting for the 'X' factor... whether that be family, children, wonderful strangers... to come fill up the hole they cannot fill in their own lives.  

That is why I get so frustrated when my mother cannot distinguish that every event is a jumping off place to talk about herself and tell her stories for the umpty-umpth time, exactly in the same words, inflections, expressions.  Why I want to scream at her invalidation and her refusal to see me as a whole, completely different person that has different experiences, feelings, knowledge... and DNA contributions.  I am a separate person.  Not a supporting actor in her never-ending drama.  Her refusal to change the subject and resultant digging in further when I ask or tell her the subject upsets me, such as about my nerve damage/resultant BP drop that causes me to pass out when I stand quickly.  Her attempt to DARVO... Deny, Avoid, Reverse Victim and Offender?  "Lisabeth, I was just asking... you do not have to be so hateful and mean."  Then she pouts.  

Do I worry about something 'tipping' me and that would cause my descent into mental illness/hoarding?  Yes.  Do I know that since I am 44 and have not shown any signs of the mental illness, depression, schizophrenia  and the like that runs in my family that some how, some way I might have escaped that piece?   Yes.  But I did not escape unscathed.  Do I know that my very precise, organized, tidy, and minimalist life are common in those growing up in the shadow of the hoard?  Yes I do.  I know that I am close to one end of the (linear) continuum and hoarding is at the other end.  But I also recognize that my managing my space the way I do... that it is possible that two such extremes in behavior may come from a similar place.  And I am always checking myself, and I hope that those close to me would give me a reality check if I ever do start to move down the continuum.

But... with all that coming out of my head and through my fingers via my keyboard to your kind eyes... I am so much further along in my ACOH process than I was even 2 1/2 years ago.  Will I be the person I could have been if I had not been exposed to cruel, narcissistic and abusive parenting growing up?  Would I still have had to negotiate life with PTSD?  No one can know that.  But honestly, that Lisabeth who might have been, has quite bluntly, never existed.  

The Lisabeth I am now is integrated, whole, and as such I will continue to strive to heal and grow.  I am not the physically, emotionally and otherwise abused, bullied and stalked child I was.  I have never had a mother.  I do not need one now.  I am my own mother.  I have realized that my reality is what I make of it... and I choose happiness.  And so it goes.  

Have a great week everyone.  Thank you for reading!  I should have more 'FTMOAH' soon!