Sunday, February 23, 2014

It is the little things that mean so much... And I still have much to learn

So this past couple of weeks have been BEYOND busy at work, and I have been burning the candle at both ends.  (I know, I seem to not learn... anyway...)

I was in a play this past week.  It ran for 2 nights, and this is my 8th year in it.  This was my first time doing a spotlight piece, so this was a new part to the play.  A friend who lives 5 hours away, decided to come, and to bring her husband as well.  They drove 5 hours each way for a 2 hour production, and had to drive back right after.  I was so thrilled they were there... It meant a lot to me.  Probably much more than they realize.  What was a spontaneous moment and an experience for them meant so much to me, and I had an 'a-ha' moment today as to WHY it meant so, so much.

I don't expect much from anyone.  My threshold is super, super low.  I learned that growing up in the hoard.  If you do not expect anything, you are seldom disappointed.  And I do not mean in the negative, Eeyore type of way (Winnie the Pooh reference!).  Growing up, very seldom did I have someone present at my events.  Especially after I went to live with my paternal grandmother after being rejected by my hoarding mother.  The list of things are long... They include:

  • Winning the Best of Fair and 1st place at the annual high school, regional and state science fairs.  My parents did not come to see me get my trophies nor were present to pose for the pictures in the paper any year.  In fact, I was grounded from participating in the state science fair my sophomore year of high school.  My crime?  I advised my parents I was not seeing well, and was advised it was because I ate like crap.  After several weeks, I made an appointment at Lenscrafters (I had a job and a car) and went, and got contacts.  Many months passed, and neither parent noticed I had contacts.  I dropped one and was looking for it one weekend when I was forced to spend the night at 'home', and the 'secret' was out, and I was 'grounded'.  I was advised that an appointment had been made.  Whatever... it was nearly 6 MONTHS LATER.  No appointment was made.
  • Being published in a local magazine for my writing and art in elementary school.  No acknowledgement at all.
  • In high school one of my art teachers was very impressed with my acrylic and oil paintings, and wanted to have a show of my work.  No response from my parents.
  • I won several scholarships for college, and because of my scores, I had my choice of anywhere.  (Failure was never an option I had... this was my only way out of the hoard as I saw it...)  My parents neglected to send in the paperwork needed for the full ride to school, and later, after dad passed, my hoarding mother demanded every cent that was paid out.  I wrote her a check for $27,000.  This was in the late eighties...
  • When I graduated from an esteemed graduate program, no acknowledgement of this from any of my family, or really anyone.  No party, it never occurred to me to arrange one.  No announcements, again for the same reason.  No celebration of it, and I did not walk to accept my degree.  I graduated with honors.  To this day my hoarding mother's only response is to repeatedly ask if it was 'really worth it'.  
  • Any professional honor I have had, I have not ever had any recognition of.
  • In 2007 when I had a hysterectomy, my hoarding mother did not visit, and this past summer when I had emergency surgery and things looked very, very dire... she did not come.
  • I also self isolated and did not allow folks to come help me, and just could not ask at some level...despite lessons learned previously... during my most recent hospitalization and for a few weeks post surgery.  I went through some pretty rough hours, days, and weeks... solo.  Because it seriously did not occur to me it should be any other way.  
  • In 2008 when my second marriage crashed horribly with major collateral damage, no visits, etc.  My mother has never visited me in the 15 years I have lived in an adjoining state, not once.  She only came to my home 2 hours away in the same state the week I was leaving for here, and that was to pick up anything I was not taking with me.
I could go on ad nauseum, and honestly, in the scheme of things, none of these are large deals.  But my friend and her husband coming?  That was HUGE... to me.

Again, more for me to ponder.  I do not want to walk this earth holding folks at an arm's length.  I am always shocked when folks refer to me as 'reserved' or 'private'... or any other way or referring to the fact that I largely seem to keep my own counsel.  

I still have a lot to learn.  Trust.  Vulnerability.  Intimacy.  Maybe I will get it right... it is sad it has taken me almost 45 years to 'get it'.  Now that I see it, I have to take action to change it.  That is not as easy as it would seem.  But I am determined to keep evolving for the better.  

I have a perfect example in my hoarding mother as to what happens when you do not.

Goodnight all... thank you for reading!


  1. When I think of what our achievements meant to our parents I could weep for you. You did really, really well.

  2. We are so connected. Not in a good way. I graduated high school early and just left. I knew no one would come to graduation and I had already been told I would have to pay for my own cap and gown so I put all my money and resources into leaving and going to college.

    In two days I'm having a medical procedure and no one knows. Mom is still squeezing her holiday strokes for everything she can and if she gets wind that I have ANYTHING medical she will do something rash - you know like walk the dogs and fall down!

    We are awesome!

  3. We ROCK! I will be thinking of you tomorrow, and I understand all-to-well the need to keep things close to the vest as a survival strategy, especially when you have 'drama injuries' (kind of like my cats 'drama barfing'... but different) and things like 'holiday strokes' become normalized in their worlds! Ugh!

    Take care of you, hope you heal quickly and painlessly.

    And the way your graduation happened? Makes me so sad. What screwed up people we were born to... But we flourish despite them. GO YOU!

  4. Finding your blog is astounding to me. My mother was a terrible hoarder. Two elder sisters hoarded; one has since died, the other is in a convalescent home due to her Alzheimer's. Many times during my childhood I helped my parents clean out my eldest sister's house -- which she rented from my parents who owned it. I feel like you are writing my story. So many common themes. I graduated with a B.A. and sent out invitations to the ceremony, but except for one sister, no one even responded or sent word of their congratulations. I was a cheerleader throughout junior high and high school, and not once did anyone in my family attend a game. Finally, after the third try, I am happily married, but the two divorces were terrible. In fact, my family cozied up to the ex-husbands, became their friends on facebook. I used to send Christmas presents, and questioned why they were never acknowledged. "We didn't know where you lived." I lived in the same place for 25 years. These days, my entire family shuns me, which truly has added to a peaceful life.