Sunday, March 2, 2014

I have no words to name this one...

For those of you of you who regularly read, (and I thank you!) my blogs are documenting my hoarding mother's continued slide into paranoia and abject misery.

Two most recent points to note:

Her absolute conviction that a neighbor is stalking her, has been in her house, steals from her daily, and has had her in a rifle scope (she states she saw the laser sight beam following her).  

Her absolute refusal to be part of her own solution.  For anything.  

To the first point, she has now purchased multiple driveway alarms.  Click here to see the Harbor Freight description of the alarm.  They are cheap and battery operated.  She has had one in her kitchen for many, many months to alert her if the cats get up on the sink.  <Ahem>  She is now obsessing and determining strategic locations to place them, and is considering buying a video baby monitor to monitor the garage.  She already has an intercom system to the garage that is on listen mode all the time.  She has gotten huffy that when she starts this trajectory of monologue I either ask her to discuss something else, ask her if she has done any of the safety planning/stalking protocol things we have discussed (one example can be viewed here), or I end the call.  

The first segueing into the second point...  Her refusal to be part of the solution.  The natal point of this blog was a Derecho that hit her area hard in late June/early July of 2012.  She was without power for many days, and through her decisions, she made a truly difficult situation horrific.  You can read that blog entry, 'The Derecho and the Elderly Hoarder', here.)  I had attempted to send her a generator and attempted to problem solve with her, both at the time, and after.  She is not having it.  I worked to develop a safety plan with her after she was bitten by one of her cats and required emergency hospitalization and surgery.  No go there, either.  That happened in July of 2010.  For nearly 4 years (and LONGER) I have attempted to work with her on contingency/emergency preparedness, safety planning.  And this type of strategy?  It is the basis of the past 25 years of my career.  So I do know just a small bit about it.   But,  unless it comes from Dr. Oz, Oprah, or a Wonderful Stranger in a doctor's office waiting room or shopping at Walmart, it carries no weight with her.

So... After an extremely busy and personally stressful week, I was dropped off by two friends, and was awaiting the arrival of two others to go to dinner and shopping.  My text message indicator sounds, and it is my hoarding mother's neighbor, the one I have contact with and who tries to check in on her from time to time.  She was going to call my mother to ask if she needed something from Lowes, and wanted me to call her and talk her into allowing her to purchase a generator for her to have, as another major winter storm is bearing down and was to arrive today with massive icing and snow accumulations.  Her neighbor expressed several frustrations:

  1. That my hoarding mother keeps her cell phone number such a zealous secret from EVERYONE.  I am actually surprised she gave it to me.  It does little good to have it, as she never has it turned on.
  2. She refuses to take common sense and reasonable preparation steps to ensure that she is not in a crisis if something unexpected happens.  And it is not a money thing, she is very, very secure and has the funds.
  3. She refuses to listen to anyone, but is furious if people do not treat her advice as gospel.
  4. She will not let anyone do anything for her, then is angry that no one helps her.  She honestly expects people to know what she wants, when she wants it, and how she wants it without being told.  And what she wants is often CRAZY.  

I told the neighbor I appreciated her efforts, and this was a lost cause.  She agreed.  Although she gets and supports my staying away, I got a good helping of the Appalachian expectation to fix this for my mother.

I cannot fix it.  Mother is the only one that can... and she refuses.  She did not ask for the trauma in her life, the abuse.  She did not ask for the severe mental illness she is locked into.  Where I hold her accountable is her refusal to do ANYTHING to help herself, and the impact her behavior has on others... and the impact it had on me... an innocent child who did not 'ask' for what I got growing up, and still do not 'ask' for what I get now.  <Sigh>  But I realize that I cannot do it for her, and the only person I can help/change is myself.  My one success is I shall never put a child through the utter hell I experienced growing up, and the wrenching mess that I am still involved in as an adult because I choose to maintain a relationship with her, honestly, for my own safety.  If I totally estranged, her harassment, her stalking, and her propensity for physical violence/harm and scorched-earth revenge would be unequalled for me and all those close to me.  All from a tiny, frail looking 78 (?) year old woman that walks with a cane...  

Hoarding.  No one wins.  NO ONE.

Thank you for reading.


  1. aaaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuuuccccccccccckkkkkkkkk! So frustrating! Bless her neighbor for having her heart in the right place and trying to help. I can tell from your tone that you are not upset with the neighbor. You realize that even though s/he understands "most" of the situation, s/he can never "get" the full extent. I guess you got the favored "well, she IS still your mother." The frustration just doesn't wane does it? No one wins.

    Stay bundled up my friend. Eat well and stay steady.

  2. I know others who are adult children of narcissists who suffered the 'scorched earth' harassment. Stalking, threatening, libel, to an absolutely horrific degree. If a man did any of that to a woman (or vice-versa!) there would be hell to pay.

    But a little old person who is also your parent? You get all the judgment and no assistance. I pity you - stay strong and dream of bulldozers.

  3. Thank you for blogging this. You are helping me to deal with my own elderly/narcissistic/hoarding mother. Nobody really understands the hell that this "poor little woman" has put my brother and me through since we were children and it's getting worse. The reply above is correct, we (the children) get all of the judgment and no assistance.

  4. Lisa:

    You interpreted my feelings with the neighbor correctly. I appreciate her, but it is so hard for her to truly understand, even though she does fairly well. She had a lovely relationship with her (now deceased) mother and then there is the huge helping of the Appalachian expectations that you do not pull away from parents, no matter what. My ex husband explained it eloquently when he stated that it was so hard for him to understand my mother because of his relationship with his mother, who no matter what, will put her own well being and wants LAST for her kids and grandkids. Hope you are well!


    Thank you so much for your kind words of support. Bulldozers.... or a nice controlled burn by the fire department as practice? Dreams... Thank you for reading!


    Thank you for reading, and I am so sorry that you are in this situation as well. The situation itself is hellish, and the reactions and judgements of others just make a bad situation so much worse. Hang in there. You have friends here.