Friday, July 22, 2016

Because I said so!

My husband and I do a food run early on most Saturdays to gather food from our neighboring city's stores and give it to a mission that then passes it out to those in need.

Whenever mom hears about our Saturday run she always asks, comments, inquire and otherwise informs us that she wants to "help" out too and she wants to come.

We always say no.

She doesn't understand our hardness of heart. She doesn't understand why not.

On some days we try to explain that she tends to take a lot of food for herself that then mold and rots, creating her "designer fragrance". She just denies, justifies or promises these allegations away.

Other days we don't explain ourselves.

We don't explain that in the corse of gathering food, some of it is truly not usable - to spoilt or to crushed, or having been spilled all over the ground, and we do, on occasion have to make the judgment call to throw it away, and we know she can not do that. We don't tell her that all the talking she does and her drive to keep all that is free, her obsession to make sure that not only herself gets all the free she can, but to make sure that we, her friends, or others get free whether or not we want it is taxing, and not a help in a case like a food run. I can't think of a time I've ever told her she is emotionally and mentally exhausting.  I'm ever careful not to hurt her like that if possible. Nevertheless, anyway we say "no" to her hurts her.

When we refuse her offer to help on Saturdays, without a reason, that hurts her, too, but there is not much to be done for that.
*Shrug* Oh, well.
It'll aways be "no".

You can take her, if you'd like. If you feel we're being unfair. Bless your heart.

Designer Fragrance

Mom comes out of her house with a very sharp sour smell these days. I've long since accepted there is nothing to be done about it.
It is her designer fragrance.
Speaking of which, she just had her birthday. 74 years old.

So, my family treated her to dinner. She order the FULL rack of ribs so she could take some home, and enjoyed a sweet rum drink. I think it surprised her that she liked that drink, because she is otherwise NOT a drinker.
Anyway. Then I took her to a department store to pick out a bottle of perfume. It was something she "always wanted". I was willing. Hey, a bottle of perfume is on my birthday wish list, too!
First off, she had to find what type of perfume she wanted. She had no idea. She kept telling the store clerk that I had something she liked that was "real expensive", and she repeatedly asked me what it was. I couldn't remember, must be the free sample tube I have in my purse of "La Vi Est Belle" I got when I purchased some makeup a while ago. That or I had a knock off of "Viva La Juicy" lotion that I used. Mom was unsure of either and just kept asking me what it was.

I told her she just had to go around and smell the different perfumes to find one she liked. My 12 year old daughter with us, and so I was also getting "Mom! Smell this!" from her, too. I was explaining something to my daughter when my mom came and grabbed my arm from behind and sprayed some perfume on it! So I could tell her what I thought. My thoughts? They tumbled with my words . . .

"Ack! No! Don't! You spray on a piece of PAPER! Ack!" Always trying to be respectful of her and not just go off. It was an exercise in restraint!

So, I then had to explain that you sprayed a sample of perfume on PAPER to smell each one, otherwise your arms will become a kaleidoscope of smells and you'll be unable to distinguish one from another! Then I explained the coffee bean sniff you have to do every once and a while too to "clear your nose palate".

So she did, but she kept bringing the papers to me. "What do you think?" And ultimately, I felt like she had no idea, instead she really just wanted me to tell her which one smelled good. So, ultimately, I did. This one! I told her, this one smells real good and [since she balked at the price] they have a $74 dollar bottle instead of the $94 dollar one, that I'll get you. OK?

She went home happy. Talked of how she never had an expensive bottle of perfume before, how she always wanted one, etc..

On Sunday, when we picked her up for church, she came out with her sour house smell AND a spritz of her perfume. We complemented her on the use of her perfume, but it was not a better smell. Let me tell you!

It was, as ever, her designer fragrance.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

What is normal?

I am reading Children of Hoarders: How to Minimize Conflict, Reduce the Clutter & Improve Your Relationship by Fugen Neziroglu, PhD, ABBP, ABPP and Katharine Donnelly, PhD.

The title is so intriguing that even my spouse wants me to hurry to read it so I could tell him all about it.
Inside there are questions posed for you to consider and maybe journal about.

I don't journal.

I *do* on occasion, however, blog.

So here's the first question from the book:
"What was your biggest obstacle to living a "normal" life?"


This question is flawed, as I see it.  Unless you answer "everything" because life with mother had no "normal" anywhere.

I took a long time to consider this, and I could not find any "normal" at all in my childhood.  Even my relationship with my siblings, which I thought would be as close to normal as anything in my childhood would be, but no.  Living with mother and  . . . all that jazz . . .  permeated into everything that even the relationship between my siblings was forged differently and defiantly not "normal".

Could I say the biggest obstacle to living normal was my mother herself?  The way she didn't let us throw out the spoiled or the trash, Is it the way she would spend money on second hand junk that we didn't need our use and then not have enough for food? I don't know.  The biggest obstacle to "normal" was mom.

Can you think of any aspect to a child of a hoarder's life that would be considered normal?  Maybe my school grades?  Maybe that's one.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Pepe La Pew Valentine

It's almost Valentines day.

My mom has been "visiting" with us since August.

So she was here when I was explaining to my first-grader, last night, why he had to get Valentines for *all* his classmates if he was going to get Valentines for any.

Because otherwise, Valentines can be a pretty miserable experience.  Charlie Brown-kind of miserable.

And if you DO get a Valentine . . . .it still has the same message as the absence of the Valentines did.

Being raised in a Hoarder home, no matter where we went, we brought whatever place we were staying at to the same state of rot.  And usually, sooner or later, the plumbing stopped working, or the washer.  If we had a washer at all.  So, there is a distinct smell to my memory.  It is a mix of mold, food rot, animal, and grime.  And if the lice was really particularly bad, the sores would have their own particular stink.  The weight of that smell was something I was keenly aware of and carried with me, however, I was powerless to do anything about it.  

This is from elementary school . . . it always feels to me like I was perpetually 8 or 9 years old.  One of the nick-names I had was "buffalo-butt", and not because I was big.  

Now, I recall, it's Valentine's Day.  My box (made to receive Valentine) was light, and my Valentine I got was of Pepe' le Pew. *ouch*

I don't have any positive memories of Valentine's day as a kid.  

Back to last night. I recount this to my son.  My mother overhears and starts to negate all of it.  And that is part of what drives me crazy. She negates that we smelled at all.  She says that it must have been just ME that *I* didn't bathe, or she concedes that MAYBE it was at ----- place because once, I (again, my fault) left the window open and the bathroom pipes froze and we had no plumbing for a *short* time. 


In her reality there was no smell, there was no problem and *if* there was, it was my fault.

And it's useless.  During her diatribe against my memory I stay silent.  If I say ANYTHING at all, the monologue continues, ad infinitum. 

But it angers me that she just flat out denies *all* of my recall, only allowing anything she could blame on me.  The lice too - I told her once that I remembered *always* having lice.  We used to wear flea collars as headbands and necklaces to help with the bitting.  But she says that it was only *me* that got lice, and that was from me sharing a hat or brush with a kid at school.

Thankfully, for my sanity, others are able to corroborate my experience.  Otherwise, I might think I truly am insane.

Today, my boy comes home from school with a loot of sweets (all those he COULDN'T eat at school) and Valentine's that tops his booty from Halloween!  He reads and re-reads every corny "be mine" and feels true friendship with each student that gave.  He is ecstatic and happy to share all his goodies with me, 'cause I'm the sweetest, he says.

Happy Valentine's Day everybody!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

And we are at that point again.

My mothers apartment is at that point.


Where I won't go in voluntarily because of the smell.

She didn't move in that long ago.  I remember when she did I was conflicted and torn.  Between the promises that I'd go and clean house every few days or that I was gonna let her be.  Between keeping her hoarding practices to myself or to tell or warn  . . . I don't know . . . *somebody*.

I did go and empty her trash for a while.  Clean up a little.  She got a small Chihuahua.  I made sure his area was cleaned up for a while.

But I stopped by the time mom started duck-taping her fridge and freezer shut.  She absolutely refused me to clean out her fridge.

Per norm.

She hoards food among other things - and this small and wonderful town obliges her inclinations with free food distributions up to 7 times a month.  And at one particular place they get all the flowers from a certain store that are considered "old" - and so my mothers home is full of rotting food, bread, and dead and dying bouquets of flowers still wrapped in their cellophane.  Oh the irony.

There have been a couple of times she has gone out of town.  My friends and hubby both encouraged me to go in and do a purge.  But I was very happy not to.

And you children of hoarders know why. Don't you?!

Because she would be spitting mad at me, it would be major work with major yuck, and then in no time flat she'd bring it right back to where it is now.  Pointless.

Rot  now or  Rot later, what does it matter?

Once, dropping off some blankets she had washed and left at our house I was walking out of her now 75% cluttered full apartment and was passing a full paper grocery bag full of near completely brown bananas.  I was mid reach to pick it up and take it out to the dump on my way out when I stopped myself.  She'd hate me.  Even if she let those bananas go liquid before doing anything with them.

She's getting older now and recently I called to tell her I'd pick her up.  I went over there and she didn't answer her door.  So - concerned - I went in.  Right outside the door I could smell food rot.  Moldy food.  Inside I was greeted with a tower of something and right in front was a bag that was topped with a loaf of bread 80% green and white with mold inside the bag.  Didn't look like it was ever opened.

I turned and left it.

Yay for me.

I guess.

But now that the rot and the smell are hitting the red zone - I'm feeling conflicted again.

It's not safe.  It's not healthy.  If she OWNED the home I'd let her rot her happy days away - but she is RENTING.  There are neighbors and owners to consider. Roaches and such . . .

Who do I talk to.  How?  Do I need to at all or just let nature take it's corse?

I don't know today.  I'd like to hear from other COH or professionals that have experience in this.


Friday, July 20, 2012

My house - the one room wonder.

Maybe it's not just children of mental illness, maybe it's families too or maybe it's just me - but ever in the back of my mind I find myself trying to figure out the why the how of this . . this . . whatever it is.

At least the hoarding. I can put a finger on the hoarding.  I can positively identify it -

I think for each hoarder it is a number of things that build up and add into the hoarding.  One of the things, maybe, is dyslexia. Which runs through my family.  My mom has it, I have it to a degree and my daughter is very dyslexic.  While researching about dyslexia I found out that one of the weaknesses dyslexics can have is with organization.

Huh - imagine that.

I know I struggle to maintain my home.  A real battle, and I feel like I can only get one room "done" at a time.

True that at any one time, if you happened to come over, I'd have only one room nice while the others are . . well, strewn.  I do have kids, after all.

Then is it another thing of children of hoarders to be ever nagged by the thought "It could be me?" - so in my one room wonder I often pat myself on the back when I put something away, pick something up, toss something out with the thought "My mother wouldn't have done that." And I feel GREAT having a place to put, say, my hair brush.  I know where my kids tooth brushes should be, and the toys have a home, even if they most often are not there.

That feels SO GOOD, but not good enough so that my living room floor is clear right now.

Yeah. Nope.

Just so you know, my living room, kitchen, dinning room and my bedroom are messy right now, BUT my bathroom and the kids bathroom looks great.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Please cover your sneezes.

I am beyond the point of trying to change or "fix" my mother.  I have accepted that I can't.  So life now mostly consist of keeping mom's crazy out of my own.

But this is crazy.

My mother swings between a germaphobe to it's opposite.  And no matter where she may be swinging on the pendulum - she considers all she does as "normal".

She's concerned about germs so much that if were driving in a car and someone sneezes even into a kleenex, she will roll down her window for a couple of minutes to get some "clean air".  No matter the weather.

She's obsessive about the cleanliness of my kid's hands if we go anywhere, and several times has gotten into an argument with one kid or another about using the "stinky gel" on their hands when they certainly don't want to.

But she lives in filth.  She lives in cat urine and feces, food rot and mold.  But as long as she has her hand gel she all good.

And no one sneezes.

So about a week ago, as is common when we go to pick her up so she can visit and shower here at our place, she brought a "mystery bag".  These mystery bags usually contain some sort of rotting food, or nasty concoction that she thinks in her visit with us would go bad before she got back to her house.  She has a point, because what she is trying to eat is usually already half spoilt.

When she gets here she will quickly stick whatever mystery bag she has into my fridge.  Aaaannd sometimes she doesn't, which is worse.  I've ranted asked her not to bring any foods or mystery bags because they usually get forgotten for me to find and toss later and they stink and I hate it.  But to no avail.

Anyway - back to a couple of weeks ago and mystery bag #1.  This one is black.  As I was picking up my mom she handed me the bag to put in the car while she turned around to go get her dirty laundry (also done at my place) I peek into the bag and among other things I see a musk mellon that is starting to rot - it has it's green/blue patch and white fuzz all started and progressing.

I roll my eyes and  place it in the car.  It's useless to ask her not to bring that nastiness into my home because I can almost verbatim tell you how the argument would go - and it would all boil down to her saying that the melon will go completely bad if she leaves it and that the spoilt spot is just that - a spot -and she will cut off the bad part and eat the rest which is "perfectly good" and we will all live happily ever after. But with a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot, *a lot* more words and frustration.

Except I know she will not.  She will not pull the musk mellon out, she will not cut out the spot and she will not eat any "good parts".  She will carry around that rotting musk mellon until it has liquified, and there is truly no spot left to salvage.  My goal now is to just make sure that melon doesn't get left behind in my house after we've taken her home.  *That* goal I achieve.

Then this last week - I turn a corner in my house and I smell something horrible.  It's different than stink I'm familiar with.  It's not mold, it's not poop, it's not rotting oranges, those are all smells I recognize, not . . .it's kinda like fart that doesn't fade . . So I go around saying "What is that *smell*???" and start enlisting the kids to locate the offending object . . . problem is the smell is bad and fierce and has taken up residence in the whole living room.

My mother is located and questioned and she admits to another mystery bag.  It might be it, she says, because some of the food in the bag is starting to go bad and (prep yourself for the implication here) I am hypersensitive to rotting citrus.

Yes, yet again, she is "normal", having some citrus that is starting to be on the bad side, but still "good" and I am the abnormal one overreacting to a minor smell.

I assure you, this was not the case.  By witness of my family, it was no minor smell.

Mother is firmly instructed to take said mystery bag to the OUTSIDE trash immediately.  And yes, I will even let her blame my "hypersensitivity" for the *irrational* request I am making.  And that is when mystery bag comes to light.

It is the same bag from about a week ago.  The mellon one, remember?  THE MELLON ONE!  The same one that had a spoiling musk mellon among other things?  SO WHO KNOWS WHAT THE SMELL MIX IS but this is BAD BAD BAD!!!

Mom disappears for a while.  Because finally after receiving the ultimatum, and completely unable to let ANY 'good' food go to waste, I catch sight of her eating from the nasty mystery bag on my steps outside.

If you are not thoroughly disgusted by that, I am a failure of descriptive writing.

And let me just add a note here.  When mom is here with us, we feed her, and we feed her well . . . there is no.logical.need for any of this . . .

This visit with mother doesn't end here.  On her way out she noticed the grilled cheese sandwich that my son didn't eat and had sat on the table overnight.  This sandwich had been set out for the dog days ago.  And even the dog wasn't interested.  My mom was, though.  And she picked it up, got a ziplock bag and took it with her for her trip.  I explained that it had sat by the dog dish outside for days already, but she insisted it was still "perfectly good".  And had every intention of eating it.

But, never you fear, she most assuredly used some sanitizing gel beforehand.