Friday, May 31, 2013

It's not just collecting stuff

I heard someone say that its just collecting stuff but, It's not just collecting stuff. It's a whole thought process. It's the inability to prioritize, to make reasonable decisions. The crippling effect of a perceived or real loss that has never been worked through or accepted as a reality. Their own frustration with themselves builds up until they explode and usually take it out on the ones they love & then the loved ones reject them even more & they feel they are not good enough, something is wrong with them & the feelings get turned towards things, the thought that things can't reject me, they are useful, everything is useful becomes overwhelming & the stuff takes over & adds to the crippling thoughts that now They have this mess & depression overtakes & they can't sort out their own feelings much less their stuff. Anxiety becomes a 24 hour feeling and the mind cannot handle it, therefore anymore stimulus causes a shut down and immobilizes the person. Perception of reality is not there, they get frustrated if things don't happen just the way they picture it in their head. Temper tantrums result and normal day to day activities get blown out of proportion. Criticizing others becomes easier than dealing with their own shortcomings. Empathy towards others becomes either an obsession or none at all depending on their mood. Excuses become their belief, and there is always an excuse for all their actions which they justify as ok. Apologizing becomes a way to cope with their faults, but nothing is never done to change it. Sorry becomes a fix all end to their wrong doings so that they can do it again. If only they can fix everything broken becomes a constant thought. Broken stuff is always usable, cannot throw away anything because it brings back pain that they perceive as throwing them away, as if they are not good enough to keep. It's a lack of self esteem & self respect. They are broken and don't want to be thrown away, they want to be fixed, but don't have the right tools to fix themselves, just like their stuff. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Enabler guilt

Growing up I felt it was my responsibility to clean, to take care if my siblings, to make sure nothing set my HP off. I somehow knew this wasn't the way it was supposed to be, but I took it upon myself & soon it was expected of me. 
I knew what it was like to get a spanking every night before bed, whether i was good that day & if i was bad ,I got two. Bad? What exactly could a little kid do that was so bad to get the belt? I still shutter everytime I hear the jingle of a belt buckle, that was the first sound I heard before the sting of the leather belt hitting me. It was awfully hard to "shut up and go to sleep" after that every night. No child should be that afraid of their parents, they are supposed to protect you, not hurt you. 
I was often put in charge of my younger siblings, feed them, diaper them, watch them, bathe them. I spent most of my summers being the surrogate mother. That's a lot of pressure for a ten year old. I know the guilt when one of them got hurt under my watch, my baby sister falling on a piece of glass & being taken away in an ambulance to get her arm sewed up. Yup, my fault, mom wasn't there ... again... My little brother hit in the head with a rock, stitches, again, my fault, no mom. My brother would take off on his bike, through the neighborhood, laughing at me  & I would try to chase him down, but he was too fast. I had recurring nightmares of him taking off & getting hit by a car, and would wake up crying from the guilt.

Even as I got older I felt like I had to be the one to help them with everything, if I didn't, who would? 
I took my sister in when she had no place to live, my brothers always came to me for advice first, about marriage, babies, car loans, mortgages, all the questions about life that you would talk to your parents about. I didn't have anyone to ask, I figured it out, I figured it out myself... (My own damn wisdom) 
I took my responsibility of being a parent to my own children very seriously, I knew what it felt like to be a child put in charge of your siblings & vowed never to make my children take care of their siblings unless they wanted to. I never made my son babysit his sister & even got sitters for both kids until they were 13 years old. I feeling is that My children did not ask to be born, they owe me nothing, each child I had was my responsibility and I would never expect them to help me with any aspect of raising my child that I chose to have. It wouldn't be fair to them, they need their own childhood. They are not here for me, I am here for them...

Family gatherings were expected to be at my house, because it was big & clean, unfortunately there was always some kind of controversy.  Usually holidays were when my HP was in prime form, ranting & raving about something minor, that wasn't just how she pictured it to be in her head. Or she was jealous that I had a big clean house & hosted a nice get together & her jealously would spew out of her mouth in insults. 
When my sister decided she wanted a divorce from her husband & asked me if I could tell him for her, I knew that I was doing too much... I was in the habit of taking care of my family, I was enabling them, all of them. I didn't know how not to. They have to start making decisions on their own, seeking their own advice, figuring their life out, being responsible for their choices. Walking away from the enabling position was one of the hardest things I have done, the guilt I feel is the worst kind, but the peace & freedom I have gained from letting go is worth trying to erase any guilt left. That is my goal this year, to let go of the guilt. Take on my responsibility of the family that I created & not the family that I came from..

Saturday, May 25, 2013

the shitty daughter

My mother is a hoarder. She lives in filth and clutter. She tries to give me her stuff, she claims it makes her feel better about collecting things. I don’t want her stuff. She claims I have to take her stuff so that she will feel better, it is my obligation to her… is it?
All of my life I had known something wasn’t right and didn’t quite know what it was. Didn’t every child have to clean up after their parent? Isn’t it my responsibility to make sure there is order in the house? I had taken on the responsibility of trying to make sense of the chaos my siblings and I lived in, after all, I was the oldest daughter. This worked out fine for years, everyone was happy, so it seemed. After I had moved out and started my own life, I found myself creating strict routines and organization, basically, the total opposite of my upbringing. This was not a good thing either and created stress with my husband and children, but, eventually I learned to find a happy medium in my own life, through the help of a counselor.
 My mothers hoarding has grown to a dangerous level. She has battled mold, mice, lice, and skin mites from the piles and piles of stuff she has accumulated. I had even helped several times going through piles and shoveling out moldy boxes and clothes cleaning out a small area or one room of the house, only to have it all filled not long after I worked so hard to clean it out. She needed help.
            At one point, I was able to convince my siblings that maybe there was a problem and that she needed help, counseling. I set up a session with a counselor, all my siblings and both parents, they all agreed to go and talk about their issues with this surmounting problem. As we sat in the room in a circle, we were instructed to vocalize our concerns about the issue. As each one took their turn, every single one had said that they had no concerns, and that the problem did not affect them personally, until it was my turn. I let it all out. I could not stand to see my mother live like this, I cannot stand to see my father live in a house with no space, it made me sick to my stomach and had to change. I could only do so much and what I was doing wasn’t helping, the problem was getting worse, did no one else in the family care? It didn’t bother them that she was living like this, they had moved away, they didn’t have to see it, and they didn’t have to help her with it, so it didn’t bother them, but it bothered me. She was constantly on my phone, asking for help, bringing stuff over to my house because she couldn’t bear to get rid of it, so she had to force it on me, because, she said, I had the room for it.
Finally, I put my foot down, I will not live like that! I will not take her stuff, I will not help her clean uselessly anymore. She made the mess, that is how she has chosen to live, she needs to take responsibility for her own life and her own mess and her own stuff. I will not enable her to continue to accumulate stuff. I tried to get her to see that she needed counseling, what else can I do? At this point, I feel I am going crazy, I am so worried about her that my life is being affected, I am constantly crabby and start taking it out on my own husband and children. I have spent so much time and effort on her and her problems I haven’t paid enough attention to my own life and problems. How can I take care of someone else if I can’t even take care of myself? I am done with it. I told her: ‘I cannot come visit her in her house, it is a health hazard to me and it creates such heartache seeing how you live. I do not want your stuff, I don’t want your little pens with flowers on the ends that were such a good deal, I do not want your books, I do not want clothing that you bought because the color matched my eyes. What I want is a mother, a mother that can share in my joy, and happiness, that I can share my sorrow with, one that is proud of my accomplishments, and one I don’t have to clean up after, one I don’t have to take care of, I am not your mother, I am not here to take care of you, you are here to take care of me”
That seemed pretty clear to me, but not to her, the response I received was pretty astonishing, she said that I was a shitty daughter, and that this wasn’t about what I want, this was about what she wants, and she wants me to take her stuff and listen to her and help her and take care of her and all her problems because that’s what I had always done. But, I can’t anymore, I won’t anymore, and therefore according to her, I am wrong, and I am now the black sheep of the family, the lost soul, the shitty daughter…