When I started at the community college (20 years ago) and took a piano class my HP was able to get a free piano from a friend for me to practice on. Very exciting. It's an upright weighing a million pounds. The piano was never tuned, but I still practiced on it. Of course I have no place for this piano and it was peed on by a sick cat several times and has had rats playing inside. My HP refers to it as my piano.
At one point she asked if I wanted it, because the piano is the reason why the living room is a mess (eyeroll), and I said sure when I have a place for it (I know not the best response). Then she told me this friend of hers was interested and would I mind if she gave it to this friend and I said go ahead mom, if she's interested and you want to give it to her, give it to her. I was excited, she wanted to give something away and someone wanted it.
Next time I was at the house the piano was still in the same place. I said I thought you were going to give that to your friend. Her response was, you told me not to. What? I said if she wants it and you want to give it to her, give it to her. I don't have a place for it. She said I was sending mixed signals. I said get rid of it. I even told her, if you clear a path to the door I will help you move it outside for her to pick up. A path was never made.
The conversation about the piano and this friend took place over several months.
Last time I mentioned her friend and giving away the piano she looked at me like I was crazy and said "She never wanted the piano. I don't know what you are talking about."
My husband tells me I'm bitter when I bring up the way my brother and I were treated differently by our HP, who always said she was treating us equally.
I don't mean to sound bitter and really don't feel bitter.
I'm really just trying to work through all of the crazy. I know I'm trying to be logical with the illogical and there's no sense in using sense with the crazy. But still I try to understand, to find the pattern.
My mother is an agent of chaos and I think somehow, despite the chaos in my childhood, I became an agent of order. This does not mean to say I have an immaculate home. I have a small amount of disorder and clutter. The plates are stacked by size, as are the pots. All space is usable. Most things have their place and it doesn't take me long to find stuff (unless I put it in a real safe place and then there's no hope). But I do like things that make sense, I like to see order in the world. I obey traffic laws and fuss at people who litter. I return books on time. And like a dog with a bone, I fuss at puzzles until they make sense. My mother is a puzzle I do not understand. I know in my heart that she will not ever make sense to me, she is irrational, unstable and unpredictable. It's the intellectual level, where I think of memories as books in a library cross referenced in card catalogs, that I go over and over her actions and our interactions trying to unravel this Gordian knot.
Evidently my HP was surprised/hurt that she wasn't invited to the baby shower, even though my husband told her that she was not invited months ago. My brother told her not to worry because he wasn't invited either. I said he was. And he said no he wasn't. I said yes you were and he repeated that he wasn't. I told him I put together the list and that an evite was sent to him in August and then again in September and asked if he ever checked his spam box and he said, well no. I said I wasn't surprised I hadn't heard from him since it was one of his work days and figured he didn't respond because he couldn't attend (we had a similar conversation previously where he said he assumed a non answer to a question would be interpreted as a negative answer). He said he would have tried to make it to the baby shower (he sounded a little surprised that I would assume he would not respond to a baby shower invite).
It was number 10 that finally spurned me to action. My HP kept saying things like, I bet you don't talk to your friends this way and complaining about the way I treated her. I was talking to her in the way I would talk to other logical adults. And I realized I wouldn't let anyone else in teh world let treat me the way she treated me, why should I accept that from her just because she was my mother.
We got a big box of baby clothes (mostly) from my HP week before last. I knew we would get something from her. She loves getting baby stuff and uses any excuse to buy goodies for babies and small children. Mostly hoard smell free (there were two little sweaters knitted by the neighbor that smell heavily of the hoard and have been quarantined) and mostly new (there was a whole bag of gently used clothes). There are no receipts, but she left most of the tags on, just cutting out the prices. We decided since they were purchased sometime in the last six months (since we knew our little bundle was a boy) it would not be worth the effort to try to return anything. We returned gifts from someone else instead (how many 0-3 month onesies do you really need). There were some bottles (thanks mom for deciding I'd be using bottles and this particular brand). There were "Thank You" cards included as well. As if at 39 I don't know to send thank you cards or wouldn't have thought of it without my HP. The letter included was pretty normal (much like the one from my birthday last month), only one thing that really made me go "huh?"
It does make me sad to think about how much money she spent on this big box of clothes that we really didn't need. She sent duplicates of things we already have. If she were not the agent of chaos she is, we could have had a conversation about what we needed. If I was getting that much stuff for someone else, I'd have asked, what do you really need? But instead it's a box of stuff she wanted to get for a baby boy, any baby boy.
My husband thinks it's a peace offering, that she will never apologize for her nasty vicious emails and that I'm just too close to the whole situation. I think she's midway in her cycle (whatever it is) and that by the time she sees me next she will have decided that I am some horrible ungrateful child who deserves her wrath. I think it's a trap. I've fallen for them before and been severely burned. All my instincts are screaming danger, DANGER, IT'S A TRAP!!!!
When I told my mother she was a hoarder she said "I don't have to take getting my feelings hurt in my own home, it's bad enough having to take it when I'm visiting family." I asked if saying she was a hoarder is what hurt her feelings and she said yes.
My mother never talks about hurt feelings except in a mean sarcastic way in response to me and my precious feelings. It was a weird experience.
I did not back down and told her in a fierce whisper, well you know that neighbor of yours that you says hates you so much, If I were here I'd wait until late one night when I knew you were asleep and then call 911 in a panic and say "I heard something at my neighbors house and I'm concerned for her well being, she's older and lives all alone" and then the police would come and see your house and condemn it because it's that's bad." And then I walked away from her.
Of course we never discussed this again. We never discuss when our feelings have been hurt, except when she is mad at me and lists all the "awful" things I've said and done to her (treating her like a child, treating her like an old lady, telling her what to do, only doing the stuff I want to do, being mean to her in her own home, when my apartment door was kicked in and things were stolen from me I didn't show her enough empathy when she shared all of times she had things taken from her, etc). I on the other hand am expected to suck it up and forget the imagined slights against me. Whatever I say to her is real and hurtful. Whatever she says to me I was overreacting to. She was after all just joking.
My hoarder likes to go to other people's homes and rearrange their belongings (mantels and bookshelves and the like), to hide "gifts" (like sneaking an extra book onto a bookshelf or adding a knicknack in my aunt's bedroom during a family party) and to tsk at them for using the wrong mop or buying "expensive" cleaning supplies. She says the sponge mops harbor disease and microbes, but the giant rag mops don't. She told someone the rearranging was a game she and my aunt played that they both enjoyed. My aunt didn't not share the same view of this intrusion.
We are preparing for a bundle of joy to join us in less than a month. We have boxes of baby stuff stacked in the living room and we're boxing up some of our stuff to make room in our small apartment. Meanwhile the apartment is in chaos and on some level upsetting to my COH soul. I have been told by the doc not to move furniture or lift anything over like 10lbs. Very frustrating.
In the past I've had a lot of family and friends mention me being angry at my hoarder as the reason we don't communicate. I am always stunned. Maybe that is the way she is presenting it. That I am angry and will get over it. Perhaps even that I am throwing some sort of childish hissy fit or having an overreaction of some sort. I guess if you're angry at someone there is the possibility for the anger to be replaced by another emotion. For forgiveness, for reconciliation?
I am not angry at my hoarder. That takes too much energy and focus. And although she was worth that focus once, she isn't anymore. I am angry at the past, at what I had to go through to get to where I am now, that the trials by fire were necessary at all, and I am angry at having adult responsibilities before I was even a teen, but the reason I stepped away from my hoarder is not anger. It's self preservation. It's disappointment and just a general doneness (if that's even a word).
My counselor has tried to get me to admit to rage. Probably as a cathartic work through. The fact is I don't have rage, rage takes a lot of energy & like fire it consumes the one holding onto it. As I mentioned above, my hoarder is not worth the necessary focus required for rage. I know there have been times when I was still interacting with her that I raged at her (see the green ham incident), but those were few and far between and very short lived. I understand the dangers of fire, having seen my father, mother and brother all rage at times and watch them be consumed by it. Luckily my brother seems to have figured out the rage thing.
My hoarder is toxic. If it were just piles of crap that would be one thing, we could go about our merry little lives, but the cruelty and manipulation and general using me as an emotional punching bag, because she knew I had the patience and could take it (she actually told me that once, that she knew I could take it because I was so patient) and being the on call free handyman (who could never do anything right - sigh), were too much. Seriously.
I stepped away for my own health and well-being. Not to punish her or because I was angry with her.
It is amazing how much happier I am. How much less anxiety there is in my life. And how much more time I have now that I'm not on call every weekend and holiday. How many fewer tears I shed.
Stepping away was not something I did TO HER. But FOR ME!