Thursday, December 13, 2012

You may want to pee before you start reading...

I don't even know where to start with all this.  I've tried journaling so I can blog it, but it's just such a cluster fuck of insanity.  I'm just going to dive in to just get it out.  This may be confusing and isn't perfect, but I need to purge.

There has been this ongoing issue with my mother, but it has recently come to head when she was taken out of her house by ambulance Tuesday morning with chest pains.  Turns out she was having an atrial fibrillation that lasted for hours.  This on it's own is not the end of the world.  Unfortunately this is the rotten cherry on the poop sundae.

My mother, who is mentally ill but won't get help, has been living an episode of Hoarders.  She can't take care of herself but has refused to sign a power of attorney.  She doesn't take her medication even though she's diabetic, has high blood pressure, has short term memory loss from a severe head trauma in 1995, degenerative bone disease in her neck and spine and a heart condition with three stents procedures within the last two years.  Her diet consists of junk food and sugar.  She has cats living in her basement that have been using the house as a giant litter box.  Her refrigerator and basement are bio-hazards, and I wish I could say that was a joke, but it's not.  She recently flipped her lid and spent every penny she has on mail away catalogs to the tune of over $15,000.

Yeah, you read that correctly.  My mother ordered $15,000 worth of shit from catalogs.  Anything good, you ask?  No.  It was all from Miles Kimball, Oriental Trading, The Vermont Country Store, Hale Groves and Fingerhut to name a few.  It was $15,000 of Made in China.

When did we discover this little nugget?  The day before Thanksgiving.  The first Thanksgiving I was having with my crazy ass family because my brother-in-law is in Afghanistan.  I went against my better judgement and own personal wishes and had a holiday meal with my highly dysfunctional and incredibly mean family.

Do you know how hard it is to eat turkey when you're trying not to kill  your mother and/or sister (Cleo)?  Hard.  Really fucking hard.  But I put on my big girl Betty pants and did it.  This was the beginning of this recent crisis, but really it's one big ongoing crisis due to my mother's mental health condition.

My mother spent all that money, but did she pay the taxes on the house?  No.  Has she paid her electric bill in months?  No.  Does she open her own mail?  No.  I've been finding piles of unopened mail all over her house. Her house that is a cluster fuck of cheap shit and boxes.

My mother has been living on a very limited budget for years.  She was disabled by an accident in 1995.  She fractured her skull, torn an artery in her head, had a blood clot and almost died.  There was some brain damage as a result of all of that.  She lost a lot of her short term memory, but it also compounded her mental illness.  She just recently has come into some more money when my father filed for disability after having cancer and started collecting his pension.

 My older sister (Cleo) has consulted with Alzheimer's groups, my brother (The Prince) with an elder attorney and I have consulted a friend with Public Health Nursing.  We all agree that she can not continue to live like this.  She isn't able to make her own decisions.   Unfortunately it's not that easy to prove incompetence so we're stuck trying to get my mother to agree to help or spend upward of $6,000 to try and make a go of it within the court system. 

My mother is bipolar, but is undiagnosed because she refuses to seek help.  She was hospitalized during one of her manic swings when I was 15 years old.  We had to call the police on her.  (At 15 I had to strong arm my 25 year old sister Cleo to make the call or I would because my younger brother and sister were stuck in that house with her.  They escaped to the neighbors house and called us.  Seriously, why was I the adult in that moment?)  My mother had walked over a mile on a country road to the local bar, gotten drunk, walked home, got a few knives and my dad's guns and said she was going to kill my father when he walked in the door.

When the police showed up she assaulted an officer and was put on a 72 hour psych hold.  Unfortunately when you piss off the cops they put in the bad place where you look sane by comparison.  It didn't help that everyone went to bat for my mom convincing the doctors that it was a one time thing.  This shopping spree is just another manic episode, only it's a really big one this time.

This is all enough, but it's not everything.  When you grow up with a crazy mom and an alcoholic dad there are no chances to escape without "issues".  I have four siblings and we all have issues.  Lilith, my oldest sister, who is also probably bipolar and is a drug addict, isn't in the picture.  We all had to cut her off because of her lies and craziness.  My second oldest sister, Cleo, is really dysfunctional.  She was one of my mom's favorite children so she has entitlement issues.  She has terrible anxiety and is highly sensitive and no matter what can always make it about her.  My brother, The Prince, is the Sun in my mother's universe.  He has major entitlement issues and will never believe anything bad about his sainted mother.  My youngest sister, Freedom, just wants to hide.  She becomes easily overwhelmed and just shuts down.

Beyond that we all have our own issues with each other.  Specifically to this situation The Prince and Freedom didn't want Cleo having sole power of attorney.  They don't trust her decision making abilities for various reasons.  (My opinion is that she is my mother's enabler and allows my mother to manipulate her.)

Me?  I could not give a fuck.  My mother was emotionally and mentally abusive toward me my whole life.  I was her favorite whipping post.  She loved to take her anger at my father out on me.  When I was 18 she raged at me, chased me out of the house and as I was pulling out of the driveway I saw her throwing all my belongings out of my bedroom window.  When I came home, which I had to or she would have found me, she made me pick all my stuff up off the lawn by myself or I would be punished.  After my parents divorce she let her boyfriend verbally and emotionally abuse me.  (Seriously, what mother lets any man tell her teenaged daughter that she needed to get up off her fat ass and/or move her fast ass more often?  Oh right, mine.)  She also let another grown-up male friend of hers verbally abuse me.  She never said or did anything.  When my brother punched me or threw things at me she would tell me not to piss him off.  Nice, huh?

When she had her accident I dropped out of college, got a job, supported the household, took care of my disabled mother and helped Freedom with her final years of high school.  I did this the ripe old age of 20 and all by myself.  My older sisters lived in other states and my brother was in college.  I worked overnights so I could cart my mother to all her various doctor's appointments and so I could be available for my sister.  Three years later when my mother seemed able to care for herself I moved to Florida to be with Wahoo - my saving grace and person who taught me how to be loved.

Two years later we moved back to New York to find my mother needing help.  Her house was a cluttered disaster, her finances lacking and her not able to care for herself.  We moved in and went to work.  We helped her pay her bills and took care of the house.  (Cleo lived about 6 miles away and insisted that my mother was fine.  Enable much?  Why yes, yes she does!)

Those two years are some of the worst years of Wahoo's life.  He was raised by Ward and June Cleaver.  He wasn't used to someone ranting and raving during fits of rage.  He wasn't used to someone making up their own reality or sudden bouts of paranoia.  He wasn't used to someone who had an unbelievable capacity for cruelty.  Not to him of course.  God no!  She would be sweet as pie to him, but she'd abuse the fuck out of me.  At 25 and 26 years old I still didn't know better.

My role in this family has always been as a caretaker.  When I was 17 our house was burning down I dragged both my brother and mother out of a fully engaged house fire.  That has always been where I found worth for myself by taking care of them.  I was only as good as my last favor or deed.  My job was to please those who were worth more and who deserved more than I did.  How fucking warped? 

(Over the last 6 years I have gone through great lengths and substantial costs to alleviate myself of that role and those feelings.  My therapist and I have made tremendous in-roads on all this.  I am a more confident person.  I have no fear speaking my mind or not being accepted.)

Back to the drama at hand.  We had a brief window of opportunity on Wednesday.  My mother, scared from her recent health scare, was agreeable to signing a power of attorney.  We all agreed that we should jump on this opportunity.  I called a friend from high school who is a local lawyer and told him what I needed.  Poor guy pulled himself out of his sick bed (stomach virus) to do this for me in less than 24 hours time.  He also drew up a Healthcare Proxy.  When Cleo and I discussed this Power of Attorney we agreed that we didn't care who got it.  It was important that we get it and it made sense that she or I did because we live closest and do what needs doing.

When I spoke with the attorney he asked if both Cleo and I would like to be co-agents on the POA.  He suggested that we work in tandem.  We'd make decisions together and have equal responsibilities.  Keeping my brother and younger sister's wishes in mind I said yes.  I made that choice against my own best interest and desire.  I put myself out there to keep the family peace.  The lawyer also suggested that we list a back-up person.  I agreed and said that my brother would work.  I thought this important since he lives 3 hours away and my mother goes down state to visit him and my aunt, who lives about 30 minutes away. 

I called Cleo and told her this as she was arriving at the hospital to discharge my mother.  I explained that the attorney had given me the option and that I thought it was a good one.  He was giving us his legal advice and I found it sound.  She didn't sound happy and told me she would see what mom said. 


Perhaps you're asking yourself the same things I was asking myself.  We're letting the crazy lady have control of the decision?  Didn't we all agree that she wasn't in her right mind?  Who's really driving this ship out of crazy town cause it feels a lot like we're making a U turn!

What did I get in return  for my gesture?  A whole lot of bullshit.  Cleo called back and said she was going to be the only one with POA.  She insisted that the POA, which was completed by this time, be changed according to our mother's wishes.

At this point I'm at the edge.  My friend is sick and working on something for me because he's a generous soul.  (Of course he's billing us, but he went a few extra miles because we've known each other since we're 6 years old!)  I've had him draw up these papers based on his legal advice, my other siblings wishes and common motherfucking sense.  I'm trying so hard to make everyone happy because this situation affects every relationship I have with my siblings, nieces, aunts, uncles and cousins.  My mother I can live without, and do so quite happily, but the rest of my family? 

Cleo, who I have defended to my younger siblings, lashed out at me.  She accused me of trying to take away my mother's choices because my mother chose her.  She told me that the younger two turned me against her, that she saw this coming and that she never wanted to speak with me again. 

I then told her to remove me from all legal documents because I was done, and that I wanted nothing to do with this dysfunction and insanity.  Did it turn out that way?  No.  My poor friend, per my sister and mother's request, drew up new documents and called me as he was walking to the local diner to meet them.  He did this because he works from home and he didn't want to expose them to his germs.  I went and signed as a back-up so as to not inconvenience my friend.

Am I going to act as an agent of that document?  Absolutely not.  I sent them all an email and then called both  younger siblings.

I have cried buckets and buckets today.  Angry tears.  Sad tears.  Hurt tears. Old tears.  New tears.  I cried before, during and after.  I cried in the car while Wahoo was driving us home from the store.  I sobbed in the shower.  I cried on the phone with Wahoo when he called to say goodnight.  (I'm dog sitting at a local Inn for Inn's owner.  Luckily we don't have any guests right now.  Could you imagine?  Oy!)  I've cried while writing this.

When something like this happens it triggers all the old abuse.  I have flashbacks that I can't control.  I'm not sure if this is a PTSD response or what.  The older stories that I shared above have been ricocheting around in my mind.  All the old feelings of being unlovable and being worth less than others try to take over.

Something that's making this slightly worse are my holiday plans.  Wahoo and I are driving to Indiana and Kentucky to spend the holidays with his family.  Dealing with this and knowing that I'm going to witness first hand a loving, caring and functional family hurts.  It reminds me of what I never had.  It cruelly forces me to ask the question:  Why couldn't I have had a little of that?  

In the past, I probably would have isolated myself.  I wouldn't have talked as much about it with Wahoo.  It's hard to explain it to someone whose parents think they walk on water.  There is a certain amount of shame involved.  I felt like if I tell him why my family doesn't love or respect me then he'll see the light.  I'll be revealed and he'll leave.  Logic and rationale don't matter in these moments.

My therapist once told me that by doing this I was continuing my parents abuse without them having to lift a finger.  That stopped me in my tracks.  I saw it all in a new light.  Did it magically go away?  No.  Just like anyone in recovery it's something I will always struggle with. 

Now I'm a lot more open about it all.  To Wahoo's credit that man listens to hours of it.  He watches the tears with nothing but support and love.  He gives and gives and gives.  He also refrains from hurting anyone, which is down right miraculous, because I'm having a hard time.

I actually told my brother today that it was either my tears or someone else's blood.  He quickly agreed that crying was OK. 

So that's my long, sad story.  I've have learned my lesson, again.  How many times before it sticks?  Hopefully this is the last lesson they teach me at my own expense.  I feel like I've taken crazy pills or checked into crazy town.  My therapist says that's normal when you're the healthy one in a dysfunctional family.  It's a blessing and a curse.  Some days more curse than blessing.

**** I've changed names.  Funny enough these are the nicknames I use behind their backs.  Lilith for her darkness and power of destruction, and Cleo is short for Cleopatra - The Queen of Denial.  ****


KarenB (Betty Bear) said...

Jesus wept. Jesus, Mary, Joseph and all the angels wept. You are a good and caring person who deserves so much better than what you have been given by those who should have loved and cared for you that it's not even in the same universe. Print out that sentence and tape it up somewhere you will see it, and read it and read it. Because it's true.

Being the Queen of Ass-vice, I will dish out some, which you are more than welcome to ignore. My advice is divorce yourself from your family. There is NOTHING wrong with walking away from toxic people. If you have trouble contemplating completely cutting them out of your life, consider a year's sabbatical from them. No phone calls. No texts. No mail. No visits. Nada. You have done so much more for them than they deserve no matter what they are telling you. And you CAN'T SAVE PEOPLE WHO DON'T WANT TO BE SAVED. I will also say that your feelings of inadequacy are from abuse.No one would think that you deserve such crap, ever.

Big huge honking hugs, girlfriend.

Anna said...

I'm sorry, Cat. I am so, so, so unbelievably sorry that you've had to go through all of that. Ditto what KarenB said. *enormous bear hugs*

It's a Meow World said...

Thank you for reading this! It's so long and a little nutty in places! It was very cathartic and helped me purge and move on.

Karen - Thank you!! You can give me all the assvice you want! You're right. I just can't keep doing this.

Wahoo and I leave on Dec 20th to spend the holidays with his family. I always joke and say his parents house is the best hotel I've ever stayed in!! Homemade chocolate chip cookies, the softest towels on God's green earth and acceptance. Can't ask for anything more!

Wahoo and I also decided to move which will put physical distance between me and my family. That will be God sent!

Thank you for your support and sound advice!! XOXO

Anna - Thank you! It helps so much to hear people's reaction because this was my "normal". When I hear the sadness or shock in people's reaction it reminds me that my family situation isn't in my head and that it isn't healthy. It's validates me and that is priceless. So thank you again for your support! XOXO

Julie said...

Hello Dearest One! I've missed visiting with you and your Beloved.

Please know that it's NOT you, it is THEM! Oh you sweet beautiful girl, saving the un-save-able, one smelly job at a time. Thankfully you DO have your Wahoo, and his wonderful family. Wallow in their grace and compassion, you deserve nothing less.

Seconding Karen's assvice, leave the biological family to their own devices. Whatever you need to learn from them can still be dealt with, from afar.
(May I suggest Oregon, as destination location?)

Have a delightful and enjoyable holiday (all of them, load up on the festivities, celebrate each and every one). And don't forget, there are swarms of Betties (and their loved ones) who adore, appreciate, treasure, and value you, specifically because you are YOU!

Julie said...

Ooops, forgot to mention, the title of this post was hilarious. I loved it. Sadly, I didn't go pee first. But I have a very sturdy bladder, lucky me. (Going now.)

inkgrrl said...

Oh honey. You are DEFINITELY not the crazy or unlovable one. Best therapist advice ever. I am SO glad you're going to stay at Chez In-Laws for the holidays and will be moving afterwards. You've done a hell of a lot more for your family of origin than most people would have and know what? Fuck 'em. Your mother and the horse she rode in on can drag your siblings along to crazy town if they're willing to go, but you don't need to ride herd on that herd. You DO have a loving family that's safe and warm and comforting - even better than that, you CHOSE them. Because you are brilliant and wonderful and amazing and deserve all the good in the world. As well as all the sparkly FGBVs that are flying at ya right now. *MWAH*!!!

Skye said...

What everyone else said; they were all so eloquent I cannot think of more to add. Except that you are always welcome to call me and feel free to cry on the phone, or on a text or an email.

A good book for helping to deal with shame is I Thought It Was Just Me by Brene Brown. I found it very helpful. My therapist is the one who told me about it and about Brene, who is a shame researcher. She gives lots of information about shame resilience and about dealing with shame. Given how your family has and continues to make you feel, you might find the book useful.

I'm glad you're moving further away from your mom. Then you can't get sucked in so much, if at all. Take care, dear. You are worth it. You are worth so much!

London Mabel said...

O the Endless Crying! IT SUCKS. But I'm glad you're feeling a little better. You're a lovely, caring person and deserve to be treated as such.You are definitely lovable!

I'm glad about your moving away, it'll make it easier to do the cutting off. It's totally understandable to not want to put yourself through that pain anymore. (And I can second the Brene Brown recommendation, I just read it. Very good book, and practical.)

I'm glad you're going to have a little trip soon. And even though they weren't your parents in childhood, let Wahoo's family love you, cause I'm sure they do, more than you can comprehend.

Thanks for sharing -- sending you many many healing and happiness vibes!!

It's a Meow World said...

I can say with absolute certainty that there is no better group of people that The Betties! Every comment here and on FB has brought me tears of joy and love. I can honestly say I have never felt so supported outside of Wahoo's embrace.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

Julie - I've missed you, too. I hate that I'm a terrible pen pal and not much of a twitter fiend! I am going to make a better effort because I love your sparkly little elf self! You are a joy and a light in my life.

One day, and I hope it is soon, I will make a trip out to OR to meet you face to face! We'll go about spreading Betty goodness everywhere we go! XOXO

Inkgrrl - Thank you for those wise and amazing words. Especially about "dragging my siblings along to crazy town" because it reminds me of this "Let Go Or Be Dragged!". I don't want to be dragged along anymore. I want to be free. Your words also put quite the visual in my head and I believe I'll keep it to remind me of their crazy dysfunction! Thank you for that gift! XOXO

Skye - I may just take you up on that! I'm developing a new family and a new support structure and you'd be an amazing addition. :)

The book sounds great! I believe London Mabel actually talked to me about it before, but now I'm going to make a concerted effort to read it. I need to do some more work on me, and I'm sure my therapist would be thrilled to find out I'm doing homework! ;)

Thank you!! XOXO

London Mabel - Thank you for your advice and kind words! I also really value the conversations we've had via email and FB, too. It has made a wonderful difference in my life.

Thank you also for the book suggestion! Like I said above, I want to expand my self work beyond just therapy. I need to get back to feeding my mind and soul. Let the healing begin!! Thank you, again! XOXO

BTW... Betties who use other names online I feel so cool referring to you as your online names. I'm sure you would not have minded me using your names, but I like to protect anonymity AND it was kinda super hero cool to speak all alias-like. ;)