Sunday, August 1, 2010

Staying In The Solution

I don't know why this has to be so hard. The situation at Reata South is very, very difficult. My Mother and perhaps my sister as well are just this side of hoarders. My Mother is/was a compulsive shopper/pack rat and the place is filled, in some cases to the rafters, with stuff. And there is, what I think, is a water leak with some pretty severe water damage showing up as buckling and rolling of the kitchen floor.

And while I wouldn't have known about the problem if she hadn't told me, she's bucking me on every turn on solutions. Pebbles and I went out there on Saturday to try and figure out where the water is coming from and Mom came very near having a meltdown over being told that I would have to have insurance adjusters, plumbers and repair people in. Hell, she barely let Pebbles and I in. It was 100 degree plus and she finally came outside after we knocked at the door and yelled her name for several minutes. Pebbles called "bs" and said I'm going in the house, it's too hot out here and just went inside. And when I started looking for the leak by opening the kitchen cabinets, she became very upset and agitated. Obviously, there is a lot of shame about how things are stacked, stuffed and unusable. I mean, you can't see a surface anywhere. So I backed off.

I thought about this for a day and have decided that I have to move on this. I've got an active leak, so I called her and said that I would be out after work tomorrow to search for the leak. Again, I said that I would have to have plumbers, insurance adjusters, etc. come in. I was trying to give her some opportunity to deal with some of this crap. So about two hours ago, my sister called me in near hysterics about having to deal with all of this. And I said I wasn't asking her to deal with any of it, I just told her what I was going to be done.

And she was all "we can't have repairmen out there to fix this, they will have to turn off the a/c" etc, etc, - one excuse after another about why this can't be done. They don't have the money to buy boxes to box up all their stuff. They don't have the time to do it, etc. etc. I am not trying to make things difficult for either of them, but I cannot let this go. Their solution was that they would just turn off the water.

I was raised in this chaos. The entire second floor of the family home was unusable and inaccessible. You couldn't see the floor anywhere. There was stuff stacked and covered with sheets in the rest of the house. No one could come over. And as an adult, I actually lived like this myself for longer than I would like to admit. It's amazing how it can go unnoticed and be considered normal. So I am not without sympathy. I know the anxiety that goes along with having stranger see this, I know all about the shame, but I cannot enable this behavior. I cannot not deal with the repair issues because it make them uncomfortable/anxious. I am not going to try to mitigate this, I'm not clearing it up or clearing it out. I just want to get the plumbing fixed. I am not going to gripe about it or preach about it, but I am going to give clear information about what I am going to do and when. And the consequences will just have to be what they are.

I hate it that my sister feels forced to continue to fix, make excuses and take this burden on, but she is 35 years old and an adult. She has choices she can make, even if she thinks she doesn't. And me going in and cleaning things out is just like pouring out the bottles of an alcoholic. It does no good, it doesn't change a thing and just leaves every one pissed. So I am going to have to just move forward with the solution to my problem by being as clear and direct with my intentions to get this leak fixed. I shall not go out of my way to be harsh, but I will let the consequences be what they are.

I am powerless over people. I have tried for decades to fix this and I cannot.


  1. You are right on about being powerless over people. They will just have to shove things around and deal. I hope the right repairman gets the job. One that will make them feel some comfort and be at ease. You are a good woman, Roxie. Just do what needs to be done.

  2. exhausting.

    for me and my, uh, familial dysfunction the phrase I am POWERLESS OVER OTHERS I CAN ONLY CONTROL MY ACTIONS has brought some comfort as well.


  3. Goodness what a hard situation you're in there my friend. The Miz is correct as usual: you are powerless over them and can only control what you can do. So fix your leak with the knowledge that you have done the right thing.

  4. I've given you an award! You can grab it at my blog:

  5. Ouch...I'm sure this situation is bringing up some tough emotions that you would really rather not have to revisit. So sorry...I hope you can get this taken care of soon and then leave it.

  6. I'm so sorry. I can imagine how hard this is all for you. I know you're doing the right thing by getting the problem fixed. I also know it won't be easy. I'm sorry.

    I just read a book that you might be interested in. Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee. If you're interested in reading it, I'd be happy to send you my copy.

  7. You are strong Roxie. You know what you need to do and really can only do for you.

  8. What a nightmarish situation! Fixing a leak is relatively easy compared to the impossibility of fixing another person, their issues or the situation they place themselves in. You have exactly the right attitude you're doing the best that you can for yourself and your family - you can't ask more than that of yourself!

  9. It's remarkable you are as "evolved" and healthy as you are, Roxie. And as you know, that can be a lonely state when others around you are still sick, clueless and reactive.

    I'm glad you have Pebbles to lean on, and she's lucky to see you changing the things you can. Great role modeling, and I know this situation must be triggering a lot of old stuff for you.

  10. What an eye opener that is, when we realize we can only control ourselves.

    You're right. I know it's stressful, but you're even going about it in a considerate way. Hmmm. Exhausting is right.

  11. Roxie, I can so sympathize. My mother, now dead for going on 2 years was a hoarder. She lived in a 4 room cabin 200 miles away. My sister and I took 4 days of our lives to "clean" a couple of years ago. We got 2 rooms done, sorta! The trips to the dump and the thrift stores to get rid of stuff seemed interminable. I wanted to come home and clean sweep my own house just because!! I know your heart is breaking even while you plan on how strong you must be to get thru this.


We'll try this for a while.