Hoarders and stuffing

I’m watching Hoarders right now. It’s a show about people who hoard excessively.

On this episode, there is a man who is facing homelessness unless he cleans his house out. He hadn’t allowed people in his house ever, and so having the cleanup team, a psychologist, and his family in there wanting to toss things away was overwhelming him.

In the interview, the man said that he had always stuffed his feelings, had never allowed himself to feel them, and that the hoarding was his way of erecting a physical barrier around himself to keep people and his feelings away.

Listening to this man tell about his inner life made me very sad. Not because of the hoard–which was bad, really bad–but because I know what it is to feel like you can’t feel your own feelings. He was carrying around so much shame and guilt about his sexuality (at the end of the program, he came out to his siblings).

During the cleanup, he managed to express his feelings to his siblings and actively participated in cleaning his house out.

***

I had a reason for bringing that up, other than informing you about my TV watching habits.

I know that stuffing your feelings isn’t a good or safe strategy for having a happy, productive life.  I looked at this man and what he was going through, and I wondered if I could wind up going down that path.

Maybe not, but I do wonder. A lot of the people on this show say that their hoarding started after some kind of trauma (there was a woman on one episode who started hoarding after losing two of her sons within a six month period). There’s been no trauma in my life, not anything that major.

It might be that I’m worrying too much.

 

 

Dream a little dream

The dreams I’ve had lately are unsettling on the one hand and…shamefully stirring on the other.

I have it on good authority that I shouldn’t feel ashamed. Maybe I shouldn’t. These dreams are easily the most intense I’ve had. Ever.

I feel like a fool to be as moved as I am by dreams. They’re just dreams. But I can’t stop thinking about them, can’t stop going over them and over them. I want to think about them all the time, but I can’t allow myself to do that; that’s dangerously over the line into obsession.

What’s more (and more alarming to me) is that I want more of them. How creepy is that?

This cannot be healthy. This cannot be good. It’s like the dreams are really good chocolate: some is good, too much is fattening.

Compliments by Colonel Crazy: just add crazy

Colonel Crazy said something very nice about me today.

In case you haven’t figured it out, Colonel Crazy didn’t grow up with the Bestower of Righteous Silliness,  the Lord of Lassitude, and me. He didn’t come to us until he was 16, and he and the Lord of Lassitude were best friends.  He left to go off to the service a couple years after he came to us.

Because of that, he doesn’t have the knowledge of me that my parents and other siblings have; he doesn’t see me the way they do.  Of everyone in the house, I would say that Colonel Crazy has the clearest vision of me.

We were coming in from a trip to the store, and he said, “You’re my favorite sister.”

I said that, no, I think he liked BoRS better.

“No,” he said. “I like her, but you’re my favorite sister. Want to know why?”

I said sure, expecting to hear something silly (I don’t call him Colonel Crazy here for nothing).

But he completely shocked me with what he said. “You’re my favorite because you’re honest.”

Everybody tries to be honest, I said.

He told me to hush so he could finish (his exact words were: “Shut up, woman, I am being profound–yeah, profound. This won’t happen again for a few years; you’re wasting the magic moments!”). “Everybody tries to be honest, but you–you are honest. You’re honest even when it would be smarter or less hurtful to lie. You tell everything how it is. And yeah, sometimes you hurt people with what you say, but the truth is a bitch, and it hurts sometimes.”

I said that I don’t mean to hurt people.

“I know that,” he said. “Everybody knows that. But the point is that you’re honest. You’re my favorite because I know that I can ask you anything, and know that I’ll get a straight answer with no varnish on it.”

And then he laughed and said, “And you have pretty hair, so that helps, too.” 🙂

Dams and spikes

I don’t know what’s wrong with me right now. I feel like a dam has burst inside me and now everything is pouring out.

You’d think that would be a relief, but it’s not. I’m scared that it won’t stop. Everything feels so tender, and my going over each thing is like digging spikes into sore muscles. But I can’t stop jabbing the spikes in. Do I like doing this to myself?

I feel like a fool. What is the matter with me? I was feeling okay, and then bam! It came up out of nowhere.

Maybe I’m cracking up. Maybe it’s finally come.

Failing at learning to trust and accept myself

How can I learn to accept myself?

I don’t know if there’s anything good inside me, anything worth salvaging. I feel like a huge fraud, like one day someone will catch on and then the jig will be up.

I keep asking myself what is good about me, and I can’t come up with a good answer. Maybe there’s not anything and I’m comforting myself with the delusion that I am a worthwhile person.

I guess that feeling has to go in order for acceptance to come. Maybe the first step is learning to trust myself.

I wish I knew how to do that. Every decision I make is always full of second and third guessing. I don’t know how to trust my feelings about anything.

My emotional life with mom

I feel sad today. My family hasn’t done anything new, but as I’m going through this book, reading these people’s stories, I’m remembering all these feelings I had stuffed down inside me.

I feel betrayed. I feel angry and sick. I don’t like feeling these things, but they are there, and I can’t not feel them anymore.

I know I wasn’t the perfect child; I know that parenthood is difficult. But everything good about myself was ground into dust and set on fire. I feel like my mother emotionally checked out on me to pour herself into the hardship that is raising younger kids. She says I was an “easy” child, but I have to wonder if she says that because she didn’t have time for me.

I don’t know why that hurts me so much now. It was years ago.

My emotions were always burdensome. When I got angry, I was told to stuff it, since whatever I was mad about didn’t really matter. When I felt like I’d gotten the short end of something, I was told to suck it up because I was the oldest and so had to “be a good example for the younger kids.” When I was sad–especially when I cried–I got laughed at and called oversensitive. I always felt cheated; everybody else could express their emotions–no matter what they were–except me. I eventually figured that my emotions had to be bad, since everyone acted like they were such a hard thing to bear.

Even my private thoughts and secrets were not safe. I learned to never tell my mother anything in confidence, because it eventually became public knowledge, either public family knowledge or really public knowledge.

I remember once when I was about 15, I had a crush on this boy. He played the clarinet in the school band, and he sat right across from me in third period French, so I was looking into his eyes every day–a heady thing. I even joined the drill team to be close to him, since they worked with the band, and I wanted him to see me in a short little skirt (I know that’s obvious, but I was 15, all right?).

Anyway, my mother knew I had this crush. One day, the school band was over at one of the parks for a rally or something. The drill team was there, and we were all in uniform. I thought the object of my affection was so handsome in that uniform, and I must have paraded back and forth across his field of vision (always with other girls, of course; it wouldn’t do to appear too interested) a million times. Finally, I swallowed my nerves and went to stand next to him.

And there was my mother. She saw me, and she saw him. Then she shouted: “Hey, [boy’s name]! Look at my daughter. You see her every day in French class. Did you know she has a massive crush on you? Do you like her?”

The poor boy’s eyes widened, and he paled as he stared at me in open-mouthed astonishment. Then he said, “No!” in a strangled-sounding voice, and almost ran away from me.

Yeah, I wanted to disappear, or just die right on the spot.

My mother? She laughed. She looked at my “oh-God-please-kill-me-right-now-or-make-me-invisible” face, my teary eyes, the boy’s hastily retreating figure, and laughed.

“You were never going to tell him you liked him, so I did it for you,” she said once she stopped laughing.

I certainly wasn’t going to tell him anything anymore. He transferred out of French and made a point to stay far away from me when the band and drill team came together to practice from then on.

 

You know what’s funny? That was more than 15 years ago, and I’m still angry about that.

The more things stay the same

It’s official: I’m a heartless, loyalty-less person since I didn’t run to help my sister set up her new apartment.

Funny thing is, I didn’t hear this from my sister; I heard it from the Keeper of the Holograms.

The Bestower of Righteous Silliness moved into her new place five days ago. She got Colonel Crazy and the Lord of Lassitude and some other guys to help with the heavy lifting, and had a cadre of other people there to help too. I would have gone to help if she had called me to ask, really. I had my day cleared for it in case she did call. She didn’t call, so I figured she had enough help.

Apparently, there’s something wrong with this approach. According to KotH and BoRS, I should have “known” to call and offer to help. When I told KotH that all BoRS had to do was pick up the phone and call me if she’d wanted my help, I get asked “Why should she have to call you? You should just know to go over there and help!”

I’m not a mind reader, Mom. If somebody wants me to do something, they need to let me know they want me to do it!

Anyway, the upshot is that because my psychic hat is broken, I’m a bad person. KotH says I’m obviously a “different person than she is–than most every normal person is” (imagine this said in the most smug, I’m-such-a-loftier-personage-than-you-are tone of voice possible) since I couldn’t pick up on such a basic fact you just assume that your help is going to be wanted when somebody moves.

I helped the girl pack up her old apartment, because she called me to ask. Why should unpacking the new one just go without saying?

Oh also, in the same vein, I should just invite myself to stay the night with her, too, and not wait until she asks me to. Why? I “just should.” I should “know she might need me” and want to “do my sisterly duty” by her.

I just do not understand it.