Observations of a clean freak

Clean out your cars people at least before you sell them. Last night my daughter Arabella stopped by and basically called me a clean freak. I had to chuckle over her negative(?) comment. Last night we got done with supper really late. My husband made his famous pizza as a thank you to my son’s roommate for doing a welding project in the restoration of my son’s car. It seemed like all of his friends also heard about the project and famous pizza because before you knew it there was a lot more than a couple people. So it got very late indeed…so I said screw it, I’ll clean up in the morning. Then I had the thought…what if my house was on fire…and all these buff firemen came in my house…instead of saving us they would exclaim how dirty my kitchen was. I’d probably go back to clean the house before it burned to the ground.

Now remember for just a second that I grew up in a house that people have commented was gross or disgusting. Not only did my parents have a propensity for mild to moderate hoarding, they kept a dirty house as well. Tables were too cluttered to eat on. Chairs too full of papers to sit on. Dirty dishes, rotten food on the counter, uncleaned toilets, piss on the floor type of thing. They didn’t throw anything out. To them it brought comfort, to me it gave a fear of walking around barefoot. Strange how I still feel like people are going to judge the cleanliness of my house.

I feel a lot of anxiety when strangers come to my house. I even felt a lot of anxiety when the guy came over to take my son’s car to the salvage yard. Although my son cleaned the car out, I secretly cleaned out the car some more. After all, the car was in my name. As if the guy was going to come back and say he changed his mind the car wasn’t clean enough for his junkyard. I do honestly worry about those types of things.

Recently we bought cars from private sellers. I am now realizing that perhaps I am a clean freak for cleaning a car for the junkyard. I’m going to tell you the condition of my kid’s cars when they were purchased.

My son’s car was purchased in November from a guy who was right around my son’s age. I think his medical records said he was 21. Yes, he left his medical records in the car. He was fully vaccinated if that is a concern of yours. He also left pertinent info about the car in the car so I had to read through some stuff because it was important such as where he bought the car from, for how much, how many miles, and the car facts such as it was never in an accident. You know, the good days of the car before someone ran a red light and totaled it.

I tried hard not to look at his medical records. I did notice the guy was being treated for anxiety and suffered from an allergy so bad he needed an Epi-pen. Now I surmised his anxiety was probably not as bad as mine because otherwise why would you leave your medical info in your car when you sell it. He also left all of the information regarding his speeding tickets. I knew what auto insurance company he was going through. I had his full name, address, and date of birth. He also apparently liked cheap cigars and had bad taste in music. I found it utterly horrifying he left so much personal info in the vehicle. I glanced over everything and kept anything pertinent to the car and threw the rest out. I was thinking about driving to his house to return it but I think that would be more mortifying to him. I felt guilty about having to go through all the stuff he left in the car. Like it was my fault he left a gold mine for someone to steal his identity.

My daughter got a car this past weekend. We purchased the car from an elderly man whose wife passed away. The car belonged to his wife and he was no longer in need of it. She rarely drove it. While we were on the test drive I checked out the pockets in the back seat. Apparently that is a spot people forget about. Inside the back pocket were two little shooters of whiskey, one empty one full. On the floor was a cushion that I caught a whiff of piss on. There were other things like a pump you would use to blow up an air mattress. His wife’s sunglasses in the cupholder. Masks under the visor. Receipts and napkins in the center console. Paperwork of repairs done. The jackpot was a handicap parking permit that expires in 2026 which I hope my daughter doesn’t use when she is feeling lazy.

Seriously, if I was thinking of selling my car the first thing I would do is clean it out. But maybe that is just me since I even do a clean out for the junkyard. Since it was a cold day, we went inside the guy’s house to exchange the money and title. The guy said his wife was a collector. He asked if I wanted any teacups, decorative spoons or thimbles, Avon figurines, or stuffed animals. He tried to sell my daughter a stuffed animal that was older than her dressed in Christmas clothes and played an annoying tune for $10. I told him I wasn’t much of a collector. He seemed like a lonely man who didn’t have a lot of people to talk to. His house was warm and clean. He was playing country music and possibly had a cup of straight whiskey on his end table. He had a Bible sitting out nearby. He told us what he did for a living before retirement and talked about a successful son who lived far away.

Buying cars from people sure gives you an interesting look into the lives of other people. Maybe more than I wanted to know. But that’s just my observations as a clean freak.

Gratitude week 162

  1. A spa day with my mom. We went out to eat before and the food was really good. (I had a veggie burger, and if that was very good!!!). I decided to take the extra survey for a chance to win a $250 gift card. I didn’t seem to win it yet though…Wouldn’t that be something?
  2. The longest and hardest month of the year, January, is finally over.
  3. I’m starting to work on my book again.
  4. Although we didn’t make it to the yurt, we found a car for Arabella.
  5. I’m grateful to be getting my car back. I let Arabella and Will borrow my car quite often.
  6. I’m glad the cold snap seems to be over. We are going to have a few days above freezing. The sun is shining too.
  7. I’m glad Angel has an appointment with the wellness clinic I went to a couple years back. I think she will be able to address some health concerns she is having. I was able to visit with her quite a bit this past week and will be seeing her a couple days in the week ahead.
  8. I’m grateful Dan helped in the process of finding Arabella a reliable car. We looked at a listing by a private owner and when we got there someone else was looking at it. I thought we were out of luck. I’m hoping the car will last a long time. It’s a 2008 Sonata with less than 100,000 miles on it in the exact price range. It was meant to be! What a deal!
  9. My favorite comedian is coming to the area next month…so guess who bought tickets??
  10. Fires in the fireplace on cold winter nights.
  11. Our friends still went to the yurt. It took them 4 hours to hike in with all their gear. They found it to be very challenging. They are younger than we are, almost 10 years younger than my husband. As hard as it is to admit we can’t do everything we want to do anymore, I think we made the right call about not going without a working snowmobile. It’s amazing the difference a couple years can make at our age. Funny story, I couldn’t open a jar yesterday so I asked my husband to help me. He pulled a muscle getting it open. That was confirmation. If we can’t handle opening a jar, how were we going to hike 5 miles through the snow with all our gear??

Yurt not trusting me

This weekend we had plans with friends to stay at a yurt. It seemed like a great idea after a few drinks while talking with Tom and Lisa at our daughter’s wedding. It still seemed like a good idea when Lisa booked the trip in February the next day.

The yurt is located in the middle of nowhere in some state park in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It was going to take a couple hours to drive there. Apparently it does not have electricity nor does it have running water. Winter camping at its finest with a vault toilet nearby. The only amenities are a couple bunk beds, a table, and a wood stove with wood to keep a fire going so nobody freezes to death.

Freezing to death…it’s been a cold week here in Wisconsin. I’ve heard of several reports of people freezing to death within this past week. Will, without a car, was still planning on riding his bike to work. Not only is it cold, it is icy because salt doesn’t melt ice well when it’s 20 below. I don’t think I could live with myself if I saw a picture of him dead on the morning news. So I let my daughter borrow my car so he would have a way to work.

I gave my friend Lisa a call this week to plan the trip to the yurt. Lisa said their snowmobile wasn’t working. They ordered parts they thought might fix it which were supposed to show up on Tuesday but didn’t arrive until Wednesday. To get to the yurt, we would need to hike almost 5 miles on a snow covered path or breeze in on a snowmobile.

I reminded myself of the not so fond memory of the last time I ‘ran’ 5 miles over a year ago. It was the last race I ever did. I almost didn’t finish. Not too long before that, I finished my first 50k. Yes, a 50k! It was at that point I knew something was wrong. I ran about half the race then I had this horrible pain in my ankle where I could barely walk. I found out later that under exertion I have a bone spur which hits a nerve. At times I can barely walk and the next minute it’s fine. I also had a terrible backache.

Back in the day, Lisa and I used to run together. That was before her daughter died, before she moved away. Those days were some of the best times in my life. We trained together. She was a better runner than me but she kept me on my toes. Between the two of us, we could place in almost every small town race. I typically placed in the top 10% of my age group in 10k’s and half-marathons. I was finally able to achieve at a sport after always being picked last as a kid for teams in gym class. I even had to do extra credit in middle school to pass gym class. Turns out I was better at writing book reports than doing any kind of sport. But running I guess you could say I ran with it.

Now my daughter Angel is training for her first half-marathon. At times I see her hard on herself if she has a bad run. I too was very hard on myself on bad running days. Recently I told her that even a bad run, she is still able to run. What I wouldn’t give now for a bad run. These are things you can say once it’s gone. But it is truly not gone because I am able to enjoy the process through her.

The part for the snowmobile came in and it didn’t fix the problem. Today Tom bought a new battery and it still didn’t work. Now they are thinking the starter on the snowmobile needs fixing and they will need to take it in somewhere to be fixed.

Today I made the decision to not go to the yurt if the snowmobile wasn’t working. The high for tomorrow is 3 with lows below zero. Maybe I would’ve gone if I didn’t have to walk 5 miles through the snow in subzero temperatures with all our gear and try to get there before dark. A couple years ago nothing would’ve stopped me. But now I can’t even trust myself anymore. With spotty phone coverage, who knows? I might end up on the news and not in a good way. Although I’m a planner, I haven’t given too much thought to my funeral yet.

I feel bad for wimping out. But I also know my limitations. All the self-discipline in the world won’t change a thing when my body doesn’t listen to my mind anymore. Looks like I’ll have some time to take Arabella car shopping after all.

Gratitude week 161

  1. We met up with our best friends and new friends to plan a road trip to Traverse City, Michigan this spring. We ate supper together, played a game, and laughed a lot. It was a fun evening.
  2. Angel’s mole that was removed is benign.
  3. Angel just signed up for her first half-marathon. It’s pretty cool she is following in my footsteps.
  4. Volunteer time, it feels good to be able to help other people.
  5. Couples therapy, I think we are making a lot of headway.
  6. We hosted a planning committee for the summer sailing season.
  7. I did a lot of planning this week for work and for fun. I could literally sit and plan for hours and enjoy it.
  8. I’m grateful my son is spending his time when he works limited hours to work on the garage apartment remodeling project. There are two unfinished rooms upstairs. One that is very small which he wants to use as a recording studio. His buddies and him are putting up the wall and put in a door. Then there is a very large room which they are planning on making into a living room that they are drywalling.
  9. This seems to be a relative period of harmony where everyone is working together. I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.
  10. I was able to spend time with my kids this week and that is always a good thing.
  11. Paul, Dan, and Alex are working on my son’s car today as some parts came in. It is bitterly cold outside so the car wouldn’t start. It looks like my husband finally got it started.
  12. Fires in our fireplace on cold winter evenings.

Gratitude week 160

  1. Arabella went through with the wisdom teeth extraction even though she couldn’t be sedated. (Although now she has dry socket, so…hopefully next week’s gratitude will be that she is feeling better).
  2. My son’s girlfriend bought cookie cutters and sprinkles on clearance and came over to make Christmas cookies with me. We talked about making cookies at Christmastime. I didn’t think it would happen, but it did.
  3. Clean sheets.
  4. My son’s car ended up being totaled after someone ran a red light on Christmas Eve and hit him. Thankfully my new son-in-law knows a lot about cars and is helping my husband and son in the restoration process.
  5. It’s been a rough week. I just haven’t been feeling good lately and feel exhausted. I’ve been struggling a lot with depression too, but here I am.
  6. I’m looking forward to doing some large scale planning this week.
  7. Volunteering.
  8. Time spent with family.
  9. Angel had a large mole removed this week and everything went well. We are just waiting to hear back with the test results.

Nothing normal about something routine

Arabella had her wisdom teeth removed yesterday. Although it’s a relatively normal routine experience for someone of her age, there was nothing normal about her experience.

Will and I went with Arabella for her appointment. The paperwork part seemed to take forever. Maybe because she lost the paperwork they sent her so she had to fill it out there. The forms asked for all of her medications and dosage which we didn’t have with us.

Arabella asked Will and I to come in with her for the surgery consult. The nurse asked questions about her forms. She also asked when was the last time Arabella smoked marijuana to which she replied last night. The nurse left the room then Arabella and Will started arguing rather loudly. Will said she wasn’t supposed to smoke and Arabella said it didn’t matter. She was screaming and swearing at him asking how he would know he never had his wisdom teeth out. I told my daughter to stop, she did.

Then the dentist came in. He told my daughter he was refusing to sedate her because he wouldn’t sedate anyone who smoked in less than 24 hours, preferably 48, because he said there is an increased risk of cardiac arrest with anesthesia. Then she said it was probably 24 hours and Will said it was definitely not which started another round of screaming. The dentist said she could stay awake during the procedure or reschedule for two months from now. My daughter freaked out in a full blown panic.

By this time the nurse was also getting upset saying she could drug test my daughter and told her they had other patients scheduled for surgery after hers and they were behind now. They did thank her for being honest but said she had to hurry up and make up her mind whether she was going to do the surgery or not. She decided to go ahead with it. Will and I quickly left the room. I saw the dentist in the hallway and apologized for my daughter’s behavior stating mental health issues blah blah blah. She was quite agitated when we left her in the room. The dentist said he could stop the surgery at anytime if it wasn’t going well. She did have the option of laughing gas.

Meanwhile out in the lobby I told Will I didn’t like how my daughter was treating him. I told him I was going to tell her that her behavior towards him was totally unacceptable. He asked me not to because it would only make things worse. I asked him why he puts up with it and he sadly said because he loves her. I truly believe he does. I think he is good for her but I can’t say the same for her. For the longest time I’ve been her scapegoat for her rages and mood swings. Now it is him. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him yet relief it is no longer me and I don’t have to live with her anymore.

I was in fight or flight mode pretty much the whole consult and when she first went into surgery. It was very triggering. It also brought back feelings of going with my mom to take Matt to doctor appointments when he could attack people. My new therapist said triggers are good because they show areas that still need some work. But I wonder what she would say if I told her I get triggered every day multiple times a day. I don’t think that is quite normal. Maybe I’m a long way from being healthy. It’s such a depressing thought that it could be an unattainable goal.

Every time the door would open and a nurse would come out I thought they might be coming for me with something wrong. Plus I don’t numb to local anesthesia so I worried she could have problems with that too. Instead they were calling in other mom’s with their teenagers for a consult. I envied them for their normal routine wisdom teeth extraction mother/daughter moment.

Will told me not to worry everything was fine. Arabella sent him a message that she loves surgery shortly after they started the laughing gas. It reminded me of the time I took my MIL in for a breast biopsy that gave her the diagnosis of breast cancer. Arabella is a lot like her. Once medicated my MIL said she loves biopsies and how she could go in and have a biopsy every day. I was finally able to relax a little with that thought.

After another hour of waiting, they called us back in. The surgery went great, better than expected. I’m sure their expectations, along with mine, were pretty low. I wondered how often they see someone with mental health issues like my daughter’s. They sometimes need routine surgeries too. Maybe that is the only thing normal about it.

Gratitude week 159

  1. A lunch date with my friend Jen.
  2. My best friend came over and surprised me with a gift, a beautiful design she cross stitched and framed for me.
  3. The salvage yard came and took my son’s car which hasn’t been running since this past summer.
  4. Volunteering and feeling like it makes a difference. A woman came in with her baby. It was cold outside and the baby didn’t have a jacket. The woman found a sweater for him to bundle him up in. I’m grateful to be a part of an organization that helps families in need.
  5. My husband and I had a nice visit with my cousin from out of state.
  6. I started working on my book again.
  7. A lunch date with my husband and daughter Angel.
  8. My cat is back on his meds. With the vet office closing, I had to switch his OTC arthritis pills around. Also, his thyroid meds were on back order so he didn’t have any pills for several days. I noticed he seemed more agitated than usual. He was crying more, scratching, and biting at his paws. He is 16 years old and sleeps 90% of the day. He was awake a lot more and uncomfortable. Now he is back to normal and that is a good thing.

Too late

Last week was a hard week for me. Although I’ve been toying with the idea for years, I think I’ve finally accepted the fact that my mom is a narcissist. It threw me into a PTSD loop of nightmares, insomnia, panic, hopelessness, and despair. My normally high hypervigilance skyrocketed. One night I even awoke in terror because the furnace was making a different humming noise in the vent of my bedroom. I had to constantly tell myself I wasn’t in danger and I felt frequent paranoia I was.

I had plans with my mom on Wednesday which she cancelled and pushed back until Thursday because she heard the weather might be bad. It wasn’t all that bad, schools weren’t cancelled and my son wasn’t called in to work. So I made other plans for Wednesday. I had a lot of errands to run and was getting ready to go when my mom texted me saying she changed her mind and wanted to come over on Wednesday instead. I told her it wouldn’t work out and she said maybe Thursday which I replied okay.

Thursday morning came and went without a peep from my mom. Then she texted me saying she was going to come over after lunch. I told her it wouldn’t work because Arabella called and asked me if I could take her to her doctor appointment since she didn’t have a car. The morning would’ve worked but the afternoon didn’t. Then my mom asked me what time the appointment was and said she would come over an hour before I had to leave to go for a walk with me. I told her it wouldn’t work because an hour before I had to leave just wasn’t going to work for me.

Then I asked my mom if she wanted to go along with me on Sunday afternoon to do some volunteer work. She said she had other plans which was fine. Then she asked me when we could get together instead. I replied I had a really busy week but could get together on Friday, tomorrow. Then she asked me if there was any way I could make room for her in my very busy week. Again, I replied yes on Friday I have the whole day open.

On Saturday night I planned a birthday party for my best friend with our husbands and another couple. We had reservations to go out to eat and to a comedy show. Shortly before leaving my mom tried calling and I didn’t answer. While out with friends I got a barrage of texts from her. Are you mad at me? Why are you avoiding me? She asked if I was angry because she gave Angel a hard time. Lately my mom has been getting a rise out of me by targeting my daughter. My mom said everything was fine because she apologized to my daughter and I shouldn’t be angry with her about that. I ignored the texts because I was out with friends and wanted to be in the moment with them. But it was very upsetting to me.

On Sunday morning I texted my mom back telling her that she cancelled out on me and I had made other plans. I told her I tried to get together with her on Sunday but she had plans. She did not acknowledge anything I said and asked me again if I was mad. Then she wanted to know what I was so busy doing I couldn’t get together earlier. Well, yes, I am feeling quite pissed now. I hope tomorrow I get COVID or the stomach flu. Her controlling and manipulative behavior was very triggering to me.

I never considered until this past week that I endured a lifetime of narcissistic abuse from her. It was so subtle. She wanted to force a life for me I never wanted. She picked out the clothes she wanted me to wear. For example, for junior prom one day she came home with a prom dress for me to wear. I hated it but wore it anyway. She tried to dictate the music I listened to and even my relationships with other people. I was her best friend and she openly disapproved of everything I wanted that she didn’t want for me. She guilted me by always being the victim. I had to comfort her but she was incapable of comforting me. She is never happy for me. She never wanted me to leave her and live my own life. She always had her best interests in mind front and foremost. I never really looked at that fully until now.

Now as I look back at my life I feel this overwhelming grief. I lost my childhood. There was never peace and joy in my household just pain and suffering. Why do I expect to experience something now I’ve never experienced before? I have no idea how it works. Something as simple as peace.

I should have left a long long time ago. I grew up with my dad being emotionally/verbally abusive. He constantly told us we were stupid and his favorite thing to do as a dad was to terrorize us by the things we were most afraid of. Then there was Matt, my autistic brother who physically abused us. It was pretty bad. Then my mom with her narcissistic abuse. I am angry at myself for not walking away. I put my life on hold because I was the dutiful daughter always ready to help. My mom needed me. I went to the college closest to home. I went to college with dreams of being a counselor because I felt pretty confident I could do that. Then I could take everything I learned and fix my dysfunctional family.

The problem was that I cared too much. I got suckered and fell into the manipulation and control. I thought I could change things but instead over time there was new and creative ways my family of origin caused pain and suffering. If I could go back in time I would leave home and go to college in a place far away. I would’ve went to school for microbiology or God forbid be an English major working as an editor or writer. I didn’t even start writing until I was in my 40’s. (I did have diaries as a teen but my mom read them and got angry for what I wrote). I would’ve joined the college choir. But I wasn’t good enough. I was too stupid. An idiot who didn’t know how to do anything right.

I want to leave, I really do. What’s worse is that my son’s girlfriend comes from a family like mine. Because she is kind and compassionate I see them doing to her what my family did to me. When I hear about the things they do that hurt her I want to tell her to leave because it is never going to change or get better no matter how hard she tries. I want her to leave her abusive relationship with her parents. But how can I tell her that when I won’t leave mine? My therapist said it’s not too late to leave but I don’t really know how. At this point I feel like it’s too late.

The blame

This past week I finished reading A Father’s Story, a memoir written by Lionel Dahmer the father of notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. I found a renewed interest in the story after watching the Dahmer Netflix series. I remember the story unfolding as a teenager in the early 90’s. At the time I tried to find out everything I could about the case which wasn’t much because…well…pre-internet and 4 TV channels. I did read a couple books back in the 90’s but nothing like this.

I gave the book 5 stars. The memoir was very emotional, dark, and painful to read. I could find myself relating to Lionel. I have to think that every good parent tries to seek the answers deep down within themselves as to why their child went astray. What did I do or not do that could’ve caused this? What part of me do I see in them? Why do we have this need to know or blame ourselves or others?? It was very clear to me that he was reaching at every little straw to blame himself for what his son did. He could’ve trashed his ex-wife but he didn’t. He blamed himself for his traits he saw in his son. He talked about the hopes and dreams he had for his son before he knew he was a killer. He wrote about thoughts and feelings every parent has.

At times while reading this, I found myself in tears. I could relate to Lionel’s analytical mind and his tendency to throw himself into work as a way to cope. Although I can’t relate to what it is like to have a child who is a killer, I can relate to how he felt. The book was challenging and triggering to me at times. It’s impossible to not blame yourself as a parent. I still struggle with that as a parent of a child with mental illness. I had big dreams for her before this all happened. We were going to go on college tours. But instead of going off to college, my daughter spent the end of her senior year in a residential mental health facility after multiple hospitalizations, threats of suicide, and an outpatient program.

My dreams of her living a normal life were gone. Just seeing her is a painful reminder of that. Her body covered with hundreds of self-harm scars so deep they will never fully heal. I feel somehow that some of it was my fault. I remember at one of her earlier hospitalizations one of her doctors blamed me for her condition. The research says that Borderline Personality Disorder is a trauma based disorder a majority of the time. But not always? I don’t want this kind of life for my child. She has a hard time taking care of herself and holding down a job. Nobody cares. The system doesn’t care. The dozen therapists she burned through don’t care. The multiple doctors and health care systems don’t care either.

It falls back to us as parents. Investing our time and resources trying our best to help her help herself. That’s not the life I wanted for her or myself. It’s painful especially after my daughter accused me of abuse and neglect, others thought poorly of me, and I’ve blamed myself. I can relate to trying my best and sometimes it is just not good enough. There is grief in letting your dreams for your child die. It’s so painful that at times I deceive myself with false hope. It’s awful having a child who wants to kill themselves. I can’t imagine the weight of having a child who kills other people.

The other day my son walked in while I was crying for one of the first times. I didn’t want him to see me like that. He choked up with tears in his own eyes telling me he felt sad by my pain. He tried to comfort me in the moment. He was calm, kind, and empathetic. I showed him a side of myself he doesn’t usually see and in return I saw likewise. It feels good to have the support of my spouse and other adult children for the times I blame myself for having a child who is not everything I dreamed of her being.

This week I’m reading I’m Glad My Mom Died, a memoir by childhood actress Jennette McCurdy. Oh boy, it might be a long week…

Gratitude week 158

  1. I’m grateful this past week is over, it was a rough week.
  2. I had my dentist appointment with no problem areas.
  3. I went thrifting afterwards to treat myself. Although I didn’t find much it was nice to take some time to do something I wanted to do.
  4. One of my favorite cousins from out of state will be visiting and spending the night here in a couple days.
  5. Last night my husband and I went out with a group for my best friend’s birthday. We ate at a new to me Mexican restaurant which had the best Mexican food and went to a comedy show.
  6. It felt good to laugh. I haven’t done a lot of that this past week.
  7. I think there is a lot of potential that we will become friends with the other couple we went out with for my friend’s birthday. Possible new friend group??
  8. Today I went out to eat at the Indian restaurant with my daughter Angel and her husband. Afterwards Angel and I sorted donations at the place my husband and I volunteer at. I’m always grateful for the time visiting my daughter.