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  1. #1

    Trampled by the Passage of Time


    I'm looking for some support in tackling the emotional quagmire associated with the accrual of stuff over the last 15 or so years.

    It started accumulating when I was in a bad relationship where he insisted I spend every non-work hour with him. It continued through a few years of severe depression and then a couple more years recovering from the side effects of the antidepressants.

    It deepened while I worked a few years on rotating shifts and was always exhausted or sick from being constantly run down while dealing with people in a hospital. The final blow was the 6 years I spent getting a Master's degree while working full time.

    After graduation, I embarked on what was supposed to be a bright new career. I was laid off from both jobs, after a short time, putting me on unemployment insurance for a total of nearly two years out of 5.

    After the last layoff I decided to surrender to a worsening job market by starting my own business. It's survived three years and has been growing, slowly but steadily, through client referrals the whole time. Unfortunately, it required that I use my retirement savings to live on while it was becoming sustainable. Needless to say, tackling the house wasn't high on the list of things to do.

    I've tried repeatedly to get a handle on it, but between the emotional dreck associated with it (including emotional "land mines" that are triggered unexpectedly by random discoveries), and the whole "poverty mindset", I've been noticeably unsuccessful. And now, just before Christmas, my hot water heater packed it in after an impressive lifespan of 25 years.

    I'm going to have to tackle at least the parts between the front door and the basement in the relatively near future, but I'm fairly sure I won't be able to do it alone. Heck, I'm not even sure I'll be able to do it with support, but I've got to at least give it a solid try.

    Thanks for reading.

  2. #2

    Re: Trampled by the Passage of Time

    Hi mudpuppy

    Nice to hear from you. TBH advice from me about this kind of stuff would be the blind leading the blind. would hiring a professional organiser be an option for you? Seems like they'd know the best way to approach things and also having had a lot experience with people in this situation might be a bit more understanding and sensitive than friends/family (might) be. (Or do you have friends or family who could help?) Otherwise is there a way of breaking it up into really tiny tasks so you don't feel overwhelmed by it all? I'm starting to find that if I do really small things that I can do even when my motivation is low and which compound over time, it's more effective than making a big start and then getting tired and overwhelmed. (Although I think there's a big risk I'll mess things up quicker than I can organise them in this way!) Is it that discovering things is really emotionally triggering or do you also feel emotionally attached to things? Good luck with it anyway, I totally sympathise, it's so hard to start but you will feel so good when you have even a bit of it done. Do you have a therapist or someone who could support you through the whole emotional and psychological side of it? (Sorry if you've said about that before.)

    ---------- Post Merged at 02:42 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 02:26 PM ----------

    Would be great if the X mice could help you!

  3. #3

    Re: Trampled by the Passage of Time

    Hi Harebells!

    I hope you're having an enjoyable holiday season.

    I've considered a professional organizer, but money is so tight. Family and friends mean well but really aren't any help. Even having someone just sit there while I work at it helps, but the BF is so overwhelmed by it that talking him off the ledge after is worse than not having him there in the first place. He cares, and he tries, but he just can't manage it. I'll also be seeing a therapist in the new year, but I can only afford to go about once a month.

    It's a whole jumble of emotional triggers, the feeling that "if I don't keep it safe, no one will" (probably equating the stuff's helplessness to the way I've been feeling for years. Irrational, I know, but there it is.), the thought, "I'm so broke that if I need to replace it I won't be able to", and just a deep-seated feeling of doom that if I start digging out something horrible will happen. There's been a pattern of the last one happening (i.e. in the summer I started talking to a therapist about dealing with it, and 2 weeks later my Dad had a stroke); purely coincidental but over time it's somehow wormed its way into the depths of my brain as causational. Intellectually, I know all of that is irrational, or at least overblown, but at the moment it outweighs me and wins 9.5 out of 10 falls.

    I don't really need anyone to tell me the mechanics of it all; I already know that part by heart (don't we all?). What I really need, I guess, is contact with people who "get it". My family and friends try hard to be supportive, but I know they don't really understand, even though they're trying very hard to. They can celebrate when I get a bag of stuff out to Goodwill, but it's more along the lines of, "finally, she's doing something" rather than, "Wow, I know how hard that was, good job!" It's a good thing to my friends and family, but only someone who's been there will understand that it's also a Big Deal.

    No one understands what it's like to be blind like another blind person, so I'm not looking for a leader, just someone to grope alongside me through the darkness. Someone who understands when I trip over something that was obvious to all the sighted people.

    You know, I've often wondered if I could train the X-Mice to be some kind of Disneyesque housekeepers! Wouldn't that be amazing?!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2012

    Re: Trampled by the Passage of Time

    This is such important info, Mudpuppy... I hope and believe that by people like yourself talking and writing about the feelings and thought processes that happen with this, better knowledge will develop about what helps and what the keys are.

    And so often the first keys people happen to find are by reading blogs and experiences of those who have gone before them - people who have already found something that changed things for them. Reading stories online of those who have dealt with the exact same thing can yield incredibly useful insights as well as that all-important, unique feeling of truly being understood.

    Ongoing web searching using terms relating to what you experience and also perhaps the medical and therapeutic terms involved, especially once your T can tell you more in that way, will yield you stories of hope plus that unique experience of feeling that someone out there shares your exact experience and 'gets it', which is very healing. I've found the internet so powerful in that way.

    Something else I have noticed is the niches of very talented therapeutic bloggers who zero in on quite specific emotional places and feelings in people and provide resources that are very healing for those specific feelings. Two times something made me join the email list of these kinds of bloggers and I find that the email updates I get from them have led me to get a stream of very good blog posts from them that have felt very healing to my situation. In my case two examples of this niche were Jonice Webb and Artie Wu on emotional healing.

    And as always lots of self-patience and self-compassion which gradually opens up space for the feeling and healing of our emotions and wounds.


  5. #5

    Re: Trampled by the Passage of Time

    Mudpuppy, I really like Harebells suggestion of just starting with really small things! Even one item.

    When I downsized when moving during summer weather, I simply put items outside on the front lawn with a free sign. So a cardboard box held small items and larger items would just sit beside. Maybe start with one cupboard or closet at a time when you are ready.

    With in a couple of hours all items would be gone and I would start again the next day.

    Because I was moving it had to be a frequent event but my point was that putting it out fir free was much easier than taking it to the second hand store be ause I had so much stuff.

  6. #6

    Re: Trampled by the Passage of Time

    Yes I think it would definitely be a good mash-up to live in disney princess world meets mutant world!

    Well you are definitely not alone mudpuppy. I can't know exactly how it is for you but I can relate to everything you're saying. And as MHealthJo said there might be blogs etc out there by people who are in the same situation or can genuinely empathise with it. For me whenever I have that 'aha' moment of not feeling like the only one, it's so helpful. And I also crave the 'wow, I know how hard that was, good job' comment. I've got a lot better at saying it to myself, which is better than nothing, but I think we all like to feel 'seen' by other people too. But I do feel less ashamed these days. I get that I do have more difficulty in this area than other people, not that other people don't have to put effort into organising their homes, just maybe not such confusing, emotionally exhausting effort! I feel so attached to so many things that must seem like rubbish to other people.

    Remember you don't have to do this in one fixed way and you don't have to deal with it in the way everyone else does - you can look for a way that works for you and feels safe or at least not completely overwhelming and impossible. I definitely agree with MHJ about patience and self compassion - and they are a lot more motivating than self-criticism.

    I know you already know the mechanics of it but just in case this helps, you could maybe give some things away on a site like freecycle - that way you at least know
    they are going to people who have a use for them and you might be really helping those people. Or sell them on Ebay and you could make a bit of money. But just thoughts - I don't want to add to the overwhelm!

    And I know it's not the same as a person you know in real life saying it, but "I know how hard it is!!!"

  7. Re: Trampled by the Passage of Time

    Look at one spot in a room and clean it dont try to do a large area it becomes overwhelming I say I will clean in front of closet only then when that is done clean one side closet then other if I have energy. It is nice to see you again Mud puppy just do what you can do OK without getting too tired
    Words always stay inside ones soul

  8. #8

    Re: Trampled by the Passage of Time

    Thank you all for your support. Hi MHJo! I'll definitely look at the work of Jonice Webb and Artie Wu on emotional healing; that sounds really interesting, thanks. Harebells, even though you're not here in person, it means so much to know that someone out there in the wide world understands. I'm not alone. Thank you.

    I wish I could start with small things, or with one spot. If I could do even that, then the problem wouldn't be the problem. Most days even the thought of doing something is so overwhelming that I'm defeated even before I can start. Heck, look at how long it's taken me to get back to even talking about it! If you have ever tried to cross one of those mesh-type bridges over river gorges, it's like that. Yes, just taking one small step after another will get you there, but I challenge anyone with vertigo or a fear of heights to take any of those steps. All the will in the world, and all the intellectual knowledge that it's safe, still won't get that first step taken.

    I wish getting bits done felt good when they were finished. Even that would be some kind of motivation to work through it all. After I've forced myself to get stuff out, no matter how much or how little, I don't feel "lighter" or "free", I feel anxious and vulnerable; I feel like I've betrayed a trust and opened the door to catastrophe. It takes days to recover from that, and during that time things tend to get undone because everything irrational inside me is trying to "make up for it", so even the usual level of maintenance stalls out, leading to higher-than-usual short-term build-up.

    I know, it's irrational. I really do know that. Knowing doesn't help. If anything, it increases the pressure and makes it just that little bit harder.

    I hope my therapist can help get through this. I'm so tired of living like this, but right now I'm as likely to sprout wings and go swooping around the rooftops amidst a flock of pigs as I am to succeed on digging out.

  9. #9

    Re: Trampled by the Passage of Time

    It's been a helluva year.

    More detailed update:

    Ten days after my last post, my Dad turned 91. He had a blast telling everyone he was 100 and seeing how many believed him. A couple of days later he ended up in the hospital for 6 weeks with an infection. He fought that off then, a week after leaving the hospital, he passed away in his sleep.

    Mom is the executor of his estate but is nowhere near being able to handle it, so I stepped up to do all the arranging, phone calls, lawyer, mortuary, accountant, bank, insurance, pensions etc. then make sure she was where she needed to be to see the people she needed to see in order to sign the things that she needed to sign.

    The Thursday before the May long weekend, she fell in the yard and broke her arm just above the elbow. Her right arm. Fortunately, it was a clean break that didn't involve the elbow itself. Unfortunately, it wasn't healing properly so she ended up having surgery.

    For two months I was visiting her almost daily, running two households (mine & hers), planting and caring for her garden, trying to keep my business going and my clients happy, continuing to do whatever I could do with Dad's estate that didn't require her signature, all while keeping my partner from thinking I'd left him. I thought I'd have some time to regroup while she was in rehab (too busy during the day for visitors, so I'd get a few free days a week), but they let her go home 3 weeks early, which means grocery shopping, doctor appointments, etc.

    Now, she can no longer drive, her memory's showing an alarming decline (not always, but often enough to be disturbing), and she's a diabetic who refuses to eat much or properly. I talked to a seemingly endless stream of people in the hospital about getting her a cognitive assessment, but before they could set it up she was moved to a new unit and it began all over again with new people. She wasn't even in the rehab long enough for me to find out who to talk to. I should probably bring it up with her regular doctor, but let's just say I don't hold out a lot of hope in that direction. I hate to admit it, but I'm placing odds with myself of 60:40 that she'll be back in the hospital before Christmas.

    Through all of this, my partner has had his own major trials (being driven out of intensive training by ridiculous expectations and "sudden death" testing where one failure is all that's needed to be kicked out, in spite of all previous scores in the low 90% range), struggling with part-time minimum wage jobs that don't cover his expenses, feeling totally useless in helping me because he needs all his time to keep his financial head above water, feeling like he's adding to the stress in my life if I support him, being lucky to have time together every two weeks, etc. etc. etc.

    He's been far more helpful than he believes, and I don't think I could have managed nearly as well without him there, even allowing for the "burden" his own problems are creating (his word, not mine. Definitely not mine.).

    Thankfully, Mom is helping offset the money I'm not making with my business because I'm spending so much time helping her. Gotta say, I never imagined I'd be living off Mom in my mid-50s, but there it is. I'll take it because I have bills and no other choice at the moment.

    To top it off, I'm only managing between 3 and 5 hours sleep a night because of all the things rattling around in my skull that are labelled "URGENT!!" that I have to desperately try to keep on top of. And wondering what else is going to happen next to add to the pile.

    Needless to say, the house hasn't decluttered itself in the interim, dammit.

    So, there it is. Thank you for listening. Knowing you're here to listen has also been a great help. Especially since it's been too unstable to risk the $100 no-show fee with my therapist if I don't give 24 hours notice of an appointment change or cancellation.
    Last edited by mudpuppy; August 6th, 2017 at 05:18 PM. Reason: Apparently, "TL;DR" is a security threat. Who knew?

  10. Re: Trampled by the Passage of Time

    Hi mudpuppy so sorry to hear about your fathers passing and all the stress you have been under I can relate i can It is very hard having to deal with not only your loss but everything else that comes with it. I hope you mother arm heals quickly and she is able to get support when she gets back home. Is there someone she can get in to help her ask social worker ok while she is at hospital about that. Don't worry about the house ok take care of you through all this I do know how hard that is to do but try ok. Nice to hear from you but i am sorry to hear you are under so much stress.
    Words always stay inside ones soul

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