Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Cat

I wonder what it's like, not having to deal with a mentally ill family member?  I have never known what such a situation could be like because I have never lived it.

I grew up with a violent, abusive man-child who could (and still can) beat the tar out of anyone.  A man who could scare the shit out of other men by force of his brute strength and raging bull persona.  This man was capable of killing other people.  He has quite literally sucked the life out of his own wife, my mother.  She is a ghost of the vibrant person she once tried to be.  Conversely, this same man (my father, of course) could (and still can) charm the birds out of the trees when he wants to.  I think my father is actually a sociopath.  I would put nothing past him.

When I got married at a very young age, still a child myself really, I was happy/relieved/thrilled to be finally moving away from my highly dysfunctional family to begin my own life under my own terms.  Of course, I hadn't banked on the spouse's own highly dysfunctional family, and especially not the spouse's mother in particular.  What I found here in California when I arrived after a hellishly long plane flight and 3 days in US Immigration Processing was a father who was the alcoholic 'head' of this fractured family, a mother who was seemingly oblivious to the torturous goings on around her but who in fact was a hoarder of the worst kind, brothers who tormented the entire family with their twisted abuse (I later realized that they were just teenagers acting out), a narcissistic sister who had come home to live in her early 30s bringing an emotionally damaged 7 year old daughter (our niece) with her, said daughter/niece who was abused mentally and mercilessly by the brothers one of whom she later claimed had sexually abused her, and another sister who kept her distance in another US state.  Years later, no one has seen the daughter/niece since 1999 or thereabouts.  After the spouse's sister (the girl's mother) died at a young age, her grandmother was charged with the niece's care because she was still a minor but that didn't last long.  The spouse's mother died of cancer not long after her daughter passed and we were left with a gigantic hoard to clean out.  How anyone had been able to live in that house was beyond me, so hoarded, filthy and overrun with rats was it.  The granddaughter/niece was forced to find ingress and egress through a downstairs bedroom window.  After we cleaned out the house, the niece disappeared with a group of low lifes and has never been seen or heard from again.

Which brings me to my current situation.  While all this was going on, the spouse and I were raising our own family.  The spouse has always had a slight favoritism towards Cat because she reminds him of his long dead narcissistic sister.  Both women are like 2 peas in the pod: They both attracted all the wrong sorts of people, they both had a penchant for loser men with no job/prospects/education/money, they both had a taste for drugs particularly pot, they both engaged in parasitic lifestyles.  Cat, I have come to realize, is a carbon copy of her dead aunt and it scares the hell out of me because I already know how Cat's story is going to end if she keeps this up.  History will repeat itself.

Various commenters on this blog have accused me of being a doormat.  That is not true.  Given my own shitty upbringing and the environment of terror in which I lived for years, it's a wonder I have been able to raise three other stable high achievers.  My 3 other kids are doing fine, given the world we live in.  By all rights, I should be tranquilized on downers and other anti depressants and/or in and out of the nut house.  But I'm not.

I am a mentally strong person (as funny as that sounds!) and I too can be a force to be reckoned with.  Yes, I have most definitely experienced my challenges in life.  I was a spender, a fritterer of resources, a reckless person for the longest time (but mostly in secret while I lived the double life of my younger years), a hoarder.  I have overcome all of that.  I no longer do any of those things.  I did my best to shield my kids from my behaviors.  I held down high paying jobs.  I lived in big houses in the best parts of town and drove new cars.  I showed my kids what it was like to live in abundance.  Of course, it all came crashing down due to my excessively risky real estate deals and the global economic crash but still: I did it.  I lived a successful life to all outward appearances for a long time.

*** *** ***

By this time, I had been living apart from my british family for decades.  Half of the spouse's family had died and were no longer spectres with which I had to deal.  I could cut off and ignore the rest of his family which I most certainly did.  We both did.  We no longer had to deal with the dysfunction.  It was our choice.  We began to live a much more sustainable life, low key and basic.  And then Cat began to show the same signs of mental illness that we had seen in the spouse's family, particularly in his sister.  Of course, it doesn't help that the other half of Cat's DNA is made up of the defective material of my side of the family but thankfully she has not shown any sign of the violence that is the trademark of my DNA's contribution.  At least, not so far.

Instead, we are dealing with the spouse's sister #2.  Cat exhibits the same reluctance to grow up and take responsibility.  She hangs out with the lowest common denominators and revels in the trouble they bring.  She associates with people who have been dragged up by parents who are anything but.  And she is an expert at hunting out weak men ..... men she can move in with for weeks at a time while they smoke medical grade pot together, men who work menial jobs if they work at all.  Cat's life is going down the tubes.

Last night, Cat rolled home at 11pm.  She has been gone for the better part of the the past month, lying around with any old bum in a storm.  As usual.  She has lost a lot of weight and now looks thin and gaunt, older than her years.  She stood in front of me, swaying under the influence of whatever drugs she was doing last night, her eyes red and droopy, her skin dry, her hair like straw.  She had gone to work much earlier that day in an outfit that can only be described as 'bohemian' at best ..... nothing like what she should have been wearing to such a professional job.  Think black suits and white shirts.  Cat showed up to work in a mix of black, purple, turquoise and red......  As I wrote in an early post, Cat has been suspended from one aspect of her job.  That aspect made up one half of her full time hours. Thus, Cat is now employed part time.  She is actually working less than 20 hours a week now.  The rest of the time she is gone who knows where, sucking at the pipe.  I can see this last vestige of normality, the remaining hours of this job she has, being taken from her too.  I see her getting fired completely at any time now.  Then, she will be an unemployed drug abuser/addict.

I have tried to think back to a time when Cat was a child, an adolescent.  Did anything happen to her that could've caused this current state of affairs, aside from having me as a mother?  I always put my kids first and did the best I could with what I had to work with.  I KNOW actually that I was a good parent.  Always there, always providing, always dependable.  Whenever I indulged my own weaknesses, my kids were never ever around to see it.  As far as I know, they have no idea.  Hell, even the spouse had no idea what I would get up to with the shady characters I called 'friends'.  This other life I was leading was separate from the hoarding and spending that the kids did get to see.

No, this is genetic, hereditary.  Even the spouse's mother, Cat's grandmother, would remark just how much like her aunt Cat was.  They are built from the same template.  And it is as frustrating as hell because I know that no one will ever be able to get through to Cat.  She is on a collision course and will remain on it until the crash, whatever form that will take.

Meanwhile, I suffer sleepless nights, finally falling asleep out of exhaustion and waking up feeling  like hammered shit.  Last night, when I finally was able to drift off, I kept waking up to see what Cat was up to ..... she was still awake at 4am when her father got up to go to work.  Even though she has business to take care of around here, she will sleep until noon at least.

I have lived with this Cat state of affairs for the past 10 years and I am tired.  This morning, I have a very long drive to make (4 hours one way) to take care of some business.  I am so tired my teeth hurt. It's no wonder I can't lose weight.  I stress eat.  Cat is a huge source of stress, not just for me but for every other person in this family.  The problem is, none of us know what to do about it.  We have suggested rehab but Cat won't go.  We have already tried putting Cat in her own apartment with a roomie but that was a disaster.  We have tried cutting Cat off financially and every other way for a couple of years but that almost ended in her death.  Meanwhile, we continue to give this manipulative, delusional, untrustworthy character access to our home and our lives and our vulnerability while we sleep ..... there's no telling what could happen around here.  What else do we do?  Everyone eventually wises up to Cat's craziness.  And it's such a shame because she is so beautiful that she could be anything she wants to be but it's all going down the drain.

My friend shows up from the UK in a couple of days and I warned Cat last night that I don't want any of her craziness while my friend is here.  I just want normalcy.  I NEED normalcy.

Monday, September 1, 2014

It's September!

Well, it's Labor Day and I'm counting down to my friend's visit from the UK.

I went to Ikea and revamped my guest room for a very reasonable amount of money.  New furniture and bedding and voila...... I want to move in to the guest room myself LOL

I am happy to be hosting a guest for a few weeks ..... it has given me a much needed push to finish some painting and cleaning and decluttering.  Some old furniture got sold on Craigslist this week and I have become a fixture at the local thrift shop, taking over donations.

The flies in the ointment are the indoor animals ..... they will all have to go to a kennel during my friend's visit because I won't leave them in the house alone and we will be gone for days at a time.  I do have friends and/or family members who would come in and take care of the situation but ..... the animals start going into puking/crapping/furniture clawing mode when I am not here and I don't want this situation to ruin the visit.  So, next week it's off to the vet for vaccinations.  I hope the animals all survive the kennel experience but there's an outside chance that one of the cats may not.

***
Our net worth is going up, thanks to the untrustworthy real estate and stock markets.  We saw a big gain this month again.  We have gone from being bankrupt and flat ass broke less than 6 years ago to now having a net worth in the 6 figures.  Feels good.  Wish, wish, WISH we had started much sooner .... we would be looking at a truly golden retirement had we done so.  Well, I am with the spouse on this one:  he deserves to retire youngish and we WILL make it work.  There is no other alternative. Take a look at the Retirement Calculator on the right ..... when I started with it, we had over 900 days to retirement.  Now look at it!

***
Happy Labor Day all.  We are moving towards my favorite month of the year: October.  Love it.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Family Brouhahas

OK, so I have a friend coming to stay with me for a few weeks.  From my school days.  From the UK.  Really looking forward to it.  I'm not exactly flush with cash but I have a full itinerary planned, incorporating as much free stuff to do as possible: walks on the beach, hikes, window shopping and so on.  My house is still unfinished construction wise but I have warned her that she will have to take me as she finds me.

I spent last weekend sorting out the last bits of furniture that I want to get rid of, then changing my mind and hauling some of it back inside the house.  I mean, furniture is expensive and I  just can't accept the departure of a sofa that cost me $750 to some chiseler on Craigslist for $40!!  To my mind, it does not compute.  I can hear you all now: Surely she doesn't have anything left to get rid of after years of decluttering?!  Well, my friends, it has been a long and slow process and I am now down to whittling away the last pieces of the things I love and wanted to keep.  All of the other junk has gone.  Now I have to decide which of the things I wanted to hang onto forever must go too.

One thing I did want to bitch about today concerns the number of animals we have, all because of Cat.  Cat, as I've stated already, has hoarding tendencies too.  Her bedroom right now is a hodgepodge of crap, piled up inside the closet and up against the corners of her room.  It is becoming a fire hazard.  Unlike me, however, Cat is an animal hoarder.  She has brought cats, dogs, mice, fish ..... snakes even..... to the house to 'give them a home'.  The problem is, I am the one who ends up caring for said animals, buying their food, cleaning up their crap, forking over for the vet when necessary.  I didn't mind it for the first couple of decades but now I am becoming increasingly resentful, angry and impatient with the poor critters.  It's not their fault!

I cannot leave the house without organizing said menagerie.  Dogs have to be put in their crates or out in the back yard, which they have destroyed.  Stinky cats have to be locked away in various rooms with litter boxes so that they don't vomit on the carpets or claw the furniture while I am out.  And you know what?  I'm farkin sick of it all now.  I want my own life back!!!  I am tired of cleaning up after other people and other beings.  I just want to selfishly do my own thing, when I want to do it, without the spectre of shitty litter boxes or messy dogs to deal with day in and day out.  I am over the proverbial hill and getting older with each passing day.  I'm tired of breathing cat litter dust!!!  What to do?  Well, the animals are getting older too so there's that.  Before much longer, we will be down 2 cats due to age.  I'm not wishing their little lives away but, for dog's sake, the enjoyment is gone and the resentment, she grows ever larger.

Cat, meanwhile, continues to gallivant around the valley with various men.  The fact that she won't or can't settle down really REALLY bothers me.  I just want her to find a man who can relate to her, who she can relate to, for them to find love and companionship together.  So far, no luck.  Pretty much every man she likes will dump her when her manic behavior becomes too much to bear.  I understand and I sympathize.

I am hoping that FINALLY ..... Cat is beginning to realize the effect of her crazy behavior on others.  I'm not sure how much of this is down to the pot smoking but I am certain that her smoking habit is not helping.  Last week, she was suspended by one of her employers because she isn't getting along with her work team.  I never thought something like that would happen but .... it has.  Another rung on the ladder that leads down.  The employer has suspended her until 2015 but .... I suspect that (just as with everyone else) it is a tactic to get rid of her.  This was a job that paid extremely well with some brilliant perks ..... but Cat has blown it.

I have tried talking to Cat, encouraging her, coaching her, the whole bit.  Now I have finally come to realize that the only person who can save Cat is CAT herself.  It's sink or swim time for sure.  She is staying with some guy for the week but she called me to discuss her latest 'firing' ..... she has come to the conclusion finally that perhaps she is to blame for the state of her life.  Hooray!!  A break through!!!  This is a start.  I happen to know that she hasn't spent hundreds of dollars on pot over the past week so I can only hope that the necessary wake up call has had an effect.  I live in hope.

In other news, my father is spending money like water.  I still have no idea how much cash he has inherited, only that he has gone off the radar.  He no longer feels that he needs to talk to me because he has a new safety net.  He no longer feels that he had better communicate with me, just in case he needs a new car or some bills paid, because obviously he has the means to take care of business for the time being. How much longer before he is broke again??  A fool and his money.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Be Your Own Hero


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wednesday Night Update

Having my kids home from school has produced some surprising results:

I finished painting my living room with their help.

I am enjoying spending a lot of time just hanging out.

With their encouragement, I finished putting together my idea for the product manufacture I talked about a while ago, which was placed on the back burner because I just had too much going on.  I have now accumulated all the supplies I need.  I did a ton more research and, with special equipment, I am producing the product I talked about, here in my home.  NO need to find a chinese manufacturer ..... I did it all myself.  The production problems which rolled  in, one after the other, have all been vanquished and I have ended up with an item that looks 100% professional and ready for sale.  I have been spending a lot of time on the computer, dressing up my website and marketing.  I have already sold a couple of the items so fingers crossed that this idea will become a niche product eventually.  I am quite proud of myself.  Initially, I started out with just the idea of the product and no idea how to produce it, other than the involvement of a 'middle man', the notion of which was just too risky for me.  After hours and hours of research and resource investigation, I have put it all together and it actually looks like it might be something.  We'll see.

With the spouse's impending retirement, this could be a nice side hustle.

I am also working on my health, weight and diet.  This remains a final hurdle but I will overcome.  The weight is slowly coming off and I will post an update shortly.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Suspended (temporarily)

When my kids are home from school, everything in my life is suspended.

Working out.
Cooking.
Diet.
Proper grocery shopping.
Housework.
All other plans.

I love my family dearly but they are all adults now and I want them to get on with their own lives.

When it is just me and the spouse rattling around in this big ole house, I feel free!  I have a definite sense of freedom and independence.  I no longer worry about my adult children to the extent I used to worry about them.  To do so is counterproductive.  My kids are going to do whatever they want to do, regardless of whether I worry/complain/advise or not.

I have adopted an attitude of, "Let the chips fall where they may." I remember my mother doing the same with me and now I understand why.  A person can drive themselves crazy worrying about people, situations and events beyond control.

This post is my way of saying that I will get my freedoms back just as soon as school is back in LOL  Until then, not much is happening around here.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Morning

This past month, it has just been a little crazy around here.

My family on both sides of the Atlantic are driving me nutty.

My sibling keeps calling me to ask me, what are we going to do about mum and dad's hoard?  I have seen the hoard.  I know it's a problem.  A garage stuffed floor to ceiling, back to front with rotten, mildewy furniture and other junk, a barn filled to the rafters with more of same.  My mum never used to hoard when I lived at home, I had no idea what hoarding was.  She kept everything under control and would get rid of unused items.  I have been gone from there for decades now, but things have been done differently in my parents' house over the past 10, 20 years.  They now hold on to everything.

My sibling has no idea just how difficult it will be to get our parents to part with the junk.  My input went thusly: stop stressing about the junk, ask the parents what it is they want to do about the junk, respect their wishes.  Therefore, if the parents want to clean out the garage and barn, they will.  If they don't want to, they won't so move on and find another project, sibling.  My response is not very helpful but ..... I am thousands of miles away and there is nothing I can do about this situation in person.

Stateside, I am beginning to wonder about the spouse's sister's mindset.  Lately, she has become very argumentative which is somewhat unusual.  I mean, she has always gossiped and sniped about people behind their backs but this recent aggression could be indicative of an underlying health issue.  My SIL is 60ish and seems to have undergone a complete character change.  She is now a walking, breathing, talking copy of my dead mother in law.  She is a reincarnation of her mother and it is creepy.  She is wearing the same clothes a 70 year old would wear, she has inflected her speech with the mother's colloquialisms even adopting the same twangy southern accent, and she has this look on her face all the time of bitterness and judgment.  Yep, a carbon copy of my mother in law.  I don't want to be around her anymore and, as I said before, I have pretty much cut her out of my day to day life.  I am done with the D****** family bullshite.

The spouse is fed up with his job and wants out.  He has another year and a half to go and he wonders daily if he has the mental fortitude to do this corporate job for another year and a half.  Constantly, we live with the threat of budget cuts so this problem may very well fix itself, if you know what I mean.  He has just about reached the end of the line and, while he's stressing out and wishing for retirement, I am stressing out and wondering if we are going to be able to work this, financially.