Thursday, July 4, 2013

Identity crisis

First off, thanks to everyone for their support with all of the hoarding-family bull*** in the last three weeks. It's good to be back from vacation, too!

For those of you who don't know, my relations with the hoarder parents and enabler sister blew up in an unbelievably spectacular way three weekends ago. To avoid online pursuit by family I've moved the blog. I also changed its name a couple times. It took me a while to finally decide that if I was going to bother trying to anonymize my writing, I might as well not bother to separate the eating disorder discussions from the hoarding discussions. My bodyhater blog and the hoarding blog are now smushed together under one name -- my unhoardED life.

After talking to a bunch of friends, several people from the Children of Hoarders online support group, my therapist, and a former friend of my mother's, I came to the conclusion that it's best for my own mental health if I cut off contact from my parents and sister. My sister will continue to enable my parents' behavior. My father has slipped back into verbal and emotional abuse after nearly eight years of committed recovery from severe depression and anger issues. With him, physical violence is not far behind and I have no intention of putting myself, my husband, or any future children within a hundred miles of him.

My mother continues to beg my father to come back even after all of the awful things he's done. She's chosen to stay married to an abuser and I've done some incredibly mean things to try to get her to see what he's done to all of us. But she's determined to stay, and I finally can't take it any more. I'm finally leaving for good. I never have to see the hoarded house again! I never have to worry about being in my father's path again! I never have to listen to my mother whine about how miserable her life is but refuse to anything about it when I throw offer of help after offer of help at her.

Boy, does it feel good!  But now what? What do I do with my life now that I'm completely secure in the fact that I'll never have to deal with the harmful insanity ever again?

I have an identity crisis. Okay, it's not a crisis, that's a negative thing and this is totally awesome! It's more of a phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes kind of thing. I feel like I can be anything I want to be and I can't be dragged down. But I do have a burning desire to be anything except whatever reminds me of my family.

I changed the blog's name (several times, in fact, sorry about that.) I've decided to finally change my last name. I'm sure it'll confuse everyone at work, but it's finally time. I don't want anything that reminds me of my father anywhere near me, so the maiden name goes. Paperwork goes in the mail tomorrow!

I've contemplated a number of other changes to help me play with what feels like a new identity. I've decided to highlight my hair. Not a major change, but I missed the playful blonde I was in grad school. It was one of the happiest times of my life and my first time living away from home with no support of any kind from my parents.

I'm contemplating a tattoo. A small one. Been thinking about it for a while. Also been thinking about the pain for a long while. I probably won't have the guts to do it though.

The other two changes were a little more eye-opening. For a long time I've wanted a chin implant. I have a face like Mayim Bialik but with a very recessed chin. I used to think it was just something I wanted so that I could look more attractive. But I just spent two weeks in the middle-of-nowhere Montana, camping, hiking, and canoeing, and that gives one a lot of time to think. I finally realized that I've wanted a chin implant for years because the face I was born with is a perfect halfway point between my parents' faces. I look in the mirror and I see nothing but them. I don't see me. Rarely ever have. Turns out that for years I've been hoping that a piece of silicone would make me my own person. So I won't be doing that, either.

The second change was one that I've been quite literally killing myself for over the last 12 years. I have wanted to lose weight, I finally realized this week, so that I don't turn into my mother. I've spent over a decade believing that I will turn into my mother because I'm built like her. I've spent a decade trying to starve myself every day so that I won't turn into her.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, I am not my mother, after all.

Just because I look like my mother doesn't mean that I'm her. I weigh 145 pounds on a 5' 4" frame.

  • Weighing that much doesn't mean that I am slovenly. i.e, a hoarder like her.
  • Weighing that much doesn't mean that I'm never going to do well at work. I am not like She Who Complains that middle aged women are marginalized in the workplace because of age and weight, when really it's that she herself chose to quit her professional job in her 30s and not maintain or even try to update her credentials, and now can't get another job in her field.) 
  • Weighing that much does not mean that I will be stuck forever with a man who doesn't love me, as She does every time she runs back to my father after he chews her to pieces for things that weren't even her fault). 
  • Weighing that much doesn't mean that I don't deserve love, though my father makes it clear that he'd love her more if she weighed less. Bull. He'd still have no respect for any of us.
  • Weighing that much does not mean that I am not in control of my life, as She blames her financial situation on the fact that she didn't become a doctor 40 years ago, not on the fact that she buys tons of junk and won't retrain to get back into her previously lucrative field of work.

Weighing that much does not mean I am my mother. I am not slovenly and I try to control the junk in my home. I do very well at my job (actually got a raise this year when my company isn't technically giving those out right now!)

I left a man in college whom I followed like a puppy for three years, even though he was only interested in me for the occasional hook-up when he couldn't get another girl.  I have a "Get the Hell Out" fund so that I don't have to refuse to leave a verbally abusive husband who constantly threatens to leave me destitute, simply because I can't manage to create a savings account for myself in the unlikely event that he'd actually leave after 30 years of threatening to do so.

I deserve love and chose someone who really loves me. I married my best friend who I've known since I was seven (no kidding -- we met on the school bus in 3rd grade and he was my crush through high school. We finally got together in grad school. Love ya, darlin'!) He's constantly complementing me and admiring my body. I just have to learn to accept those complements and not think that he's lying like my father.

I am in control of my life. I am where I am because of the choices I have made, good and bad. I chose not to go to med school after I did my master's because it seemed an awfully difficult life regardless of the pay and the emotional rewards of the job. I choose to continue to work at a job that I like but don't love, because there are certain rewards that outweigh the boredom and frustrations. I choose to continue to take classes to stay at the top of my field. I choose to have the faith in myself that if for some reason my current job doesn't work out, that I could find work elsewhere doing something fun. I choose to accept the fact that I've made many stupid financial decisions over the years that have affected the amount of money I have today. I choose to accept the fact that it's going to take me time to learn to stop spending money on junk so that I can focus on the important things in life.

I choose to accept the fact that I'm not perfect, and not to blame my place in life on my imperfections. And now I choose to try to let go of the past, to try not to blame my situation on my parents, but to grab life by the horns and not be a victim of pain from the past.

Give me some time on that one.


  1. What an Independence Day you're having! Congratulations on your decision to make a break, take on a new name and accept who you are. You will do well, I know.

    1. thanks for the support :o) Not sure I could've made it through the last few weeks without all of the COHs!

  2. And I've updated your blog name on my roll. A very clever new name!

  3. You go girl!!!

    I can so totally relate to this post. Fear of becoming my mother has, at times, been an all consuming terror for me. I look very much like her and I'm quite sure that fear of becoming her was a huge part of my eating disorder.

    I'm not sure I'm totally cured of it, but it's sooo much better than it used to be. I'm actually at the point where I can be teased about it. Whenever the old "oh my god I'm becoming my mother" panic starts to set in, CatMan will say something like "Yup... you've got fingers and toes... you are just like her!"

    I can also totally relate to the desire to change your name. For me it's not so much my last name as my given name. According to my mother, my parents named me after the ugliest person they knew because I was "the ugliest baby they had ever seen." My father said that an ugly baby meant either I'd grow up to be ugly or beautiful... and if I was ugly they'd continue to use my nickname, and if I was beautiful they'd use my full name. Of course they always used my nickname. At one point when he was sorta kinda trying to make it up to me, he said that clearly he was wrong about the ugly/beautiful thing because I turned out to be "average looking." Well, thank you very much, moron!

    At one point I tried to start using my full name, but it was just too confusing. But blogging under a name that I chose for myself has been quite liberating.

    Anyhow congratulations again on this huge step forward. It's so amazing to realize that you really don't have to spend your life fighting someone elses' battles.

  4. just love to you. So, so much love :)

    1. thank you Megyn! Hope you're enjoying your new place.

  5. Zoe

    That is a seriously awesome Independence Day post. Congratulations on seeing the light on so many issues.

    Hope you had a great holiday and I look forward to hearing where your new-found identity takes you.

    A teeny word of warning on the tattoo: As I always told my girls, just remember one thing, "tattoos are permanent" and don't let anyone convince you otherwise. If you do make this choice, make it for the right reasons.

    Best wishes.

    1. Thanks, fairy. It does feel awesome and I'm really looking forward to the future.

      Thank you for the gentle advice about the tattoo. I ended up deciding instead to get a bracelet engraved with the quote that I was going to have tattooed. In a year, if I still want the tattoo, I'll go for it. I don't often get jewelry so it's a compromise that feels good and it's also a treat. Thanks for your guidance, and I appreciate that it came without criticism (not something that happens with my mother!)


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