Flawed

* There will be some venting and foul language in this post.

So, my beautiful new town has a flaw. I suppose I should have expected it since this is a college town where most people my age are in school and building a future for themselves. Still, I don’t understand the preoccupation with money and the road to riches. I don’t want to be “poor” or whatever for the rest of my life. I’m not someone who could be content without money or living paycheck to paycheck. That is just what my life is right now. It doesn’t mean I have no aspirations or goals for my future. I have more than I know what to do with. I just know my abilities and I know what I can manage at this stage of my life.

I see nothing wrong with working in housekeeping at the hotel, painting on the side and trying to sell my artwork, and not having a car. I now live in a place where I don’t need a car. I can ride my bike, walk or take the bus where I need to go. I have my best friend/roommate to drive me elsewhere if need be. I will enroll in the community college when the time is right. Yes, community college. I bet that will be another thing I get judged for.

I am managing my finances just fine. I keep a little extra in case I need anything. I have a bit set aside that I can dip in to and pay back later. I’m not worried about money, and even if I am technically “poor” I am not going to worry about money. April (my roommate) and I have each others’ backs in case one of us falls short in something. I’ve got my rent for the next three months covered. I won’t make much money at work, but my bills are covered for the next few months to give me time to settle into work and make money. I may not have extra cash lying around, but I made sure I moved here with enough to pay the bills and feed the cats. I’m perfectly confident in my ability to take care of myself. I saved every penny before moving- simple pet-sitting or babysitting jobs. I saved all year just to have that safety net for when I moved here. It’s not that much, but it’s there now if I need it. I have a little extra cash for occasional outings. I don’t ask people to pay for what I need or want. If someone offers, I’ll accept and cover them the next time. April and I always take turns when we go out.

I have never in my life called myself poor. I’ve been on food stamps, eaten at soup kitchens and received food from charities and food banks. Yet it never once occurred to me that I was actually poor. I’ve never taken anything from anyone that I didn’t need, and I have felt guilty when I have had to get food from charities. I have a list of everyone who has helped me because as soon as I can afford it I am going to make donations to them. There have been a lot of wonderful people and organizations who have helped me and people I know, so I will pay them back someday so they may continue helping people. I don’t know why I’ve never considered myself poor. I guess it’s because I know what the poorest of poor really is and I have always had a roof over my head and someone, somewhere, to help me out.

In my old town, everyone is “poor.” Maybe that’s why they didn’t judge me for not having money. I don’t know. This is just a bit of a shock to me. I didn’t realize I would be judged for not having a car, working a “poor” job or whatever. Especially since it was fully my choice not to have a car. I don’t like driving much, I don’t see the need for a car here, and since I don’t really want a car, I see no reason to take on the costs of owning one.

My mother looks poor, acts poor and announces to the world that she is poor. I am the opposite. I don’t care where I get my clothes from, but they are always nice clothes. I dress for the life I want to have, not the one I do have. I spend a little extra on makeup and hair-care when I can, and I always look nice. No one ever knew that I crawled out of the shitty trailer in the woods. I never looked like I belonged there. I didn’t tell people that I couldn’t afford the same things they could. I didn’t get jealous and make people feel bad when they splurged on something they wanted but didn’t really need. I didn’t bitch and groan about not having money. I knew people who did all those things and I refused to be one of them. Sure, I’d pick up a coin on the sidewalk to stick in my pocket, but I’d pick up trash to throw away, too. I have seen my mother dive in front of moving vehicles to grab a nickel in a parking lot. I am not that damn poor! That is just embarrassing.

I don’t look or act poor, but I am not going to be ashamed about where I work or the fact that I don’t have a car. I truly cannot believe that I am being judged by these aspects of my life. My finances do not make me who I am. They never have. Someday I will have money and I won’t struggle for anything, but right now I am just starting out. I moved here to make a better life for myself and I am doing just that. Everyone has to start somewhere; this is where I’m starting.

I guess I will only have “poor” friends here if everyone else is going to judge me by my income. My best friend, April, my neighbor, Jessica, and my coworkers, Michelle and Cathy- they are good people. They have varied incomes and I have no clue what “class” they are, no do I care in the least. They will be my friends, and anyone else who isn’t going to judge me.

I apologize for the anger and foul language of this post. I am truly blown away by how many people think a person’s income determines their worth here. It makes me angry. I’ve never encountered so much judgement all at once on this aspect of my life. I love this town, but I’m beginning to realize that it’s flawed and I’ll have to learn how to deal with it. No worries, though, I’m still thrilled to be here and my life is still as wonderful as ever. I just needed to vent a little bit after all the judgement lately. People must think “poorness” is contagious.

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Job Judgement

Work is wonderful!

 

I am so sick of people looking down on me for being a housekeeper at a hotel. I feel no shame in my job at all and I do not appreciate the judgement I’ve received.

I love my job. It is perfect for me. I’m a “clean-freak, very detail-oriented, introverted and socially anxious. Being in the background doing methodic and repetitive work is exactly what I want. So, why all the judgement?

I won’t be a housekeeper forever, but at the moment I am not in school and the only jobs available to me are minimum wage jobs. I chose this job. I wanted to work in housekeeping. I haven’t had a job since 2008 and housekeeping was the one thing I was pretty sure I could do with comfort and enjoyment.

 

My First and Second Day: 

I met the head of housekeeping and the housekeeping staff. They are wonderful people. I trained with someone and she “sang my praises” all day, telling the bosses to keep me. I trained with someone different the next day, and she was even more impressed with my work than the first woman. I’ve been complimented and offered advances already. I’ve been told that I’m “overqualified” and doing great.

I declined their offer to put me on the front desk. That’s not where I want to be. I’m in my element behind the scenes cleaning rooms. If the head of housekeeping is serious about making me her assistant, I will accept. For now, though, I am happy where I am. I’m learning fast and impressing everyone. I’m not bragging, I’m just making my point that my job is what I want and what I’m good at.

 

Judgement: 

This is my life. Not anyone else’s. I believe that people should work where they’re happy and comfortable. I have that. Why would I want to work in a place or position that makes me uncomfortable or anxious just because it’s more “acceptable” in society.

If flipping burgers makes you happy, work at McDonald’s.

If sanitation makes you happy, work as a janitor or trash collector.

If busting your butt cleaning up after people makes you happy, work in housekeeping.

Forget the judgement and do what makes you happy.

I would rather be happy than rich if I had to choose between the two. Right now at this present stage of my life, I have to choose. That’s just life. I don’t have a college degree, nor do I have any special abilities that will take me places naturally in the work field. I’m okay with that. What other choice do I really have? Being miserable and complaining all the time? No thanks!

I come home every day and tell my roommate all about my day. I talk about how great the people are, how the staff is like a family, how I love what I do. I’m happy and I enjoy the hard work.

I have a safe and caring work environment. I got lightheaded at work and the woman I was working with immediately jumped to my aid. She shared her homemade lunch with me (it was delicious, by the way), and made sure I got food at lunch time which the owner of the hotel ordered for the whole staff. I sat with her and her friend and they included me and made sure I didn’t get left behind in anything.

 

The Staff: 

These are good people! I love them. I can tell they are going to be my work family.

I’m surprised by one thing, though. The staff, though no one is racist at all, seem to separate themselves by race. At lunch, all the white people sat at one table and all the black people sat at other tables. My extremely pale white self sat with my new black friends. I absolutely love Michelle and Cathy and I will surely spend my time with them. Nothing against the white people there, I just like Michelle and Cathy better. Gosh that’s rude to say, but I’m just being honest.

I also prefer the black men to the white men. They’re nicer, friendlier, more helpful and considerate. The white men ignore me while the black men talk to me and jump in to help me when I fall behind.

I have never seen race when I look at people. I have no qualms about calling people black or white. I don’t think it’s racist to do so. It’s a description of someone and there’s nothing wrong with it in my opinion. I’m white, very, very white. That’s a fact. I’m not going to be offended by anyone referring to me as such.

When I say that I don’t see race, I’m being literal. I have this problem (if you want to call it that) where I have trouble recognizing people. This includes race. I’ve met several people at work that I couldn’t remember if they were black or white. One woman I thought was white was actually black. Another woman I thought was black was actually white. Oops.

 

 

I love my job, the environment, the actual work, the people, everything. I am happy and I’m even making friends. I’m comfortable and I look forward to work every day. I’m not going to tolerate people judging me.

My Beautiful New Life

I love this town, I love the people, I love my roommate, I love my neighbor, I love my house, and tomorrow I will love my job! 

 

I am just so incredibly happy here. The only problem has been money (naturally, haha), but we’ve just barely started off here, so it’s going to even itself out quickly. I’m finally starting work tomorrow! That will surely help. I wasn’t able to start sooner because my boss was in the hospital. I am just beyond thrilled to start tomorrow! I’m excited and relieved, too. 

Today is a gorgeous, bright, sunny day. April and I have some errands to run, and then we’re going to the beach! We’re going to take more beach pictures today and I will share them on here again. 

 

I’ve been spending a lot of time with my neighbor, Jess, and she just awesome. I’m so happy to have such a great neighbor. Her three boys are great, too. Jess is a wonderful, loving mom. I enjoy listening to her tell me all about her boys. She speaks about them with so much love and pride. Motherhood is a beautiful thing, and sadly there aren’t enough good mother’s who truly appreciate the blessing that their children are. Jess does, though, and she’s one of the great mothers. She has also been helping me and April out in little ways that mean so much. She jumps on any opportunity to help her neighbors. I was hungry one night and she went right in and brought me some chips and homemade bean dip. I mentioned that April and I ran out of trash bags, and she gave me several. We’ve been sitting on our porch sharing drinks and just talking and getting to know each other. It’s been really nice and I like her more every day. 

 

Since moving here two weeks ago, I have been invited to multiple parties and gatherings and I’ve met more people than I ever did in my old town. People here like, accept and respect me. It’s a wonderful feeling. 

 

I am so grateful for my new life here and all of the opportunities presented to me. 

Hoarding

A Personal Thanks: 

I joined an online support group for children of hoarders some time ago. I didn’t share posts on there very often because I really hate complaining and being negative. When I did share something, though, there was always an outpouring of support from the other members. I joined the group because I was still living in one of my mother’s hoarded trailers and sometimes I just needed to know that other people out there understood what I was dealing with. When I finally moved out, I updated the group with the first good news I’d had since joining. I was thrilled to be able to report something positive, something going right in my life, improvement. When I updated the group, I decided to also share this personal blog with them. I left the link in my post, inviting anyone to come check out my blog.

I didn’t realize right away, but now I know that someone shared my blog on their own site. I’m touched that anyone would even notice, let alone share my blog like that.

Thank you, Joe Hoarder’s Son! http://www.hoardersson.com/

And thank you all who have found your way here via Joe Hoarder’s Son!

 

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A Bit About Hoarding:

As most people know by now from the increasing awareness of hoarding (many people have seen A&E’s “Hoarders” at least once), it is a mental disorder often caused by a traumatic event or loss. As most of my readers know, my mother is a hoarder. In fact, my stepfather is a hoarder, my cousin is a hoarder, my aunt was a hoarder, and I’m sure I have several other relatives who are hoarders, especially on my mother’s side of the family.

Growing up in a hoarded home was like living in a filthy prison- a physical prison and a mental/emotional prison of guilt, shame and abuse. The house was constantly messy and cluttered after my father died when I was 9, but the first time it truly resembled the worst of hoards was when I was 11 or 12 and my step-aunt had offered her old furniture and belongings that she didn’t want/need when she was moving. My mother has never been able to resist something that was free (or even cheap). Instead of choosing a couple things that she wanted, she literally took every piece of furniture and “stuff” that was unwanted.

In with the new, out with the old! Or not…

I was excited at first. I thought it was better than Christmas. We were getting all new furniture, couches, shelves, bookcases, cabinets, tables and chairs! But then we never got rid of our old stuff. Everything was just piled into our living room (where I was sleeping at the time), with barely a pathway to get through. I think I was the only one small enough to fit through the maze of stuff, actually. At first my parents were happy and excited about all the new stuff, but after a few days of not being able to use our living room or even walk through it, tensions rose and they were angry all the time.

I tried my best to stay out of the way because I couldn’t handle the anger, cursing, yelling. Our kitchen was hoarded, too, so I would slip in and out as quietly as possible to get food. Dishes piled up, trash piled up, junk mail and random papers piled up, “stuff” piled up everywhere. The house could no longer be vacuumed, swept or mopped. Counter tops and tables couldn’t be wiped down. Insects and rodents infested all the cabinets and corners. I remember picking weevils out of my cereal or pasta before eating it; brushing roaches off of dishes before using them.

In my bedroom, I slept every night with cockroaches and spiders in my bed. Those weren’t even the worst, though. The worst thing was being bitten constantly by fleas. Right now I have several cats, but I have always kept fleas away from them, myself and my home. I will never forget the hours I spent lying in bed trying to fall asleep but being kept up by the constant itching and pain from the fleas biting me. They covered my legs, crawled through my clothes, nested in my hair as if I were a stray animal. Whenever I asked my mother about the fleas or complained about them, she said it was normal and this was the price we paid for living in the country and owning pets. She said if I didn’t want the fleas I had to get rid of all my pets. I never knew then that she was wrong, that people actually had pets and did not have fleas. I didn’t know until I was much older and my pets were fully my responsibility.

Hoarders tend to refuse to take responsibility for what’s going on in their lives. They will redirect blame to anywhere or anyone else, and often it is the children who end up taking the blame.

I didn’t wash dishes enough. I watched too much TV. I was lazy. I left my stuff everywhere, never cleaned up after myself. I didn’t do my chores. I stressed her out too much for her to get anything done. I was in the way, distracting her. I forgot to close a bag of chips or I spilled crumbs and that attracted roaches and ants.

Even though I was a kid, it was never my mother’s responsibility to clean up after me or to teach me how to clean up after myself. I didn’t know how to do anything properly. The reality is, you cannot teach a child how to clean when they’re living in a hoard. You teach a child not how to fix a disaster, but rather how to keep an already tidy home tidy. You teach them how to clean up messes that occur, not how to attempt to vacuum around 500 pieces of junk that they aren’t allowed to move.

I learned how to hide things- how to cram things into places and cover things with sheets so no one could tell what they were. I was never able to clean my room, so I was constantly punished and degraded for it being a mess. I had a friend visit once. My mother had told me to clean my room, and I honestly tried, but I couldn’t do it. So, when my friend came over, I wasn’t allowed to have her in my room. I was okay with that because I was embarrassed by the mess. However, I wanted to show my friend my new fish, so I left her waiting in the hallway as I slipped into my room and retrieved the fish bowls. When I came out, there was my mother. She had this look of horror, rage and disgust on her face. She screamed something at me, I don’t remember what, and slapped me hard across the face right there in front of my friend. I nearly dropped the fish bowls. I had no clue what I’d done wrong, and I still don’t know. She had just appeared, screamed, slapped me, and disappeared again, leaving me in tears and ashamed.

I had that same friend spend the night once. We had to keep moving from room to room because the cockroaches and fleas scared and disgusted her. She never came back.

My parents got sick of the hoard and they bought a new trailer. They moved into the new trailer on a different piece of property down the street and I and my brother stayed in the old one. We were both teenagers by that point. I had just turned 14 and I was going to go to public school for the first time in my life. I had been homeschooled up to that point, but actual schooling never really happened after my father died, so I chose to go to public school with my brother. I’ve always loved learning, but my mother had turned into a monster and she couldn’t teach us anymore. A kid can’t learn amongst piles of junk and with an angry, impatient, screaming teacher.

Hoarders seem to love bargains and anything free, so they tend to go to thrift stores a lot and even dumpster dive. My mother was the queen of the dumpster dive, and certainly the queen of the thrift store. It would have been fine that I got all of my clothes from thrift stores, except that none of them ever fit. I got in trouble at school constantly for wearing clothes that didn’t fit. Most of my shirts were too small, because too big would have been even worse, and my jeans were all different sizes except what I actually needed.

Looking back, I can only imagine how bad I must have smelled. It didn’t register at the time, but my brother and I didn’t even have trash cans or trash bags. My cousin was living with us and she was an adult, but she was (and still is) completely crazy. I don’t know what’s wrong with her, but she has always had something wrong with her. She is like a little child with adult responsibilities. She never cleaned anything, and she’s always been a hoarder. She just barely holds a job at Wal-Mart. They can’t fire her for being mental. Needless to say, there was no “real” adult in the home. It was her, me, my brother, and an infant. Wal-Mart gives people some crazy hours to work, so I was constantly woken up at odd hours of the night when I had school in the morning. I never got enough sleep between the fleas biting me and the odd hours that I was always woken up at.

I don’t know how I even got ready for school every day in all the mess and filth. Sadly, it was cleaner than it had been when my mother was living there, but it was still bad. Since there was a baby living there, there were always dirty diapers piled around. The “adult” in the home left food smeared, splattered and just laying anywhere. I remember an open jug of Sunny Delight sitting in the fridge for months with barely a serving left in it. My brother and I never had help with our homework, never had someone there to share meals with us or see us off to school in the morning. My mother tried to get us to go down to her place for dinner sometimes, but I hated it. She was always angry and frustrated, and she had hoarded her new place quickly.

The damages done to children of hoarders can last years, or for life. Children need love, patience, attention, structure, order, and guidance. Children of hoarders don’t often get those things. In one of my recent posts on here I wrote about my little cousin “J.” She was the baby I was living with as a teen. From what I wrote about her, you can see the emotional damage incurred largely by her mother’s hoarding. Clearly her mother has other issues, too, but it’s the hoarding that is the biggest issue for poor J. Hoarding breeds other issues- anger, resentment, lack of structure and order, neglect, guilt, and all sorts of emotional abuses.

Hoarding can cause anxiety, OCD, depression, personality disorders, and more in children raised in those conditions.

It’s so much more than just a messy home. It is abuse and neglect, isolation and imprisonment.

Living Anew

As soon as I moved here to St. Augustine, I began coming out of my shell. More and more each day I find myself growing, getting stronger, feeling better. I’m not as anxious. I can do more on my own. I don’t feel as limited by myself or others. 

It’s a great feeling. 

 

I haven’t worked in quite some time, in part because of my location and lack of transportation, and in part because of my issues with bipolar disorder and panic disorder. I’ve been unable to make phone calls or do much on my own. I have panic attacks and simply can’t function properly. 

Since moving, though, I find that I can do more. I feel less anxious. I’m starting my job soon and I am very excited. I don’t feel that terrible dread that I normally feel when doing something like this. I know I’ll still be nervous and I’ll probably make a few mistakes, maybe take a little longer to learn the job, but I’m okay with that. I’m prepared to deal with what’s ahead. I feel stronger and I know I can handle it. 

I’ve been able to talk to more people on my own. I had an issue talking to someone on the phone right before moving. I felt that anxiety shutting me off again, my voice silencing. But I briefly put them on hold, took a breath and recovered quickly. 

This is progress for me. It’s nothing to a normal person, but it’s life to me- actually living. I have to acknowledge the steps I take in my life, no matter how small and insignificant they seem to everyone else. I have to acknowledge that I’ve overcome a lot and that I’m doing well. 

 

I recently had someone reject me because they didn’t think I was good enough. I’m 25 years old, not in school, working part-time at a hotel as a housekeeper, and I don’t own a vehicle. They were in college, a single parent, working full-time, excelling in all they do. 

Instead of feeling hurt or ashamed as I normally would, I reacted with the thought that they don’t know where I’ve come from, what I’ve done in my life or how hard it’s been just to get to this point. Nothing they (or anyone else) can say will take away from what I know is accomplishment worthy of pride for myself. Of course I wish I was in school, working full-time and doing so much more than I am now. But that’s not the way my life worked out.

I’m proud of where I’m at and what I accomplish each day. I’m proud of all I’ve overcome and all I’m still overcoming. I’m proud of my new-found independence, even if I am living with a friend and we’re sharing responsibilities. I’m proud each time I pick up the phone and call someone who makes me nervous. I know all that I haven’t been able to do in the past and how important these seemingly insignificant steps are for me personally. 

I’ve taken longer to reach this stage of my life than most people my age (even many who have endured much more than I have), but people progress at different levels. I will not be judged or deemed unworthy. I will not fight for a friendship or anything else, trying to convince someone of my worth. If someone doesn’t wish to associate with me because they think I’m not good enough, that is their problem. I’m not going to be hurt or ashamed. If they wish to confront me, I will stand up for myself, but if not, they can just move on. I have good people in my life now who appreciate me and value me. I don’t need anyone who would judge me without knowing me. 

 

I’m loving my life here. It’s brand new, but it’s already giving me strength and courage that I haven’t had in other places. Finally having the chance to break away from people and places who have held me down is helping me grow as a person. There’s an energy here in everyone I meet, and just the town itself. I’m feeding off that energy, gaining strength and giving back. I know I’ll make mistakes, probably embarrass myself a few times, get lost every now and then, but I’ll find my way and I’ll enjoy my life. 

 

This is a beautiful, wonderful new stage of my life and I am thrilled to share it with all of you reading this now. Thank you all for being a part of my new life, enjoying it with me, sharing in my experiences, reading my personal and intimate thoughts, fears and joys. 

What I’m Grateful For This Morning- 8/20/12

I haven’t written a gratitude post in a long time. Definitely overdue!

 

  • My beautiful new house that is turning into a home more each day.
  • My cats and all their silly antics that keep me running and make me laugh.
  • My best friend, April. I am so glad we moved in together.
  • My new and developing friendships, both online and offline.
  • My amazing girlfriend. I can’t wait to see what she brings to the world each day.
  • Employment, although I was supposed to start work today and haven’t yet heard from my boss. I’m sure I’ll reach him soon and it will be okay.
  • Great food. I love food, cooking, eating.
  • Location. I’m just thrilled that I have places to walk to and ride my bike to.
  • My neighbor, Jessie. She’s really nice, has three wonderful little boys, and she’s kind enough to share her washer and dryer with me and April.
  • My art. I’m going to set it all up today. I can’t wait to get started.
  • Coffee! Of course.