Monday, June 9, 2014

So long and thanks for all of the fish

Hi Friends...

It has been way too long hasn't it?  How have you been?

I have been doing really REALLY well.  That is why I've been silent, which is in and of itself, not entirely fair.  I should share my high points as well.

Quick recap: As of today, my total weight loss over a two year commitment has reached 99 pounds.  Seriously -- 99 pounds!  I did that all by myself.  My trainer has left my gym to begin his journey of independent personal training and I followed him.  We meet at a super old school style gym that is tucked away in a little hole in the wall just outside of the city.  I really love working with him.  Now that he's not under the confines of the company he use to work for, we know are able to do far more.  He's not only certified in personal training, but also in kick boxing and MMA fighting.  I spend an hour each week learning how to kick box.  It's not that goofy aerobics class stuff.  It's real!  Like, he's starting to take swings at me when we train, kind of real.  No worries -- he hasn't been beating me up, but he does make a point of startling me in some moments so that I learn to keep my gloves up and protect my face. 

I've always been afraid to get into anything too violent, mostly because I didn't want to do the whole "pandora's box" thing, but I really like it!  It's almost satisfying in a way to go as hard as I can at anything he wants me to do and come out the other end sweaty, tired, and satisfied.

As part of my growth through this and in life in general, I refocused my efforts onto my marriage and to my child.  It has been, often times, flying blind as I've not had healthy examples in my youth, but with open dialogue, honesty with myself, and sincere effort, my life with my nuclear family has improved by leaps and bounds.  My husband and I connect unlike anything we have had before and my son is expressing himself more which, in turn, opens the floor for more discussions and healthier communication.  I was talking about how happy I've been with my life last night to my husband and I cried.  They were happy tears, of course, but this is a point of my life that I always dreamed of: being comfortable within my skin and to be happy with what and whom are around me.

Now comes the hard part....

I believe that it's time that I bid you farewell.  The things that I have to blog about in my life now are, quite honestly, irrelevant to this blog and I don't want to waste your time telling you about it because you came here while you are on your search to understand the concept of hoarding.  While that will always be a part of my life, it is not my identity. 

The internet traffic for this blog have always been consistent and incredibly high.  It is because of this that I have chosen to keep this blog available for others to read with the hope that what I have had to say will give you something to think about as your continue to heal. 

I promise to continue to publish your comments.  I promise to continue to respond to your emails.  You have my word on that.

What I want to remind you is that the mere fact that you are reading these words, means that you are stepping outside of your own comfort zone to understand, to connect, and to do anything in order to understand your childhood.  There aren't many of us who are brave enough to stare our shame in the face and take its power away.  Please remember that in those tough moments.

I believe in you.  If there is anything that I can do to support your journey, please let me know.

For the last and final time...


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Face Off with the HP (sort of...)

I had an incredibly bad day at work last night.  One of those really bad days where you just clam up and want to hide under your covers until the clock strikes midnight.  It was a very bad day.

Because of that, I didn't get much sleep so it was tossing and turning until I couldn't stand it anymore.  At 4:30, I rolled over to check the email on my phone and discovered the following message from my HP:

Subject: You Missed It....

ETH and ETH's Bro,

I sent the below text to both of you on Tuesday nite so you wouldn't miss your dad's birthday but said he didn't hear anything.  I'm the only one that remembered.  He said it's "OK", but I know he's disappointed and hurt cuz he only turns 60 one time and that was on Tuesday 3/4/2014.
She was right, she did text me (which I then promptly blocked her -- yay iPhone!) the day of his birthday, but I was stuck at work and couldn't call.  Obviously, I wasn't in the mood to play around -- especially with this crazy bitch, so I replied with the following response:

Subject: RE: You Missed It...
Not that I have to explain anything to you, but I've been working very long hours at work.  I work ten hour shifts now and don't get home until after 7 at night.  I texted dad to explain that I was stuck at work because of a sick kid from the ER and that I'd call him the next night.  I wished him a happy birthday and said that I loved him.  If he didn't receive that, then it's not my fault.

Unfortunately, another child came crashing through our doors last night and I was late coming home again.

Furthermore, after 2+ years of silence following your behavior towards me and my family at Christmas, you've lost the right to scold me.

When you're ready to apologize to me, my husband, and my son for the name calling and overall nasty crap you slung at us in our home, let me know.  Otherwise, leave me alone.
I refuse to play her emotional terrorism games. That's exactly what she was doing.  I'm done.  To be honest, I'm pretty proud of myself for doing it.

As of 3:00 this afternoon, I haven't received a reply.  I half expect my father to call, but I don't think he will.  I also suspect that this won't be the end of it either.  Doesn't matter -- the gloves are off and I'm ready to put an end to this.

Until Next Time,


Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Hello Friends,

To be perfectly honest, I am not sorry for my silence over the last month or so.  I’ve been living my life; like actually living my life where I’m comfortable inside of my own skin and have been able to maintain control of my broken record as well as my random bursts of anxiety.  It’s been lovely to live…dare I say it…normal.

My leadership course is coming to a close next month.  Other than introductions to an incredible woman who has agreed to be my long term mentor, I’m really not better off than I was before I began.  Having association with the program is, in and of itself, enough to open a few doors so that I can meet new people.  I guess I have that going for me, which is nice.  For the time being, it’s the same old daily routine in my job with the exception of my partner.  I’ve grown to not only rely on him, but appreciate that he’s in the foxhole with me.  A and I have a yin/yang thing going on --- he’s very comfortable being the bad cop and I can maintain my position in diplomacy and compromise.  It works and I’m glad for his help.

My etsy store has been going very well and I’ve discovered that I’m very good at making jewelry.  Within a couple of weeks, I made 4 sales and my overall shop rating is pretty high, which I’m glad for.  I’m not sure if I want to provide a link publicly on this blog (for obvious privacy reasons), but if any of my loyal readers are interested, just shoot me an email (in my profile) and I’ll send you the link.  I’ve actually kicked around the idea of donating a percentage of my profits to the COH website, but I think I want to wait until I get some more traction underneath me before I make that commitment.  It has been interesting trying to make a presence for myself in this community and I’m finding success in following other shop owners on instagram and tweeting links to their shops.  Slow but steady, right?

The good part about this new hobby is that it incredibly rewarding and relaxing.  I’ve always been creative, but this is one craft that has really gotten me excited.  I actually dream about new pieces to make, which is weird, but they turn out as good or better as I had envisioned so I’m going to just run with this and not question it.

I have a new personal trainer at the gym I’ve been going to and it’s been working out just fine.  He’s a younger gentleman who had a similar journey to myself (worked hard to change from obese to fit) and I like him.  To be honest, I really didn’t at first – mostly because he worked me so hard on our first session together that I was dry heaving over a garbage can, but little by little, he and I have developed a good friendship.  For example, when I’m struggling with a particular set he’ll lean in close to me and whisper “get out of your head, ETH.  You got this.”  He gets me and that has helped my progress.  He’s pretty militant – won’t even acknowledge my whining (in fact, he makes it worse if I do), but it’s been giving me results and I’m happy with that.  The scale is moving back down again at a faster pace and I have nothing to complain about.

Nothing to note from my HP or my father.  She’s still cyber stalking me and only recently has my father called and attempted to give me a guilt trip again.  Taking your advice, I didn’t even acknowledge his semantic subtleties (“your mom and I miss you”, etc).  I didn’t tell him anything (he was trying to get out of me that I had my online store) and it was a short conversation.  That was that!
Until Next Time,


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Finding Resolve

Hello and happy 2014 to all of you!

If there is any time of year that kicks up family drama, then Christmas would certainly be it.  In anticipation and vigilance of experiencing family drama of my own, I went into hiding for a bit.  Well, the bulk of my silence around the holiday can be blamed on that.  The other half can be blamed on the loss of my home Internet connection (the damn cable snapped from the utility pole!) and thanks to the Polar Vortex that is currently sweeping across my state, the technicians are unable to get on a ladder to fix it.  I had so much to tell you that I'd rather wait than to write a disjointed post from my phone.  Thankfully I'm back at work from a 2 week "staycation" (YES!!) and can write on a normal computer again

Let's see...Oh!  I finally had that lunch meeting with the architects that I was telling you about.  It went alright.  They are very nice people and I really enjoy talking to them, but the fact of the matter is that they are looking for someone who is a registered nurse -- to which I am not.  The lady who orchestrated the luncheon was very much on my side.  She even put the VP on the spot a couple of times challenging him on why he felt the way he did as to why I couldn't participate.  Other than a guest 300 word guest spot on their blog, there really wasn't much they could do for me.  It was certainly an eye opening experience and I learned a lot about their industry.  At least I have that going for me.

My HP and my father were surprisingly silent.  Other than a couple of text messages, I was able to avoid any uncomfortable phone conversations or drama.  It was almost unbelievable.  I nearly commented about it on my twitter, but was afraid that I would jinx things.  The gifts were awkward and random, as usual.  Other than a DVD collection of Downton Abbey, the rest of the gifts were just weird and not something that I would pick for myself at all.  Thankfully, I posted them all on Craigslist and they sold rather quickly.  At least I can buy something for myself that I really wanted instead, right?

They gave my son a $75 gift card, which was generous and much appreciated by him.  Teenagers are hard to shop for so it's easier this way.  My son is into what he calls "vintage gaming" now.  Basically, he's just buying up old console systems and playing 8-bit games.  Hearing the ear piercing music booming through the house reminds of me the old days when my brother and I would play Mario Brothers for hours on end.  Now I'm too damn old to even deal with the volume on the TV.  I am not sure if that's sad or what.

So here we are: 2014.  Have you all made your resolutions for the year?  Other than quitting smoking (which lasted all of 2 hours on new year's day) and to continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle, I decided that I wanted to do something different.  For starters, I decided several years ago that every year I would learn something new -- a new craft, skill, etc.  I've taught myself how to knit, I learned how to make soap (old school soap with lye and lard), and this year I've decided to dive into jewelry making.  That's actually been pretty fun.  At the persuasion of my friends, I even opened an Etsy store.  Nothing has sold yet, but I get lots of views and favorites.  Perhaps I will try hitting the local craft shows.  shrugs shoulders

One really major change that I'm trying to embrace for this new year is to use my voice -- both literal and proverbial.  I am, for the most part, what the street kids call a "Beta".  I clam up at the wrong times no matter how much I want to say something.  To be fair, I have been able to speak up in the past when pushed into a corner, but for the most part I am too self conscious to stand up for myself.  I want to change that.

I just clam up.  I hate it.  I wish I could be more like my girlfriend who isn't afraid to call people out on their crap.  It doesn't even matter who they are or where we are.  If someone is being rude or disrespectful, she will walk right up to them and give them an earful.  I envy that.

What are your resolutions for the new year?

Until Next Time,


Monday, December 16, 2013

Winter Is Coming...

It's been a weird week and I wasn't prepared to write about it until I was able to think it all through. 

My father called me last week to let us know that they had purchased a new tower for our cats and to expect the shipment.  After some idle chatting, he throws out,

"Mom and I miss you very much and wish you'd call more."

No matter how brave or angry I am here with you, I always seem to cower into silence when the moment arises.  To be fair, I didn't repeat the statement back to him -- I remained silent, but man was I pissed at myself for the rest of the evening.  When I do speak up, his reaction is always the same: hurt, saddened, and emotional. He's living in that sad setup of a house while my HP is living at my brother's house taking care of the baby.  My father doesn't have any friends and what friends he has made recently have been much older than him and have died from health complications.  I just feel so...sad for him and I just close up and not say a damn word.

To tell you the truth, I think that my father is redeemable if in the right environment and away from my HP.  A clean and organized environment with supportive therapy would make a world of difference for him.  Alas, I'm just a dreamer with that part and accept that that would never happen as long as my HP breathed air.  So it's back to my position of uncertainty and here I sit, telling you all about it.

What my father did say in that phone call was far more discerning.  I think it's a matter of time before the hoard is discovered.  There have been several close calls, but I think that this time, it's going to be ripped apart for the world to see.  My father had mentioned in the phone call that a recent bad storm that blew through their neighborhood had caused significant damage to the roof of the house and needed repair.  Apparently a large portion of the shingles blew off.  The only problem is that they have to pay a $1000 deductible to the insurance company and they don't have the money.

I was surprised, but not really surprised (if that makes any sense) to hear that they are broke.  My HP walked away with a $100K inheritance from my grandmother's death and it's completely gone.  Now my father is working 16 hour shifts of hard physical labor that he's far too old to do in order to get the extra overtime to pay for it.  The other alternative theory is that she still has some money in her account and she'd rather torture my father to make him pay for it.  Either way, the roof remains damaged in this winter climate and I can only imagine how bad it's going to be.

When a tree fell on their house a few years ago I remember thinking that this would be the moment when the trash unveils itself.  They would be discovered and reported to the health department, but NOPE!  They got the roof repaired and nothing happened.  This time, I wonder the ceiling got so bad from the elements that it caved in would they say anything to anyone.  Most likely not.  I imagine that they would continue on like everything was normal and pretend it didn't happen.

I spent a few days since that call trying to imagine what it would feel like if their hoard was discovered.  My first instinct was to panic, but I realized that I didn't know anyone in that neighborhood and really couldn't give two shits about what they thought anyway.  It was interesting to experience the old emotions of shame and panic only to realize that I'm not responsible for their little secret anymore.  They are grown adults and it's their fault that they live that way.  If they choose to not do anything about it, they can't blame anyone but themselves.

I still, at the end of the day, worry that my father is sleeping in an incredibly cold house with tattered blankets and nothing but the trash surrounding him.

What an awful thought.

Until Next Time,


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Motherhood, Bing Crosby, and The Invariable Resonance of Family

Snow has finally hit my city.  Now the next 6 months will be spent riding the brake on highways and laughing at the assholes on the road who overestimate the capabilities of their winter tires as they slide into ditches.  I hate Midwest weather.  Truly.  It's not so much the cold (though I will say that I can't deal with the penetrating freezing temperatures very well), it's the driving.  It never ceases to amaze me how every fucking winter seems like the city I live in is full of drivers who have never seen snow before let alone drive in it.  The first couple weeks of this garbage is so annoying -- my 8 mile commute to work that would usually take me 10 minutes is more like an hour where I sit on the highway riding my brake.  There are times when I am able to speed up to almost 40 mph, but that is rare.

I hate it. 

What I DO enjoy about this time of the year is the nostalgic emotions that come from this holiday.  SiriusXM radio has a "all christmas" station and I tend to listen to that when the political station I listen to gets to be tiresome.  I use to work with an old OR Nurse that would tune every radio in the department to the public access radio station that did the same thing.  It was...annoying and comforting at the same time to move from surgical suite to surgical suite and not miss a beat.

So there I am in my car watching the confused cattle of a morning commute and through the the wall of  noise, I hear Bing Crosby's voice.

Every time -- every god damn time I hear his voice, I fall back into the memories of spending every Christmas in Michigan at my Grandmother's home where the floors were clear, the house was warm, and I got a hug every time I wandered into the kitchen to see what my grandmother was doing.  My brother and I would lay on our backs on the tree skirt of the plastic tree in her 1970's chic living room to stare straight up into the tree and watch the bulbs on the stringed lights flash on and off. 

I miss those days -- well, I don't miss the drama crap HP would pull on those visits, but I miss those moments of serenity.

It makes me reflect on the sorts of memories that I've helped create for my own son.  My husband and I are very against the over capitalistic corporate overtones that have become the holidays, so aside from stringing LED lights around the porch and a small  tree in the corner of our living room, we don't really do much.  We don't participate in Brown Thursday or Black Friday sales because it's fucking stupid how people behave, much less the zombie consumerism, but I'll leave that for another day.

Mostly, we just remain relaxed inside of our home and on christmas day we open presents and then go to the movie theater to watch a flick.  That's what we do.

It's the daily demands of the role that I often worry that I don't do well enough with.  For example, my son has started to dip his toe in the world of the opposite sex.  There's apparently a new girl in school that he's gaga over and he recently asked her on a coffee date, to which she accepted.  The date went well and they text each other often.  He will often ask me how to respond to certain texts from her, should he initiate a text, or can he ask certain questions and I've realized how vigilant I have become in trying to steer him away from come across as needy or creepy.  I also drive home the importance of opening doors for her, don't sit until she does, and the like.  I hope that I'm giving him good enough advice that will set him up for later in life when dating gets serious.  At least I hope so.

Until Next Time,


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

When Gratitude Outweighs Regrets

In the days leading up to the end of 2013, I have found myself in deep reflection my life as of late.  I've thought about where I'm going, where I want to be, whether or not I'm happy with where I am, and so forth.  I think it's normal for this time of year.   Don't you agree?
In light of the upcoming Turkey day, I decided to write about what I'm thankful for.  So here it goes:

  1. I'm thankful that I am intelligent.  I don't necessarily mean in the academic sense, but I do have a level of street smarts that has helped me figure out how to make sense of the cards that I was dealt in this life.  Throughout the course of my trials and errors, I've been able to learn from my mistakes and that has helped my life tremendously.
  2. I am thankful for having people in my life who believe in me.  There are days where I didn't think I would've made it had it not been for them.
  3. I'm thankful for my marriage and my child.  They keep me grounded and remind me on a daily basis that patience (and a sense of humor) is critical to making it through the rough patches.
  4. I'm thankful for my career.  While I haven't made it to my dream job yet, I am thankful that I get to work in an industry that has taught me what it means to be there for my fellow human and to appreciate what I have.  I woke up this morning and can breathe on my own.  Some people didn't get to do that today...
  5. I am thankful that I believe in myself enough to try.  Every day I am either trying to improve my physical self as well as my mental/emotional state.  I try every day and I try in spite of whatever negative voice in my head that attempts to persuade me otherwise.
  6. I am thankful that I can respect myself not to be involved with toxic people.  My boundaries are appropriate and strong.  I know that it's crucial to my own well being to not get sucked into other peoples' chronic misery.
  7. I am thankful and, more importantly, proud of my journey of healing.  If you really knew me and knew me long enough, you would appreciate the before and after of ETH.  Believe me, the after is so much better. 
  8. I am thankful for this blog and my readers.  Without it (or YOU!), I don't think I would've been able to learn this much as quickly or have had the chance to talk to some really awesome people from around the world.
 What are you thankful for?

Until Next Time,