Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

This Time It's Personal

Right around the time I was leaving my OCPD ex, and voraciously reading everything I could on OCPD and hoarding, I came upon an interesting website called My Mother In Law Is Still Sitting Between Us. In it the author chronicled her boyfriend's efforts to clean out the hoarding house of his mother, who'd recently passed away.

Besides the train-wreck fascination of the pictures, the writing! Snappy, funny, insightful, and never mean-spirited or nasty. I fell in serious girl crush. And after finding that the author lived next door, so to speak, I got in touch with her. Once I convinced Sid I was not a crazy stalker-person, we did meet, and became good friends. I lured her into joining my writers critique group. Her voice and ideas were good for our group, and getting out of the house and talking about writing was good for her.  I frequently commented on her blog, and she was a frequent commenter here.

Her boyfriend is also OCPD, and the unhappy relationship dynamics that so many experience, that *I* experienced, were also part of her experience. He was a drinker/she was a drinker, even after it began to create serious health problems for her. She cut back.

Still, the relationship was eating her up on the inside, especially when, over two years into the clean-up process of the hoarding house, there was no end in sight. And of course, he could neither give it up nor hire someone to help. I tried to support Sid, as best I could, without pushing or telling her what to do.

It frustrated me to watch her spirit get eroded over time, drip, drip, drip, but still, it wasn't MY job to save her. She did have a supportive family. And Sid was the stubborn kind of person who needed to do things in her own way, in her own time. So mostly, I was the listening ear who understood, and who told her what a great person she was.

One of my online friends has pointed many to an excellent book called, "When the Body Says No," about the damaging health effects that accumulated stress may have on a person. See, sometimes if WE don't learn to say no, the body says it for us, by getting sick.  Or we swallow our feelings with alcohol, drugs, food, sex, shopping...

Sid was the kind of caregiving person who poured herself out for others.  She took pride in being STRONG, not asking for help, but giving it to others. She blogged and worked part time and was active in Children of Hoarders. She co-founded a local group called SoCalLady Bloggers. On October 8 she appeared as part of this streaming video chat on hoarding on Huffington Post.

Her ex was not and is not a bad person. In his own way, Greg, too, is heartbroken. He was the reason she was found, still clinging to life, after she missed a scheduled meeting with him and he would not let it go. I am very grateful that her parents and I got to say goodbye to her when she was still technically breathing, rather than after lying dead in her apartment for days. But his own overwhelming anxieties did not allow him to SEE how sick she was, or to help her in any meaningful way.  As she described here when she was going to visit her parents, very sick, and he got hung up on the cheapest train fare.

After another hospitalization this summer following that train trip, during which the b-f was anxious, bossy, "knew" more about what she needed to do than the doctors, and demanded attention and energy she simply didn't have left in her to give him, she realized that though she still loved him deeply, if she stayed with him, it would literally kill her. She'd already been making emotional plans to leave; her parents helped her out financially, and she moved into her own place a month ago.

Sid was SO happy in her new place. She could eat, walk, work on the computer, and breathe, without being criticized. She was so proud, showing off her new place - which had been IMMEDIATELY unpacked, no boxes hanging around for her! She showed me her cool rooftop patio and talked about having a party up there, excited, because her ex never wanted to have people over. She still loved him, and they were friendly, trying to work out the sale of their house amicably. She was taking her meds and NOT drinking and working hard to regain the weight she'd lost during the summer, but she was still so frail...

The damage to her body was too great, her remaining physical resources too low. She had a heart attack just a week ago due to the chemical imbalance in her body, and then another, in the hospital. No alcohol found in her system.

Last Monday I sat with her parents and her ex, in the hospital. Both before and after they turned off the respirator.  Today is her "Celebration of Life."

She was beautiful and vibrant and funny and 43 years old.

I am angry and heartbroken. This did NOT have to happen. For all of you still with a disordered partner - I am not telling or urging you to leave.  Only you can make that call, if or when it is right for you. But please, please, PLEASE, do not pour yourself out entirely for your partner and other people, until there is not enough left for your own body or soul. It may be the hardest thing you will ever have to do, but learn to put yourself FIRST.