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Several years later… December 17, 2012

Posted by oxymoroness in Every Day Insanity, Paranoia.
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I warned you… I suck at this blogging thing.

For starters, the house… the house was finally sold this July. Granted, for almost half what we asked for, but it’s sold. Considering that there were houses in MIL’s neighborhood that were (and possibly still are) on the market for twice as long, half was far better than nothing! It was a small comfort though to know that part of the reason why the guy (a flipper) bought it was because, he didn’t have to paint.

In the meantime, MIL has adjusted to life in the Assisted Living place about as much as she ever will, and is actually relatively happy. She still has a few paranoid moments, but at the very least, they’re only moments. She’ll be financially secure for at least the next 10 years, which give DH and I time to brace ourselves for the day when we’ll have to pick up the financial burden again. The biggest news is that she is the most mentally and emotionally stable that she’s been in years.

BIL… well, it’s still an issue. He’s asked for money, a couple thousand dollars, and for once got a flat no. It has caused a rift, and we’ll see if that ever closes or not.  He now primarily makes appearances during the holidays, but that’s about it. He never adjusted to MIL being in Assisted Living, and just avoids the place as much as possible.

DH and I visit every other week, and bring Z along. Z’s starting to figure out which grandparent is more fun, so I’m bracing for the day when I have to explain to her that MIL needs a little extra understanding. How does one explain mental illness to a small child? I can honestly say that that’s an issue I never expected to have to figure out.

As for me, well, I found a job at the end of 2009 only to lose it again at the beginning of 2012. So I’ve decided to give entreprenuership a shot. Talk about crazy, that’s crazy. The good news is that so far so good. I’ve got a long way to go before I can consider myself “secure” — and even then I’d say it with fingers crossed behind my back. I can honestly say that I’ve never been so terrified — and yet so happy at the same time.

Weird? Yea. But then that’s my life.

Here’s a consideration. If you decide to pray for an exciting life… be specific. Trust me.

A long overdue update … This time with triumph May 31, 2011

Posted by oxymoroness in Every Day Insanity, Random Stuff.
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We are done.

No, really, we’re finished

The house!!!!

Yes, you read that right. DH and I (and my parents) finished my MIL’s house. We found a realtor and we’re putting the house on the market on Saturday.

I can’t even begin to express how nice it’s been the past few Saturdays. I haven’t had to crack a single can of paint. I’ve had entire weekends with LittleZ and even though the house isn’t sold yet, I feel like a ton of weight has been lifted.

I can actually make plans for the summer. I’m almost a normal person again…

…almost.

Let’s face it folks, we’ll never be a “normal” family – not by a long stretch. And surprisingly I’m at peace with that. In an odd way ripping that house apart and cleaning it up for someone else actually helped me to process all the built up resentment and frustration I’ve been feeling about MIL. I’m sure it’ll be a long term struggle, I’m far from being “over” all the nonsense that MIL puts us through, but I think that I’m just a little better equipped to deal with it than I was before.

And on the other plus side, renovating our own, much smaller, home now seems a lot less daunting. :)

A Victim No More… March 18, 2011

Posted by oxymoroness in My Own Craziness.
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Well dear readers, it has been sometime and for that I apologize. (I warned you that I’m lousy at updating!) Perhaps the main reason is that not much has changed. We’re still working on the house, MIL is still not thrilled at being at the Assisted Living place, and her new home is still doing a world of good. But it’s not her “crazy” today that I’m posting of.

It’s my own.

I was privileged to take part in an event about bullying, how to deal with it and how to prevent it. The keynote herself was a victim of severe bullying in the 70’s and 80’s. I found it interesting that her story was a great deal like my own. Physical, mental and emotional abuses endured through years of schooling with virtually no help of relief in sight. Even the well-meaning adults just didn’t “get it” and while their efforts were appreciated, they had very little impact on the daily struggle.

But what I found even more interesting were the differences. The speaker continues to refer to herself (even in casual conversation) as “a bullied kid.” She is these days, neither a kid, nor bullied. Yet, that self-descriptor remains.

I don’t think as much about what I went through these days, except on occasions like this when the memories are dredged up. I’ve been at peace with my past for sometime, and while occasionally my scars cause me some inconvenience the target that was once painted on my back has long since faded and I’m not prevented from carrying on with my life, and even being happy. It’s been a long time since I’ve refused to be a victim anymore.

And that seems to be the biggest difference. I’m not a victim. I was a victim. But my victim status has long since expired. In fact, the decision to not be a victim is essentially how I managed to end the worst of the bullying. Bullies don’t like bothering people who aren’t either afraid or impressed by them. As soon as you stop caring too much about what other people think about you, the other people in your life cease to have the power to control how you feel about yourself.

On the other hand the keynote has made a career out of her victim-hood (and to give her credit, it’s doing a lot of good), and as she continues to work through her trauma, she’s using it as a means to bring comfort and coping to the millions of kids out there who are going through the hell that is the realm of the bully.

It’s hard to say who is healthier. But I sincerely hope that someday the keynote’s next book is about closure because I’d really like to see her be at peace with her life and get a taste of what it’s like to not be a victim.

A visit at last… November 6, 2010

Posted by oxymoroness in Every Day Insanity, Paranoia, Random Stuff, Uncategorized.
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I honestly can’t remember if I’ve spoken much on the subject of my MIL’s relatives. In short, I don’t like them. They’re a passive-aggressive bunch to the max and habitually stuff their closets with skeletons. They speak in code to each other and everyone else and have a pretty knarly set of double-standards.

For several reasons, FIL moved his family very far away from his and MIL’s (they live in the same general area). A good 3-4 hours away. Apparently life became a lot more peaceful for them once they did. Sadly, MIL seems to think that her sibling practically walk on water. They know all and can do no wrong. And yet, not one of them bothered to visit MIL while FIL was sick. Worse, they decided to tell MIL that her mother was critically ill on the day of FIL’s funeral despite the fact that they knew about it for six months.

Could it be worse than that? Oh yes, one of them actually said to me, “You can’t imagine how hard it is to see poor Mother get her blood drawn for all those tests.” This, after I had to witness 2.5 years of FIL getting blood drawn, chemo treatments, blood transfusions, many lumbar punctures and spinal taps, ports, stints and worse.

I tolerate them only for MIL’s sake.

There is one exception. One sister (and her reluctant husband) actually seems to care. They made the effort to visit MIL and did so this weekend. So bravo to them! (Seriously)

One down, four more to go.

The bums.

Auctions October 31, 2010

Posted by oxymoroness in Amateur Advice and Help.
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Back when we discussed what to do with MIL’s house and its contents we had two options in our mind to both downsize and bring in a little extra cash.

The first was for a yardsale. Lots of work, but sometimes worth the effort.

The other, and mainly because MIL and FIL had such a huge collection of stuff that was too valuable for a yardsale (and too cumbersome) was to call in an auctioneer.

As it turned out for us, the second option was the better of the two. What was in the house after the auctioneers left was really not good yard sale material, at least not good enough to make it worth our while.

Our experience with the auctioneers have been really great. The first auction was today (some of the more specialized stuff will be sold in a more specific auction). So based on our experiences so far, here’s what I would recommend if you’re considering downsizing and using an auction house to help.

1. Go to a few autions yourself to see what they’re like. Keep in mind that it really is a crap shoot. Even with the “right” bidders good stuff sometimes has a bad day.

2. Before you call in the auctioneer, go through your house and pick out the things that you want to keep. Note, I said pick out what you want to keep. If you’re downsizing, you will need to get rid of stuff. As hard as it is to let go of a lifetime’s worth of collecting, holding on to every last trinket will make you’re much beloved possessions an albatross around your neck.

But do keep some stuff. I strongly recommend keeping a sampling of your collection. Your favorite pieces, the ones that best represent your collection as a whole.

3. Before signing any agreement, meet with the auctioneer and give him a tour of your home. Does he or she appreciate and respect your collection? Are they respectful of your home. Are they understanding of your emotions? (This is a tough process.) Will you get a detailed list of what sold and for how much? Will they advertise the aution your collection will be in? Are they willing to wait for the right season and the right audience to auction your collection? Will you get and itemized list of the items that will be removed from your home? — These are essential things to look for in an auctioneer.

4. Discuss the money. There is usually both a commission (anywhere from 10-25% of the profits of the sale is within the realm of reasonable) and a fee to pack and haul the items away. If your collection is sizeable, they will sometimes wave the fee for a slightly higher commission. If you are uncomfortable with the auctioneers fee, or if the auctioneer wants you to sign before discussing money, don’t go with them.

5. If the process is far too emotional for you, ask a trusted friend or family member to help by being your representative. Spend some time with them and make sure that they know what stays and what goes. There will be a few questions on the day the auctioneer comes, so keep a cell phone handy for that if you don’t think that you can be there.

The day the auctioneers came to my MIL’s house, it was a little tough, even for me — and I’m not emotionally attached to her stuff. They were all very respectful, but they were efficient. 75% of the contents of MIL’s house were packed up and removed in a single day. Keeping out of their way was a real trick. If I had been emotionally attached to MIL’s collections, it would have been absolutely heartbreaking.

If the process of downsizing is hard to even think about, but you’re at a point where it absolutely must be done, then I strongly recommend asking a trusted friend or family member to be your representative on the day that the auctioneers are scheduled to come. It will be easier to stick to your earlier decisions on what to keep and what to sell, and it will be less traumatizing for you.

6. Make sure you get a copy of the list of the items that were removed. Keep in mind that it will most likely be a rough list — handwritten and quickly jotted down. But it’s a good thing to have in case there are any mix-ups.

7. The Auction(s)! If you want to attend the auction, go for it. But remember, if you get upset when you think about your collection being sold, then don’t go, send your representative instead.

Something to remember:

When going through this process with my MIL’s belongings I had an interesting conversation with the auctioneer. She was telling me about how hard it is sometimes because people have them come in, discuss the money, sign the agreement, then when they show up with the trucks — suddenly what’s for sale is taken off the market.

In fact at one point, they left with an empty truck and a couple of items that traveled in their laps on the way back to the warehouse.

That’s why I strongly recommend both deciding ahead of time what you want to keep and getting a friend or relative to be a representative for the day of the removal. When downsizing is a must, you may have to take measures to keep yourself from sabotaging your own progress.

Want to know details?

The auctioneer we’re using is great. I can’t recommend them enough. They do travel and are extremely professional. Because I’m trying to keep at least some annoymity for my MIL’s sake, I’m not going to mention them here.

But, if you are looking for a really great auctioneer, respond to this post and I’ll send you their contact info.

Still working on the house… and some Halloween fun October 31, 2010

Posted by oxymoroness in Random Stuff, Uncategorized.
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I haven’t updated in a bit simply there isn’t a whole lot to update. Work on the house continues. We’ve gotten almost all of the downstairs done, the wallpaper is gone (hooray!), and the contents of the house are slowly making their way out.

I had hoped to have the house on the market by now, but no go. With any luck it’ll be January at the latest that we can resume a normal schedule once it’s in a realtor’s hands.

But we did get a chance to have some fun. At the assisted living home they had a Halloween parade and trick or treating night. LittleZ went and did incredibly well. MIL had a really good time too showing off her grandaughter and it was nice to see her interact with some of the other residents who, I think, are starting to become friends.

So, not a bad Halloween. I think I’ll dress up as a DYI home renovator…

A temporary return to sanity… October 17, 2010

Posted by oxymoroness in Every Day Insanity, My Own Craziness.
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So I haven’t posted much lately because it’s been pretty much the same …

Spend Saturday at the house… work our keisters off… relax on Sunday (or try to)… visit MIL on Friday…spend Saturday … and so on.

And that’s been life for months.

Sadly, I’m not my usual super faithful super punctual self when it’s come to church, and believe me, I’ve felt the guilt. Granted, it’s unnecessary guilt. I’m not skipping church because I’m “not in the mood” — in fact the top five reasons have been:

1. Little Z is sick

2. I’m sick

3. DH is sick

4. We’re too sore to move more than a few inches

5. We’re all sick AND too sore to move more than a few inches.

And today we missed church again. But this time it was for fun.

Earlier this week DH got a call from an old friend. She had two extra tickets to the local Ren Fair and she’d buy for LittleZ. They were having trick-or-treating. She was bringing her daughter and did we want to go.

Honestly, I didn’t. 1. I knew I’d be sore, 2. I wanted to go to church and 3. I “don’t do” Ren Fairs. I think they’re silly, and too much “in character” annoys the stuffing out of me. But DH really wanted to go. The social anxiety has been kicking up and the stress of everything lately was making his thoughts sticky.

So I went for him (because of what I mentioned), LittleZ because this has just not been a fun summer for the poor kid, for our friend who was willing to overcome some pretty major anxieties just to make the trip and her daughter who hasn’t exactly had an easy time lately. Essentially everyone but myself.

So I very quietly grumbled to myself (I didn’t want to ruin it for DH). But as I thought more and more about it — it occurred to me that I did need to go for me too.

Why?

It was a day of normal. Our small family at a fair with friends. Very sane, very normal, very necessary.

We’ve been so wrapped up in the drama with MIL it seems like we almost have forgotten what normal families do with small kids. That a pleasant day out for fun. No making decisions for other adults. No adult tantrums. No earth-shattering-life-changing events to manage.

And I did end up having fun. Despite the constant “in character” atmosphere, there was also a self-depreciating sense of humor that I appreciate very much.

So it was a temporary return to sanity. I’m still sore as heck, but who cares? I have a desk job after all. We return to insanity x3 by going up to my MIL’s house for 3 days next week. But for now, we’re just a happy normal family with an exhausted daughter in bed and mommy and daddy relaxing after one heck of a good day.

A step back … but in a better direction … September 24, 2010

Posted by oxymoroness in Every Day Insanity, Paranoia.
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Well, yes. We’re still working on the house. But at least the wallpaper … evil, evil wallpaper … is nearly gone.

And then yesterday we got the calls. 4 of the total. “I still love you no matter what you think of me…” yea, something was up again.

MIL was upset because she has some doctors appointments today. So as usual, she gets paranoid and this time she thought we were mad at her. I’m still not sure what path her thinking takes, and to be honest, I’m not sure I want to know.

But there was a significant difference this time. When DH called her she said, “I’m afraid that people are doing things to me and I don’t know why.”

Believe it or not, this is good. Very, very good. Not that we’re happy she’s scared, we’re thrilled that she’s self aware.

There is a very big difference between. “People are out to get me, and I don’t know why.” and “I’m afraid that people are out to get me and I don’t know why.” The first implies fact, the other recognizes that there is a fear and is uncertain. It is a huge step forward in the right direction.

And now there is another glimmer of hope that maybe she’ll start to consider she the counselor.

I think DH and I will throw a party then. :/

Kind of a Non-Update August 14, 2010

Posted by oxymoroness in Every Day Insanity, Paranoia.
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It’s been a bit since I’ve last posted, mostly for two reasons.

1. MIL’s been doing fairly well. We’ve only had one paranoid episode (MIL lost her keys and panicked.) and that was nothing. I told her that she was paranoid because she was upset and she said, “Well, okay, I guess so.” and that was it. No confessional phone calls, no endless tirades and the birds are not recording her conversations. What was funny was that last night we were chatting with one of the nurses that agreed that this was the best place for her especially considering how paranoid she was … they have no clue … we’re thrilled with how paranoid she isn’t!

2. Every week at the house has been essentially the same. Throw out trash, take stuff to charity and remove wallpaper. And remove some more wallpaper. Did I mention there was a lot of wallpaper?

BTW: a shout-out to Jessica (mustaddfabricsoftener.blogspot.com) and my coworker. If for some reason you encounter evil vinyl wallpaper like I did and were stupid enough to start removing it, fabric softener really is the best non-toxic solution to getting the crap off. If you have crazy sensitive skin like my mom and I, they do make non-scented, non-dyed allergin free versions now.

So, because the state would really like DH to have his car inspected, and we really are badly in need of a break, we’re taking the week off. The fun begins again next Saturday because the auctioneer is coming with his truck and crew to pack up the antiques. I’m moderately concerned that the house will float away from the sudden lack of weight. But once that stuff is gone… let the painting begin!

Some smooth talkin’ — courtesy of my Mom July 18, 2010

Posted by oxymoroness in Every Day Insanity, Paranoia, Random Stuff.
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Well, despite getting sick (once again, LittleZ has shared her cold with us) we pushed through and got a huge amount done, to the point where we’re actually ahead of my mental schedule.

Most of this was thanks to my parents who came up to the house and watched LittleZ, cleaned the kitchen, and sort my MIL’s shoe pile that rivals Imelda Marcos. Because of this, DH, BIL and I could finished organizing the upstairs rooms so that the tour with the auctioneer will go smoothly. My parents were also a big help in IDing that which is truly valuable and that which is junk since they deal with some antiques themselves.

The catch? We couldn’t let my MIL know that my parents were there helping us out. That would have seriously angered her. The problem is that she left a huge mess behind. She was starting to display symptoms of hoarding. Many of her clothes and shoes still had tags on them and at least a couple of the rooms were so packed with stuff, that soon it would become impossible to enter them.

It would have been easy to simply not let MIL know about the extra pair of hands, but one other thing that we needed my parents’ help with was that we needed to swap out box spring matteresses. The box spring we had moved MIL in with didn’t quite fit the Victorian bed frame. The only fix at the time was to put the box spring on the floor and the mattress on top. It worked, but the bed was hard to make and DH had recieved a couple of phone calls because the Assisted Living staff had complained about it.

Well, my dad has a pickup and my parents were willing. So with BIL, DH, LittleZ and myself in my car and my parents following behind, we headed down to MIL’s new place with the box spring. The plan was to have DH and BIL (and me and LittleZ) take the new box spring up, swap them, make the bed and then take the new box spring down to my parents who were waiting (they were too tired to come up anyway and my dad’s been having trouble walking lately) who would take the old box spring to DH and I’s where we’d put it in our own trash. If all went to plan, MIL wouldn’t be the wiser.

Unfortunately, MIL was having a bad day. First, she asked us to take her to dinner. That was simply impossible. Aside from the fact that there was simply no room in the car, LittleZ was at the end of her rope and would not have done well in a restaurant. Besides, we still had a long trip ahead of us. BIL was riding with us because his car was in the shop, so we still needed to give him a ride home and then head home ourselves.

Then she decided that she wasn’t going to believe us about taking her to the house on Tuesday to meet with the auctioneer. She kept asking, “are you sure?” “Are you lying to me?” and so on.

And then she decided that she was going to follow us downstairs — Do’h! — where my parents were. BIL, on the way down in the elevator informed her of their presence. She didn’t seem to care, down she came.

Well, when my parents saw us (all) coming, my mom kicked it into high gear. My dad, BIL and DH loaded to old box spring into the truck, while my mom pretty much took over the conversation.

FWIW, my mom is part Irish, part Sicilian, which sometimes results in a very charming sonic-speed talker. You have to be to keep up with her family. MIL didn’t stand a chance. Mom complimented her until she had no choice but to say, “Thank you.”

But then, the dreaded question. MIL turned to me and said, “Were they at the house too?” It was that tone. The one that drips in acid. I’d heard it before, and at least once it was directed toward me.

Before I had a chance to say anything, my mom laughed and said, “Of course we were! After all we had to get the mattress. You know, sometimes you just need a truck and we told the kids ….” Leaving every implication that they were there to only pick up the mattress, and never speaking or hinting that they were there for any other purpose.

Never before was I so happy to back a lie, even an implied one. MIL seemed to believe it, she may still question us, but it’ll be easier to dodge.

I’m sure that MIL is still a little upset today (she’s already tried to call this morning). It generally takes a few days for her to calm down, she was really dissappointed that we didn’t stay longer (just not possible) and I think that the weekends must be more difficult simply because there’s less going on. But after another busy week, she should be okay.

At any rate, we’ve got the consultation with the auctioneer and we’ll see her again on Friday, and then back to the house on Saturday. My parents are coming again, so do me a favor, and don’t tell MIL. Thanks. :)

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