After that pesky fender bender a month ago–which is still a pain in my ass because the other driver wants me to take half of the liability, which I say doesn’t make any damn sense–my car is finally ready to go get fixed. So last week, my parents drove out so I could use my dad’s car and they could take mine.
Now, my car was kind of a mess, but I cleaned out just about everything in it, with the exception of some stragglers under the seats I probably missed and the trunk, because I figured I’d have time to get to it and it wasn’t a priority. Besides, I only had a brief notice they were coming over, and I wanted to clean my apartment a bit, too, because my dad’s difficult and every time he comes in, he goes, “Oh, my God, Janelle!” at what in his mind looks like a tornado ripped through when in reality, it’s not only cleaner than usual, but it’s also just a bit cluttered with a few things lurking around that I haven’t gotten to putting away, plus maybe a few dirty dishes. Similarly, when Uncle Clark’s downward spiral started, my dad’s description of his house was that it was so bad, it should be condemned. My description was that it needed a little work, but it was nothing a little elbow grease and proper cleaning products couldn’t fix.
So Sunday, Paul and I are on our way to what was our weekly trip to the park earlier in the summer and since got pushed aside due to being busy and socializing, and I get this text from my mom saying, “We need to have a serious talk about the condition of your car. Grandma is probably rolling in her grave.” The car, obviously, was originally my grandmother’s.
So I”m thinking, “Oh, shit, there’s a cup or a bottle or food item that got sucked under a seat that I missed and is supporting its own small ecosystem and she found it.” But I hoped maybe if I just didn’t reply, I could put off dealing with that fallout until I go over there this weekend.
But nope. Two more texts followed before I could even think of a reply, had I wanted to reply in the first place.
The basic rundown was this: my dad claimed the car smelled damp. Now, I’m not dismissing this as 100% bullshit, but I never smelled anything damp–aside from the rubber around the driver’s-side window–and neither did Paul, Terra, Brandon, Kelly, or anyone else that’s been in my car as far as I know. But I am suspicious, and I do think it’s highly likely that my dad, possibly my mom too, wanted an excuse to go through the trunk because that’s what my dad does. He can’t mind his own business or his own shit, and he has to look through anything near him. Not because he thinks you’re up to something, but because he just can’t respect people’s privacy.
So for some reason they decide to check the trunk for the source of the damp smell, where they find a bunch of shit I’ve basically just forgotten to take out, mostly because it got shuffled back there when I was giving someone a ride or taking it for some other maintenance. I took a little bit of it out before they took the car, but for the most part, it was clothes, CDs, a case of toilet paper or paper towels, maybe a stray Snapple bottle or two, and one of my grandma’s old lamps.
Now, I think the real issue here is the lamp. Because I also had a bag of rock salt in the trunk to help me get out of my parking lot in the winter, and having a bag of rock salt in your trunk means some of that rock salt’s gonna spill. I knew I’d lost some of it. Maybe it was worse than I thought. But the rock salt came into contact with the lamp and damaged it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not thrilled about my messiness fucking up my grandma’s lamp, but it’s just a regular brass lamp that Paul tells me I could probably clean up, paint, and fix. I think because it was my grandma’s lamp, though, and my grandma’s car, my mom is making this into a bit of a bigger issue than this needs to be.
For one, my grandma is not in either of those items. As much as I understand some sentimental attachment to things that used to be hers, especially considering I have some of her jewelry, I think it’s ridiculous five or six years after her death to place material objects in higher esteem just because they belonged to her. I’m almost positive this wouldn’t have been an issue and I wouldn’t be writing this post if these things hadn’t been my grandma’s, and of all the possible things I’ve done that could be making her “roll in her grave,” this is probably at the bottom of the list.
When I was bitching to Paul about all this later, he commented that the family seems to idolize my grandparents. I don’t know that I’d go so far as to call it that, but they are held in a very high esteem, and I do think it can be a bit silly to hold their possessions in a similar regard.
So I think my mom is pissed that it’s Grandma’s stuff. Maybe it’s easier for her to blame this on a mental disorder rather than just a fuck-up. I don’t know. But one of those texts basically said that the state of my car is disturbing, she thinks I have hoarding disorder, and I need to discuss this with my therapist when I see him next because hoarding often stems from some other issue.
Remember, she came to this conclusion solely on the contents of the trunk of my car–not the rest of the car (which was mostly empty) or my apartment, just the fact that there were CDs, clothes, a lamp, and spilled rock salt in the trunk of my car.
I’m fucking furious because I obviously think she’s overreacting, for one, but her knowledge of hoarding disorder comes almost solely from TV shows. Essentially, she saw some mess and clutter and ignorantly concluded that I have a mental disorder that caused it.
When I told her I didn’t think the trunk was that bad, she said that’s part of the problem. Might as well say the fact that I think she’s overreacting is a sign that something is wrong with me.
Hoarding disorder is not the same as being messy or disorganized. The trunk of my car is not proof of a symptom, especially considering it’s the only factor she’s considering. My apartment may not be spotless, but you can freely move in it. I don’t feel attached to my possessions to the point that I can’t purge some when I need to–in fact, there’s a bag by the door that’s ready for a Goodwill donation probably this week and a whole pile of stuff in my room that’s either already listed online to sell, will be soon, or sold and needs shipped. I don’t hold on to arbitrary items under the delusion that I’ll need them one day. I throw things away. I recycle them. I donate them. I sell them.
And what, pray tell, does she think is the bigger issue that caused my alleged hoarding? I may have started seeing a therapist initially due to a combination of stress, depression, and emotional damaged caused by both Paul’s mom and the Craigs, but they sure as shit didn’t fuck me up so bad that they sent me into a hoarding tailspin, especially when hoarding is typically caused by loss or trauma. I wouldn’t call a few toxic people “trauma.”
Naturally, I talked to Terra about this. Now, best friends are generally biased, but Terra’s not afraid to call me on my shit. She’s done it before. And when I told her my mom thinks I’m a hoarder, she laughed first. Then she said my mom needs to lay off the TLC shows and that I don’t actually have the signs of hoarding. Because–surprise!–a messy trunk does not a hoarder make. And Terra’s seen my car in a worse state.
The trunk of my car is a microcosm of disorder, forgetfulness, and probably a bit of laziness, too–not a mental disorder. And the fact that my mother insists otherwise based on what she’s seen on TV is insulting and embarrassing to me, as well as immense ignorance on her part.
Un-fucking-believable. I expect these things from Paul’s mom, and even he said as much, but not mine. It’s especially ridiculous considering some of the stuff in my parents’ house–the dining-room and kitchen tables are piled with stuff, my old bedroom is now packed with things that aren’t mine, the basement is packed with tons of junk, and my mom has piles of stuff in her bedroom. And don’t forget, she’s pissed about a lamp.
From the sounds of it, she cleaned out the trunk for me, which I consider a slight invasion of privacy, but it’s also embarrassing. I feel belittled, like I’m a child, and I fully expect that when I go home, the attitude I’ll get will be, “Look what we had to do for you because you have a problem. You should be grateful, and let this be a lesson to you. We better never see the car look like that again.”
Let this be a lesson to you: “Hoarders” marathons don’t grant PhDs, and moms don’t always know best.