Hi all. I need to vent a little and try to process an ongoing problem in my family,
I am having a tough time right now with my family. My older sister, who is 30, is a genuine hoarder. She refuses to get reasonable jobs (for example, when she does get a job - sometimes going a year + without working - it's through a friend and very far away. So then she can say she spends too much on gas getting to the job and gives herself an excuse to quit) Even in this market, she has the intelligence and skill set to get a nice office job. Nothing to make her rich but an ample salary for a single woman. But she wont even apply.
Sister has been living with my parents since she stopped going to college (I think she attended four different colleges, one of them overseas, while racking up a $60,000+ debt which was graciously paid by our grandmother, and does not have even an associates degree for it all) and occasionally she moves out. Sure enough, within a month or two she can't pay her rent and moves back in with them. She hoards an astonishing amount of stuff, including broken, old, filthy things. If you know anything about hoarders then you know what I'm talking about. She has a nasty attitude towards my parents, screams at them, stomps around like a child, cusses them out, you name it.
My dad has an untreatable leukemia, my parents are in their 60's and these are their final years together. Instead of spending their time peacefully with each other and enjoying some solitude, they are hosting an abusive terrorist in their house. My sister is so bad that my husband and I have sworn to each other that she is never allowed to live with us or even stay in our home overnight under any circumstances. She is emotionally unpredictable and explosive. She uses people and damages her relationships with them.
It's obvious to me that my parents are enabling my sisters damaging behavior. She refuses to see a therapist about her hoarding (and she very much would benefit from therapy. This is someone with easily 30 purses who has panic and rage fits over the suggestion of giving the more tattered ones to charity) My parents allow her to live in their house while she contributes zero financially. Their utility bills are astronomical while she lives there. I think she may have some sort of compulsion disorder, she can easily spend hours in the bathroom with the shower running and has a tendency to pick at her face and skin a lot. She is not on any drugs, in fact her life was much more in order when she took adderall during college. When she has money she spends it on clubbing and clothes. I don't know anyone who has as many clothes as she does, it's an incredible amount.
I'm very upset about all of this. My parents are upset. My sister is desperately unhappy. The situation has been at a vicious stalemate for years.
I want my sister to be a happy and independent adult but she is her own worst enemy. No one is holding her back but her (even though she screams at my parents that they oppress her etc). My husband suspects that my mom enable Sister out of a perverse desire to see her failing. My mom is a serious martyr type and has chosen to sacrifice herself on the altar of ungrateful children. My dad doesn't want to kick her out because she's female, he's worried she will be abused.
When my dad dies, I'm worried about how my mom will handle the situation. Will she sell the house and push my sister out? Is my sister going to try to pawn herself off onto me? My parents practically refuse to speak to me about the situation except to sometimes complain. They never want to talk about real solutions. They threaten her with eviction but they never do it. I think if they demanded she see a therapist (they're even offered to pay for it!) and improve her behavior then there would be positive results all around. But they will not set any real boundaries or limits.
It's insane, like watching people leap into a burning building. And it's so distressing because it's in my face all the time (we all live within half an hour of each other and I visit my parents weekly with my kids). I want to help somehow but I just don't know if I even can. My mom doesn't want to hear any suggestions, once again she would rather martyr herself in this toxic snafu. And my dad is caught in the middle during his final years on earth. It's all so upsetting :(
How do you help/handle the hoarders in your immediate family?
from your description, i don't think the *hoarding* per se is the real problem.
it sounds like she is serially unable to take care of herself. or maybe unwilling is a better term.
i'm with your husband's assessment: your parents are enabling her for their own reasons. it's complex and DYSFUNCTIONAL.
i'm of the conclusion that there is nothing you can really do to help. oh, i guess there is one small thing. small but profound. you are going to have to ACCEPT the situation as it is. it is nothing to feel joyful about, and you aren't *helping* in the way that one normally thinks of helping.
but accepting the things you cannot change at least keeps you out of it, and allows your parents and your sister to work on their own problems.
the courage to change the things you can
the strength(? i think) to accept the things you cannot change
and the wisdom to know the difference.
good luck with it!
I'm not sure what APS could do, my parents are both mentally and physically sound. They *choose* to host her in their house.
I definitely agree that the hoarding is just a symptom of a larger problem. I try my best to stay out of it now. I used to offer to help her sort and declutter but she is so abusive that I stopped.
We live in Georgia and I'm wondering if this state has any sort of programs for helping adults who need therapy? If I could show her some resources available to her, she might use them but I don't know of any programs available for this sort of thing. She's a competent, able bodied adult who makes horrible choices and needs coaching from an outside source.
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