Having to take care of my elderly father since the age of 12.

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Hello to all. I come here for guidance and help to cope with my situation that I've been dealing with from my early years. My parents had me when they were already too old and now the consequences of that error are showing. My mother died at 50 when I was only 12 and all the responsibilities of taking care of my father, 11 years my mother's senior and an already pensioned and medicated veteran, passed on to me. All of my siblings who were far older than me had their own families when my mother died and my father kept insisting that he could still take care of himself. So, not much was done. But that wasn't the case. I've had to deal with years of emotional abuse and guilt for so much as just leaving the house for one night to watch a movie. My teenage years were hard and I had no one to turn to. It seemed that everyone I tried to explain my situation to, even a therapist I was seeing for a few months, would tell me that I was responsible for his well being and to be more understanding.

It goes without saying that I had little to no social life. I'm 23 years old now and it's only gotten worse. I only have one good friend and he's grown distant with me because my father speaks ill of him and treats my friend with no respect. I rarely ever go out and when I do my father will call nonstop and once I return home he won't speak to me, he won't eat, or even take his medication. He'll also call my siblings and complain about how I'm always out with friends and never watch over him when that is not the case at all. He berates me in public and yells at me for the slightest mistakes. I rarely get much sleep because he wakes me up in the middle of the night for things as small as getting him water.

When I try to speak to my siblings about how I feel they cancel me out and say I'm going to regret not watching over him if he passes. They tell me family is first before everything else and to be more considerate. It's made me grow resentful and bitter. I can never go anywhere because I'm terrified of coming home and finding him in some bad predicament because I wasn't there.

I've even gone into Nursing so I can better take care of him. I've sacrificed so much and he still makes me feel like I do nothing. When I once suggested him vacationing to CN to visit my sister for awhile in hopes that I could take a small break he threatens to never speak to me again or to stop taking his medication. I feel so helpless and miserable. I love my dad very much but I'm not happy. I haven't been happy for a long time. It feels like he's taken away years of my life and continues to do so. I'm scared that this will continue on and I'm going to grow older and not make any social connection. I already feel like I'm emotionally stunted and antisocial.

I don't know what to do. Please tell me how I can better cope with all this. I feel very alone.


I can tell that you are intelligent and well educated. Your father is being a bit of a despot. He is still fairly young and may live much longer. You can't let him blackmail you into giving up your life. Tell him what you are going to do and do it. You are not his wife or his servant. Don't let your own life and happiness slip away. Let the other siblings know that you plan to leave. Good luck!
Fgonzalez - Your situation is very unfair. This sort of thing should not be allowed to happen, but it happens all the time. Your siblings are doing what many do in this situation - they designate one among them to be the human sacrifice and they use guilt to try to keep you in that role. You got elected because you were young and helpless and you were still under your father's control when your mother died. Your siblings should be ashamed to be foisting an obligation on you that they would be unwilling to undertake themselves, but they're probably not. They probably think that your dad needs care and you are the best person to do it because you have no preexisting commitments. In this way they excuse themselves for trapping you and holding you hostage to your father's needs for years. It should be a crime to prevent a young person from having a social life, going to school, getting a job, and launching their own life, but unfortunately it's not.

The good news is that it's also not a crime for you to just say no. You need to launch your own life, and you are entitled to do that. You may need to start small, like getting a part-time job or applying for a school loan and taking some classes. Your father could live a long time. Don't accept putting off your life until your father dies. Trust me, your family won't consider any other solution as long as you continue to be solution that works for everyone else. Once you stop being such a great solution, they will have to consider alternatives. They will have to either pitch in themselves or find some type of outside care for your father.

You are entitled to change this, and you must. Your family will be very unhappy with you, but let's face it, they're not a good source of support for you even now when you're doing everything they want. You need to get out of their orbit and create your own. You can do it. Start taking little steps. Keep posting and let us know how you're doing.
Your father's not elderly. I work it out that he's around about 72. And if he was already retired and medicated when you were born and he was 49, then there are other issues aren't there? Not to do with his age, to do with his care needs; and nursing care needs should be met by professional nursing and care teams; and I don't need to tell you, I'm sure, that it's professionally unethical to treat your own family member anyway. So, QED, you are not the right person to be your father's live-in aide.

Pack your bags, pop your nursing certificate and your CV on the top, zip it up and leave. Your siblings have already expressed their view that family comes first, no matter what - great! Over to them, then.

Trust me, the world won't fall in. They will hiss and splutter, but they'll get over it. So don't stay where you are unhappy and unfulfilled and blame other people for it. Leave, seek your fortune! All will be well.
He has severe PTSD, chronic depression and heart conditions. He also has mobility issues. But in my practices I've seen older folks in far worse situations that are able to take care of themselves or at least able to preform simple tasks like checking their own blood sugar. My father is completely dependent. He won't bathe if he isn't guided, won't take his medication if not guided, won't be able to even eat if food isn't prepared for him. If this is just him being dependent in the sense that he'd rather have someone else do it for him or if he's actually not able to do it himself I've honestly never been sure of. But it's definitely kept me from leaving. It's mostly the fear of losing my only family that terrifies. My oldest siblings (two of them) were step-children to him and after mom died they slowly dropped connection with us and my other two older siblings both live in the states. My only family is my father and the man can hold a grudge. If I were to leave he'd never speak to me again.

Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm actually bawling because it's the only reassurance I've seen in awhile. I hold so much in and keep to myself. I'm glad I've found this site where I can read on and share experiences. I'm going take little steps and try to find an alternative to this by following all your advice. I just needed some peace of mind to prove to myself that I'm not being selfish for wanting to leave. . .
"My only family is my father and the man can hold a grudge"
It seems to me you are holding tight to a porcupine simply because you are used to the pain and you are afraid to let go. STOP! Your sibs should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this pattern to be established after your mom died, but I expect they ran fast and far from a dysfunctional situation as soon as they were old enough and were only too relieved to be absolved of any responsibility. As others have pointed out, no new solution will be found as long as YOU are the solution, nobody else has anything to gain by changing the status quo. Make some realistic plans for what would happen to your father if you were hit by a bus tomorrow, then present those plans to the family, his doctors, APS or whoever is appropriate and get yourself free. If your father and sibs do sever ties with you that only proves that they have no love or regard for you but are only concerned about themselves and their own needs, and that is not a love, it is bondage :(
Your father is being totally unfair to you. It is like he is putting his weight on you and drawing out your life. Taking steps to get away sounds like the only way you'll have a life. The things that are happening are not your fault. He needs professional help and not the life of one of his children. He will resent you when you leave, but you are as important as he is. It makes no sense for you to give up the quality of your own life to be pulled into a pit of despair with him. Actually, it may be better for him if you pull away, since you being there may be enabling him to continue a life that isn't working for him anymore.
Are you working as a nurse and taking care of dad after work?
Try a different therapist. Sometimes it takes several to find a good fit. Consider a therapist for you and dad both to go to.
You mention that your dad has diabetes. If he isn't incompetent then his decisions to take medication or eat are really up to him. It must be very confusing to want to get your own life started but to also feel responsible for dad. Ignore him when he uses that passive aggression on you. Wait him out. Of course as an adult you should be contributing to the household but make sure you have time for yourself. You have longstanding habits that will take time to adjust. Figure out what comes first. Maybe you need to build a nest egg for an apartment. Do you have your own car, pay your own insurance? Have health care insurance? It can seem overwhelming but you can do it. Make a list and do the most important first. You don't have to abandon dad to get started but it might help to build in separation. Plan to take a trip if you can. Take some time to figure out what you want for your life. Recognize that your goals and dads goals are different. Ask him to support you in building your own life.
My dear, you are so NOT responsible to personally take care of your dad.

Use his funds to hire HELP? Yes. Get him qualified for public assistance? Yes. Be his slave and never expect to have a life, a family or a retirement fund of your own? No!

Cry foul at your siblings. Inform them that you are leaving in a month's time. And mean it.
I used to work and attend uni. But it took too much of my time and couldn't finish my BSN in nursing. Now I only work three days a week. I'm very independent. Have been since an early age. Pay my health insurance and also have my own car. Also have some savings I've worked on since I was 16 and first openeed my bank account.

I'd never fully abandon dad. But there are high chances that if I were to maybe move to an apartment even in the same block as him he would no doubt shun me. Talking to him about it is out of the question. I've tried numerous of times and he just gets up and leaves or reacts aggressively. He has very little patience or concern about how this all affects me. Actually, it's more like he thinks this is my obligation and anyway I feel is void. To be honest, it's definitely not far from how I think as well lol...

It's a toxic pattern and I'm aware. It's getting away from it that's so tricky. But again, leaving him high and dry is never something I'd do. Whatever decision I make I'll make sure it works out well for the both of us and he's taken care of. I'll definitely start with little steps though. I've never even taken the chance of viewing my options. But I'll for sure start now with all your supportive opinions.

Therapy is always something I've been so iffy about. It's uncomfortable process for me. But maybe I'll try to look into it again. Also, happy Mother's Day if there are any in this thread. ☺️
Well of course a therapist makes you feel uncomfortable. It takes hard work to become emotionally healthy. You need to set a goal to go at least 10 times before you decide it's not helping and then go to another one for 10 times until you figure out that you are resisting change. As Barbara said maybe you aren't helping your dad. Maybe you are enabling him to stay the same. A man who can't function any better than you have described him should not be running your life.
PTSD is treatable but the person has to be willing to get better. You probably have PTSD yourself from dealing with this. Change your story. Create positive affirmations. Exercise. Eat healthy. Get good rest. Keep regular hours. Make sure you are working or going to school at least 8 hours a day. You can create a life for yourself. Get focused and go for it.

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