Need Support - Emotionally separating from Mom and feeling less guilt.

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I have had years of being too tied to mom. I feel guilt bacause she is in bad place. But it was her doing. And she wont take suggestions. Wont accept help in the house. She complains about feeling pain, etc. Has the money to pay someone to help her. But is worried about brother being homeless after she dies. So she won't spend anymore than she has to. She insists he has to live in house when she dies. And will need lots of money for home and living expences. He has personality disorder and cant hold a job. He gets SSI. Been emotionally drained from mom several times over the past several years. Have to start concentrating on my own life more. She is 89 years old and uses a walker. Has several health problems. Brother lives with her. But doest help much. He is selfish and lazy. Most of my contact with mom is by phone. I only live anhour and a half away but. I go see her two to three times a year. I'm going to see her four times a year starting this year. Partly for her and partly to see when she gets so bad that I have to try to force help on her. She doesr want volunteer to help eighter. She has several reasons. And her being rigid, no one can influence her to do it.

Barbara

34 Comments

I have the same issue with my special needs adult daughter who has lived with me off and on since she was born. She's 47 now and I'm aging 71 and I have less tolerance and mental and emotional well being to take care of her. Emotionally separating is a big issue for me at this time. Not getting much help from family either. How does one let go and process the separation?
2- 3 times a year you see them and you need more separation? Look at what you wrote. Everything your mom says is normal , they all are moody, stubborn, want to die at home, drive us insane, test our patience, have personality disorders , not want outside help, and not spend money. This is why we are in a support group here. Do unto others as you would do unto you, thats the golden rule of life. I have friends that fly to see their stubborn parents more often than that. You should see and help them as much as possible, regardless of their demenour. I am sorry that you cannot see that the quilt you feel is from trying to separate and not helping them. How does one want to separate from their aging parent??? Ive had my mom living with me going on 9 years, full care. Its brutal giving up so many things in my life. That part i hate! I have many dam hard working anger days with her, but never guilt. I am not trying to be rude, i have deep empathy for people and no tolerance for the self centered .
Reverse, she sees them only a couple of times a year but talks to them frequently. She tries to help but they want no help. Her mom has "emergencies"- needs pill picked up at pharmacy around the corner, but live-in son too difficult to ask that of, can't arrange for a pharmacy that delivers.

In my book, if your parent claims that they are "independent " then they need to work with their adult kids to make sure it's not suckling the life out of them.
both of my parents have dementia. One is bedfast and incontinent. One in the hospital right now, the other one at home, but I am the driver, caretaker, decision maker, cook, cleaner, shopper, handywoman around the house. I feel no guilt, the only thing that really irks me, is that I have a brother and a sister, who feel nothing is wrong, they come here to play in the mountains. Claim they helped mom and dad and then leave stuff on the porch for me to take care of because it needs repair or cleaning. They won't even wash my parents cars. I guess, if they stay in their little world of denial about mom and dad, they won't have the guilt. I praise anyone who has the empathy, sympathy and strength to take on the care of an elderly person. That's why I like this site. Everyone is practically going through the same problems, and other peoples' insight helps you get a better perspective of how things really are. Praise to all "Brothers and Sisters" in arms, as we are fighting a battle with a terrible disease.
Hadnuff, you give yourself the right answer in the first couple of sentences of your post: your mother is in a bad place, it is her doing.

You do have one duty to your mother that I think you might find it helpful and comforting to work on: you have a duty to respect her choices. You can think, you can even say to her, "mother dearest, your life would be easier and your welfare more secure (and my worries about you significantly reduced) if you were to accept more help/evict my brother/move to an easier, more manageable home."

But once you have formed your opinion, really and truly *accept* that she, like any other competent adult, is rightly free to act on her own decisions.

And then you support her in them. As you are doing - by standing by, keeping watch, and being ready to help her when she's ready to let you. You're doing nothing wrong: separate your natural worries about her wellbeing from guilt you don't deserve to feel.
Hadnuff, you'll see by looking around on this site that there are many people struggling with caring for their elderly parents. I don't think you can quantify emotions; a person can feel enormous guilt and resentment regardless of the investment made in terms of time and effort. Sometimes because of it! Guilt if we're not spending enough time, resentment if we feel we're spending too much... although it's not always that straightforward. Examine your guilt, look at your mother's situation realistically (according to what you've shared, it doesn't seem as if she's begging for your help, but I could be wrong) and then do what you need to do; let go of your emotions. More often than not, it's our emotions that need to be dealt with, not the parent and/or living situation. It's hard to let go. I would teach you some tricks if I knew how!
Thank you all for an interesting and enlightening discussion. We all seem to have very similar situations going on with our elders , and with ourselves as their adult children. Thank you all for your posts . I don't feel so alone.
I agree that we feel less alone by reading this site. I read it every day, and I appreciate each perspective.
Barbara, When I speak to children of people who need help, I suggest a meeting with the loved ones to speak to them about what they need. The older people feel that they have lost control when they see themselves deteriorate. The fact that she won't accept the help is because she doesn't want to lose that control. I am not sure where she lives but I might be able to assist in finding someone who can come and talk to her. Get in touch with me privately so we can chat if you want.
"I have had years of being too tied to mom. I feel guilt because she is in bad place. But it was her doing. And she won't take suggestions...won't spend any more than she has to...Been emotionally drained from mom several times over the past several years."

Hadnuff, from what you say there appears to be two important factors that contribute to your sense of guilt. One tell tale sign is being "tied" to your mother for so many years. I am assuming that you mean emotional entanglement in the mother/daughter relationship. This can come from your mother's perceptions and expectations of that relationship which may be somewhat distorted and put unrealistic expectations on you. If I may share my own emotional entanglement with my mother, she would always say things to the effect of I really wanted you (as opposed to my other siblings? and "I don't know what I'd do without you (is your love based on duty/how much I can do for you). She expected me to have the same values, interests, tastes. I, too, was exceptionally close to her growing up and spent so much time emotionally protecting her from dad, who tended to be emotionally abusive and drank too much, that I didn't realize just how dysfunctional it was. I do love my mother, but as an adult I can see where the psychological boundaries were so often broken. Everything I did had to meet with her approval. In fact, looking back, I realized in some ways I was just as afraid of mom as I was of dad. How ironic that in dad's last years we grew so close and I truly loved him and forgave him for the things he did in the past. Now that I am an adult, I see my past/present relationship with mom in a new light and it is rather sad that this disease only illuminates my mother's dysfunction more than ever.

The other factor is burnout. Even though you are not there physically, there is still contact. She is still present in your mind. In fact, hearing her voice and not being physically present has its own type of distress. On the one hand, she is saying she doesn't want help, yet there is a nonverbal message that - you fill in the blank. Is it that you haven't done enough for her, she's disappointed in you, she's in pain and wants you to fix it, why are you doing anything about it. I live with mom 24-7 and she, too, rejects services from the community yet constantly expresses how she can't deal with the loneliness, boredom, anxiety, depression any longer. My hands are tied yet she gets furious with me when I go out to get groceries (which she always complains there is never enough of) or my part time work or church. It is very hard to feel emotional love when that manipulation is happening. However, love is not an emotion, it is a behaviour. It is okay to feel ticked off, disappointed and to take a stand, set psychological limits. If you don't want home care, of housekeeping or day program or whatever other service is available and appropriate, that is her choice; however, these are the consequences. I cannot rescue you. If I don't take care of myself, I can't be there for you. Empathy is not identifying with the pain, it is understanding how the person feels and acknowledging it. If you identify with the pain, you become just as distressed as your mother is, then tends to lead to anger and guilt. I love you, mother, and I will do whatever I can to support you, if you accept it, but I cannot go down this road with you. After all, what is guilt - it's a feeling that you should have done something you didn't do. How can you realistically help your mother? What can you realistically do if she refuses to accept help? I find these days, the only true way I can help my mother is to pray for her, then let God take care of the rest.

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