It's been a difficult few months dealing with and adapting to my elderly parents sudden life changes since my Dad got sick. This site has helped so much. I am fairly sure that both my parents have mental health issues and it is hard to separate out what is "normal" and what is not in regards to their demands, paranoia, fears, anger, bitterness, negativity, stubbornness.... My folks have always been conditional with their love and approval towards my siblings and myself and now it's worse than ever. I am grateful I once had a good counselor who gently helped me understand that my parents were probably never going to love me unconditionally, or accept the person that I am instead of the daughter they expected me to be. Even with counseling, it took me years to learn how to stop trying to please them. It took even longer for me to accept them for who they were and love them as best I can.
It's hard right now not to fall back into old patterns and it's really hard on my two siblings who have never had help to deal with those feelings and are struggling. They are more assertive than me and were less inclined to being manipulated through guilt so it was most often me who got the brunt of her neediness. I had my crisis with that a long time ago but it's now really hitting my siblings. My folks have the guilt hose turned on full blast and it's aimed at us all. We are trying to work together but it's not easy. If it were up to my parents we would all drop everything and be at their beck and call 24/7.
Last week my husband and I went away on vacation with my son, daughter in law and little grandson, who live across the country. We only see them a couple of times a year and time with them is very precious to me. My Dad is doing better and is stable. I made a decision not to call my parents until I came home. Every time I talk to my Mom on the phone it's doom and gloom, bitterness and negativity and expectations on her part for me to make things better. I needed a break and I really wanted to be 100% with the kids. My sister had my cell number if anything happened. I told Mom I would call when we got back and bring the kids by for a visit before they flew home. It was a wonderful week and when I got home I felt so much better. Mom and Dad were pouting and angry of course but their world did not fall apart and they will get over it (or not).
I'm so glad I made that decision. I'm not sure I could have done it if it were not for all of you good people sharing your strength and experience on this forum.
I am trying to find balance with all of this and learning so much here. Thank you.