Mixed feelings about helping mother after years of abuse.

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My mother hated and abused me since I was born until I escaped when I turned 21. She's been an alcoholic ans has Grave's Disease and heavy smoker. She's now 74 but looks100. Social Services has gotten involved due to her elderly husband and hoarding and unsanitary living conditions. They have cleaned things up but going to seize the property. I've waited all my life to have some kind of meaningful relationship with her but her drinking keep us away. I live out of state and she had told some lady she was going to leave her house to her. Social Services says she and her husband need care. I am the only family for either of them. I want to help her but I don't want anymore abuse. I don't have money to pay for a lawyer. My mother no no intention of leaving me anything. I've never done anything to her but try to help. Not sure if I should get involved or let the state handle it all, but they'll take everything she has. She owns a house and inherited my Grandmother's house which she sold (against the promise to my Grandmother that I would get it next. I grew up in that house.). She has plenty of money. She has never seen my kids (all grown up now) or been part of my family. Now she has calls me to "help" her. Not sure what I can or should do.


It's always so hard to try and help someone deal with "mother issues" especially as they grow old. Just try really hard to know yourself and what you can truly live with doing. The chances your mother will change now are almost nil, can you live with that and not have it destroy you? Myself, I don't think I could, my family still has to come first.

Still, you may work with the local Social Services as closely as you feel you can from a safe distance. You are under no legal obligation to help at all to take over her care and her husband. Perhaps you could consult with a therapist that deals with aging parent issues and abuse issues before you make any decisions?

My Mother-in-law passed away last year at the age of ninety-three and I had watched for decades as her three daughters and two sons danced around her, trying to win her love, respect, attention. It was heart-breaking to hold a seventy-two year old woman as she cried and cried, saying "She died not loving me, she only used me my whole life!" This broke my heart. (This sister-in-law did a lot for her mother, traveled thousands of miles to help after surgery, visited often, managed money, dealt with doctors, etc. etc.) And now, almost a year later, she is finally getting therapy to deal with this!

So, first and foremost, know yourself and what you can deal with. If you cannot, then, with their money and the state, things will fall into place one way or the other. Unless the money is something you want to control, instead of the state and even then be careful!

Good luck!
Thanks for the response Jenn. Part of me feels that I am due at least some of my Grandmother's house money and it wouldn't be my only reason for helping but I feel like I deserve at least that. Her coming around to caring about me would be a bonus but as you said not likely. Besides the care for both of them would probably eat up all she has. Last time I tried to help her after she called me for help she turned on me, said she got a lawyer and hung up on me after I spent time making calls and trying to find ways to let her stay in her home.
Delena, let the state handle this one. You have been through enough. Let her go.
Delena, Jenn and Madge have given you good advice.

As to the inheritence, yes, you probably are entitled to what your grandmother intended you to have, but it is highly unlikely there will be anything left to pass on to you. This would be true whether you and your mother had a highly loving relationship or in the current dysfunctional situation. With elders living longer and encountering so many expensive chronic conditions it is not common for working class people to be able to hand down financial legacies. Regardless of what you deserve, you can probably count on getting nothing from your mother.

If it helps you to hear an "official" opinion on caring for mothers who were/are abusive, here is what well-respected therapist and researcher Pauline Boss says:

"Taking care of someone who years before was abusive or neglectful of you is beyond what is expected of you. Caring for a family member who was or is physically or psychologically abusive is dangerous. Feeling as if you want to retaliate is also dangerous. These are justifiable reasons for NOT being a caregiver."

She goes on to explain that for your own health it may be better to be involved in seeing that the parent has good, safe care rather than totally abandoning them. She suggests doing this from a distance and perhaps through a social worker.

Delena, please do not subject yourself to more abuse and disappointment.

Thank you all for your comments. I do fear ongoing and no compensation for my efforts. My foster mother keeps pushing me to help her even though she knows that I was put there because of abuse. That's not helping me. I know you guys are right. She's not going to change even if I can get her off alcohol and better treatment for her thyroid.
wow hun i am so sorry for what you are going through.
I have a mother who has been dying since I was born...she's a pill popping nut case hypochondriac who has used and abused me, fed me guilt trips like it was the thing to do. she after all these years of abusing all those pills now she is sick, she is 67 and looks 97. She has been trying to manipulate me for years to come back and take care of her..she has nothing and is on ssi so there would be nothing to gain if I was dumb enough to fall prey to her again..but I do admit if I was in your position it would be absolutely murder for me to not feel like I was deserving of EVERYTHING the woman has much less just a portion. I have so much anger about what she took from me and the complete mess of a person she turned me into I fight hard everyday with major mental disabilities due to being born on pills and all the abuse of every kind all threw my life. But I agree with the others in that just writing her off has got to be the best answer....but my original point was in my rant that I TOTALLY understand how hard that must be to consider or accept. Huge hugs...I hope you do the right thing for you because you do not deserve any more pain.
Delena, It is nice that you are in touch with your foster mother. You must have formed a good bond with her. She is no doubt a very kind-hearted woman, and she would like to see you reconciled with your mother. However great her intentions might be, in this case she is simply wrong. Reconciliation in cases like this is a fairly tale. To make it come true would require either a fairy godmother with a strong magic wand or years of joint therapy based on a recognition of a need for change and a willingness to work at it. In short, ain't gonna happen. Sorry.

Love your foster mother and keep her in your life. Just know that she isn't right about everything, and this is one of things she is wrong about.
Delena, good advice from posters. It is so human and decent of you to keep hoping, but truly she is not going to change. I doubt she even wants to or understands why she needs to. It is hard to change even when a person IS motivated and impossible when they are not. Your foster mother is wrong about reconciliation - it takes two to tango. And, under the circumstances you describe, what is to reconcile? There is no real relationship with your birth mother to be mended. Since she has money, leave her to the state. Actually she may do better with them - I've seen it happen that people pay more attention to advice from strangers and simply discount friends and family (assuming she has anyone). But it seems pretty likely that she would only do more destruction and pain to you if you got within range and you would suffer so much and accomplish little or nothing. Seen this too many times. Sounds like any real intervention would have to be done by professionals and should not be undertaken by anyone without those credentials and anyone at all who is close to the situation. If you feel you need to be involved, best do it at a good safe distance and through consulting with others.
oh Delana, i am so sorry for what you are going through. i cannot physically be there for you, but i am lifting you up in prayer. many of us here have or are still dealing with emotionally and/or physically abusive mothers and we understand. please do not feel that you need to subject yourself to anymore of your mother's abuse. i agree with the posters above; it is very highly unlikely that you will ever get anything from your mother, love, approval or the house that was once promised to you. keep any GOOD memories associated with the house and let everything else go. the state and social services can take care of your mother, she has made her own bed. and you are right, even if she quit drinking she would still be the same woman underneath all of that.

I saw a film once where a young woman was walking down the street after a shopping trip. She was holding a shopping bag, smiling, enjoying the day. Suddenly she saw in front of her an elderly person trying - albeit unsuccessfully - to get into a van. The elderly individual was struggling to get into the van holding some belongings. The kind-hearted young girl rushed forward saying "Here, let me help you!" No sooner had she done this then the real truth came out. The elderly person was actually disguised and had staged the incident - along with a team of criminals - in order to kidnap her. She was grabbed forcefully, hands over her mouth so she could not scream and pulled into the car. They drove off, restraining her by force. Wow!

Now obviously I'm not in any way suggesting that this could happen to you but hopefully you see the point. I am going through something similar. What this movie taught me is that some people, for whatever reason, prey on the vulnerability of others. Although being kindhearted is very good and I believe we should do that, we should also protect ourselves from those who have repeatedly hurt us. Sometimes you just have to walk away. What is the cost of your integrity? I may have to do something similar and I'm still struggling to fathom how such a conflict can even be present in my life. But I am VERY grateful for this website and grateful that you shared your story!! God Bless You. I wish you strength and the courage to realize that your life, your self-respect and your integrity are PRICELESS. Those things are worth far more than any money you may or may not get.

Godspeed, prayers for you:) Remember also that alcoholism is a disease that involves issues of CONTROL. Refrain from allowing her to try and control you.
I have benefitted somewhat from Al-Anon, meetings are free and people do not judge you. They will understand some of the psychological issues going on here.
They advise also to "Take what you like and leave the rest" so usually they are not controlling. If nothing else, it's a safe place to go and share and experience some relief. Good luck to you whatever you choose to you. Remember you are loved by God and that Love is unconditional and beyond the human love that fails us.

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