Not letting our caregiving/enabling qualities destroy our own lives.
I finally think I have my boundaries set with my mother and I am feeling pretty good about that. After MANY years of having a toxic relationship with her, her threatening suicide whenever she felt neglected or put upon--locking herself in her room, manipulating us kids against each other...it's all come home to roost and she sadly has no one left to harangue. If she annoys me or talks smack about someone in the family, I leave. She cannot warp her brain around a cell phone, so I don't get calls. She simply has to wait for me to show up. I walked away from her for once again making me look an idiot for trying to facilitate home care for her. WITH her permission. She didn't even get a chance to meet the caregiver--just pulled the plug. So she is having a difficult time being "independent" and I honestly don't care.
Weirdly, and this is on ME, I have found that although I am not letting Mother manipulate and play games, a young neighbor has found my weak underbelly and has stepped willingly into the role of "helpless maiden". I have only known this girl (she's 24, but acts 4, so I have to refer to her as a girl) for 4-5 months. She is married, but has some health issues (very mild epilepsy, which is completely controlled by medication--but she cannot drive and will not work). I met her and was friendly, but I am nearly 40 years her senior and cannot be her "bestie". She is here everyday for 2-4 hours. She sleeps the rest of the day, cannot or will not do anything with her home, her husband literally does EVERYTHING. She took a spill down their stairs 4 months ago and sprained her ankle. A mild sprain. She has gone from wearing an ace bandage to now being in a full size to-the-knee orthopedic boot. 4 months! A broken LEG would have healed. She refuses to go to a Dr., she says her Dr. is her 3rd year Med Student brother who is 3000 miles away and HE is caring for her.
I hate to admit it, but I was fooled along by her for a quite a while--until I offered to call my friend who is a podiatrist to look at her foot. I couldn't make the appt, but said I'd happily TAKE her. A week ago I gave her the info. My friend could have seen her same day, any day. Yesterday M comes over (arrggghh) in that stupid boot and something in me went "I am being disrespected by this brat. She is using me, WHY can't I stand up for myself".....and I snapped. I asked her if she planned to EVER see a "real dr." or if she planned to walk around in the boot until it rotted off her foot. She looked like I'd hit her. She withdrew into herself (b/c nobody talks to her this way, ever!) I said I was no longer going to enable her behavior. I listed a few of the (many) things I have been doing for her b/c she's unable to do ANYTHING, I mean, I know people in wheelchairs who do more....and she just sat there. Finally she said "I don't like people to talk to me like I am a child. I am an adult." I finished with "When I see you ACT like an adult, I will treat you as such. I care about you, I wish you didn't have so many problems, but I officially can no longer be your mommy. Figure it out on your own." My brother came by right then and said the atmosphere was so thick he could have cut it in 2. I asked her to leave, I said I was sorry for being so forthright, but that I couldn't let her take advantage of me any more.
Oh yeah, she went home and called hubby and cried a bucket--but I'd texted him first and told him there were 2 sides to the story and yes, I had been blunt, but I was not mean. He came over later last night and actually thanked me for being tough with her.
She came by again last night. this time sans boot and with a smirk on her face, like "see? I AM in charge". I made no comment about the boot. Her hubby left and she said she needed to speak to me privately. She said "You HAVE to know that I am a very sensitive person. You hurt my feelings." I replied. "I am a sensitive person also. NOBODY CARES about my feelings. I'm so sorry your life sucks more than anyone else's, (her words) but my words of earlier are me just being honest. I AM sorry you chose to be hurt by the truth, but I stand by them. I care about you, but I won't enable you any more."
My point is: We ALL have to be careful in our lives to not get sucked into the maelstrom of other people's lives at the risk of losing our own "self". We don't have to be caring for aging parents--there are plenty of people out there who will HAPPILY take our souls....This was a huge wake up call for me. I'm a natural caregiver, and I happily raised my kids and then LET THEM GO. I'll help anyone who needs help, but darned if I will get sucked into another drama.
Whatever this was--vent, rant, epiphany--I am glad I got tough. I think a lot of us just step from one steaming pile of drama into the next--if we're not careful.