Dazed & Confused - an only child's crisis in living and caregiving.
I am 37 year old, single, only child, caring for a 77-yr old mother with the early stages of Alzheimer's.
Long and complicated story but in nutshell: I've been the center of my mom's life since my parents divorce when I was 3. She had a tough upbringing, the only responsible child out of 3 siblings, and wgiving up her life to help my grandma raise and care for her siblings. Married late in life, to the wrong man, had me and that was it. Never remarried, dated, nothing. I became the end all be all.
My mom and I were always very close and she ensured, through much sacrifice, that I had the best education, was cared for and had a great childhood. But when it came time to let go and let me live my life, she couldn't and wouldn't. I was saddled with financial responsibilities, which required that I continue to live at home, well after college and graduate school. I tried to set boundaries but things as simple as knocking before coming in my room were not respected.
My friends say I became a completely different person from the bubbly, positive, popular girl in high school. Have been battling depression for many years, became overweight and have not had much success in my relationships. When my mom retired, my family convinced her to move to help with my grandfather. At that point, I was able to live on my own for the first time, but soon realized when taking over the finances, that my mom had made a mess of her finances and mine. I proceeded to implement a financial plan, which did not allow me to spend money on myself, go out, etc. I sat at home for 3 years just to repay debt. Things with my mom and family deteriorated and during 1 visit I was advised that my mom had to come back to live with me, that she wasn't "doing well".
I was confronted by my family (her cousins and other extended family) at a Christmas Eve dinner as to why my mom had to leave to help with my grandfather and why she couldn't live with me... That what was I hiding ... That I must be hiding a lesbian lifestyle...that my mother felt abandoned and unloved.
My family cannot accept that I wanted to live my own life independently, get married and have my own family - and that I couldn't do that with my mom controlling every move I made, like calling me at 6am when I didn't come home after a date at age 30, to ask me when did I plan on coming home.
My mom and I proceeded to have lots of issues, as living with me (and me being the head of household and paying everything) meant that living with me would be under my rules. Many many fights later... Me coming close to a full nervous breakdown, my mom packed up and left while I was at work. She told everyone I had disrespected her and kicked her out, which was not true. Since that day, no one on her side of the family speaks to me because I am terrible person (or so they say).
3 years later, after many doctor's appointments, I am told that she has the early stages of Alzheimer's. She has been living on her own but fell and fractured her hip 4 months ago. I have been taking care of her during her recovery. Now, I have cleaned out her apartment...was like an episode of hoarders. I realize she can no longer care for herself or her dog. I have spent $10,000 of my emergency fund during her recovery on caretakers, etc.
Bottom line, I'm back at the beginning. Financially strained, unhappy because I have no life again, I spend every weekend locked up in my apartment with her since she refuses to want to go or do anything I suggest. She smirks every time she messes up my plans & I give up & stay home.
I started going to therapy b/c I know overall I am very blessed. I have a good job and I am able to provide her support - but I am unhappy because there's no time or space for me. I cry incessantly. And my flourishing relationship with a man I thought I could marry went to hell in a hand basket.
The psychologist says it's a classic case of codependency and says I have my stuff more together than I give myself credit for. I'm working on the guilt factor.
I just feel lost. Sometimes I am paralyzed by my frustration, fear and guilt. I have zero support from my family (on her side, which is the side I grew up around) - they just criticize from afar & nothing else. They believe her over anyone else, even though she is can't remember much of anything. I have one close family friend who supports me and helps me as much as possible by taking her out on Sundays to give me some time to myself.
My family calls to say she cannot be placed in any facility; that I must care for her at my place and do whatever it takes to make it so. When I said I couldn't afford a full-time caretaker, they said I should take her to work with me, that she'd enjoy that.
So am I wrong for thinking she should go to an assisted living facility? Should I feel guilty for wanting to have my own life? I just feel like I'm losing my mind ... And running out of time to have a family.