The Caregiver & Dysfunctional Families: How are you doing?

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hi notlike (((((hugs)))))
My sympathies on the loss of your uncle
Glad you went out with your girlfriends.
You most certainly are not crazy - but someone is. Narcissism is a serious condition, as you have read on the DNM website. As a general principle, I think it is safe to assume you are being manipulated. It is what narcissists do and, I believe, don't know how to do otherwise, I think it all is for her nar, benefit. (getting tired of typing narcissistic out and making typos lol)
Whether mum is trying to make up for being a jerk - or being a jerk, she is still narcissistic and you are so right about the strings,
Another general principle when dealing with narcissists is - establish boundaries.
I think you owe it to yourself to have time at home after work, and not be rushed into "helping" mum make a meal - for her benefit. They seem to want servants - your role in opening cans etc while she stars as the chef and gets the compliments. This does not fit your needs - right. She is responsible for her own happiness -whether she helps with meals or not. You do not have to take that on yourself. Don't even try to :"make her happy". She will sense this and use you. Narcissists crave attention (narcissistic supply) and will manipulate to get it with no regard for how it affects others. I truly believe that they are basically incapable of any empathy for or sensitivity to the feelings of others. I can count on the fingers of one hand the times I felt my mother truly showed any concern for me, and those times were fleeting. I have come to be thankful for the few positive memories, but not to expect any more,
Without boundaries, you will be on an emotional rollercoster ride, which exhausts most of us, and delights and energizes the NM.
re ideas - follow your guts on what feels right for you - my gut response is not to let her continue as she will invade your life more and more, you already are a good daughter, if not a great daughter by taking your mum and dad in - so you can put that one away. Letting a NM have her way freely in not being a good daughter (except in her eyes) any more than being a good mum is letting your child freely have their way, (think of your mum as a spoiled brat, if that is helpful) . I don't think you can let it go on without being further stepped on. It is what they do. They have very poor boundaries, so you have to establish and keep them. How do you protect yourself and not feel guilty? That is a big one for most of us who were brought up by NMs. We were trained to feel guilty, and think that we were at fault, and also that we were responsible for the NM's happiness. Recognise that this is a lie -a falsehood, a faulty way of looking at life. It simply is not true. Recognise that you deserve at least as much consideration as your mum - that you are going the second mile by having them in your home, that your husband and children should be high up your priority list (leave and cleave) and that you are in charge, not your mum. I would hold her to her statement that they will be having a big lunch and not need supper. That works for you as your and your family can have that time together. Handle it in a way that works for you. We get codependent when we are brought up by NM and spend a lot of head space worried about how to keep that persn happy. Kick her out of your head, not your heart, but out of your head and spend that time figuring out how to keep yourself and your family happy, balanced, needs met etc.
I have found saying simply "I cannot do that" has worked pretty well. You don't owe anyone any explanations of why you cannot - just you cannot. It probaby means in general that you cannot do that and still meet your own and your family's needs.
Run out of ideas for now. Hope this has helped. Let me know.
(((((Hugs))))) again. I know how tough this is.
jessiebelle - welcome and do come back. Certainly you have not overloaded anyone. Some of us are further along this road of life than others, and are happy to hear where you are at, and share what works, and encourage. I am fightng a cold/infection and it is late for me now, but I will read your long post again, and comment in more detail tomorrow,
cmag, my heart and concerns are with you and your wife. I hope that soon you will hear the words "There's no more cancer" if that is what it is. Hugs to both of you.
Another dysfunctional family...For the past 7 hours I have been playing over and over in my head another conversation with one of my 5 siblings. My mother had a stroke a little over a year ago that left her paralyzed on one side and she cannot speak. After 6 months of being in hospitals and mistreated in a nursing home I suggested to my stepfather that we obtain POA for her and convinced him to get my mom into rehab if I agreed to bring her to my home when she was discharged until we figured out the next step for her. He is 72 and I have 5 siblings’ ages from early 40's to early 50's. One sister agreed to come to my home while I worked and the others were to take turns on weekends, evenings or on their days off. Well needless to say if that actually happened I wouldn't be typing my frustrations to strangers right now. My mother insisted she return to the comfort of her own home so she did. My siblings seem to be taking the back seat more and more every day and somehow think my stepfather should take full responsibility for my mom and they give me the so what go ahead attitude if I want to care for her. They say they are doing what they can but it is more like they are doing what doesn't inconvenience them too much. They somehow convince my mom to give them something every time they do show up. Two of them owe her over $10K and she has been giving to them for as long as I can remember. My parents are not wealthy by any means and that money would cover many hours of care giving if they paid it back and if all siblings would spend at least 5 hours a week with her. Recently I told one sibling that no one should be taking anything from mom, well they have taken about all they can from her and I informed two other siblings that I was taking mom's jewelry to my house before it goes missing too and wouldn't you know just last week 2 siblings suggested putting her back in a nursing home stating that is what mom conveyed to them. The sad part is my mom still understands a lot of what is going on but is too confused to make many decisions on her own. So in front of one of the siblings I asked my mom if this is what she wanted reminding her and my sibling of the many problems I had to deal with during her last stay. Seems my mother doesn't want to go into a nursing home after all she just wants everyone to get along and conveyed there are enough of us to care for her around the clock, I agree. So what has me so upset tonight? One sibling called to say mom wanted to give her some jewelry and couldn’t find it. Sure she did, just like she told you she wanted to go to a nursing home and didn't want her to pay back $10k. How do I walk away and not feel guilty the way the others do? If they would use their efforts for my mom instead of against me things might work out. I am also the one sibling who has health issues and they have me so exhausted from their constant bickering and lack of support that I am ready to give up. My health is now being challenged and I have neglected my own husband and children. I don't feel gratitude from anyone, it's like I am the one doing something wrong because they don't want to do what’s right. I am exhausted but I start crying just thinking about how to tell my mom I can't keep this up anymore. My husband says there is no good answer and either way my mom and I lose but thanks for letting me vent.
Cmag-prayers for you and your wife. So many prayers that this turns out alright.
Middle-take a deep breath. We are with you. Sibs can complicate an already stressful situation. Sounds like you've been through alot. Can you call a family meeting? Having individual talks with sibs seems to be a big problem. Maybe you can lay it all out for everyone and have the group agree to a plan and some rules about costs and valuables. Hugs.
Emjo-thank you for the insight. it helps to know that you and cmag think I'm not crazy. You said what I was thinking, but didn't trust myself enough to believe. I will talk to Dad today on the way to the doctor and tell him we';re done with the dinner thing. As long as Mom is feeling well and I am not needed for hands-on care, I need to reclaim my life.
JessieBelle ((((((hugs))))

What a horrible childhood. I know the "Don't upset Mother" part and the loneliness. I agree that you do not owe your parents, and it is a tribute to you that you have taken this on. "We are not the Waltons". Oh, yes!

I am sorry about the negative changes you are finding in yourself- waking up not looking forward to the day, not enjoying food, worry, anger, and the waiting mode. Are you sure there is no depression? There could be situational depression due to circumstances, and it seems to me there is enough going on in your life to affect you that way. You must be grieving the split with your husband as well as this big change in lifestyle and responsibilities. That is a lot going on in one life!

On the other hand thinking about starting a WOW group is positive.

Re the feeling of waiting for something - wonder if it would be worthwhile examining what it is you are waiting for - something to do with your hubby, something to do with your parents, something to do with you and your life. I have read that introspective, intuitive people can feel that way. Is this a new feeling for you since you came back the your parents home? I can imagine a few things I would be waiting for/wondering about in your situation (without knowing many details of it ). I would be wondering about: my marital relationship - you say you are separated but have not mentioned divorce, I would be wondering how long I will have to/ be able to caregive, I would be wondering what my future holds.

Big, big changes and losses in many ways - of your old lifestyle and triggers from your childhood of the loneliness and emptiness.

Let us know how you are doing and if you start that WOW group!

Have a good day - I think you will find that venting and sharing helps.

Hi 4of8 - what a story!!!
Sorry your mum has had a stroke and was mistreated in an NH. There are many siblings who so not step up the bat, and take their turns. You are not alone in your frustrations. You do have some serious concerns. Does the POA not mean you (or whoeevr has it) can regulate what money is given away? That needs to happen apparently. I think it is shameful that your sibs have taken what they have, Good for you for straightening some things out with your mum present!

You say you are ready to walk away, that you have health issues, and that you are neglecting you husband and family. You are not alone there either, and it is a terrible place to be.

One thing I think you can count on is that your sibs will not change. They sound totally self centered. I would not worry about pleasing or displeasing them. It sounds like some boundaries need to be drawn to keep them in their places, and I would not even listen to requests for this and that. You can hang up the phone or ignore emails, or simply say you are not going to discuss it.

I am not clear on how much your stepdad can do for your mum, and how much help she needs more than he can give. If it is your mum's decision to return to her home, she will experience the consequences. It may not have been the wisest decision, but if she is coimpetent she can make it, There are ALFs where husband and wife can live together and recieve various levels of help. You cannot look after yourself and your family, and do more than a certain amount for your mum. Can you research alternatives for them and when you tell your mum you cannot keep going on like this, present her with some alternatives - like an ALF or home care coming in? There may be resources available in their community.You say you would have brought her to your home. That is a whole other kettle of fish and is very challenging for most.

Can you emotionally detach from your sibs? They seem to be causing a good deal of your stress. Detaching is not easy, but it helps a lot in these situations. I have detached from my sis, as I get nothing but trouble from her, and she has not been helpful. It makes life easier for me. What she thinks of me is her business, not mine, and does not affect how I think about myself. To detach you have to give up those hopes of having a positive "normal" relationship, and face the (often) unpleasant realities. This may sound cold and had towards the sibs, but really it is being self protective. I have one "sister" by blood, but many who were strangers at one point!

I am so glad that your husband is supportive.

Many ((((((((hugs)))))) are come back and vent some more and let us know how you are doing. if you fill out your profile people will get a better idea about your circumstances.
It is great to have a place to talk about things. I know I'm not depressed, but I know I am in depressing circumstances. It is hard to live with miserable people knowing there is no way I can shake them out of the misery. Sometimes I can ease it for a moment, but it doesn't last longer than a sentence. My mother is fixated on her nerves, and my father doesn't realize the impact that his dour behavior has on others. Both are afraid to move, it seems -- perhaps because the slightest thing could upset their home-apple cart. A fall or a mental break could cost them their independence. (That was a very good article that was posted here a couple of days ago about not being truthful to doctors for fear it would cost the elders' independence. I think this applies to many things.)
jessie - I am sure you are right about fear of losing independence.
You certainly do live in depressing circumstances. It must be very hard. I hope you get out for some "you" time -some activities away from that depressing environment just for you.
talking things out is great - helps a lot.
notlike - glad I could affirm whast you were thinking. I totally support you reclaiming your life.You can only change you, but sometimes others change a bit, once you have. And sometimes they don't. In any case you will be doing better. I expect there will be some challenges - narcissists don't give up easily, but if you stay firm you will succeed and she will settle down. Let us know and will will walk through it with you.
cmag - if you can get to a computer - thinking of you and your wife - prayers going out
Jessie-that article on not telling the doctor the truth was really good. I can see it my Mom, too. Dad showed me the blood from her "dry nose" on Sunday. There were dried streaks on the seat belt in the van. Even dripping from a runny nose does not account for what I saw. But what can I do but what until it happens again, and maybe again and again? She's been told a hundred ways that we all care, and want to help, but we can't make her tell the truth. Loss of independence is a big issue, especially when parents are difficult to start with.
Emjo-darn, I was spelling nar. by copying you. If you had typos, so do I! LOL Tonight Mom came and asked me what I was thinking for supper. I told her, nicely, we had it figured out. We're eating up frozen pizza rolls because there's too much snow for delivery. True colors came out a little while later when hubby made a joke about not saying things in front of the 'children.' She walked past me and said "We're the parents, not the children." Can't take a joke on a good day, can take it even less when I spoil her thunder by not doing dinner with her. I'm not surprised. If she pushes it, I'm going to tell her he was talking about the "furry" children - our dogs. Not my fault if she assumed it was about her or if she didn't like the joke.
Still praying for you and your wife, Cmag.

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