Trying not to be resentful but...

Started by

I posted this as a comment to an article, but decided to post it here in the forum instead. So, apologies for the double-post.

I've recently relocated to take care of my mother after my father's death last year. She's not ill other than what appears to be some type of approaching dementia. Really it's a continuation of a pattern of dependence she's had for about 40 years. I feel so resentful and so guilty for being resentful I am not even fifty years old and this was the time I was supposed to be rebuilding my life. There is a small window of time to put my own life together, to build a career and find a significant other, but I am stuck in this town taking care of her. Ostensibly due to finances, because she was left with no money (mostly just bad choices) and now I am living with her to help support her. I cannot leave because she will not be able to support herself. I am rebuilding after medical issues myself and so I do not have the money to buy her a place. Maybe at some point I will have the money to move out and still support her.

But she is also showing signs of dementia and so even then I would not be able to move out of state because she needs to be looked in on. I am an only child and have no other family. I have compassion for her that she has been left in this condition, and would not abandon her, but she is needy and emotionally dependent and often like a child and I feel only resentment. This is a lifelong pattern that I would call emotional blackmail, except that she appears to have some real problems handling things.

I was hoping to move two hours away to a larger city where business might be better (my hometown) but she insists that she must follow me to any city that I move to because she does not want to be alone "in case she gets sick." Even though I could come up a few times a week and check on her.

I have moved into my father's old room and now have to take over his role of driving her to the grocery store and doing basic tasks and listening to her go on incessantly about mundane household things and childlike comments about the squirrels. This should be delightful but really it gets on my last nerve. She was agoraphobic for many years and very rarely leaves the house; when she does, it is usually accompanied by an anxiety attack and I have to go with her.

She worked on me for about a year before I came down here and living with her was out of the question, but after I got down here, it was clear that it was the right thing to do. Apparently I have always been her retirement plan - she thought that she would live with me, just like they lived with her grandmother growing up. No one told me. This is a retirement town and a number of her friends have been living with their mother into their 90s. This is horrifying to me although it appears I have been assimilated.

I had only a few years ahead to build a career and find a significant other and that is probably gone now. I am trapped here and will probably be released from this just when I am old enough to get a few cats and look back on a life that didn't happen. That said, I am trying to cultivate gratitude for this time with her, compassion for her situation (I do have that), and am trying to be the best steward possible of the time we have together, and trying to zip my mouth and not let my anger come out at her because she is really not capable of coping right now, try as I might to get her to carry in her own grocery bag.. That said, I resent this but do not want to look back and be someone who did not step up. But it sucks, it really does. Reality is that it's about her and it probably will be for the rest of her life (and the rest of my productive years). I always did like cats so maybe I can rescue some from the shelter before I die.

Selfish attitude? You bet. It's ugly. I'm trying to be a better person around this but so far have only a small bit of success. I wish I could be one of those saintly types who loves taking care of the elderly but it's just not there. I did not have children for this reason and now I have been given a special needs "child" to care for. I wish I could simply say, my home is your home (except I don't own a home, but you get the idea) - that is how it should be. I always thought I was a good person until now and I am bitterly disappointed with this selfish response. She's like an open would laid out, and if you resent it you're kicking the victim - this is the dynamic but now it's worse because she really is missing a few marbles.

My life is over but I should be honored and grateful to be able to be there for her. So far, no joy on that one but I'm working on it.


trapped, I think you would benefit from reading the book Emotional Blackmail by Susan Forward
trapped, I do understand your feelings... this is just a suggestion, but maybe you can just have those feelings and not put labels on them.... and then add guilt.... which causes the two feelings to push against each other... does that make sense??? Just feel your anger... I would be angry too.... and you may find that it lessens because you have not conflicted your brain with shoulds and aughts...... I know if I am fighting a feeling, as others would label 'negative', and try to feel something else, all I do is make myself miserable... if I give myself permission to feel what I feel, it seems to dissipate faster.... you will come up with a solution eventually... and still have a life.... you did not make your mom dependent and it may take some counseling to get you to the other side..... but you do deserve a life.... my prayers are that you give yourself permission to feel what you feel..... and find some happiness..... sending you lots of hugs..
Trapped i know exactly how you feel and i too feel bad for feeling like this but thats whats great about this site is that we can be so honest and not be judged just supported.
The last week im just so tired its not "physical" its mental im absolutely drained and cry alot wondering how long more can i do this?

Like you i will be 49yrs old in September and am living with mum for financial reasons five years now and i want out!

I had an bad accident five years ago and NOW the court date has been set for October which means that i will finally have to money to leave and kick start my life again.
I have a sick feeling in my stomach now as "whats going to happen to mum" i just cant do this alone anymore and family are "hateful".

Mum will get a carer to come an hour in morning and evening 7days but she cant be left on her own so what on earth is going to happen i just dont know.

Yes im fulll of guilt but this caring with no support is making me ill and yes people say enjoy your time with your mum i wish i could but shes a very negative unhappy woman and always was and now add dementia and i feel as if i am "drowing in a bath of negativity" shes draining the life out of me slowly every day is it ok that i live like this? do i not deserve my life back before its too late?

Im so worried now as i feel this is my last chance to be happy as ive been through alot bad childhood bad divorce and yes time is running out for me.

I have to tell nurses and docs now and find out what help will be available for her but very little so my family will have to wake up now.

So youre not alone of course im glad ive spent this time with her but its hard to be with someone whos NEVER happy and just moans all the time.

I just pray that a solution will appear as ive had to let it go for now as its eating me up to stay and have a life which may mean mum going into a NH or stay and crack up?

Big hug its a horrible place to be!
sorry i meant "go and have a life". zzzzzz
I think feeling trapped is a common feeling among caregivers, one that sometimes is temporary, periodic or long term.

Unfortunately, it seems there's not much that can be done about it except change our view of the situation and make respite plans to help keep a balance on things.

There are times when I became angry that I wasn't getting help from the family, but it only made ME upset and more tired and stressed. I finally realized I'm the only one who can change the situation, and that's through my attitude.

But by joining this forum and seeing all the problems others have had with family members, contributory or not, I'm now glad I don't have to share decision making with anyone else. It's a lot easier that way, even though it also means no support.

I've mentioned this before but I'll write about it again because it's helped me. I envison myself in the center of a circle, facing a certain angle. Sometimes that angle is a point of anger, sometimes stress, fatigue, exasperation - you name it. I'm the only one who can change the angle, by changing my perspective, and when I do I look for a place on the circle that's more positive and hopeful.

Sometimes I change it to a gardening angle, sometimes reclaiming my life, sometimes finishing my degree, but always something positive.

It's really helped me.

As to sacrificing and losing the opportunity for a career and/or family, you still have a lot of years left. I'm almost 70 and still plan to finish my degree when my caregiving days are past, and I also plan to ease into a cottage industry business that I've been considering for years.

The opportunities won't be as great - I'll likely never be able to work in an office again because of my age, but as a friend suggests: reinvent yourself.

Hope this helps gain a more positive perspective on your situation.
Thank you all for your replies. Sorry for the delayed response.
That's an interesting representation of changing your angle of perspective. I do try to do that and it does help. It's really the only thing that does (short of getting on a plane and going somewhere far away).

I am thankful that things are not to the stage where mom cannot be left alone. I see signs of what seems like a dementia, but don't really know for sure what we're looking at. It does seem to be getting worse as she gets more childlike and clingy. She gets anxious when I leave. I do see signs of approaching dementia - relying more on notes, forgetting things, inappropriate rude behavior, extreme difficulty learning simple things (although she is making progress slowly on those) , and just general out-of-it-ness. She is highly childlike although she always has been to an extent, and she has reported some minor what she would call spiritual visions and what I would call hallucinations. I have also noticed that her bottom jaw sometimes juts out a bit when she's tired and she has a general empty minded look. She is able to manage her affairs (bank accounts, bills, cook dinner etc, so she is not incompetent per se although I guess it depends how you look at it ) It is downright maddening to try to reason with someone who is being irrational. I did talk to her doc on the downlow and he didn't really do anything after her appt but I am going to give him another call to get more information.

Kazaa I know what it's like to be around the negativity because she's very anxious and loops on all of her problems (to some degree, understandably), she complains constantly about her health, energy levels, anxiety and so on. I have gotten into the habit of being here at the house too much and it's really getting to me. I can leave, thank goodness and need to do that more or at least retreat to my own personal space. I try to keep my private space here private and do our talking in the living room. Also to adjust my schedule to be up early before she gets up to have some uninterrupted time.

I have been looking a little into the 'emotional blackmail' suggestion and it definitely is relevant. I would put her dynamics in the category of 'self-punisher.' But not in the category of someone who does it consciously.

I don't know how to handle this childlike emotional dependence on a day to day basis. Being with her feels like a too-tight sweater that I can't peel off. I am smothering in her emotional needs and this is not an area I am good at. She does have some friends but really never gets out at all. and resists opportunities to do so. They do talk on the phone.
Sometimes it's okay here - we will watch a movie or laugh or have dinner and it's okay. It's not always bad and I am grateful to be able to help her while at the same time feeling trapped and smothered. If it's possible for those to coexist. This is the time in her life when she needs the most help and everyone has bailed on her and even though it is a challenge I won't leave her stranded.

Oh, sorry for the long post, I don't see any capability to edit posts so there's no way to go in and change it.
That was a vent, I would like to edit it - moderator, is there a way to do so? thx
I'm sorry you feel that you should edit your post... made perfect sense to me, and I'm sure many others..... this is a safe place Trapped, maybe you are just feeling vulnerable for putting it out here.... you do have a situation that needs venting about.. if you don't share it , then it will get worse...... I am sorry you feel like you can't breathe.... most of us feel this way for one reason or another.... you are not judged... we do understand, and you are not alone..... sending you hugs.... but hugs from a distance... not right up on ya breathing your air... !!!
"hugs from a distance... not right up on ya breathing your air... !!!" Oh ladeeM I think maybe you really do get me! I just winced at the "give a hug' link . lol

Thank you for your post - I would just edit it to make it a little less long, take out information specifics, and to also add that this is as much about frustration with my own life as with the situation here.

Alongside with all this stuff, there is also gratitude for being able to spend the time with her (when not being guilted into it) and grateful to be there to help her, and glad that she is no longer in the situation with my dad. I'm happy to offer help and support, just didn't want the price of that to be a total obliteration of my own life and future. I do want her to have a happier life than she did and hate that I'm not doing a good job of making her feel better. I'm trying but can't give her what she needs, namely me wanting this. Maybe that will change. But when the situations happen you just rise to it.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support