My 67-year-old mother has just been diagnosed with a lethal form of cancer that kills most people within one year. With treatment she might have five years left if she's lucky.
I have intentionally lived far away from her for years because our relationship is very volatile and we have very upsetting blow-outs every time I visit home or she visits me. After the last time I saw her, I made a promise to myself that I would never allow myself to be alone with her again, as her cruel and destructive comments to me usually always are delivered when it's just the two of us. She doesn't treat my siblings (I have two older sisters) this way. Reading some articles about narcissism, I think I have identified myself as her 'golden child.'
I live on the other side of the world from my family and they are all wondering when I am going to rush home to see her (although they are all aware of the terrible relationship we have). The thing I am really wrestling with right now is the disturbing truth that I don’t really want to see my mother even though she is almost certainly going to die in a matter of months (or years, if her treatment is successful). This is hard to admit, but when one oncologist, now roundly dismissed, suggested she take no treatment at all and just live out the rest of her time (nine to 12 months, max) as she wants without the sickness that radiation, chemo and a major operation would entail, I was (silently) rooting for her to choose that option. It would be over soon. No drawn-out illness, no constant need for attendance and the accompanying necessity to be compassionate towards someone about whom I have very ambivalent feelings. And of course I feel guilty about feeling like this; I must be a very bad person to feel so cold towards my own mother.
My eldest sister lives with my mother and my other sister lives very close by. I believe they are able and willing to take care of my mother's needs during this time. However, I feel an obligation to 'be there' for them (for example, to shoulder some of the load of caregiving) as well as to show up and act like a 'normal' daughter would in this situation. I also don't want to regret not seeing or caring for my mother after she's dead. With her current treatment plan, she could be looking at up to a year of chemo, radiation, major surgery, recovery, and then another round of chemo and radiation. My mother is very focused on coming to see me where I live before the surgery, although I have never invited her to do so. But now I feel I must allow her to visit me, as it's one of the only things that is keeping her going.
I am so torn by my emotions right now. I know I have to take care of myself, but every time I have tried to set up boundaries with my mom she tramples them and I react with anger. I can't have this happening while she's dying; I would never forgive myself.
What can I do?