Caregiving and painful relationship.


So I'm not a caregiver yet, but soon enough because my mother is getting older, having more health problems, bit by bit, I see it coming. I am an only child and the only family she has, only person in her life too as she is a complete isolationist. She and I have a very painful relationship and I've spent much of my life in therapy and struggling with childhood issues, unsuccessfully so far to find a satisfying adult life. And now what little space I had from her is going to be gone as I have to step in to help her. Even with caregiving services there's no way that I won't have to have much greater involvement with her and I already feel my mental health slipping. Yet if I say, no I can't be the one to do this, there is no one else. Whatever she's done, I don't know that it is bad enough to justify leaving her to the state to manage her affairs in old age. I don't know what to do - either I protect myself or I sacrifice myself for someone who didn't do the same for me when it really was her job.

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Thank you for all your kind and helpful comments. I'm having trouble with the site it wouldn't let me "like" a couple of the comments and then wouldn't let me post! I'll keep this short in case it gets eaten too.

As Fitzgerald suggests, maybe it isn't either/or. Therapist Pauline Boss recommends adopting a "both/and" approach instead. For example, one such statement could be "I both dislike my mother and am willing to see that she has good care" or "I both need to protect myself, and to put forth at least minimal effort to direct her care."

This is something else Boss says, in her helpful book "Loving Someone Who Has Dementia":

"Taking care of someone who years before was abusive or neglectful of you is beyond what is expected of you. Caring for a family member who was or is physically or psychologically abusive is dangerous. ... These are justifiable reasons for NOT being a caregiver."

"with most, I encourage some kind of continued management -- often through social worker -- to make sure that the caregiving team or the nursing home professionals are treating for family member well. This may be the vest you can do given your history together."

It is good that you are thinking about this ahead of time. Maybe seeing a counselor again for a while specifically about the caregiving issue would be helpful.

I admire you, gsw92498, and will do my best to develop your fine attitude as my situation with my own mother parallels yours and Whirlpool's. Thank you for sharing.

Whirlpool, you end your post with "I don't know what to do - either I protect myself or I sacrifice myself for someone who didn't do the same for me when it really was her job." It might help to change how you think about this situation, which now seems to be in "either/or" terms. There are a lot of choices and combinations in between the two extremes represented by the "either/or."

Please let us know how things are going.

Yes, it is a difficult decision to make. I have issues with my mother, but she was never physically abusive just verbally and emotionally, which is bad enough. I have learned through "forced" caregiving that she was/is just another wounded soul herself. Something (s) happened to her that I will probably never know but I am looking at her in a different light. Maybe this is the lesson I needed to learn from all of this. I don't know. She has her good points which I am able to see more clearly now that I see her as a fallible human just like I am. I understand you. I think I could have had a more productive adulthood if I had had more support growing up, more encouragement to excell, but I didn't, and it is on me, now. She did the best she could with what she had, and it is freeing to see things in that light.

It is good that you are thinking about all of this before it happens. You can make plans. You don't have to have your Mom under the same roof like I do - YIKES - but you have time to make other arrangements. My mother did good things for us growing up, too, and I try to concentrate on those things. There was a time when my sister and I couldn't recall any of them, but I can, now. She was generous, took us to church, made sure we always had nice clothes and were involved in school activities, took us on some really nice vacations, paid for music lessons, things like that. If you can write down some things that are postive about her, or even less negative - LOL - that might help. It's ultimately up to you what you do, just make sure you are doing what feels right so you won't have any regrets about it, later. Love and hugs.

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