Mother raised me alone and I'm an only child. She acquired fibromyalgia over the course of many years. Now, 20 years after diagnosis, she refuses to do anything for herself, always blaming "illness" for the most outlandish but constant screw ups. It's become a laundry list of things not to do or say around her, issues not to bring up, real problems that affect her that she lets boil over but still won't acknowledge responsibility for.
I've gotten over (maybe not entirely..) the notion that I had a life and things I wanted to accomplish. The reality has become that if I don't constantly put out fires and clean up her messes, she will let them fester until she gets her ultimate goal: to move into a 2br apartment with me so we can relive "the good years", which were a 3 year period when she had a good job and I was finishing high school. That was a great time. Why? Because of all the promise of the future. A year after I left for school, she quit her job, followed me to where my school was (out of state), and promptly had a meltdown. No savings, no plan, no apartment or job lined up. And when none of that worked out, suddenly she was "too sick" to work anymore and I had to rent a studio apt and grow up overnight to figure out how and get over having to work to support a supposed grown up. So it's fairly clear that stress caused this issue. Perhaps there are real physical issues, and clearly she has pain. I'm not saying it's not real. What I guess I'm saying is I don't have much sympathy. It's been 20 years now. And things have only gotten worse. She managed to get Medicare, which helps and certainly lifts a fundamental burden off my shoulders. But now, it's all about that check every month. And of course, it's not enough. So I pay the rest. Basically, except for rent, cable and phone, i pay everything else. I keep a car at her apt, bring groceries almost daily and deal with anything (and I mean ANYTHING) that may come up. Saw a bug? I clean everything, spray, duct tape the corners (because oh my god a bug was there that one time). 3 weeks later, "I'm so afraid of bugs I'm petrified with fear. I can't shower, clean, make food, and I can't go anywhere." It's crazy. And any conversation that begins with "you have to help participate in your life" ends with "I didn't ask to get sick". And really, there's nowhere to go after that. She won't use that car I pay for, won't clean herself, won't even change clothes. It's gross.
I'm writing because I don't know what to do. We don't have any money so assisted living is WAY out of the realm of possibility. But I find myself getting really angry almost daily when I get incoherent book-length text messages about how "it was a rough night" - like every night - and "I had to drink all the milk you brought yesterday (2 full gallons) and all the creamer (2 full pints) and I had to stay up all night smoking (non-filtered cigarettes) so I just need you to get those things and bring them over". I'm not kidding. This happens at minimum every other day. Let's be clear: I can't afford that kind of consumption. I don't eat if I have to shop for her. And she just doesn't care. As long as she can sit around drinking as much coffee as possible and chain smoking, nothing else matters. If I tell her I can't afford it, "after everything I've done. I worked my whole life and put you through school. I didn't ask to get sick." See what I mean? Currently, she's 57. I can look forward to at least 20 more years of this.
What do I do?

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If you plan to "look forward" to another 20 years of this, you won't last that long. Seriously. You'll develop multiple physical and emotional problems.

Your mother has been manipulating you in a most egregious way for years; she's literally taken control of your life, guilting you into a submissive servant type of existence.

Your next steps are going to be very, very difficult, but if you want to reclaim that life of yours you need to start distancing yourself from her as well as finding a place where she can live and pay for her own care.

First I would look for Section 8 or some kind of subsidized housing. And along with that apply for Medicaid for her. Get as much information as you can on what services are available for her, i.e., public transit, food stamps, Medicaid, etc. but let her do the calling to become involved. Most likely, from your description, she'll begin guilting you again and refuse to make an effort to become more independent. Just hang up on her or walk out if you have to; you need to put a stop to this manipulation.

It would help to get some therapy to understand how and why she has taken control of your life, and how you allowed it to happen. I'm not being critical; there are dynamics here that go way back for decades, but it will help to know how you can establish your own life, respect yourself, and make sure your mother doesn't snare you in again with her demands.

I knew something was amiss when I read that she quit her job and followed you, with no plan of her own except to control you.

It also wouldn't hurt to become involved with group therapy for abused women, as you are one. If you can understand the dynamics, you can work yourself out of this situation.

Wow, I wish there was a Mom-anon, like Al-Anon that could teach you to disconnect from her personality disorder. Whatever you do, do NOT move in with her. There is no going back in time to the good old days.

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