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It can be hard to feel good about yourself as a caregiver. Today something happened that really bothered me. I took my mother to church and out to lunch. When I got home, she started talking about how I needed to get out and get a job. I told her I had a job working on the computer. She said that I needed a real job, maybe one like my SIL had gotten recently. I told her I made more than that, so why would I do that? Besides, working at home made it possible to be with them. I wouldn't have been able to do it otherwise.

She told me that it had been a mistake to take me in when they did, but that I didn't have anywhere else to go after the divorce. This was crazy, since I am not poor and could have gone anywhere. She had begged me to come home to take care of them so they could stay in their home. Believe me, it was no favor to me to come here.

Then she said that they hadn't needed me, that they would have done just fine without me. The past three years of cleaning, cooking, transporting, calling 911, settling my father's estate, doing all the legal and financial work, and devoting most of my waking hours to taking care of their needs were invalidated with that one statement. I don't know if she was protecting her own ego or if she is just delusional. All I could think is "You ungrateful ..."

I still feel angry about it. It is hard being a caregiver. It is even worse when the ones you care for have no idea of the sacrifices you've made and demote you to the level of pointless. It would be great to walk away tomorrow if she could make it on her own, but that would be a mess. She is not able to do anything but wake up and feed herself.

I sure get tired of her saying the things she does. I started feeling crazy, wondering if I had been valuable, or if she was right. Then I realized that what she had done was invalidated me -- a terrible thing to do to the only child who pays any attention at all.

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I did something tonight that was kind of fun and very illuminating. I took personality tests as my mother and myself. The scores on her test ranked her high on dependent, borderline, and histrionic characteristics. Those of mine ranked me high on obsessive-compulsive. I ranked very low on her main characteristics, and she ranked low on mine. It was so interesting to discover that she and I are as different as two people can be. No wonder we have conflict.

This evening she got into it with me. I had paid the charge card online. It was high this month because of a couple of large, necessary charges. I don't like spending so much, so it always makes me uneasy. I told her how much it was and why it had been high. She started crying and got mad -- not at the amount of money spent, but at the talking about it. She said that finances were never discussed before going to bed. She made it sound like an old rule around the house. I doubt my father ever even discussed finances with her, so I doubt there were any rules at all. This didn't really bother me, but I just thought it bizarre. I had this thought that she needed to grow up. After doing the personality thing, I think what she was actually saying is that she wanted me to take care of everything like my father had done and not worry her with them.

Oh, gosh, she and I are the odd couple. She is a forgetful Oscar and I'm Felix. I'll have to keep that in mind. Maybe it will make it easier.
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Jb, no whiny child in ur post-instead a smart, strong woman processing feelings in a complex CG role. My mom was Queen of PD n has dementia, I felt ur pain. And such an ugly remark too from exiting spouse. Glad u saw the pattern there, but sorry u have had those who should treasure u, treat u so badly. I've read enough of ur posts to know u r smart n will arrive at a good decision. I love that we can come here w our feelings-thx for being open w yours. Hope there will be a few good moments tomorrow! Kim
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You are all great. I woke up this morning feeling like I had been a whiny child for writing yesterday. I realized her statement stung so much because it hit a definite button from the past. When we split up, my ex told me that he hadn't broken it off earlier because he felt sorry for me. That was one of the most horrible things anyone had ever said to me. Then I picked out a characteristics both the ex and my mother have in common -- they always need to be seen as the good guy, even when they are doing something really bad.

What to do now? There are so many options. I'll just have to figure out which is in my best interest and go with it. I wish I had a crystal ball so I could see the consequences of the possible choices. Oy.
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Hey Jessie: Cattails here. I just want you to know how much I admire all you have done for your parents. You are a shining star. Read Jeanne's post again and I agree, print it out and tape it to your bathroom mirror.

I'm truly sorry for what your mom said to you. It hurt my heart too. Bless you for all your goodness and everything you have done.

Love, Cat
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Just wanted to double agree with the first post. Print that out and read it out loud to yourself daily. You have to understand you may not be dealing with the Mom you grew up with.

She is now an elderly lady who needs your love, support and understanding. This can be done without you having to be the 24/7 caregiver.

What you have done is more than valuable in any way we know. Maybe it is time to put yourself first. Is there is someone you can talk with who can help you make sense of all this and come up with some options!

Good luck and God bless!
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Ah, JessieBelle, I am so very very sorry you are in this painful situation. Your mother has dementia, and delusions often go with that. If she said there were alligators in her bathtub this morning but she was able to wrestle them out, you'd know it was a delusion, and you'd worry about her but you would not be hurt by it yourself.

Your mother also has a history of various personality disorders, right? So I suppose it is not surprising that her delusions would take a form that glorifies her role and imagines that you owe her gratitude. That is no more true than the alligators in the bathtub, but I can see that it is very, very painful.

My first advice is not to take this personally, to consider the source, and believe your own experiences, not her demented ones.

But, wow, I can imagine that will be very difficult.

Secondly, you know that you at one point made a conscious choice to move in and take care of your mother, even knowing what a difficult person she is. You have stuck by that decision through some difficult times. At any point you can say "I've done enough, and I'll move on now." You can make a new decision. I am quite sure you will not walk out tomorrow morning and leave her alone, but you could start making arrangements for her safety and care. Since you really do have a real job and really can support yourself, you have more and easier options than other caregivers who are financially dependent.

JessieBelle, I am NOT urging you to make a new and different decision about your mother's care. I don't know your situation well enough. But I am just reminding you that you can make new decisions. You are not stuck in this situation. Sometimes it helps just to remember that. And sometimes it is necessary to act on it.

You are not crazy. What you have done has been valuable -- whether it is properly valued or not!
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