The Caregiver & Dysfunctional Families: How are you doing?

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notlikemom, it is sad when someone feels they have to use the bottle to deal with their painful past. I think my step-dad drinks like he does because of the pain from his first wife having an affair on him and drank even more those years my mother basically left him to live at the beach house which was even sadder since she said she knew he drank more when she was gone. She only came home basically whenever I was back from college and graduate school as well as other times after I left town, but did not really return home for good until she had her first seizure while at the beach and the doctor told her that she could no longer live alone.

notlikemom, I imagine that your narcissistic mother holds your dad's con artist past over him as her weapon of emotional blackmail to make sure he walks on eggshells around her and continues as her enabler?

I'm glad you have a good relationship with your dad and I hope that can be maintained. Although, he does not drink now which is great, it sounds like he's still in bondage to your mother. I wonder what his mother was like?

I would suggest seeking to detach with love from your mother. emjo can tell you a lot about that, plus a therapist would help you also if you can afford one and get away to one. Hugs, love, and prayers.
Thank you for all the kind words. Being able to post is like an island of calm in my otherwise insane world.
If we are posting on this site, we are all survivors of a dysfunctional family. Yeah to us! Even if we are still living in it, we have survived so far and can see the problems it causes.
I don't know why there are so many narissistic mothers out there Ladee. Was it the times, society, or their own distant parents? Sounds like a school project to me. I think emjo is very wise about this, too, and I always read what she has to say.
cmag-did you mother leave to protect herself or did she not care about your step-dad's drinking? Sounds like she still loves you, if she came home when you were there. Does your step-dad care for her now? Does his drinking effect that?
My Dad has told me that when Mom is at her worst and I am gone during the day, she screams at him that he is a liar, theif, and a cheat. She brings up all kinds of things from his past, mostly little things she has blown out of proportion. When he can no longer take it, he yells back. She finally backs off, and then he does whatever she wants to keep the peace as long as possible. I am already seeing a pattern here, which disrupts my quiet household.
My grandmother (Dad's mom) left his father and the 4 boys after WWII. Very un-heard of for the times, I guess. She moved 1/2 way across the country. He ran away to see her when he was in his teens but was sent back to his father. His father asked the boys if they would like a new mother, and when they said they didn't like his choice, he married my step-grandmother anyway. She had 4 kids and treated her step-sons like dirt. So my dad's never had a strong mother figure. And his father beat him alot, causing even more problems.
One of my aunts has commented that it's a miracle the 4 boys grew up and had decent families. All in all, they are good dads, and didn't beat their kids. I've been in counseling, but can't afford it right now at $110 a session. Lousy insurance.
I am blessed to have a husband who understands my crazy side. One of the best things he ever did for me was remind me, hundreds of times, that I didn't have to appologize for everything. "I'm sorry" were always the first words out of my mouth, even when the situation had nothing to do with me. Learning that lesson has alone given me a feeling of self-worth I did not grow up with.
My own childhood was so complex, it is hard to write it in a few words. My father has what was now be called Asperger's. He was able to work, but didn't socialize or bond with anyone outside my mother. Not even with his children. It has gotten worse as now that he is older. My mother was and is emotionally unstable, highly critical, and quick to fly into absolute rage. The motto around our house growing up was "Don't bother your father." Pretty soon it also became "Don't bother your mother." It was a horrible and lonely place to grow up. My parents didn't want anyone in the house. It is still the same. I doubt that they really want me here now, but they need me. It is me or assisted living.

Sometimes I hear that care giving is something owed parents. But really, I don't feel I owe my parents anything because of how bad it was. I had three brothers. One became an alcoholic when he was a teen and ended up drinking himself to death. The other two rarely come around. My mother complains about them, but I understand. We are not the Waltons.

Circumstances brought me back home. My hubby and I separated and I work from home, so it seemed a good solution to come back to help them. It does save me a lot of money, so it is good that way. I had a very hard adjustment period for several months, but soon things smoothed out. I feel I am where I am supposed to be.

There have been changes in myself that I don't like. I don't wake up anticipating a new day like I used to. I don't enjoy food like I used to. I don't go to bed as early. It is almost like I'm waiting for something. And I am more worried than I used to be. Plus sometimes I feel very angry. I am not depressed. It is more like I am in waiting mode. I hope this makes sense to someone.

I wish this was a happy party house, but it isn't. My father sits in his chair all day and goes to bed before 6:00. My mother watches TV or looks out the window. I would join them more often, but I have a hard time just sitting. So I do my work, clean, cook, and shop. Not much of a life, but I am so out of my element still that I've had a hard time figuring out what to do. After reading about the Wild Old Ladies in San Francisco that closed down a bank in San Francisco with their Occupy movement, I thought I'd form a WOW group here. We wouldn't close down banks, but it would be nice to have a group of cheerful friends to do things with. No red hats needed. :)
JessieBelle, welcome! We are glad you found this thread. Your childhood does sound very complicated and painful. How sad to grow up without either parent being nurturing, but being so full of their own problems.

I'm glad you don't feel obligated like you owe them out of the usual fear and guilt tactics of emotional blackmail from parents that I read so much about here.

It sounds to me like you are waiting to get your life back because of how you describe your feelings of a drab view of the future, a sense of emptiness, not enjoying things that you used to enjoy, not being able to sleep and feeling very angry. It sounds like you want your life back but don't know what that means anymore and don't know how to get back to Kansas so to speak due to the dysfunctional land of Oz that you exist in daily with all of the emotional and psychological dysfunction.

I hope you will keep coming here to vent as much as you want. What your wrote makes plenty of sense to me.

Is it possible for you to see a doctor and get some medical help for the pressure you are under? That might help give you a sense of balance and more energy to see how to get your life back. Is it possible for you to see a therapist to talk through these various emotions and gaining some tools on how to not feel so trapped and burned out. If I may be so bold, but I wonder if along with waiting to get your life back that there is more that you are waiting for?

notlikemom, my mom did not leave my step-dad to protect herself for basically he had been her ticket out of living with her parents in a small town after she divorced my dad when I was three. I was from that point my mother's "little man" for she absorbed my identity into herself and made me her substitute emotional partner which did not change much after she married despite my protests to let go of me because she was married now which she did not for a good while. Her response was not something was right, but at that time, I just gave up fighting. When I actually left home to work, I fought for every ounce of freedom that I could get and paid a very high price throughout my life. She ran down my dad constantly and filled me with her hate for him, but he never ran her down. He was the stable and dependable one while she was a narcissistic drama queen who ended up drinking like her second husband who was more like her alcoholic dad than my dad is.

I've been in therapy now for 9 years and much of that dealing with my family of origin issues, some of which I already knew, and some I had not been willing or able to face.

Care about my step-dad's drinking? No. Care about me? Not really. In my late twenties, my mom did tell me that she knew how she raised me was wrong and would cause me a lot of pain in my life, but she could not help it. It was more than how she raised me, but how she used me that has caused a lot of pain.

It was quite a battle when I got married at age 31 to get her to grasp that I was putting my wife ahead of her.

Interestingly enough, my wife who was a few years older than me was fighting a similar battle with her mother which was so bad that I thought that I was the one with all of the freedom. Amazingly, we have stuck it out and we now feel closer to each other after 24 years of marriage than before. My dad told me once that I could write a book about being a good dad. Our boys have had a much better family experience, yes with its own problems, than either my wife or I had.

Mom married my step dad when I was 12. My mom did not and does not like her step-children. She did not want me to get close with them and it angered her that I spent time with the step-brother who is a year younger than me. I was looking forward to having a step dad and step siblings, but it did not turn out to be all that great.

Their marriage was never a very close one. In their old age, they have gotten somewhat close out of need than anything else. They tried to continue living together at home, but he was not able to do much since even then, he lived in a wheel chair and drank all the time. Instead of using her long term health insurance with its riders for home health care and home building care they hired a person from somewhere to help them that stole from them. He was caught and put in jail. The second person they hired to my step-siblings and my opposition now lives in the house with my step dad and sleeps in mom's old room. He is monitored with a baby monitor and she drives him to see my mother in the nursing home every dad. He does not like the fact that I have durable and medical POA. He blames me for her being in the nursing home and not being able to walk. Now, after about three years, I can see his views are changing. He and his helper about killed my mother after she had made enormous progress in rehab following her stroke, but despite them claiming they could take care of her, mom became dehydrated and was undernourished after 8 days. I got her to the doctor who put her in the hospital. She went to a assisted living where she was walking but her hip broke. After that surgery, her vascular dementia was worse and she has not been mentally up to the challenge of learning to walk again and after almost three years thinks she's only been there 2 months. One thing does concern me though is her will which she had a lawyer to write up in 1979 and hid in her mother's lock box with her brother's knowledge until shortly after my grandmother died. My uncle helped me track down the will which my mother hid very well. I have it now and I don't think my step-dad has seen it. I have seen his will and it is quite different. First, if he dies before her, everything goes to her, but if she is already dead, then everything goes to his three children. On the other hand, my mother's will gives me everything she ever bought, inherited, or was given and if I'm dead at that time, everything would go to my two sons. She left my step-dad completely out of her will.

I have learned that my grandmother never met my mother's emotional needs and I observed how my mom was not able to meet the emotional needs of her grandchildren. Like her mom was with me and all of her grandchildren, my mother never really connected with them. I don't know what else went on her family of origin, but I do know there is something strange about her younger sister who also married a drunk and her three boys whom she raised as a single mom. That is a whole story in itself and if I wrote it you would agree that is one strange family.

notlikemom, I wish your dad could set some boundaries with your mom, but at this point he's been beaten down too much for too many years. If I were him, which thankfully I'm not, I'd say something like this when she started screaming her emotional blackmail. "I will talk with you when you will talk with me as an adult to an adult. However, I will not have this' and then just walk out of the room and leave the house if needed. Want to hear something really radical? If I were him, I would tell your mom, if she persisted anymore after that boundary, "For my own sanity and that of our daughter, we are leaving this house for a few days' and then leave. If she still does not get it then just leave.(That would have been even better had he set such boundaries when you were much younger.) I had to do something similar to this with my wife back in 2002 concerning her intrusive mother with the boys and I actually leaving for a few days. At that point, I wanted my own life back and my family not to be under her mom like we had been, but my wife would not stand up to her out of fear of loosing any inheritance from her mother. After some therapy, my wife told me as much and said she was sorry that she put all of us through so much pain.

I wish you could still go to therapy and had better insurance, but there are therapists out there who will charge on a sliding scale according to your financial ability.

Jessie-so glad you found this site! I, too, understand what you are saying. Circumstances may differ, but none of us here grew up in the Waltons. Oh, how I enjoy watching those shows where everything comes out alright in an hour. Keep coming back and tell us how you're doing.
Cmag-what an awful childhood! Your mom ranks up there with the narrissistic bunch. Kudos to you for escaping it, and blessings to you and your wife for growing together despite both your pasts. I beleive love, true love, really does conquor all.
I wish my Dad would stand up more to mom. I've been talking with him, and if he can change, it will take time. Now that she can be alone again, I will suggest he at least go outside when she starts.
Big fight today. Trying to ask Mom if she was okay because Dad said she didn't feel well. She was so wicked he told her to stop talking like that to me and suggested she appologize. Really, even when I'm just trying to be concerned and helpful, she bites my head off. Her need for secrecy, to be right, and to only do/discuss when she wants to makes caregiving very hard. After the fight, he left to visit his dying brother, another thing she can barely tolerate. She's been in her room all afternoon, and I'm not really looking forward to her coming out.
Jessie, I completely understand that feeling you are talking about... I call it 'anticipatory dread' waiting for the other shoe to drop... being back with them has triggered old feelings, and I know that feeling too... I could be away from my dad for years, but be in the same room with him for ten seconds and I was a wreck...
hope you come back and let others help you , if nothing else you will know you are not alone.... hugs and angels sent to you..
Thank you, everyone. I hope I don't overload you with too many problems and situations.
JessieBelle, you have not overloaded us. This is a safe and good place to unload.

For 2 days, Mom has been trying to make it up to me for being such a jerk on Sunday. Part of this is for her to cook supper. She was the cook at my sister's, but was too tired when she got here to do that. I didn't encourage it because I knew she had alot of fatigue and because I also knew it would come with strings attached. She feels better now, and boy was I right about the strings.
I was too sick for dinner on Monday. Got invited out with girlfriends last night, and d**n it, I went! So tonight there was no escaping dinner.
Mom was warming up the pork chops she cooked yesterday before I even had the groceries put away. Then she wanted me to make rice. I didn't have enough, so I took out some microwave sides from the fridge. Then she added beans by putting the can on the counter for me to open and put in a pot. When everything was a few minutes from being ready, she added rolls that take 15 minutes in the oven. Then she wanted to warm up onions she had carmelized, so I had to move pots around on the burners for her. I set and cleared the table. Put up with more snide remarks about my serving dishes. And did all the talking while we ate or it would have sounded like a morgue.
I do not want her to make dinner ever again. If I have to do that much work, I might as well do it at my own pace, after I've taken my shoes off and relaxed for a few minutes after work. Part of me feels like I should let her because it makes her happy and lets her shine. (Everyone was sure to compliment the pork chops. What I did didn't even get any thank yous.) I am trying to provide a comfortable place for her. But it all just feels like it was for her narissistic benefit. Didn't feel like an apology to me.
I'm open to ideas here - let her or not? Be a good daughter? Stop this before it goes too far? How do I let it go on without getting stepped on some more? How do I stop it without feeling guilty? By the way, last week she told me, through Dad, that they would now be making a big lunch for themselves and not eating dinner, just an evening snack or light supper. So I don't see tonight as some great, wonderful change. I think I am being manipulated. Am I crazy???
notlikemom, you are not crazy. Right now, I'm emotionally wrapped up in my wife's upcoming breast biopsy on Friday am. We read the most recent mammogram report tonight online from the hospital. The calcification has been rated as 4b which is more suspicious than a 3a, 3b, 3c, but not like a 5 which is certainly cancerous according to what we have learned.

I would defer to emjo for more immediate support tonight and tomorrow.

My wife and I will be out of town Thursday and Friday.

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