I posted this as a comment to an article, but decided to post it here in the forum instead. So, apologies for the double-post.
I've recently relocated to take care of my mother after my father's death last year. She's not ill other than what appears to be some type of approaching dementia. Really it's a continuation of a pattern of dependence she's had for about 40 years. I feel so resentful and so guilty for being resentful I am not even fifty years old and this was the time I was supposed to be rebuilding my life. There is a small window of time to put my own life together, to build a career and find a significant other, but I am stuck in this town taking care of her. Ostensibly due to finances, because she was left with no money (mostly just bad choices) and now I am living with her to help support her. I cannot leave because she will not be able to support herself. I am rebuilding after medical issues myself and so I do not have the money to buy her a place. Maybe at some point I will have the money to move out and still support her.
But she is also showing signs of dementia and so even then I would not be able to move out of state because she needs to be looked in on. I am an only child and have no other family. I have compassion for her that she has been left in this condition, and would not abandon her, but she is needy and emotionally dependent and often like a child and I feel only resentment. This is a lifelong pattern that I would call emotional blackmail, except that she appears to have some real problems handling things.
I was hoping to move two hours away to a larger city where business might be better (my hometown) but she insists that she must follow me to any city that I move to because she does not want to be alone "in case she gets sick." Even though I could come up a few times a week and check on her.
I have moved into my father's old room and now have to take over his role of driving her to the grocery store and doing basic tasks and listening to her go on incessantly about mundane household things and childlike comments about the squirrels. This should be delightful but really it gets on my last nerve. She was agoraphobic for many years and very rarely leaves the house; when she does, it is usually accompanied by an anxiety attack and I have to go with her.
She worked on me for about a year before I came down here and living with her was out of the question, but after I got down here, it was clear that it was the right thing to do. Apparently I have always been her retirement plan - she thought that she would live with me, just like they lived with her grandmother growing up. No one told me. This is a retirement town and a number of her friends have been living with their mother into their 90s. This is horrifying to me although it appears I have been assimilated.
I had only a few years ahead to build a career and find a significant other and that is probably gone now. I am trapped here and will probably be released from this just when I am old enough to get a few cats and look back on a life that didn't happen. That said, I am trying to cultivate gratitude for this time with her, compassion for her situation (I do have that), and am trying to be the best steward possible of the time we have together, and trying to zip my mouth and not let my anger come out at her because she is really not capable of coping right now, try as I might to get her to carry in her own grocery bag.. That said, I resent this but do not want to look back and be someone who did not step up. But it sucks, it really does. Reality is that it's about her and it probably will be for the rest of her life (and the rest of my productive years). I always did like cats so maybe I can rescue some from the shelter before I die.
Selfish attitude? You bet. It's ugly. I'm trying to be a better person around this but so far have only a small bit of success. I wish I could be one of those saintly types who loves taking care of the elderly but it's just not there. I did not have children for this reason and now I have been given a special needs "child" to care for. I wish I could simply say, my home is your home (except I don't own a home, but you get the idea) - that is how it should be. I always thought I was a good person until now and I am bitterly disappointed with this selfish response. She's like an open would laid out, and if you resent it you're kicking the victim - this is the dynamic but now it's worse because she really is missing a few marbles.
My life is over but I should be honored and grateful to be able to be there for her. So far, no joy on that one but I'm working on it.