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I saw a woman crying today at the Assisted Living facility where my mother lives. She was being comforted by staff because her mother just died. Once again I was confronted with my lack of love for my own mother. I have helped her for 18 years doing increasing levels of care until she moved to AL over a year ago. I still visit regularly, pay her bills, get her sundries, clothes, go to appointments. I strive for patience. Resist manipulation and I lie a lot. The biggest lie is saying I love her. I feel compassion, responsibility, duty. That's as good as it gets. Or ever will.

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So agreeing with Treeartist! Say something. Ask for help. Demand help. Tell them the ugly truth. 

For five years Sister 2 lived with Mom as her caregiver. When I visited a couple years ago it was obvious she was on the edge of stroke or heart attack. We all worked to get S2 out to live in her own house and Niece moved in. S2 told me, "Thank you for hearing my silent plea." While I appreciated hearing a thank you, that she didn't say anything for years smacked me in the face. We would have done something to relieve her pain.
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She, I wish I lived close so that I could come give you that respite. You described the recent family outing and how everyone thought your husband was doing so great, little knowing about your sadness. It reminded me of the quote, something about how many of us live lives of “quiet desperation”. I say stop being quiet about it! What do you have to lose? Face? This son, daughter, and yes, the former wife, can step up. They will continue to smile and comment on how well he is doing with little hands on contribution as to what it takes for him to appear so, unless you let them know the truth. It sounds as if you have been the “Assisted Living” for your husband, and now you are to become the “Nursing Home”!
Please let them know about your exhaustion and need for personal time. It is easy for them to believe the fantasy that you don’t need assistance if you never advise them to the contrary.
In addition to the professional caregivers and us that helped my parents prior to them going into a nursing home, we also had two hours a day, four days a week, that was free. I believe it was through the state. Check with the Area Council on Aging or Adult Protective Services. There are some free services available.
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Though I have responded in this thread previously, after reading so many stories, I feel the need to respond further. I drove my husband to his daughter's home this past weekend for lunch -lunch which I purchased in the grocery deli section, as she was not offering food though she wanted us to come so that she would not need to come here and, as always, when she visits, bring her dogs. The drive is only 30 minutes and I felt it would be good for him. It was. I kept hearing, from his son, daughter and former wife,(she has been awesomely supportive, and she and I do get along well), about "how well Dad is doing". He always does better when he is around his kids. I know this is common, and that is why is so hard for me to go day after day, week after week, month after month, dealing with the hundreds of issues and behaviors that they do not see. He is cheerful and mostly cooperative. That is their full perception of his dementia. In the earlier stages his daughter had him come to her home on two weekends and that was heaven for me. That is no longer possible, as she has a new home with all bedrooms upstairs, and someone needs to sleep in the same room with him, monitoring his toileting and his every move. Today I get to go to the community support group, and though I am looking forward to the two hours that I will be out of the house, what I would truly like to do is have one day, even a half a day to see a movie or have lunch with a friend, or have someone take him out for the day so that I can tidy up my home a bit and then take a nice long uninterrupted nap, to have maybe one day a month without having to be constantly vigilant, without the worry, the angry behaviors, the accusations, all of those things that gradually wear me down to tears and cause me to want to run screaming into the night. That is where I am and that is where he is. The reality that this may go on for years and that things like his nighttime incontinence will become full blown 24/7 and him unable to clean or change himself, bathe himself at all, is so overwhelming. There simply is no money, no savings, nothing but me to care for this human being who used to be a man I could hardly stand to be away from. I know that negativity is contagious, and I apologize for these thoughts, but I am grateful for this place to vent.
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Already put a lot of this tale over in the 'dysfunctional families' thread but.. it's really hard that my mom expects me to heroically put aside my whole life for her care when she has never done that for me after I got to where I could feed myself. When I was five years old she went back to school, then to law school. All my life it's been about her passions for social justice and how she could make a difference... well, while she was off at the campaign rally or march or whatever I was home alone, my dad also worked long hours. I have an 8 years older half sib who also suffered a lot from this behavior... we're not in touch partly because of it.

Sometimes she's so unempathetic I truly wonder if she has a personality disorder, not that she'd ever admit there's anything wrong. Seriously, it's like she doesn't realize her decisions have impact on other people.

For as long as I can remember I've gone through periods where I would just give anything to get away from her. When I was 20 she left my dad (after he had been diagnosed with a serious illness), leaving her free for whatever she wanted to do. A few years later I moved 1000 miles away to get away from the family dysfunction and she moved there after me.  Four years after that I wound up moving back to the state our family was originally from to take care of my dad after his illness required major care, and she moved after me again.  At that point I guess I just figured there was no escape and I was going to have to find a way to deal with it.  I never had kids of my own partly because of this, she's always taken up so much of my mental space (although admittedly some of it is that my husband is a great guy, but he's passive and I would have wound up doing most if not all of the work.  Didn't see much point bringing another person into such circumstances.)

I don't know how I'm going to live through the next 20 years. Some days I wish she were dead, some days I wish I was. Time for more and better counseling, I suppose. Thanks for listening. 💗
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BlackHole: So sorry that your mother didn't "rebuild herself" over the years. I try to help myself out even though sometimes I may have the strength to such as going to the physician when needed, etc.
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I had a sudden recollection of a conversation that pertains to this thread and how it seems "bad" to not "love" giving care and that it's "bad" to do so out of duty. When my now-ex-husband and I were in the military, we were discussing some troops to be put up for Airman of the Year. He rather poo-poo'd one guy because DH said the guy volunteered but only did so for it to look good on his performance reports. I replied we can't control what people feel in their hearts--it's what they DO that counts. There's nothing bad about people who volunteer to do good things no matter their motivations--it's all good to do good.
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My mom was a “soft” narcissist. Scarred by a rough childhood, and rightly so. But an adult, Mom never did the work or made the right connections to re-build herself. 

In Mom’s purview, what was right or wrong with her life was 100% everyone else’s doing. And 0% her doing.

There were several “saves” over the years; none permanent. Mom’s first marriage, to my father. Having only one child (me), to serve as an extension of herself. A religious conversion experience. A 2nd marriage. A 2nd and different religious conversion experience. 

Ultimately, they all let her down. 

Although these stripped-down descriptions sound harsh, Mom cloaked her narcissism in being “nice,” “so generous,” “so thoughtful.” As I heard all my life. From the people Mom made sure never got TOO close.

One persona for the outside world. A different persona for the small inner circle.

Mom meant well. She really did. But scratch the surface, and underneath was a control freak. Born of fear and fueled by insecurity.

Took me decades to understand that Mom only befriended fellow damaged people. Usually entering their lives as a helper of some sort. Whether they wanted the help or not. 

No boundaries. 

Most of the relationships would fade when Mom grew to disapprove of someone’s decisions. Or when he/she didn’t “need” Mom anymore. Sometimes Mom would simply realize she was being used.

But the ones Mom dropped like a hot potato were the ones who emerged from their crisis with self-awareness, self-discipline and motivation. And did not let their bad experiences define them.

Mom spent her whole life fetishizing “normal people” and “normal families.” Yet so uncomfortable in the reality of just that. Mom never understood that healthy relationships resulted when ALL parties listened, respected and worked together.

Whenever Mom had a glimmer of realizing that SHE TOO would need to be a partner — and not a controller — she’d shut down. Switch gears. Lose interest. Fade away. Find a new fixation.

I can relate to the folks up-thread who said (I paraphrase) “I always had to lie a little or pretend I agreed with things I didn’t in order to get along with Mom” and “I’d just say ‘Yes, Mom. Yes, Mom’ to keep her from driving me completely crazy.”

Mom was so resistant to certain forms of normal human discourse. It just wasn’t worth it.

When I was growing up, Mom always praised me for “being so mature.” Mom’s praise was sincere, and I ate it up. I identified with it.

In truth, Mom was grooming her little mirror, her Mini Me. And what the h*ll did I know? I was a kid!

As I truly matured, Mom had less to be thrilled about. And that rocked her identity. 

No boundaries. 

Mom loved me. So much. But Mom struggled with relating to me as an adult. And I refused to take responsibility for this. Refused to fix it for her.

Nicely refused, I might add. Mom and I got along fine. We cared about each other. We shared laughs. But drop-in visits or vacations together? H*LL NO.

Our conversations were sometimes not frequent. And never super-deep. That stuff always led to “Mom’s way or the highway,” so I’d head it off before it started.

Mom truly believed she was too busy to make time for me. And I let her believe it.

The real story? Mom was too self-absorbed. Too disorganized. Too distracted by her latest passion to fix something or someone that could not be fixed.

In short, Mom could not relate to secure, highly-functioning adults. When I grew up and became one, it became Mom’s greatest joy and her greatest disappointment.

Because Mom lacked self-awareness, she projected the “fix” onto me. She spent 30 years telling everyone that I was too busy for her — without recognizing her own role in the disconnect.

I never doubted Mom’s love for me. But caring for Mom in her last years was difficult. As I matured and well into adulthood, I did a lot of work to shed the label of being the sh*thouse answer to all of Mom’s problems. Then BAM. The old-age deficiencies.

I never made a plan for that. Neither did Mom. It was rough. Complicated by the fact that I was NOT Mom’s only resource. She just acted like it.

When it was advantageous for Mom, she would pay lip-service to managing her decline in a way that did not suck the life out of me. Mom would flip this switch and deftly skate through an uncomfortable conversation. Or reassure those on the periphery.

But Mom’s actions spoke louder than her words. 

My tango with Mom’s self-neglect — while addressing the neighbors’ and step-family’s perception that I was neglecting her — left me depleted beyond description.

Jeezus, what a ride. Thank heavens Mom is the last parent I buried. And I got through it without screaming in anyone’s face, “She’s a goddamm liar and you have no idea what really goes on in that house.”

Small victories. 😐
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Trust me Rosyday....you are not alone. I, too, say I love you, but only on very rare occasions. It is difficult for me to say that out loud to my Mom. You're right ....compassion, responsibility and duty play into what I do for my Mom. Tho, I think duty is the biggest one. Mom even said to me today when she wanted me to go up with her to her floor and I resisted, saying that she could do it alone. Asked her why she needed me to go that far with her and she said because she might get lost. Then she said...sorry...but you asked for it! Meaning, since I was her only daughter I was the one who had to take care of her.
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I think it is healthy for you to admit that this is what you are feeling. I think that there are so many who dare not say what their hearts feel. But I also believe that there are many levels and kinds of love. My husband and I did not have a perfect marriage even though we started out so well. But it was the second marriage for both of us and we sort of made a pact that we would work hard at making space for each other in order to make it work-and it did. We decided that there was enough good and that we would be "witnesses" to each other's life. He took care of me when I needed it and I him. But this journey has undermined that pact so much. This person seems not, in any way, to be the one who I married. That amazing man has been destroyed by this illness that is different and more insidious than any I could have imagined, and no amount of "therapeutic lying", of breathing, of going to support groups and listening to the many stories of other caregivers who say they've mastered their anger, frustration and exhaustion, can cure. I care -deeply, and I will be forever grateful for the years I had with the handsome, funny, talented man I married. I know he would hate who he has and continues to become and he would hate the toll it is taking on me-on us. All I can hope for. Is that he does not suffer and that I survive this thing called dementia, any longer than we have to. Please know that I honor what you are going through.
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Lassie: No, life is not like any of the those tv shows,'The Waltons." You just helped me to realize that that is why my brother is not in touch with reality, e.g, he watches those shows and went all the way across country when our mother lay on her death bed, leaving me alone!
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I feel exactly the same way. My father is completely self-absorbed and always has been. He is demanding and selfish. I love him because he is my father but he pretty much ignored me and my siblings until recently when he is now needing care. I do a lot of boundary setting and do not allow him to manipulate me. But it is very difficult.
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nebbish1964, I always say that although I love my mother, I don't like her. I don't like her condescending, demeaning, cruel and selfish (just to name a few) way in which she treats me. She tried to groom me from childhood to do her bidding, until I started to wise up when I saw how other families functioned. Best of all, when I met my future husband, he and his family embraced me and filled in all the gaps of what I was sorely missing in a mother and family. Now that I'm a 61 year old mother of two fantastic sons, I would never expect or even want either of my sons to care for me, nor would my husband. Our choices are ours, and so are our arrangements to stay independent. Our sons and their wives don't call, visit, and invite my husband and I to be with them out of duty, but because we genuinely want to be together. I spend the time with and help my mother each week as respectfully and caring as I can. Now on a much needed vacation, she is already inserting herself and her woes into it. I just said to my husband, "I don't care what she comes up with to try to make me feel guilty for living my life; it's worth it to have my own life outside of her." And believe me, until she needed someone late in her life, she could have cared less what or how I was doing. I wish everyone the best in the trials they face, because sometimes it feels like it will never end. But it will some day, and we need to move forward to live our lives without regrets.
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Oh my. All I can say is you’re not alone. I feel the same way about my dad. Exactly.
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SueC1957

Thanx for the backup. I always thought there was something wrong with me because I didn't love my mother. But, hearing from you, and the myriad of other caregivers about the same feeling.....I am so relieved. And, while I feel that I'm doing all I can for Mom, I wish I could do more, but it's just not in me. She can still be, at 94, egotistical, demeaning, embarassing and sometimes just downright nasty. I've always said that I like my Mom, I just don't love her. I would never seek her out as a friend.

Stay strong.
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I started out doing this out of love. Lately it's been feeling like duty.

Christmas feels like a duty right now....or rather....managing mom's Christmas responsibilities feels like it. I've not done most of them yet, to be honest. I set all my friends up very early on to never expect Christmas cards from me! Lol.

My mom does this passive-aggressive thing where she whines about being behind (hah!) and says she's "going to get to" whatever thing she really wants me to do. Christmas cards being one of them right now. I got her one for my brother. I'll do some for the home support ladies and one for the renal unit. Her friends.....nope, that's enough now! I'm done!

Christmas cheer as a duty is definitely not the way Christmas should be done.
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Amber,
What a beautiful sentiment-we "grew" a ❤️
in spite of our situation.

Lassie,
Wow, what a witch! What horrible things she said to you. And a fist in the chops is outright abuse. How nice of you to even have anything to do with her!

Nebbish,
We could be sisters! My mother is 94 also and I wasn't "touched" either. She came from a stoic Sweedish family that was emotionally as tough as nails. She's also been narcissistic, but recently, I think she's just so old, that the narcissism died. I posted a lot about when she pushed me away at 5 years old (from a desired hug) because she got her hair done and didn't want it "messed up".

It pains me to hug her and kissing her is out of the question. I'm not purposely doing this, it's from years of her keeping her own "space", I guess you could say.

Murph-Amen, we're doin' the right thing. 👼🏼

Rainey,
I, too, have chronic (mild) pain. I don't complain much and even my husband isn't aware until I start limping or rubbing my neck. It's hard to be motivated sometimes even to go to work, let alone do extra chores after work, like picking up mom's meds, grocery, etc. On my days off, I don't want to do anything!

No guilt! We're all doing what we can.
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Amber A. - your comments resonate. I've often said (mostly to myself) I am who I am not because of my parents but in spite of them.
And Rainey69 - going through the motions says it all. I'm writing Christmas cards to my mom's friends and it feels like such a farce to say mom is doing well. But if I told them what life is like day to day - well let's just say I'd probably not have any cards to write for her next year. One thing I've learned is that being truthful about ALZ is not welcomed by all.
So my latest complaint about doing things out of duty is buying gifts, wrapping, and mailing for family "from mom" and she gets the thank you. Do they really not get that she's not participating in this?? Oh she's glad to see I'm her personal shopper and taking care of things but that's as far as her part goes. And this is my family who I'm also feeling more dutiful to than loving.
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It's a tough one. I struggle to manufacter feelings these days and sometimes I fail. Somedays her behaviors cause "triggers" from my childhood and make it that much harder to feel real love and compassion. I feel like I just go through the motions. Make sure her leg stays healthy, make sure she has everything she needs, is comfortable and as safe as I can try to make her but the resentment often bubbles up to the surface taking over my "trying my best" to keep things on a positive note. It feels like an obligatory commitment I agreed to now rather than one I genuinely am happy to do for her. I also am in chronic pain so that does affect my mood and I feel invisible that anyone has a clue what a struggle it is for me just to do the smallest of tasks without paying for it afterwards. It's hard to keep pretending somedays.
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There is a profound peace that comes from doing the right thing, regardless of your past. It comes with time - after battling the inner dialogue that starts with "Why should I exert my time and energy for someone who didn't give a S%$# about me?" Eventually, however, the peace comes. Stay strong. Stay pure in your heart. The rewards will be yours.
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It's OK, hon. Life is not like: The Waltons. The Brady Bunch. Leave it to Beaver. Or any other number of teevee or movies like it's how it's supposed to be.....I remember seeing a tv show when I was in my early teens, and the mother clutched the girl to her buzzzom and said, 'You can tell me anything, dear, I love you. I know how hard it is to be a teenager in love.'................imagine my surprise when I came home crying at age 15 because my boyfriend dropped me like a piece of dog pooooop. My mother socked me in the chops and said I should shut the F up and if I ever got knocked up, she would drive me into the countryside 1000 mile away and kick me out of the car.....When the old bag finally died in a nursing home, I cried a little. But not too much.
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nebbish: Big hugs ((( ))). You are not alone.
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OMG....thank you all for your responses. I thought that I was being the worst daughter on earth to feel that I don't love my mother, but take care of things for her because I am all that she has here. I, too, have POA and making decisions for a 94 year old mother with dementia who can be egotistical, berating, uncooperative, stubborn....well, you know the drill...is a job I don't feel should be mine. But it is.
I, too, at one time in my life, loved my Mom but in retrospect, I don't ever remember her hugging, cuddling or holding me. No touchy, feely instances. And, now, with her dementia, I really don't have a desire to say..I Love You,..to her, tho at times I do.
Yes, I do think that I will cry when her time comes, but it won't last. This is rough, but it's nice to know that I am not alone in this journey.
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You can't get blood from a stone.  Life is nothing like a Norman Rockwell painting, a Lifetime Movie for wimmen, a Brady Bunch/Waltons tv show.  If you are elected 'it' to do the caregiving to a bad parent, and you do so, and you do a fair to good job -  that is as good as it gets!   I have had major issues with both my parents, I did caregiving for my mother (and it almost killed me). Both are deceased and though I think of them occasionally, sometimes with nostalgic fondness for the few good times in the past, I don't miss them much. Their passing lifted a burden from me hard to describe, and I feel relief more than anything, after what they put me through. Especially during the holidays - a nightmare for decades.
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Rosyday, you DO LOVE your mother. All the things you do for her - that shows your love. The nice warm emotions? That is really not what love is. Doing the things that show love is what really counts. Emotions are unruly things, pleasant, unpleasant, but just emotions. Love is shown in actions.
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To add about my sister, who is now in assisted living, this is the same sister, who upon the death of my mother told me "I don't know why you want to be close now, we have never been close" and upon the death of my father, right after we came from the hospital told me "You know he and your mother were never married". Along with countless other comments has caused me to hold her in less than fond regard. I just can't fake it, but I do feel compelled to look after her. Its just that I feel I could do more but I am not so inclined.
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(((Hugs))) to the steadfast souls who were/are caregivers to abusive parents. We raised ourselves because they wouldn' t or couldn' t. We learned (after years of therapy) to love and nuture ourselves because they didn' t know how. And we care for them because somehow in love' s absence we grew a heart. Joy and blessings to all.
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Hugs to all of you -- I never felt like anything I did was good enough, and still feel that to some extent .. even though I've been successful... that cloud still hangs over me, and my mother still tries to take credit for my piano playing, or anything else she can horn in on... 'your hair needs color' ... "Hi Mom, you look nice..." "YOU don't"... I am caring for her out of duty... but I'll be glad when this task is over, like many of you. Thank goodness we have this site -- I know I've said that before.. but, it's true.
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SueC1957: My mother said to me "why didn't you tell me about Uncle _____"? at least 76 times!!!! I told her, "mother, I told you." I won't repeat it 76 times! Mothers are supposed to be protectors! Why was she out the door with the damn spouse of this man and left me with him? No way, I got myself right on their heals and went shopping with them. Every young person in this man's family, including boys, were victims. Worse case-he was allowed to be intimate with his own granddaughter! Thank you for your caring words, Sue! Recently I purchased a book on Amazon about "Toxic Parents." I'll start reading it after the holidays. Oh and my mother never told my brother that this had happened to me! I had to tell him just a few years ago! Big hugs ((( ))) back to you SueC1957!  You went through HELL and survived!
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ML4444,
And a ((((big hug)))) back to you! We mistreated children need to stick together for support and strength. I'm sure our collective tears would fill a swimming pool.

You've got to hand it to our indomnible spirit. Even though we were not treated well, we have RISEN ABOVE the degradation and trash talk our parents flung at us. We have taken care of the very people who put us down. I think God would be proud of that.

There's nothing saying that we have to love these parents, honor them-yes, but NOT love them.
Honor is to treat them with the same respect we would give a person on the street. We need to make sure their "basic" needs are met. I am doing that and so are many others who deserved so much more from their parents.
We are the champions. We have overcome "nasty" to be "nice".
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SueC1957, I want to give you a hug. You sure struck a chord with me..my parents were not nice while I was growing up..nothing ever good enough...you need to lose weight...you have crummy friends.. etc etc. Their constant badgering has made me who I am today, a pretty lonely person. Still I feel a duty to help them in their elder years, because there is nobody else. I will feel no sadness when they are gone, I will cry tears of joy that I’m finally free of the hateful judging that has haunted me most of my life. I appreciate not only your note, but those from everyone else here. None of us are alone in this.
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