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I am an only child. My parents moved down the street from me 15 years ago. I wasn't real happy about that but my parents were cool and independent. After a few years they began having a lot of arguments and I ended up getting pulled into the drama as a marriage counselor of sorts, trying to keep the peace. Well, fast-forward a decade and dad ends up with dementia and now is in a care home. Keep in mind, this is all before they even turned 80, so not talking about super-aged here. Dad is now in memory care and mom leans on me too much for emotional support. My parents have lived in this small town for over 40 years and she has no friends (doesn't want any), no hobbies, no church or other group affiliation, no family, just me. I am only 52, have a husband and a more-than-full-time job. My life is more than busy and full. My husband is very social and we have a big group of friends. The pressure to be responsible for my mother's happiness weighs heavily. She is a real Debbie-downer personality to begin with, always has been. I'm stuck, probably for many, many years into the future. I feel guilty any time I am doing something for myself or having fun. I always have a dark cloud looming over my shoulder :( When I was a teenager I suffered from depression. After I got out on my own, that went away and I believe it was due to getting out of the depressed household of my parents. Now I feel those shackles back on me. I want to run away. Moving myself is not an option and she's threatened suicide if I try to move her to a senior apartment or anywhere at all.

Whooooaaa????

She threatens SUICIDE if you set a boundary with her?

Back to square one.

YOU are not responsible for your mother's happiness. SHE is

She is responsible for her financial upkeep.

You can help her find resources but are not responsible for hands on care or emotional upkeep.

Read up on Fear, Obligation and Guilt. That's what is in play here.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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Threatening suicide is "Emotional Blackmail." Your mom is using it to control you and make you feel guilty for the way She is and for Her situation. This is not your problem. Yes, you can help mom find resources, but that is it.

There is nothing for you to feel guilty for. Your mom had her time now it is your turn. If you have to remind yourself this every time you are out having fun or you are simply sitting home with a good book or watching a movie. This is your time; your life!

Here are some Life Rules:
1) We can not control other people, we only have control over ourselves. Which beings me to my next rule.
2) The only person we can make happy is ourselves. We are responsible for our own happiness.
3) GUILT, if you did nothing wrong; did nothing to hurt your mom or anyone else there is nothing to feel guilty about. So stop feeling guilty your mom choose to live this way.
4) You can't help people who don't want to help themselves.


Just my 2 cents!
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Reply to Shell38314
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Upstream May 8, 2019
Shell38314, Awesome advice, and thank you so much!
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You are defining a co-dependent relationship here 100%. How do I know, you ask? Because you wrote MY story! I'm an only child, too (at 62 years old, for petesake), and my mother has made me the focus of her entire life, calling it 'love' and 'caring'. All of her chronic worrying is caring, too, dontcha know? And all the rest of the BS 24/7. My parents followed me all around the country until my ex got a job offer in NYC........that's when they moved to FL since they couldn't afford to live back East. I was finally able to BREATHE. Fast forward to 2011. Dad had 3 back-to-back car accidents and could no longer drive; mom, of course, refused to do the driving, why should she, after all? SHE is the queen and should be chauffeured around, yada yada. So, I had to move them out here to Colorado to an independent senior apartment complex about 6 miles from my home. Dad proceeded to go downhill, falling & breaking his hip in 2014. That led to a brain tumor diagnosis and placement for both of them in an Assisted Living Facility. I had to liquidate all of their assets, put them in my name, and take over their financial care as well as everything else. Dad was a wonderful man, and I was happy to help. Mom, not so much. Anyway, dad passed in 2015 and mom is still alive & living in the same ALF, going downhill faster than a bowling ball on an ice covered mountain. Her tongue, unfortunately, is still as sharp as a razor and the ugliest thing I've ever had the displeasure to witness. We, my children and I, never, EVER do enough for her. We are supposed to be her entertainment committee as well as her sounding board for the chronic, non-stop complaints she vents 24/7. She hates everybody and has no friends, even though she acts so lovey dovey to everyone's face. Behind their backs it's another story entirely. Since I'm never good enough, I feel guilty on a daily basis......not that it makes sense, it doesn't. But I will be made to feel badly until the day she passes away, that's just the way it goes....it's what she WANTS. I do what I can, in addition to taking her to doctors, paying all of her bills, orchestrating all of her care, etc etc etc, but in her mind, I don't spend enough time entertaining her, that's the issue. She'll call me on a Sunday very angry, saying she's been sitting around all day. Meanwhile, there's a bunch of things going on at the ALF that she chooses NOT to do, for one reason or another. The bottom line is this: I am NOT responsible for her happiness and you are not responsible for your mother's happiness either. As far as the 'suicide threat' goes, it's bs, you know that. Mine will say she is going to jump out the window, and I'll remind her that wouldn't do the job b/c she lives on the ground floor of the building. Just let the drama go in one ear and out the other, and look into placing her into a senior apartment building where she'll have NO EXCUSE not to entertain herself. At least that will help YOU deal with the guilt a bit more.

If it makes you feel any better, there is rarely a day that goes by where I don't find myself saying I want to RUN AWAY and leave no forwarding address. That's the sad truth. I'm not going anywhere, but I do feel your pain, my friend.

Best of luck. It's not easy, is it?
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Reply to lealonnie1
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Upstream May 8, 2019
Oh my, your situation sounds a lot like mine. My mom will call me and say "Are you out with your FRIENDS? Well, I don't HAVE any friends! I'm just sitting here!!" We have lived in our town since 1975. My parents moved me here as a child, we left all family behind on the west coast (we are on the east coast), which I didn't want to do. She knows nobody in this town after all of these years. I made a life here and have a full life with many friends.

My parents were awesome while I was growing up, although they (mostly she) smothered me, overprotective, yada yada. A lot is heaped upon the only child :(
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There is no reason for you to feel guilty.  We simply cannot be responsible for another's happiness.  That is something that a person has to work at for themselves.  Not something anyone can go to Amazon and just buy.  They themselves have to work at it. If she does not want to socialize, spend time and effort with others, well of course she will be lonely.  But you are not the answer - with her personality and outlook on life, you could not make her happy so no point in futile trying. She needs to go to the roots of her unhappiness and change her thinking. It really is on her to change - if you try to pacify her, it would be very temporary and would enable her to put off making the kind of changes that would really help.  And I've found it is a mistake to "keep the peace" in someone else's marriage.  Mostly because the peace is not really there in the first place.
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Reply to rovana
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Your mother is clinging onto her best option, irrespective of the fact that it is crushing you. She is not going to change this while this stays true. Your best interests are not top of her priority list! You have to stop doing what you are doing that makes this her best option. If she suicides, it will be her choice for which you are not responsible – and you can make that clear to her. Think of ways to drop down your own ‘niceness’ and to make AL seem more attractive than what you provide.
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Reply to MargaretMcKen
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I understand feeling like you want to run away and feeling the weight of being responsible for your parent's happiness. It can actually feel like something you physically drag around. I believe since you have awareness that you have sacrificed some of your own happiness to benefit your parent, it might be a signal to start tending to your own needs. You deserve to continue building a dynamic life with your husband and friends, and to develop your career. It is okay for you to make yourself and your life your first priority. Your dad is being cared for and it sounds like your mother's needs at this point are mostly emotional. As long as she is safe and getting her medical and physical needs met, whatever else you offer her is your choice.
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Reply to GingerMay
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I have a "Debbie Downer" friend. Any "friends" she has I really think its because people feel sorry for her. I know one who takes her to appts but doesn't enjoy it. Another lives miles away but calls her every few days because she knows the friend is lonely and feels sorry for her.

Now this friend does have medical problems that make her homebound. But she is homebound because of choices she has made. She also has unreal expectations about people. Because she has said or done something she is estranged from one son. The other keeps in touch but lives far enough away he doesn't visit much. Do you feel when you walk into a house where there are friends gathered that they all should clammer to say Hi. She does. (I was in the same group and didn't feel that way) Because of her expectations, she is unhappy. Right now I am waiting for an apology for a phone call she made excusing me of not informing her about a lunch she was not invited to. First, misinformation, there was no lunch. And second, I am not responsible for her social calender. She knows the truth now, but hasn't called me.

You will never make Mom happy. Especially if she has been this way all her life. Tell her she needs to move where there are activities and transporation. You cannot be there all the time. You have a job and a social life. Sorry, but DH is ur priority.

Please don't feel bad you are enjoying life. Mom has made choices that now she is paying for.
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NeedHelpWithMom May 8, 2019
Great reply!
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You can call 911 next time she threatens suicide and say she is a danger to herself and potentially others. Have her committed for a 72 hour watch. Then tell them she can't live with you and she lives alone, this could be the trigger that gets her placed.

It's bs that she is manipulating you with the threat of suicide, don't buy into it. She is right where she wants to be and the saying that misery loves company is oh so true. You don't have to be that company, take those shackles off and live your life.

She has done it her way and wants to continue to. Which is fine, as long as she does it and doesn't strap you down with her hatefulness and expect you to give her "independence".
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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Upstream May 8, 2019
Isthisrealyreal, she seems most content when I'm doing nothing but working and taking care of their business. If I have a free weekend and choose fun, she resents it. She seems to like it best when all of my waking hours are focused on my "to-do" list.
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Upstream, of course she's most content when you are working on your "to-do" list, she feels in control.

You responded to another poster that she calls when you are out and pulls her poor me, I have no friends. I would not answer the phone or if you feel compelled to, you can always say, well, I am not you and if you don't stop this you won't have me either.

Sometimes we need to shock their system and then let them stew and chew on it a few days and reiterate as often as needed.

Everything you describe is from personal choices, she is the only one that should be paying those prices. Having a life and being happy is nothing to feel guilty about, she chose how she would live her life, she doesn't get to choose how you live yours. She's overstepping and you can set the boundaries to keep her from making your life like hers.

You can do it!
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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I am the original poster and I would like to thank everyone for responding. I feel guilty when I set boundaries and try to live my best life. Her (and my dad's) misery is always running in the back of my mind. Your responses assure me that it's OK to be happy and leave the dark cloud to hang out in the air alone while I do so. Thank you all!
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