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I've been doing things for my mother for almost a year now, no help from my siblings, and it's been rough. I was willing to "do my duty" as I've done this before.


It's a winding road of a story, but I'll give a short version distilled for local charities. I can expand from there, but I am trying to avoid ad nauseum venting.


It's not a question of being willing to help, but rather that all parties involved have made it impossible with short-sighted crisis management and an attitude that I am the house servant. So, I can see that I've got to go. I'm packed up and I could be gone in three hours. It's been a heart-wrenching, stomach churning, hair-pulling-out journey, but I've had to admit that it's done, and it's time to look forward to the next phase of my life. Staying won't do me any good, and there's nothing I can accomplish now.


I live outside of New Orleans proper. There seems to be precious little resources. This is the message I've sent to a few charities. Thoughts?


I am being held against my will in my mother's house, forced by her, and my siblings, to wait on her hand and foot, and suffering food and health insecurities. While I am certainly not being beaten per se, or being held in chains, I am being threatened with homelessness and poverty.


I had been living here in my mother's house when my step-father passed away unexpectedly. My mother has a number of health issues stemming from various unresolved substance abuses. I stepped into the role of doing the housekeeping and personal things for her with the implication from her and my explicit statements that I was willing to take a little time to help her get over the shock, get her through the financial stuff, et cetera until the situation stabilized. After that, I stated my intention to resume my life as it was before he died.


Once she got her social security and pension monies, it seemed to me that she was stable again. I tried to make the transition with her to resume my life. Suddenly, she couldn't be left alone at all, though my stepfather left her for the better part of a day, several times a week. She demands to be waited on 24/7/365. She won't provide me anything other than the basics, and will not buy me food if she mismanages the budget. I've had to go as many as three days with no food. If I try to leave to go get food she tells me that "I better not come back".


I've been in this situation for eleven months now! I've tried to get respite care, but she won't fill out the paperwork. I've begged my siblings, but they refuse. My brother lives across the street, refuses to take a shift, but is ready to storm over to be her "enforcer"; he's much bigger and stronger than I am, ill-tempered, and has a lot to say about how I'm "the caretaker", how I need to "step up to the plate", and has been physically threatening. My sister also refuses, saying ,"this is your job now".


I am mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausted! I have been on-call 24/7 for these eleven months. I have various mental health challenges, which I was in therapy to resolve, and making good progress.


There are three things I need to know to start. The first is I need to know if legally I *can* leave. While I have never signed any legal document of any kind, and I don't have a POA, MPOA, guardianship, conservatorship, et cetera, I am concerned that I would be accused of some sort of abandonment. I am fairly sure that she's considered competent, but I don't know that with 100% confidence. I am sure she's told her home health people I am the caretaker but when I talk to them I always emphasize that "I'm just the maid". Second, I need a place to go to. I don't know what's available to someone in my situation, but I can't just leave this house with no place to go. Third, I am going to need some resources to get food, therapy, et cetera.


thanks in advance!


doubleword.

You my dear are the one being ABUSED, not only by your manipulative mother, but your siblings as well. You are not legally obligated to be anyone’s maid. Your mother is competent, knows exactly what she is doing and has made you dependent on her for everything in order to make it harder for you to leave. Your brother has no right to threaten you. Suggestions: You could go to or local government center and talk to senior care rep or social services about your situation, they may be able to refer you to the appropriate service providers. Depending on your financial situation, you could apply for charities (as you may have already been doing),public assistance and low income housing at least for now until you can self support with employment. Another idea would be battered women’s shelter to hide from mom and siblings, You did mentioned that your brother is physically threatening, see about a restraining order. Have no contact with your siblings and mom to avoid their manipulative, abusive behavior or threats. If you have to get APS to investigate your mothers living situation , do so. This could be a blessing in disguise as they will likely find assisted living facility for her to move to.
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doubleword Mar 7, 2020
Yes, I think that my family knows a sucker when they see one ! :)

I live in Louisiana, and I think the motto should be "Try and make us do our jobs state." I don't have a lot of confidence that they'll act as would reasonably follow given such a senario, so I'm not counting on that bunch. I've tried for section 8, but the waiting list is about five years long, so that's just not practical.

What do you need to demonstrate to get a restraining order? That's not my go-to right away, but I'd like to keep that one in my back pocket. I do plan to "ghost" the whole of them...looking forward to spending all the holidays quietly by myself for a year or so!

The various health people all know that the place has got problems. They're all Facebook buddies and such, and one of the more astonishing things about this whole debacle is that the nurses and my mother have these personal friendships on social media. I'm not a lawyer, but one would think that HIPAA and some sort of professional code of ethics would preclude that sort of thing. Another layer of manipulation, I suppose.

I'm still waiting two weeks so far to get a response from the charitable organizations I've written. Again this seems to be the try-and-make-me state.

I have been really hesitant to bring the authorities into the mix. My one condition in my consultancy was that I didn't do depositions. I got sucked into a slip-and-fall case meeting a client for breakfast, and it was just the worst!

Whatever happens with my mother's situation is not my business, boundries and all of that. A great book by that same name has been really helpful, as an aside. Anyway, they all decided to follow The Stupid Way, despite my many objections, so that's on them so far as I am concerned. I really really tried to do The Right Thing, and it's been quite the challenge for me to understand that it's impossible with this bunch, and that's the real head shaker for me; it'd be so easy to just act like human beings instead of snakes.

Thanks for your feedback, again, one and all! It's been so helpful!

doubleword.
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You're packed and ready to go? So what is holding you back, do you have nowhere else to go? It seems to me that even homeless people have access to shelters where they are fed, my advice is to strap on your wings and fly fast and far.
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doubleword Mar 5, 2020
Thank you for your input! What's holding me back is that I have nowhere to go. The homeless shelters are full and are notoriously bad; some homeless people actually move back out onto the street. I also have next to no money. What little I've saved has had to go to food when I've run out. I am sorting out my options. I deal with a lot of anxiety, so doing something, like packing up, is an action I can take that's positive and productive.

doubleword.
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Here's what I am reading into this, you have been the one who the others have been able to boss around. Your personality is nothing like the rest of the families. You have been verbally abused by ur family for years. Thats why the therapy. Rest of your family are narcissists.

Do you have any money? Get a cheap motel. You may luck out they serve breakfast. That would be one meal. Get to Social Services in your county. Tell them you need temporary help with a place to stay. A shelter would be better than nothing. They may give you vouchers for food. If you are willing to work they may help you with that.

You are a slave if you can't leave a house when you want to. As said, Mom has her Caregiver's and other children near by. Get out. Do not tell them where ur. Block their phones.
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Please go and don't look back. I'm praying and hoping for the best for you. I don't have any answers. God Speed..... hugs
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doubleword Mar 6, 2020
Still working on someplace to go. Perspective is as important to me in this situation as anything else. There's just been so much gaslighting, and I really really have striven to give her the best and cooperate with everyone. I believed that it was possible to make a win-win out of this. Not seeing the truth and delaying taking action has been my part in getting myself in this mess. Thanks for your hopes and prayers, one and all.

doubleword.
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Go get a job and get your life back.

If she is competent you don't have to be at her beck and call 24/7. Unless you choose to be. You should find a job now.

Sorry, but it sounds like a womans shelter would be better then this situation.

You have to decide that you are willing to have a bit of hardship to change your current situation. There is no resource to help you avoid that. You have to act on your own behalf to change your life.

Seriously, I am concerned that you say you go days without food and when you decide to go get some you are told that you should not come back if you go. Why wouldn't you go at that point and get food? Being a martyr doesn't serve anyone. Why would you expect that anyone would care more about your wellbeing than you do? That is not how life works, you have to take care of yourself.

You can call APS about your situation, it is unacceptable that you are being kept against your will and being starved. Law enforcement can help you get away.
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doubleword Mar 7, 2020
Returning to the working world was one of the main goals of my therapy. I used to do consulting work but without my own transportation and the ability to take field work and emergency calls, that has fallen by the wayside... my consultancy was mostly a function of putting out hair-on-fire fires and recovering from hair-on-fire aftermath.

I believe that you're completely correct about doing my part to make change! That's one of the issues I've been grappling with. I'm usually the helper and fixer, and it's been difficult for me accept that I must to reach out and ask for a little help. I've no Samuel to help me bear my particular Cross for a few paces, so that's my responsibility too.

As a child of narcissists, I was wired and programmed to be the fixer and the scapegoat. The process of rolling up my sleeves, admitting my damage, and taking steps to move forward has shown me that I may be more important at this point than they are. Bouncing these ideas off of actual humans - versus the apes I have fallen in with - is helping me to realign my thinking. You really can't see the water when you're in the water until it gets really dirty and nasty, y'know?

doubleword.



Again, many thanks to the assembled here, it's been a real boon to me to get a little perspective and validation!
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Your brother is wrong. This is not your job now. You are under no obligation to become your family's slave. They will figure something out after you've gone.

Could you find a paid, live in caregiver position for yourself? Families are desperate for this sort of help. Contact a caregiver agency near you to see how to get started.

These positions(at least through an agency) are never supposed to be 24/7. You would be protected by the laws governing employees. I would not accept a position like this "under the table." You need the assurances that you will have time off and reasonable working hours. Do not sell your services too cheaply. This type of help is invaluable to someone who wishes to remain in their own home.

Best of luck to you. You can't save someone from their own bad choices.
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doubleword Mar 9, 2020
I have a number of struggles I was in the process of resolving that make caregiving not a good fit for me. It's a struggle, especially under these conditions, just to get through the day doing all of this. I was about six months away from getting myself straightened out, give or take.
Yes, it's a very hard lesson to learn that I can't be the "fixer" successfully in this crazy situation. I've made bad choices certainly, trying to save people who don't want saving. Thanks for replying!

doubleword.
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How long have you been living at your mother's house?

The reason I ask is that it isn't just how things have developed since your stepfather's death. There is also the question of how long it is since you were out in the world on your own, and how realistic it is that you'd be able to cope unassisted with the basic challenges of finding somewhere to live, making a living, and managing in general.

You say you *were* in therapy to resolve your previous mental health issues. Adding in haste - I'm not picking up on that to say "aha! She's the problem!" - I'm wondering if you're still in touch with your therapist, and through your therapist with potential sources of advice and practical support.

I am very glad you found this site.

Your mother has home health aides and other adult children directing her care, one very nearby. Yes, you can leave. Even if your mother isn't competent, she won't be at risk.

Who outside your immediate family do you talk to?
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JoAnn29 Mar 5, 2020
She said 11 months. Just to get Mom thru her husbands death.
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So here's my take: Doubleword, you are a man and you've been living in your parent's house for 8 years. You've completed your tour of duty. Now it's time to reintegrate into the real world.

From your description of mom, she's not just obese, she's morbidly obese, has an incredibly large flap of skin which is swollen up the size of a softball to basketball over her privates. She possible could get out of her wheelchair to bed or to potty, but she's been helped by the nurses and you for these things for years. She claims she needs no help, but you fear she's not able to do things for herself. Is this accurate?

How much "stuff" do you have? I hope it's next to nothing, as you don't have a car and if you try to hide it in the yard, they will find it and destroy it. My mother was a severe hoarder and I don't have any pictures of me before 7. I have 3 between 7-16, and they were given to me by a neighbor. I don't need the photos. I have nothing from my childhood except a 1 inch tall bell my grandmother had on display. I'm fine without "stuff". Think about what you need and what you could sell, reasonably. Books are practically worthless (libraries!) and are heavy. Don't keep those. Most yearbooks are being digitized, so someday yours will be online - take photos of any signatures that were important to you. Coat, work & interview clothes, blanket. That's what the minimum is. What you can carry in one trip.

When you are ready, do something that irritates mom. Get her really steamed up, and then call for the EMTs to check her blood pressure. When she gets there, tell them she's been out of control and as the housekeeper, you did not feel good about leaving until they were there. And WALK OUT THE DOOR. On your way out of the neighborhood, you can call your brother's voicemail and tell him that he needs to check on mom. Then block him. Go to a men's shelter and wait in line for a bed and start a new life. You can do this.
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doubleword Mar 10, 2020
Thanks for reading and your response! I agree that I've done my duty in this situation. Reading here and doing the therapy I had access to before my stepfather died helped me to reject this life.

My mother is physically capable of standing and walking using a walker. She doesn't because the lymphedema leaks constantly, and in her condition a slip and fall could be deadly. She spends most of her days in her chair sexting to "yahoo boys" and creating mayhem on Facebook. She's on low O2 (copd) @ 2. She really doesn't deign to cook or do housework for herself except on rare occasions. She can do things for herself, she just won't. She yells and threatens me until I do them, and I have because I have a lot of other stuff going on and I don't always have the emotional energy to fight her tooth and nail over trivia.
I had a car when I moved in, so I have more things. I have them all packed up in twelve or so plastic bins, the kind that stack.
She's got some serious issues with emotional regulation so she gets "steamed up" all of the time! As bad as she's been to me though, I can't do anything to her that might be harmful. However, that's a good idea just for her own safety, as it's exhausting to have to try to rationally navigate her mood control issues.

doubleword.

I believe that I'll have to do this whether or not I believe I can. I can see that there's no future for me otherwise.
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This is not your job. Caretaking is voluntary and home health aides get paid to care for others. Since I have helped in a women's resource center in Tampa, FL... here is my 2 cents' worth of advice:

1 - Research women's shelters and find ones that have programs to help alleviate homelessness.

2 - Start packing your things and figure out how you will get to a women's shelter that can provide you with housing, food, and counselling.

3 - If you are worried about being charged with "negligence," call the police on their non-911 number. Tell them your situation and ask their advice. Many police departments have officers trained for these kinds of situations. Follow their advice.

4 - Notify your brother, your sister and your mother that you are leaving. Since other family members are aware of mom's situation, they can also look in on her. If the police are concerned that mom is not "competent," then follow their advice to get her to a doctor to decide if she is competent to manager her own affairs or needs somebody else to do that. It does not have to be you.
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doubleword Mar 9, 2020
I appreciate the perspective as to women's shelters, as power differentials are power differentials regardless of the players, but a women's shelter would be inappropriate in my case.
Certainly the police see every horror every day. We had a robbery here last year and the officer had great advice on what we could do, so I'm sure that they'd be helpful.
She refuses to leave the house, even for banking and medical, demanding everyone "come to her". So, getting her to a doctor someday is going to be some else's unenviable task. Thanks for replying!

doubleword.
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You said you are outside New Orleans? There is a place in Jackson, MS called Wingard House that helps people get back on their feet. Give her a call and see if she has room for you. You can then hop a bus or train up there. Also try resources on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We are charitable folks! If you need a bus ticket, let us know.
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doubleword Mar 9, 2020
Wow, I'll have to look that one up! A bus ticket is a very generous offer. I am still trying to weave threads together. I hadn't considered leaving the state. Appreciate the reply!
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