Stay or Go?
My boyfriend and I are in our early 50s and have adult children. We should be enjoying the fact that we are both high level professionals at the top of our careers,…but we can't because his mother is the center of his life. This is fairly recent. Ten years ago, his father's dying words were, "take care of your mother." However, his father and mother had been divorced for two decades and she had remarried and divorced - four times! - in the interim, because her Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Bi-Polar Mood Disorder make her IMPOSSIBLE to deal with, let alone live with.
I didn't know this when we met. We had a whirlwind romance for the first six months where his mother lived in FL and we lived in NJ. We decided to move in together and get a place where his mother could live too. We bought a house and spent $45k making a gorgeous MIL suite. Then the next six months were a living h*ll. She would wait at the door for us to walk in from work, and be at us until she went to bed. We were not allowed to leave the house without her, and she demanded to be taken to some kind of store even if her in-home caregiver took her places that day. Sometimes we had to barricade ourselves in our bedroom (she would beat at the door). The two of them fought every day. She kept threatening to throw herself down the stairs and say we had done it. She said if we locked the door between her apartment and our home, she would claim elder abuse and accuse us of stealing her SSI and medication. She demanded to be moved back to FL.
That was a year ago, and from the day she left, she started begging to come back. I discovered a month ago that he was plotting to move his mother back in with us without telling me. We have been fighting bitterly over this. The attachment is not because she has always been his beloved mother. Quite the contrary! At one point, she put him in foster care with his sisters because her new man didn’t want kids. At 17, she signed him into the Army, he says, to “get rid” of him. She had been absent most of his adult life and when she did emerge, she would wreak havoc and then disappear again. He has two sisters that do not speak to her because they believe she is toxic. They are correct. He wants his sisters and I to keep giving his mom chances, but consider she has a 50+ year history of “chances” followed by awful behavior. She won’t suddenly change because she can’t; mental illness is as real as cancer, and a person with cancer can’t just decide to stop having cancer.
He has agreed to a compromise of moving her to an Assisted Living facility near us, but I worry that she will still end up being the central focus of his life and/or she will eventually convince him to let her try to live with us again (her apartment is sitting vacant, so it would be easy for her to just show up). I also worry because facilities here in NJ are more than double the cost of FL. We would have to pay thousands a month out of our pockets. Folks, trust me, every dollar would be well spent, but I wonder how long we could afford it. Months? Certainly. A year or two? Probably. Beyond that…yikes! What if one of us loses our job (or wants to retire) or has a medical emergency? What about *my* mother?
First and foremost, I love him. I’m not a perfect person either and I want to support him. But there is another side to this. Yes, he is controlled by FOG (Fear, Obligation, and Guilt) from her. However, he is a very willing participant. She calls 5-6 times a day and he almost always picks up, even in the middle of a nice dinner out. If she doesn’t call for a few hours, he gets worried and calls her. I recently discovered the term “Emotional Incest,” and it fits. He refuses to set boundaries, and I think it is because he enjoys her dependence. He feels needed. Our relationship won’t progress because he already has a “wife.”
I feel like given the situation, most people would move on instead of continuing to go through this. What would you do? It sounds to me like most normal people wouldn’t volunteer to be involved in this kind of mess, even for love.