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When I was a teenager I became a partner in my parents marriage... my mother was the narcissist, my father, her enabler and I was the one that did everything, tho they were quite capable. Travel arrangements, drop off and pick up from the airport, cruises, every imaginable chore... I packed their house every time they moved... One time, after I was married and moved away, I flew back to help pack up their house for another move!! The insanity! I went into business with them, of course out of guilt... I wanted to pursue a career... they said girls go to college for Mrs. degrees. I worked with them in 2 of their business ventures, never knew if they made money, but I know I never did. Rather than going on with this endless list of chores, just imagine having a personal "do-everything" person in your life. They moved nearby and that was the end of my few years of freedom. Yes, there were good times, but I was enmeshed, taught to please mom especially since one of my siblings was estranged (and I was told of all the "horrible" ways they were treated... and it was understood that any contact with my sib was disloyalty to my parents) I, unknowingly, was a victim of Stokholm Syndrome. I have been victim to this role as a "guilty pleaser" for over 40 years.
Now my father is deceased for 4 years, I moved my narc mother in and as I have posted before, I am falling further into my depression. Been on anti-depressants for years...but now I struggle to find an ounce of motivation to do anything except the things that need to be done; household chores, grocery shopping, etc. About 6 months ago I registered for an online degree and felt positive about it. I need to become financially independent as I have been very unhappy in my marriage for too many years.
My mother feels sorry for herself, sits in her room everyday, isn't used to doing anything for herself as she was my dad's queen... She comes to me asking if I can take her to get her nails done, get her watch fixed, buy new sneakers etc. I do know a woman who would take her, but my mother doesn't want to spend her money.
I've spent my wasted life by her side doing those things for as long as I can remember! Between taking care of her needs and wants, her complaints, childlike tantrums and my stuck in concrete depression I am falling behind in my courses. I hate waking up every day. I feel as if this goal, my new career is my last hope for personal freedom. I've never known true happiness because I've never focused on myself and my worth, my life goals, etc.
My question is not about getting help for my mother or getting her a place to live. Can anyone please help me with a deeper outlook or perception to stop feeling so d*mn guilty over her?? I need psychological freedom. Yes, I've been to therapists and heard the "you deserve a life, etc." Of course I know that. If sound reasoning helped then no one would smoke, do drugs, feel guilt, etc. Thank you.

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Narcissism is a mental illness, and one we don't seem to have a treatment for at this time. Poor Mom. She did not ask to be this way. This is not merely a character flaw, but a condition beyond her control.

But her condition, sad as it is, is Not Your Fault. Your inability to please her is Not Your Fault. And if it is Not Your Fault, there is certainly no reason to feel guilty.

As you say, though, your entrapment in this situation is not subject to sound reasoning and logic. When you were seeing a therapist, did that help, at least while you were in therapy? Obviously it hasn't solved the basic problem, but did it help temporarily? I'm wondering if seeing a therapist to help you get through your online classes might be worthwhile. One step at a time toward eventual independence?

Your whole life hasn't been wasted. Even your unsatisfactory marriage hasn't been entirely wasted. You have learned from mistakes, grown, gained coping skills ... now you need an opportunity to put these lessons to good use.
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Dear Dailysuffering,

I'm so sorry to hear what you have been going through. I can see what a thoughtful, caring and dutiful daughter you have been. It is not easy to pull away from a lifetime of caring for ones parents. I wish it was a switch we could turn off. I was drawn to your post because I, too, as the oldest in my sibling group was always in the helper role.

People said, why didn't you just leave? Find your own life? But there is something in my personality that was desperate all the time to please other people. To give and give till I was rejected. I don't know where this comes from.

Please don't be hard on yourself. I know its easier said than done, but don't feel guilty. Like you said 40 years is more than enough time to start and find some happiness. My father passed away 8 months ago. I tried my whole life to help him, but the anger in the last year of his life blinded me. Please don't let the anger blind you. Best to get help and create a healthier balance.

Thinking of you. Take care my friend. Sending you all my thoughts and prayers.
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Daily, I don't know if this is relevant of helpful but what literally saved me was a sort of accident - I got to talking with a moral theologian (I'm Catholic) on this subject and floored to discover that I really did not know much about moral theology - that is, I had absorbed all kinds of ideas of what was required toward parents, but these were just cultural do's and don't really. He explained to me that children are required to aid parents who have fallen into destitution - for example, help a parent get subsidized housing, etc., etc., but not obligated morally beyond that. You don't have to maintain their preferred standard of living, you are not responsible for their happiness. You do not have to do hands on caregiving - you can subcontract that, get them onto Medicaid or VA Aid and Attendance. If they refuse the help you are willing to offer, then that is their choice and not your responsibility. To "honor" does not mean to obey. It just means to have reasonable respect for them. Once I had a clear idea of what was truly morally required, then I was able to make good decisions - no guilt because now I could think clearly, rather than wandering through a swamp of uncertainty. It was like I had been stumbling around the furniture in a room, turned the light on and all at once, I could see my way.
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You mentioned Stockholm Syndrome. I had also heard it called Helsinki Syndrome, but it is clear Helsinki Syndrome is just a misnomer for Stockholm Syndrome. So still curious I had to look up both cities on a map. Stockholm is the capital of Sweden. Helsinki is the capital of Finland, and after reading your post, I also re-learned that the Baltic Sea is what separates these two cities mainly. It is a known fact that this syndrome was due to issue in 1973 in Stockholm due to a bank robbery, from what I read. The Helsinki syndrome may have been popularized by the original 'Die Hard' movie, where the reporter unintelligently reported it to the news incorrectly.

I know this is a bit off topic, but sounds like you're smart and capable, and just dedicated a lot of extra time to parents who didn't even know they were treating you poorly. After reading more about Stockholm/Helsinki syndrome, just seems like you've had to sail around the Baltic Sea for years and just deserve to achieve your own happiness. Go to shore, stand up on your own two feet and make your life count. The past is only a memory and tomorrow is another day, even if that means going to Helsinki ;) Seriously, I totally get it. You are not wrong. It's good you are figuring things out, but learn to laugh again and do healthy things instead!
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Barb, that was succinctly said. I'm printing your answer and keeping it close by when I need a reminder. It brought me peace. Thank you. All the best to you.
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Your mother doesn't view you as a separate being. She view you as an extension of her mind and self. She views and grieves your autonomy the way she would grieve the loss of an essential linb or organ.

You feel guilty because she trained you up to only feel pleasure at serving her. She never praised or applauded your beginning attempt at autonomy. If you succeeded you were told you were worthless. Your failures were noted as well deserved.
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