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I have been caring for family members for 10 years with no help from my siblings. In fact, my sisters have made it more difficult. I always knew my family was a mess but something about this process has brought the dysfunction to a nuclear melt down level. Last week I asked my siblings to commit to a few days a month to stay with dad so I could return to work. They all said absolutely not and proceeded to criticize me, my children, my looks, you name it. My father just sat there. I was (and am) heartbroken but realize that I have to pull myself together. I honestly just wanted to pack my things and leave...let them figure it out. But I also know that I obligated myself to this task and it’s my responsibility to figure it out. So today I have a job interview. No guarantee I’ll get it but it’s a huge step to caring for myself and breaking the codependent role I’ve unwittingly taken on from childhood.


Does anyone have experience breaking out of the roles they play in a toxic family? Advice? Wisdom?

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I do not talk to my mother, haven't for 8 years, I am under no obligation to care for her. My brother the Golden Boy has had to step in since I backed out, I have helped him behind the scenes, that is it.

You have a right to change your mind, and if this arrangement is not in your best interest, then do so. No one has the right to abuse you. Perhaps it is time to place your father in AL so that you can rebuild your life and cut the cord with the abusers.
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anonymous1010889 Feb 2, 2020
DollyMe,

Thank you for your advice. I know you’re right and I can exit if I choose but I want to try to make it work. Not sure if that’s indignation on my part or if it’s a fear of guilt and regret up the road, but it’s probably a bit of both. I’ve discussed options with hospice regarding potential respite and LTC placement. All options are on the table but I feel like I’ve been drowning and depressed for so long that I need to gain better footing to make a sound decision...if that makes sense.
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This post and others like it make you think. I do not want to do this to my girls. I had my first child at 28. My second at 35. When I am 85 my girls will be in their 50s. Needing to work to support themselves. My DH and I have been able to put some money aside. If he goes before me, I definately will sell my house. I worked as a secretary for our local Visiting Nurses so I know what resources my County provides. I will take advantage of them.

I have an exfriend who whines all the time. But will not take advantage of the services in our County because...I think she feels she is too good for that. A mutual friend takes her to Dr appts but says she doesn't enjoy it. Does it because she feels sorry for her. I don't want people to do things for me because they feel sorry for me. I want them to want to be with me.
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MammaDrama Feb 2, 2020
Hi JoAnn make sure your ideas here are in writing and your daughters have your legal authorization to follow through on them. I say this because Dementia can change everything about how you think. We all hope dementia doesn’t happen to us but for the sake of our families we need to plan on it and protect them from the heartache and guilt of trying to care for a parent who is no longer themselves. Many stories here about this happening.
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Best of luck with the job interview and congrats to you for taking a step toward changing things for yourself!
I had to back off some caregiving and leave it to others, it’s brought much resentment, but was sorely needed. We truly do teach others how to treat us, and too often accept what we shouldn’t. The biggest truth is that the only one we can change is ourselves. I wish you the best in making changes
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Good luck on the job interview!!! Focus on finding companies you want to work for and interviewing. Focus on building resiliency so that your dad and siblings cannot leave you feeling heartbroken. Your dad is weak; your siblings are bullies (and a$$holes). That's their problem. You do you, Plymouth. Be the rock you know you were meant to be.
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It sounds like you have taken the first step towards creating boundaries and caring for you. As another person wrote, we do teach people how to treat us. I just recently have stopped contact with my verbally abusive mother. She is safe in a care facility now and I will no longer be her punching bag. It took me a long time to get to this place of deciding it was ok to take care of me. I think a lot of the struggle for me was feeling, for most of my life, that I was’t a good person (who taught me that?) so I was trying to redeem myself by being the devoted daughter. Once I was able to see that I am a good person, I don’t need deliverance from evil and I don’t need to subject myself to abuse in order to feel good about myself, it all changed. Mom is being cared for and I am free to take care of me.
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You say you have been caring for family members for 10 years but I am not clear now exactly who you care for and in what way. Are you living in the home of an elder who needs 24/7 care due to dementia? Or can you tell me what duties you do and for whom?
You have a whole lot of insight. That is to say you know what is happening, and you use the correct terminology. Moreover you are job interviewing, so I am one here to say congratulations. You know what you need to do to move forward to a good luck and it seems you are DOING it a step at a time.
You asked for help. You were told no, and anything that came after the know that was personal attacks was their way of rationalizing their own laziness. I suspect you know THAT, as well.
I hope you will update us as you move forward. You are taking the steps and it's my belief that your note to us here is a way of asking permission of the world for what you already understand you MUST do, no matter how hard it is. I congratulate you. I wish you good luck. I find your insight and honesty quite amazing. I hope you'll get that job, and if not , the another. And I think you will be a VALUABLE employee.
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anonymous1010889 Feb 2, 2020
Thank you, Alva, for your confidence in me! My hardcore caregiving began with my mom’s lung cancer diagnosis. Radiation, chemo, stroke, heart attack, VRE, pseudomonas, c-diff, hospital staff dropped her and broke her leg...it was one def-con emergency after another. She became weaker with every issue until finally I could no longer care for her myself (250 lbs, hoyer lift, continuous care) and she was placed in LTC until she passed away. At the same time, my aunt and father were declining and needing more help with appts, household tasks, etc. Shortly after my mom passed, my aunt suffered 2 strokes, PE, had progressive dementia, broken hip x 2, spontaneous lumbar fracture GI bleed and was no longer able to return to her home without 24/7 care. She could not afford that so my children and I made space for her in our home and assisted her with daily living until one night I came home from work and found my daughter crying and my son confirmed that my aunt had hit and threatened her. The next day I placed her in a NH. Didn’t know that could be done so fast but I was motivated. My aunt passed away in the NH months later. And now I’m living with my father in his home (at his request). He has some mild dementia, and is under hospice care for end stage heart disease. Currently, I do the housework, yard, shopping, meals, assist with bathing and general safety stuff. He is ambulatory with a walker. There have been times when he has been full care but that is not the case currently. In between all this, I worked full time until a few years ago. I was burned out so went to working part time and did that until about 7 months ago. The business I worked for closed down and my father asked me to please not go back to work. I can’t afford to to stay unemployed indefinitely so that led to the sibling showdown.
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Good to hear you are beginning to take care of YOU!! Sometimes our “family” can be so nasty it leaves us shaking our head and saying who are these people?!?!
Youve given enough time and energy on caretaking for so long. Walk away if u have to and let your twisted sisters and dad realize you will no longer be bullied into submission!!!! YOU CAN DO THIS!!!
I understand how bad situations like this hurt, you give and give, and get treated like 💩. Well, no more! Hold your head high! You got this Plymouth!!!!
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I’m hoping you interviewed for your job as sole caregiver, were fully informed concerning your responsibilities, given a full overview of provision for relief time/vacations, and were able to negotiate the salary, benefits, and overtime compensation, right?

”Break away” is much too stressful to impose on yourself. Schedule a time, pack your bag, and walk.
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So Plymouth, you mentioned in a reply that your dad asked you to move in and take care of him when the business you worked at closed......did you two prepare a caregiver agreement, stating what you will and wont do, days/time off and pay arrangement??? You cant do this for free....nor should you! This just disturbs me that your dad and sisters think you should do all of the household, yardwork and caregiving for no pay. And with no time away. Please establish some boundaries and tell them in writing what you will/wont do and if they dont step up, then dad can hire outside help. Because you will have a new job to start!!!! Best wishes in standing your ground with these bullies!!!
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Sorry your siblings are not supportive of you. Your parent is at the point of needing support and probably can't be supportive of you. It seems you are going to handle caring for your parent alone. Good for you that you realize you need to care for yourself as well.

I really love the book "Boundaries" by Cloud and Townsend. They give practical, positive steps for dealing with toxic behavior. I recommend reading it a couple of times through. Most times, it will take becoming part of a therapy group to support you in your steps away from co-dependency. Check substance abuse groups if this is part of the problem. I know that our church has several "breakthrough groups" managed through our counselling center and I figure many other larger churches have something similar.

My family is toxic too. My dad is an aging alcoholic in Wisconsin that is in and out of jail. We moved my mom closer to us... visiting frequently and prepping for the time she will need to move in with us. I have 2 sisters. I sister has said they cannot care for my mom since they are in too much debt. My other sister tells me "it's all on me" even though she has a terrific job and no in-laws to care for. I know I can't make people care or help. I can only do what God has placed on my heart and my abilities can accomplish. Even so, I know that I need to care for myself and my family. So, I too am going back to work... to secure a retirement for myself.
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anonymous1010889 Feb 5, 2020
Taarna, Thank you for such a supportive and inspirational post. I really needed that today. : )
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