Thank you for reading. This post is so much longer than I anticipated. I’ve never really written out my experience like this. I am not even sure if this makes sense, or if I am going to be ranting or asking for advice but I thought I’d give you a background of my situation.
It’s been 8 years since my grandmother moved in with us. To make a long story short, she moved in with us because her other children forced her to sell her house and divide the sum of money with them as my grandfather had passed away. My mother was totally against it. As it’s not possible to sell only half of a house, my grandmother was forced into homelessness. This started a domino effect. Suddenly, every one of her children abandoned her – every one except for my mother, that is. Our family took her in.
So now, it’s been 8 years. I am 28 years old, and I live with my parents, sister and maternal grandmother. We all help to take care of her but a lot of the work falls on my mother. We don’t get any money from my grandmother’s siblings. In fact, they haven’t even attempted to help or visit my grandmother at all – the last phonecall to ask for help resulted in curses on the end of the phone line. Thankfully, we do well enough to live as comfortable as we can.
The thing is, my grandmother has Narcissistic Personality disorder. Growing up, she liked to play favourites and pitted one child against the other with her comments. My mother though, was the scapegoat and had it the hardest.
Here are some things my grandmother does. For example, she creates lies, telling others things that are untrue: how my mother doesn’t allow her to use the telephone (lie – my mother even gave her a mobile phone to use), how our family left her without any food in the house (lie – we always had food in the house) and even down to her ailments like her stomachache or headaches – and everytime we go for a check up, the doctor says she is healthy for a 70 –year old woman. She has this sense of entitlement too - we prepare her own set of special shampoo, body wash etc, like she requested – and she doesn’t use it. She has said some horrible comments about others’ weight, beauty, race etc. It’s upsetting to hear – especially to my mother who receives these same comments when she was younger. My grandmother just wants control, regardless of anyone else. It’s been this way for all these years.
As you can probably tell, I did caregiving throughout most of my twenties. I was resentful and angry at my uncles and aunts who got to live their lives as normal adults while I had to sacrifice a lot of my own wants. I didn’t spend a lot of time with my friends – because at 20, who wants to hear about family problems? At that age, no one understands. My friends were busy figuring themselves out and following their own dreams, while I was trying to help make the situation better, reduce stress in the household, solve problems in the living arrangement and defuse arguments. They cannot relate – how can they? I lost a lot of friendships. I just didn’t want to make the situation worse with my own petty wants. I had to bottle all this in on my own for a long time. My mother apologises to me about this, but I cannot just leave everything to her. She needs help too. She doesn’t want to place my grandmother in a nursing home as it would be the same as what her siblings had done.
At times, we do get some help from my grandmother’s relatives to take her in for a week or two. However, for months now, my grandmother refuses to visit her relatives even though I know that they call for my grandmother. My mother has mentioned to my grandmother that she needs a break from caregiving, trying to persuade her to stay for a while at a kind relative’s house, but the next thing my grandmother talks about is how ‘all’ her children has abandoned her.
So, we have now come to the crux of why I am writing.
Recently, my mother fell sick. We had to go to the doctor twice in just this month. She had almost fainted because of her high blood pressure – it had spiked up following a stressful incident with my grandmother. It was terrifying. We didn’t tell my grandmother this as she has a tendency to make everything about herself and blow up the situation. My mother is under constant stress. I am very worried for her.
I am at a loss. I usually am able to steer conversations in a polite manner so that my grandmother relents a bit. This time, I don’t know what is the problem at all – why doesn’t she want to stay with her relatives? She always says they make her stay comfortable and take care of her. Today when I ask again, she says that they don’t feed her enough, another lie. I am so exhausted from all this double talk. I… I don’t know what to ask for. How do I tell my grandmother this and make her understand that we are not abandoning her but we do need time away from caring for her? How can I make this situation any better without causing any extra stress to my mother or my family members?