My father just passed away. My mother is clinging to me. I know this is normal in grief, but I can't handle it for very long. My mother is undiagnosed BPD, she abused me emotionally as a child, and I have been her emtional "punching bag" for 51 years. It may sound selfish, but I WANT MY OWN LIFE. I can give her a couple more weeks of every day visits, but how do I wean her off me? Sorry if this sounds insensitive...maybe I can hang in there for my dad's sake. But in truth, I'm scared to death of the future now.

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I'm so sorry for the loss of your dad. (((hugs)))

It's in no way selfish to want your own life. You might have put up with being a "punching bag" for 51 years, it doesn't mean you have to continue in that role for another 51 years!

As far as hanging in for "dad's sake" - oh, honey. If you believe in an afterlife, then believe your dad is in such a wonderful place that all Earthly cares fall away. If you don't believe, then your dad is beyond caring what happens anymore (sorry if that sounds harsh, I can't really thing of a proper euphemistic way of putting it).

Sometimes, the death of a family member is a perfect time to begin what will be a new normal. In your case, start setting some boundaries. I think you might have to rethink your couple more weeks of visiting every day. Start weaning her down. Maybe 5 visits this week, 3 the next, and so on. If you get her used to your being there every day, the longer it goes on, the harder it will be to cut the rope, so to speak. And while visiting, if she begins to abuse you, cut the visit short..."mom, I understand you're grieving and angry, but I will not allow you to take your anger out on me any longer. I'll see you _________."

You have every right to defend yourself against her manipulations.

Good luck!
Helpful Answer (11)
jacobsonbob Sep 2020
If Clarlady (or anyone else) doesn't believe in an afterlife, then she can take comfort that her father will never have to experience any suffering again.
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She may want to cling but you don't have to allow it, just say no. When my father died I wasn't unsympathetic to hearing my mother's fears but it never even occurred to me to disrupt my life to hold her hand, instead I advised her to place a big pillow in the empty place beside her in bed and I added some extra locks to her doors. Death and loss are part of the human condition and sooner or later everyone has to deal with it, your mother's loss is not unique and like every other widow she can and must learn to live on her own.

BTW, I'm sorry for your loss, don't forget to be kind to yourself too
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jacobsonbob Sep 2020
A few people don't, but that's because either they die early or they have no other people in their lives--neither of these possibilities are desirable!
I am so sorry for the loss of your sweet father. You are very kind to show compassion to your mother at this point in time.

My mom and dad were married well over 50 years and adored each other. I never once saw my dad leave the house without kissing my mom goodbye. Each time he came back home he kissed my mom.

I thought that mom would have a very hard time adjusting to life without my dad but she surprised me. She didn’t excessively impose on me more than needed and I appreciated that because I am married and was busy raising two daughters.

I called often. She had already stopped driving due to her Parkinson’s disease so I already drove her to doctor appointments, did her shopping and other errands.

I would let her know what days that I was available to provide what she needed.

When I asked my mom if she wanted to move in with us after my father died, she said no. I respected her decision and continued to do the things that she needed on my schedule.

You have the upper hand in this matter and it looks like you are handling it just fine.

You already know what you want. I wish I had known. I thought that I was completely responsible for mom because I promised my father that I would take care of mom so years later after she lost her home in Hurricane Katrina I asked her again to move in with us.

This time her answer was that she was too old to rebuild her home so she agreed. I wish that I could have found an assisted living facility for her. She didn’t have the funds for that. She was traumatized as everyone in New Orleans was after the devastation from Katrina which was no ordinary storm. It was a violent hurricane and the flooding was severe due to the levees breaking. Mom had nine feet of water in her home. She had no flood insurance because it wasn’t required. The only reason her home flooded was because the levee broke.

She had nothing left but the few clothes that she packed for our evacuation to Houston.

It’s a whole new ball game having a parent live in your home. You are sharing your private space, plus your family. It’s a challenge to be sure. She continued to live with us for 15 years and it didn’t get easier. It became harder as the years went by.

Since mom is no longer in my home but still cared for with hospice I fully realize it was a mistake to have her live with us. I love her but like you I have had my difficult times with my mom. It doesn’t serve anyone well in those circumstances.

Don’t second guess yourself. You sound as if you know your limitations of what you desire to give and receive in your relationship with her. Honor your feelings and the two of you will benefit from your decision.

Take care.
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Clarlady, you are really SMART so I have every hope you are going to be fine. You are honest. You are bright. You have the picture already. You gave us clearly the whole thing in one paragraph, your history, your mother's, your love of your father now gone, what your limitations are and why. You are so far AHEAD OF THE CURVE I can't even begin to believe it. Stay here. As a hope and as a teacher to others, would be my wish for you.
Again. You are going to be fine. You already know what you have to do. That is to do the best you are able for the sake of your Dad and in his memory to provide what support you can to a Mom who was not there for YOU in any real way. Out of mercy. And to determine that you have made your own life and you will continue to live it.
I can wish you the best, but I truly believe to my soul that "you got this".
Stick around and update us as you go. There will be moments of grief when you see the real nature of what your Mom was. A sad creature with her own limitations, who sadly could not provide as a Mom must. You will be able to forgive her, to grieve that you don't have TWO LIVES so you could give one away, and to have some inner peace with some moments of grief and forgiveness.
Take good care. I am so sorry for the loss of your Dad who it seems you truly saw some love from. Again, hope you will stick around and share your life experience on the forum.
Helpful Answer (7)

I was close to my Mom and I set boundries. She may not of even noticed. She still drove after Dads death and had Church and friends. Eventually though she had to quit driving. So we picked a day I would take her shopping and run errands. I took her to Church on Sunday. Living in the same town I could pick things up for her when it was convenient to me.

I was the oldest and a girl. I lived in the same town so I had always done for my parents. But always if and when I could unless an emergency. So boundries came easy and Mom was not demanding.

Start backing away. Like said 5 days this week, 4 days the next week. Explain to Mom you cannot be her everything. You have a life of your own. That you will not be at her beck and call. You cannot be Dad. Do not allow any abuse. When she gets started, hang the phone up, walk out the door. You can be there for her if you want that but on your terms not hers. Boundries now or it will be so hard to set them later. Also, make her understand that you will not be her Caregiver. Just won't work with ur history.
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Sorry for the loss of your father. I know it's hard for both you and your mom, but you and her now deserve to get on with your own lives. It will be easier for you, I'm sure, but your mom will have to learn to stand on her own two feet sooner or later. And for your sake, I hope it's sooner.

Maybe you can get her connected with a Grief Support Group via Zoom, so she can share with others going through the same thing. And if she has any nice neighbors or friends, maybe you can ask them to just check on her periodically to give you a break.

It's time to set some healthy boundaries with mom, which it sounds like you never have up to this point. It's never too late. Wishing you the best.
Helpful Answer (5)

I’m so sorry for your loss. I also recently lost my dad and know the hole it leaves, and I share a family member who isn’t mentally well. I’ve long ago had to use good boundaries to help me know the right way to cope. I highly recommend the Boundaries book by Townsend and Cloud, it’s a big help. You’re not being insensitive, your own well-being is crucial, guard it carefully. I wish you the best
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I'm so sorry for the loss of your dear father. Set down some firm boundaries with your mom asap. For instance, I will see you on Sundays from 1-3 pm, or whatever you decide would be appropriate, and I'll call you on thus-and-such days as well. If you need anything in the meantime, please let me know.

I was fortunate in that when my father passed away 5 years ago, both of my folks were living in a beautiful ALF, so my very needy, very clingy, very un-independent mother was able to entertain herself with the other residents about a week after her 'grieving' was finished. Otherwise, she'd have been dependent upon ME for 100% of her daily entertainment, and I'd have needed a game plan of my OWN to follow!

Start to cut down your daily visits by 1 or 2 hours a day starting NOW, and by another hour every day until you stop the daily visits entirely. Your mother will need to develop a routine of her own now that he's gone, and she wont' be able to do that with you around all the time.

Wishing you the very best of luck with a difficult situation.
Helpful Answer (5)

Is she mentally competent, other than the BPD? Start weaning her off of daily visits to every other day for a week or so , then every 3 days for a couple weeks, until you see her at a frequency you can handle. If she needs somebody to look in on her frequently, consider hiring a companion and use dad's life insurance money to pay for it. If she has advanced dementia or is mentally incompetent, please consider more permanent help such as home health aides through an agency or residential facility.

Please consider seeing a therapist. You need to process the past and be able to find ways to cope with the present. Your mom will probably never change, but you don't have to feel like a captive in this relationship.
Helpful Answer (3)

Do you think it is reasonable to visit her every day? If not - and what is reasonable is for YOU to decide - then I don't think you should establish the precedent. Don't go every day. This week, go every other day. Next week, go twice. The following week, go twice. Thereafter, whatever pattern has been normal.

Does your mother have any identifiable care or support needs? This is a separate question from the question of what part you are prepared to play in meeting them.
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