Hi All, I posted here many years ago. My mom who is now 87 has lived with me and my family for 17 years now. She’s lived with us because, well, there is little other family, she doesn’t drive, and it’s mostly for companionship and convenience since I drive her everywhere and I write her bills. English is her second language. It’s been hard and I am getting really burned out.

With covid, things have gotten even worse because she’s even more bored than usual. We purchased a home big enough so she has her own space but she comes into our space at least three times a day and I am so stressed. Because it’s constant having to entertain her.

Imagine a neighbor stopping over three times a day everyday. One who’s bored and looking for company. That’s my life right now.

She doesn’t like to read or knit or do any solitary hobbies. She likes to cook but no one to feed. Mold grows on things in her fridge so no ones wants to eat her food.

This is going to sound bad but I’m sad to say I do not enjoy her company. She repeats stories constantly, she’s very bossy, and she’s an energy vampire. Talks about people, constant complaining, a real downer.

I have hinted that she should look into senior living to be be near people her own age but she’ll say “well if you want me to move”...I have lived my life out of guilt and the decision to have her live with us came with many challenges, regrets, and bitterness/resentment on my part. One decision that had some big and long lasting consequences

Maybe this is just life and I need to suck it up as I have been for 17 year!!! Tell me so?

Just venting -I know people have it a lot worse but when some friends complain about work or this or that I feel like I’d trade them in a minute because I’ve been so limited and I’d LOVE my freedom.

If I worked outside the home she’d be bouncing against the walls and be unbearable to deal with.

I'll be sad when she passes but it’s not a good feeling to constantly wonder when this will be over and if I’ll ever be free. I find myself wondering how many years of my life I’ll get to be free if this ball and chain situation lasts 10 more years (because she was very overprotective when I was young as well)....

Any tips for coping? I am grateful for a good life otherwise But just so burned out from being around someone that I frankly don’t want to always be around it’s torturous! And sadly when she’s gone I will remember the rise and not the thorns as they say.

Help?? Perspective? Strategies to listen to complaining and same stories a million times?? Funny if this were my mother in law it wouldn’t bother me a bit but with my own mom drives me crazy maybe because of the length of time.

I tried counseling and she really didn’t help just told me to get my mom out a few days a week which isn’t an option anymore.

I feel like I'm spiraling

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Dear "energyvampire,"

You have some similarities to how I grew up so I hear you loud and clear. My parent's were 40 years old when they had me their only child/daughter. They both were married once before. Although my mom was very loving, she was very overprotective - as well as making me her confidant when her and my dad had marital problems. It was extremely hard for me to be an 8 year old and being relied on for emotional support as no one that age should be dealing with their parent's marital problems. It was a huge burden to carry. The few times things got heated, I came running out of my room and stood in between them. Being an overprotective parent is a hindrance to ones growth. I struggled well into adulthood - not knowing how to make decisions, cope with problems etc. It has made me being her sole caregiver much more difficult. I actually felt "guilty" when I got married at the age of 34 and no longer lived at home. She does not live with my husband and I but, I have been taking care of her since my dad died in 2004. I went back and forth from our house to hers until I moved her into an AL facility in early 2015 at the age of 90 with Alzheimer's. The place had a good activity calendar but, she didn't want to do anything without me except she would play BINGO on her own. More guilt for not going to the activities. Now at almost 58, I look back at my life and feel so many regrets - things I never got to do, never having pursued a career etc. - I did work until 2003 when I started to take care of my dad when he became ill but, everyone else I knew had a career in a field they loved. So I have been down that oh so familiar path of anger, resentment, guilt and regret so much so that I've made a trench in that path. Don't get me wrong, I love my mom and I would never abandon her but, it's hard being "it" for her. She has five remaining siblings but, they all live in other states and are not involved in her care and do not support me and my husband.

Seventeen years of her being in your home and being her caregiver is a very long time and I give you a lot of credit for that! As I've told someone else, your mom talking about other people and constantly complaining is all she seems to have in her life and she does it out of sheer boredom. A lot of times people like that want to drag you down into the pit with them. Being that we were basically both smothered, it would be normal to feel like you want and need some space, some breathing room shall we say and it's no wonder you find yourself not enjoying your time together.

Maybe next time she lays the line on you "well, if you want me to move...," you should say ok, lets look at some places. You didn't say how the rest of your family feels about her living with all of you for so many years but, I suspect they would like to have their lives back too.

Counseling is difficult as it's expensive and it is so hard to find one that you work well with and who actually has concrete suggestions for you to try. Otherwise, they just listen, scratch their chin and say "well, it's time to wind down this session and set up your next appointment" until they drain your bank account.

As for listening to the same stories over and over, maybe next time you need to come up with your own story to tell and cut her off at the pass i.e. change the subject.

Somehow, you'll need to find a way to have some much needed "me" time or you will continue in this downward spiral and not be able to get out. I sure hope you can find some kind of relief soon - the pandemic certainly has not helped the situation for any of us. I wish you the best!
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Reply to NobodyGetsIt

I agree with the other posts, but one trivial strategy is to get some good industrial-quality ear plugs and wear them when the lady starts getting repetitive. It may also prompt the big discussion suggested above.
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Reply to MargaretMcKen
energyvampire Aug 3, 2020
Hahah earplugs that did make me laugh!
I think what Alva said is perfect. Next time she brings up the honest! Yes you want your privacy back and it is time she moved to an adult community. Independent living with a place that as she declines they can take on her care. Yes she is going to make you feel very guilty. Don't fall for it! Put it back on her "Mom I love you but I don't want to live with you". Of course she is going to be hurt...but why are her feelings more important than yours. You have put her first for 17 years (and yes bring that up to her!!!) Now it is your turn to live your life.

Think about you miss out on things because mom is there? Vacations? Parties? Having friends over? Alone time with hubby? How many years of giving up on things is reasonable or enough?
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Reply to lkdrymom
energyvampire Aug 3, 2020
This answer really made me think you’re right we missed out a lot in company which we never had much of over the last 17 years because she would always embarrass us or think it would be rude not to join us. And I always did put her happiness first
I would not have wanted my mother living with me though I loved her very much and she had been a wonderful Mom. Nor my father. Nor the beloved brother I just lost. To me it is hard enough to get along with our "significant other" and our own kids. I know my limitations. This is one.
I would have to sit my Mom down and say "You asked me if I want you to move, and the hard answer is that I do. I feel like a bad person telling you this; but I am a private person, and I want my own life. I know my limitations, and while they aren't good or pretty, I accept them. My asking you to have your own place and your own life doesn't mean that I don't love you. I do love you. But living my life for you is giving up my own choice for my own life, and I feel this is the only life I have. Let's to try find you the best place we can so that we can visit one another, go on a few outings together, but have our own lives".
In other words, if you do want your own life you will have to fight for it. You will have to give up being the "good girl" and accept your limitations, and come to peace with your own choices. Otherwise tell me how old Mom is and how old you are and I can quickly calculate out how many decades you have with Mom. And she will become more needy of your time, until you disappear in the vortex of her care.
I am not applying for Sainthood any time soon; don't like the job description in any case. You may be a good deal better and more selfless person than I am.
This is an awful position and an awful decision, and we have to take a hard look at who we are, what we want for our lives, and how much we are willing to give up.
I am so sorry, wish you so much luck, but honestly, this is your choice. You have done this for 17 years. I never could have. It is time for you to have your own life. If you want it.
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Reply to AlvaDeer

It doesn't sound to me like you're a bad person at all.........just a tired person who needs to take her life back & get mom into a senior apartment complex asap!!! I don't think you can look at this with an attitude of 'when she's gone you'll miss her' but at how it's wrecking your peace right NOW, at this moment! 17 years is more than enough of an investment to have your mother living with you! You don't have to suck it up anymore, enough is enough! The next time she asks if you want her to move, say Yes Mom, I think it's a wonderful idea to get into an environment with people your own age. You can even tell her you're thinking about downsizing into a smaller house to save money for your own retirement once she moves out.

My mother is 93 and lives in Memory Care; as her dementia worsens, she keeps saying that she's 'packing her bags' to come home with DH and I. I had to tell her there is NO WAY on earth we could care for her here, even if we wanted to (which we don't) because we can't even get her wheelchair inside. And if we did, it wouldn't fit into the bathrooms or through the doorway INTO the bathroom. The configuration of our house is not set up for handicap accessibility, nor are we equipped to care for her enormous needs. It's ok to be honest; you're burned out, and rightly so, so what's your next move going to be?

I don't think there are 'strategies' for listening to repetitive stories, and especially chronic complaining, which my mother is famous for. I try to change the subject and divert her onto another topic; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. If she's irritated enough, she'll go right back to the complaint she was complaining about before I diverted her. It is torture, but I only have to deal with it on the phone every evening and for a 20 minute window visit every Sunday. You're stuck with it 24/7 so make a plan for YOU leaving the room when she comes to visit. Give her 10 minutes or whatever, then announce you're leaving to take a bath, or make a phone call, or write a letter, or whatever you can think of that's solitary (not something like baking a cake that she can offer to help with) and see how that works out. I often say that I love my mother dearly but I do not like her one bit. It is what it is, right? We don't pick our family members, so we wind up with what we get, good bad or indifferent.

Wishing you the best of luck moving forward.
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Reply to lealonnie1
energyvampire Aug 3, 2020
I often do that 10 minute idea lol and I feel guilty!!! You’re right though enough is enough. And I guess there are no strategies but no one knows the mental torture of the repetitive stories unless you live it for a few months! It’s BAD! 😂😂😂
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