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I am searching for some relief from the pain that I am feeling while caring for my emotionally neglectful elderly parents. I have lived with the neglect of two very dysfunctional parents. I am a highly sensitive person (HSP) and yes, there is such a thing. It is biological! And to top it off, I have been emotionally neglected for my whole 57 years. Somehow, I am a really nice person who cares an awful lot about doing the right thing for people and I find myself living along with my husband, with my mom and dad.


The past year and a half have been a living hell and I am trying to climb out of the hole that I got us in to. I am getting therapy and am searching for those words of wisdom that will resonate with the pain and the pity that I feel at the same time for these two people who I have remained diligent to, yet deserve nothing from me. I went into this situation thinking that I would help make their last few years peaceful, but they started the abuse right up again. Stupidly, I never saw it coming. I have learned so much since then. But now I am desperately struggling with awful resentment that leaves me unable to look them in the eye. I feel such deep pity for their sorry lives and I do what I have to, but feel blank.


I am a very loving person in the rest of my life and have raised a wonderful family, so this is such a horrible burden. Any help? Any insight? Thanks so much.

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I just picked up Anne Rivers Siddons book Up Island. Looks like may be parallels to your life and life as a career giver.
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Not to be mean, maybe just a little envious. You have the time and energy left to read?
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bundleofjoy Jul 23, 2021
hugs! well, i think it’s very helpful to look for/try to read/get inspired from others’ wise words/inspiration/experience, whether it’s fiction/non-fiction, just like we spend time reading this forum.

i wish us all strength, luck, courage, happiness.
:)

hug!!
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" ... And Ladies of the Club" by Helen Hooven Santmyer". It's a very thick book and you won't want the story to end. A helpful note is that all the characters' names in each chapter are listed at the beginning of each chapter. This will help you keep characters straight as they marry and change names, etc. I found it very interesting historical fiction from the time period just after the Civil War up to WWII from the point of view of characters from Ohio. Every person I've sent this book to have loved it. I think you will enjoy it, too. (The woman who wrote it published it when she was in her 80s in a nursing home.) Good luck with your situation. I don't have any words of wisdom for you -- but your question was a recommendation for a good book. And of course the best book of all is the Bible. All the answers are contained in the Bible. You can turn over the care of your parents to competent care givers. Call your state's elder affairs department and ask for help.
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I agree with BurtCaregiver's earlier post - that you really need more than a book to help you with this situation.
You are not alone, statistically over 50% of caregivers are family members that are not paid and are not treated very well by their aging parents. I think that it would do you a world of good to be able to hear the stories of others, to relate to what they are saying, and to choose whether or not you want to share what you are going through.
You cannot change who your mother is but you can control how she affects you. Tend to your own needs by practicing self-care and tend to the needs of your family.
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Proof of Heaven by Neurosurgeon's Eben Alexander
I gave this to elderly adults who were questioning end of life; then they gave it to friends.

Jodi Piccoult writes compelling fiction with different points of views and unexpected twists.
My Sisters Keeper got me hooked. Plain Truth had a totally unexpected ending that made perfect sense. But you have to be able stories that are haunting. In the conversation at the end of My Sisters Keeper, Piccoult says her son didn’t talk to her for 2 weeks when he read the ending.

Young Adult has some thought provoking topics that can be a quick read - or not if you’re reading Harry Potter. Publishers point out YA is a category with a lot of genres so you’ll have to decide dystopia, romance, thriller.

The protagonists are 12-18 year olds and the reader is typically a few years younger so some books are too sophomoric (literally) in tone and topics but a lot aren’t.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is a classic but I preferred The Giver by Lois Lowdry (unusual concept and moral conundrum).

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I read The Luxe by Anna Godbersen about five coming of age Manhattan debutantes in 1899 rewriting the rules. Life isn’t so grand beneath the grandeur stories.

New Adult (NA) has protagonists in their 20s. Bridgerton, The Queens Gambit, Anne with an E, Ophelia … seems like half of Netflix is YA to NA.

Do you know about Bookbub.com. Sign up, pick genres, they’ll send emails with flash sale ebooks marked down cheap to free. I downloaded a sample, got busy and missed the deal. Lesson learned: don’t wait.

I hope you find books that make you happy. The wife of a psychiatrist called reading bathtub books “cheap psychotherapy.”
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NeedHelpWithMom Jul 22, 2021
That’s a great book! Eben Alexander is fascinating!
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knittingfool: This pulled up on Amazon - "Psychotherapy and the Highly Sensitive Person: ..........." by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. There are other books on the subject, too, and I hope that you can benefit from one or another. Best of luck.
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If youre interested in a non-medical book ... read any fannie flagg book.
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KnittingFool, buy the book of Japanese knitting stitches, and start learning them.    One example:

https://www.tuttlepublishing.com/japan/the-japanese-knitting-stitch-bible

It won't answer the questions you raised following your initial post, but it will redirect your attention and require concentration, which can be very relaxing for anyone in a caregiving situation.    And it's creative, which I think inspires clear thinking and inspiration.

When I need motivation and inspiration, I look at some of the cable stitches and patterns, then go to my yarn stash and start planning.  It's very, very diverting from whatever else is going on in my life.
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I don't think a book or several is going to help the situation you live in.
You say you're "trying to climb out of the hole I got us into". What do you mean by that?
I truly hope that you're not somehow blaming yourself for how your parents are because you didn't make them how they are and it isn't your fault.
If you truly believe that you owe them nothing then you don't. There should not be one moment of guilt over it for you either.
Your parents are emotional vampires. They feed on your need to please them and your want for their love and approval. Everyone wants their parents approval and recognition. In loving and functional family units this is a given. In dysfunctional ones with emotional vampires this isn't possible. Instead of giving the love, approval, and recognition parents normally give their kids, emotional vampires hold these things hostage and use them as leverage to get what they want or need and will keep the situation exactly as it is.
Let me ask you a question.
Say you and your husband went out to dinner or something and had a very nice time out somewhere. Then you come home and you're in a happy and good mood.
Will your parents suck that joy right out of you in a minute?
I'm guessing they will because that's what emotional vampires do.
Put them in a home. Stop trying to please and make them happy because nothing you do will ever be enough. Put them in a home.
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Knit,
You said you are new here.
Q."Can you explain what you mean by joining the longer term posters?"
A. You are a newbie, others have been on the forum for years. I wanted you to feel welcome.

1)Boundaries by Townsend.
2) Online videos about narcissism
3) The entire AgingCare website, including articles about narcissism.
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knittingfool Jul 18, 2021
Thanks!
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"Already Toast: Caregiving and Burnout in America" by Kate Washington. "Forced to Care: Coercion and Caregiving" by Evelyn Glenn
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It's comparatively unusual to have *two* at a time. I think it's fair to say that more people's experience is of the better parent dying, and then having the abusive parent's care wished on them.

Could you describe a little more how you came to be living with them? E.g. your idea, or theirs? Your home, or theirs? What are their main support needs, objectively speaking? Then we can move on to practical matters, like where to find a ladder! Hugs to you.
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knittingfool Jul 17, 2021
Thank you so much for your response. Yes. Two at a time is really difficult. We did just place my dad in a memory unit. He is a very mentally abusive person. He has been my whole life. My mom has been a delicate flower petal to him and has allowed a life of abuse to herself and her two children. I spent 56 years wishing for a family that cared about me. My dad resents every minute that I have been alive because I took mom's attention away from him. I never got a minute of attention from either of them because she only wanted to make him stay happy. Not one minute of my childhood was centered around anything but his needs. Oddly enough, he was a guidance counselor and she was a teacher. They were home early and all summer long. There was a lot of time for me to be lonely. His favorite sentence to me was "Go to your room."

I spent my adult life raising a wonderful family of my own and stupidly, sharing my happiness as much as I could with my mom. I took it on myself to balance her miserable husband with my loving children and husband. Unfortunately, she takes and gives nothing back. She and my dad live only with themselves in mind.

As far as myself, I am proud of who I am. It took a ton of work and awareness, along with a superhuman husband, but I overcame the bare minimum to be a great mom and hopefully good wife (36 years married). My kindness and respect for what is right is what got me into my current mess. My parents and I bought a house together that would accommodate being present for their safety. My parents were starting to fall. I was happy to do what family does for each other. Ha... The joke was on my husband and I. The abuse began immediately. I never saw it coming. I thought that I was doing the right thing. I have been clobbered by my dad and my mom is only concerned with herself. She wants my dad gone and she wants no responsibilities what so ever so that she can live out her years in peace. it isn't even on her radar that my husband and I gave up our lives to be there to support them.

In hindsight, this is all obvious, but for a daughter who has always wanted to be a part of a family, I just didn't see it coming. Jokes on me.
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Thank you both, but I was looking for books that will help me deal with this issue. I need to find peace.

And unfortunately, I learned all of this insight AFTER we all moved in together.

Can you explain what you mean by joining the longer term posters? Thanks!
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Harpcat Jul 21, 2021
Have you asked the therapist you are seeing for a book recommendation? They usually have good ones. I read and recommend one by Paul Chafetz….it's on Amazon. He is a psychologist who does counseling of children with difficult parents and even does Online visits. He's in Dallas.
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Send, you beat me to it!   I was searching for the URL while you were typing.

KnittingFool, check out this thread.  You'll find we are a group with varied reading tastes.

Although I love reading books, for short term diversion I read gardening magazines, but I'm also reading my father's collection of Country, Country Extra, and sometimes Reminisce and Reminisce Extra as well as Good Old Days magazines.

These magazines definitely transport me away from the crowed suburban area in which I live to the more peaceful, quiet, contemplative and stunningly beautiful country areas in which many of the contributors reside.  I never fail to relax and daydream when reading or just thumbing through the magazines.

Chicken Soup books are also diversionary.
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Sendhelp Jul 16, 2021
We are both on the same page today, GA.

You had a great answer earlier this morning!
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"Boundaries" by Townsend.

It may be a general consensus here on the forum that a person who was abused should not be their abuser's caregiver. I agree.
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Dear KnittingFool,
Please join all the longer term posters on the thread:

"What are you reading now?"

The books are already listed and discussed.

Enter "What are you reading now?" into the search icon above....
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