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My mother lives in Hawaii and I live in the continental US. I can not confirm that she is on drugs at this time, but the last time I saw her in May 2015 she was in the hospital for acute renal failure and the nurse disclosed that she had tested positive for amphetamines and prescription medication that she had not been prescribed. Just a little history: she has been using crack cocaine since I was around 12 and has been on disability since around that time. We were homeless through much of my teenage years and I moved out when I was 17, and left Hawaii when I was 19. When I saw her last May in the hospital, the nurse said that she had been in the hospital two weeks prior as well, and that if she continued to abuse drugs she would damage her kidneys to the point of needing regular dialysis treatments. It took her less than 2 months to get to that point. She had been living in care homes since around December 2014 when she lost her apartment. Over the past 8-10 years I have barely been in touch with her and in the past 5 years (prior to finding out about her chronic kidney failure) I may have spoken to her 4 times. This was due to her going on a very long rant over the phone and later in several emails about how I am such a bad daughter. She told me this because I tried to meet her for lunch while visiting in Hawaii and I only waited for an hour past the time she said she would meet me. I have trying to stay in touch with her over the past few months because I know that she will die sooner than later and I feel bad for her situation. I always speak kindly to her and do my best to tell her I love her, because I know it makes her happy. It has been difficult to stay in touch because she is in and out of shelters and the only way I can contact her is through her doctors and at her dialysis. She is now hospitalized again and it really pains me to hear her voice and to hear the fluid building up in her lungs. I have created a good life for myself and have a successful career. I make enough to save a little and pay all of my bills. If I was not afraid of her hurting me as she always has in the past I would take her in immediately. She is extremely difficult and erratic. Her nurses say that she is non-compliant, her social worker had been buying her bus passes and she would "lose" them by the next day. She used to steal from me when I was a teen to buy drugs and she has told me so many times that she is in control and that it is ok to smoke crack. She would ask my grandmother for money knowing that she could not say no. She used to ask me for money, but I started to refuse. After the hospitalization in May 2015 (when the nurse told me she was on drugs) she lied to me and told me that she was not on drugs and she did not know why she was hospitalized. That part of me that always wanted to have a mother wants to take her in, but I am pretty sure that it would not be good for me. I do not know what to do for my mother. I will be visiting in December and I know that I will go to see her and she will likely be in a shelter or a tent if I can find her. It is really very frustrating and painful.

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Whatever mental health progress you've made can be quickly undone by a toxic parent. I too have a toxic parent and I chose to cut him out of my life like a cancer. For years I was in an emotional tug of war with him. He would come into my life for a little while and then poof, gone. When he needed money for a new business venture that was poorly thought through, he came to me. I nearly gave it to him until he treated me and my husband like dirt. That was the final straw. I was done trying to accommodate him and wasting my time on a man whose bad decisions had screwed me and my mother so much that my childhood was much harder than it ever needed to be. Any love I have for him because he is my father is outweighed by the sadness I feel because of him. I do not see him, talk to him, or open myself up to anymore pain and disappointment.

I think you need to ask yourself what good will seeing your toxic parent do for you.

Protect yourself. Protect your heart. There is only so much heartbreak one can endure. Don't you have better people in your life to spend your precious time and energy on?
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Unfortunately, your mother has made her own very bad choices and is suffering from them now. It's normal, and compassionate for you to feel an apparent mixture of pity, sadness, yet still daughterly love and obligations, but this is unfortunately a situation in which whatever you do will not yield positive rewards.

If you do see her, recognize that it is for your benefit, not hers, and that you probably will be overwhelmed at her condition. Try also to recognize that there is nothing you can do for her at this stage, but seeing her one more time might be beneficial if only to put to rest any feelings that you might have, and regret that she wasn't a better mother. Some people just aren't cut out for motherhood, or for making good choices. Children generally can't change that.

Try to prepare yourself for disappointment and sadness if you do find her. But always remember, she had choices; the ones she made were not healthy or desirable ones, and that's not your fault, nor is there anything you could have done about it.

I think many of us wrestle with trying to help parents in their hour of need while battling the brutal fact that they likely aren't going to change, and we need to reach an accommodating medium that we're done all we can. (And our children may feel the same way about us!)
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Your mother is getting the care she needs--from professionals. Taking care of an addicted person, even if it is your mom or your child, is best left to folks whose judgement is not clouded by love and longing for what might have been.
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It is always extremely painful to lose a parent, whether we lose them to death or dementia or drug addiction or anything else.

Continue to seek her out and tell her you love her and speak kindly to her. That is probably as much as you can do at this point. You are definitely not a bad daughter. She has been a bad mother, but she is still your mother and still worthy of your love. I have a feeling that she wasn't a bad mother by choice -- that there forces in her life she just couldn't overcome.

But whether I blame her or pity her, your welfare should be the uppermost concern right now. I suspect you'd never forgive yourself if you completely abandoned your mother now. Continue to try to contact her with loving messages. I also suspect that it would take you years to recover if you allow yourself to get dragged more deeply into her sad world.

Love her -- from a safe distance.

(If I thought there was a chance you could cure your mother my response would be different.)
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