No other family, just me ... 750 miles away Hi all - first time poster here. Thank you all for sharing your stories... bits and pieces resonate w me. I don't wish upon anyone the pain of watching a loved one age or become ill, but helps to know that others might experience the conflicting feelings I'm about to share. I wish you all peace & resolve.
My mom and I have never gotten along, and though I'm a little better, at 47 yrs old I still cannot control my reactions toward her (yelling, cursing, complete disrespect). She brings out the worst in me and I am very ashamed of myself for how I treat her. We are very different - she's very status quo, obsessed w image & appearance, judgmental, superficial, negative. I have never fit her ideals and she's never really accepted me. But up until about 8 yrs ago when she sold her house (my childhood home), she'd always been there for me (in her own toxic, drama-filled way) and her house represented a safe haven of sorts. She's now 82, lives alone in a suburban NY flat, and has early dementia. I live several states away and don't see her often. There was a time in my life when I thought I would die when she died - even though I sink into the worst depressions when I spend any amount of time with her. Indeed, it will still be very devastating when she does pass, but our relationship has dwindled to the point where I can't stand to be in her company at all. I have struggled my entire life w terrible suicidal depression, and I do what I can to help myself and finally figured out that I have to limit contact w her for my own mental health issues - yet, I feel so much guilt and shame that I can't seem to rise above my feelings toward her.
A lot has shifted in recent years. I now have a child (10) who I'm trying to raise w more positivity, acceptance and emotional support than what I had growing up; for this reason I am increasingly intolerant of my mom's negative outlook.
I don't exactly have a pulse on her day to day life, but I know she pays her bills, gets out of the apt., eats (poorly), sees friends, bathes, and gets on OK in that regard, not a danger to herself or others as far as I know.
For about 7 yrs she lived in absolute fear of a family that lived in the apt. across the hall. It all started out w the "strange smells" of what they were cooking (they were from a faraway country) and soon developed into full-blown paranoia e.g. breaking in & stealing things, transmitting voices through the walls and "little boxes," blowing pot smoke through the vents, and other fantastical story lines. She thought they were trying to sue her, and on and on. I talked to the "offending" neighbors, talked to other neighbors, the cops who were called on multiple occasions, the superintendent of the building, her friends, just to be sure there was no validity to her claims. (I never did find the "stolen" stuff though). She wouldn't move because she didn't want to rent out her apt for fear it would be trashed. All she would talk about had to do w that family and her paranoid delusions about what they were doing to her and I just became so exasperated that I asked her to stop talking about it. One time I tried to divert the conversation by telling a story about a cute puppy we encountered and sure enough she mentioned it could have had rabies, and then went back to her life and her woes. Honestly, I think she's thrived on drama her entire adult life (she's had some crappy stuff & people in her life, including me). She will not have an aide come spend time w her. Adult protective services didn't feel she was a threat to herself and did nothing. She wants to move into private assisted living where I live (waiting list), but for one thing, it would drain every penny she has, and frankly, I don't know how long I will live in this town nor do I really want her living close by. It's way too $$$ for AS in her area.
She sold her flat a year ago (huge loss $$) and now rents an apt. and from what little I know, her paranoia seems to have subsided a bit. I've only seen her once since she's moved.
She had cervical cancer & hysterectomy at 28 (I'm adopted), and at age 78 stage 3A breast cancer (she stayed w me while she underwent mastectomy & chemo). I think she was so preoccupied w her thoughts, she ignored obvious symptoms and didn't press for more testing when mammograms "showed a mass" but docs didn't think it was cancer (!!).
What it boils down to is that as her only family member, I have a duty to be there for my mom but don't really know what to do at this point. I have been horribly disrespectful to her my entire life and really owe it to her to look out for her. But to be honest, and please don't lash out at me, the thought sends me spiraling downward. I am ashamed that I feel relieved not to be in regular contact w her at this stage of her life. I'll spare you the volumes of other details e.g. doctors, diagnoses, money issues, POA, etc (no more room anyway!). The holidays are particularly rough ... thanks so much for reading.