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My older parents have been in and out of the hospital since I was in high school (I'm in my 40s now). I'm an only child with no aunts or uncles. It slowly acclimated to my mom having a stroke and passing away a year later. The home care attendants were in a crime ring and slowly robbed my parents, took loans and after my mom passed away, stole the credit card and bank information. They stole one of the cordless home phones and chargers to call the CC company and bank to ask for more cards, state they were traveling.... I had to piece all of this together with the police investigator's help. The attendants had prior check fraud charges but their attendant agency that charged $21 an hour supposedly didn't know about it ) I'm not the main decision maker, my father is and he makes very bad decisions exposing my parents to home attendants that stole from them, a relator who undersold their house by several thousand and so much more. I don't want power of atty and I don't think my father would give it to me because he wants to be in charge. It's been a lifetime of watching them and now him make bad decisions. They threw money out the window like it was nothing (one example- they stayed in a fancy hotel for 3 years, while keeping their expensive home instead of getting medical help or moving to a different house - my mom thought something was making her sick at the house). I have bent over backward to help them sacrificing my well being while feeling like they don't appreciate me or want me to have my own life. They have felt like terrible children since I was a teen so I have not had my own. I have repressed anger that shows itself when I'm pushed too hard. The main things I don't like is that I don't know how to feel better and no one understands if I try to talk about it. I have tried many things and types of therapy. I have ignored the pain and anger it and fooled people and myself but it still surfaces.


I still have to help my 83 year old father and he is still getting into messes. I don't want to do this anymore. He has no respect or appreciation for me and I was trying to do the "right thing" by helping them. I just feel like I've thrown my sanity and life away. I wish I had moved away years ago and had a cordial, long distance relationship.... at least one of the 3 of us would still be healthy. The disasters happen and are hidden for me to find out about regardless if I'm in the picture or not. What would you do to heal? Please be kind.

"I still have to help my 83 year old father and he is still getting into messes. I don't want to do this anymore."

Stop. Right there. WHY do you HAVE to help your father?

He doesn't want help. He wants to be "in charge".

Let him be in charge. Let him be.

Be a daughter, not a manager. When there is a bad decision and a "mess"--"gee Dad, that's too bad. I don't know how to fix that situation". "Oh Dad, what a sad thing. No, I can't come over to help".

As you point out, he is mentally ill and likely always has been, as was your mom. It's hard to help folks like this. They require professionals.

As Beatty says, let him paddle his own boat.
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Mmm777 Jun 19, 2021
Thank you so much, I'm going to try this for a while.
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It’s easy for people to tell you to walk away but a whole lot harder to do it. Your father is 83 and you will come back into the picture eventually because you are the only next of kin. I suggest that you start small by not helping him out of his next scrape at all. Let him struggle with the consequences of his own decisions. As others have said, if he wants to be in charge of his own decisions, let him be in charge of the consequences of those decisions. Do not help him do anything unless he asks you to do it and do only what is asked. Start a low process of withdrawing from him. Call less, come by less, make yourself less and less available. Wait a while before returning his calls. Tell his creditors that you are not responsible for his debts and to deal with your father directly. Get a better job, join groups and do whatever you can to stay busy and distracted from worrying about him. Redecorate your own house with things you like and enjoy. Get as much physical exercise as you can and try to find a partner if you don’t have one now. Concentrate your efforts on making the best life you can. Self actualization pays a lot more dividends than talk therapy. You’ve already done that yet you are still in a classic role reversal with your father. The only way to stop doing something is to stop doing it. Change your pattern now. You will still be forced to look after your father but your goal is to free yourself psychologically from his degrading grasp and put enough distance between you to gain some objectivity about the ways you have been manipulated and controlled all your life by your dysfunctional parents. Your father will pick up on the change almost immediately and do everything he can to drag you back into whatever relationship suits his narcissistic pattern. This is where having an active therapist to keep you on track could help. I wish you all the lick in the world. This forum is an ideal place for people who are having the kind of problems you describe.
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hughesa Jun 22, 2021
I'm new to the forum, thank you for your feedback! Didn't realize how bad I needed this,
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I am so very sorry for your pain and suffering.

I am sorry for your loss. I realize that you may not have been close to your mom due to the circumstances but I believe that we still grieve for what we longed for in a relationship.

You say that you have tried therapy and you are still struggling. It takes time. It may be worth considering sessions with a new therapist.

Don’t expect changes in behavior from your dad. Instead, learn to change your reaction. Accept him as he is. This doesn’t mean that you have to like or approve of his behavior.

Part of you is lost and struggling, and another part of you has the answer already. You said it when you said that if you had left earlier on, that you would have been happy. So, follow up on this feeling with planning a life for yourself.

As for how do you heal? One day at a time, by reaching out like you just did. You aren’t alone. This forum will help. A good therapist can help. Making plans for the life you want to live will help. It will all come together.

You may have a few scars, but hey, look at those as your battle wounds and YOU won the battle.

Don’t lose hope. You will make it to a better place in your life.
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Mmm777 Jun 19, 2021
Thank you for the encouragement and hope.
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Please consider the over-used story of the plane. You are supposed to put your oxygen on first before putting oxygen onto others. You need to attend to your mental health and other needs at this time. You also need to set boundaries regarding the behavior of your parent. Please consider seeing your medical doctor to make sure your medical needs are addressed. Please consider seeing a counsellor to help with dealing with your past and with setting boundaries with your parent. A good book to read is any of the "boundary" books by Townsend and Clark.

If you suspect your father is not safe or living in a healthy situation, please call Adult Protective Services. If he is in danger, they will take him out of his home and into a facility. If you do not want to be in charge of his care, the courts will appoint a legal guardian to supervise his care.
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Mmm777 Jun 26, 2021
Thank you, very good advice.
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"..he wants to be in charge".

So your Father wants to be in charge of his own life. OK...

That would include him making both good and bad decisions for himself. Also probably some very bad decisions... as he has done in the past. Hmmm...

I can understand wanting to keep your family afloat & functioning, especially as a child. To survive.

Like being weighed down pulling their canoes along behind yours for so long.

What if you paddled on alone now? Where you want to go?

Let your Father paddle his own where he wants?
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Mmm777 Jun 19, 2021
Thank you so much... you have very good points. I have been so distracted by stress and their (and now just his) issues for so long. I really do need to focus on having a healthy life of my own
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I bet if you went to therapy they would tell you, walk away. You cannot change a lifetime of bad decisions. If your Dad has Dementia, you could get guardianship but if he is still considered of sound mind can't do it. You are just going to have to let the chips fall where they may. Maybe eventually allow the State to take on his care when things get bad.
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Mmm777 Jun 19, 2021
Very good point. Thank you for taking the time to read my post and comment. It means a lot.
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As a retired professional, let me add that we do walk away when people don't work with us. Look around, lots of people don't straighten up and fly right. What you need to learn from your parents is that people who continue to make self-destructive decisions lead lousy lives in others' views. Apply it to yourself and move on. You are never going to be real easy with watching your father's behavior and not intervening, but if the interventions haven't worked in 20 years, think about looking at your next twenty years and changing yourself. He sounds pretty content.
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Mmm777 Jun 26, 2021
So true, good point. Thank you
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Wow!
I could feel your pain while reading your post & it brought tears to my eyes.
Rather then add to the excellent advice you’ve received, I’d like to say I sympathize with you & your feelings. It’s a big accomplishment that you are mindful, kind & aware of the human condition. As a fellow only child, I understand how lonely it can be when there’s no one else to help take on the burdens. I’m of a similar age & wish I’d put my life first long ago too.
I’m currently reading, actually listening( audible)to some helpful books.
1. Stop Caretaking the Borderline, Narcissist
2. Out of the Fog
3. Dodging Emotional Vampires
These books came as a result after saying no to a destructive parent & feeling so guilty.
I wish I could give you a hug 🤗 & tell you everything will be ok.
Please believe it’s never too late to make positive changes.
Please don’t accept treatment from anyone if it’s not how you would treat a person. Your life is valuable, you are valuable & I believe in you.
I know that sounds kind of corny but I sincerely mean it.
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FarFarAway Jun 22, 2021
Not corny at all
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I realize that you have a kind heart. You mentioned wanting to be helpful. Just remember though, a person has to want help in order to receive it. Otherwise, trying to help a person that isn’t willing to receive help that is offered to them is completely futile. It never works and is a total waste of time.

Place your time and energy into your future. You tried to help your parents. They opted to do things differently than you would have liked for them to do. That was their right, even if they chose to be foolish and make poor choices in life.

Sometimes, the best thing that we can do for someone is to let them fall down, hoping they will figure out a way to get back up.

Allow your dad to work this out on his own. Be kind to yourself now. You deserve it.

Wishing you peace during this transitional period in your life.
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Mmm777 Jun 21, 2021
Thank you for your kind words and for taking the time to comment. This makes a lot of sense.
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You don't have to do any of it. Just because your parents put you on this earth does not entitle them a lifetime of servitude.

That is what nursing homes are for.
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Mmm777 Jun 25, 2021
That's a very good point. Thank you
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