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Here I am, again. I don't know why I am not coping better. I just had some kind of mental meltdown because I do not want to see my mother every day. I'm sick of it!


The expectation on her end is certainly there. I mean she eats at my place 80% of the time, and if I'm not already at her place she thinks nothing of calling me to announce she is coming over. Me: Why? Her: I'm bored.


WTH is wrong with me that I can't make and enforce boundaries? In my life I have not been a weak person, but in this situation I feel so weak and so depressed.


If I make plans and go do something for myself, I feel guilty that she is in her place all alone. I know she is dealing with this terrible disease and knows this on some level so I feel terrible for her, and it makes it impossible for me to enjoy time away.


My husband tried reminding me that my mom has been a widow for almost 25 years. According to him she is "used to being alone"... IDK, maybe he is right? But why is this so hard?


How can I get rid of the guilt? I don't even know why I have all this guilt. I feel guilty that I don't enjoy being around her, but I can't stand the thought of her suffering. This sucks!

Your mom's emotional hold on you comes from having groomed you to be that way from childhood. She is playing those buttons of Fear of making her angry, Obligation to be her obedient girl, and Guilt for ever thinking about living your own adult life as an adult. That's called F.O.G.. It's emotional blackmail and you need to work with a therapist to get out of this emotional dance. She will not stop trying to dance, but you can stop being her dance partner. I wish you the very best.
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ExhaustedPiper Apr 6, 2019
Thanks for your response. I see I missed several good responses in the last couple days, I AM in a FOG! This is not normal! It's especially not normal for me. My career was taking care of people. I cared for my dad through cancer and NEVER had these feelings. So yeah.... this is from childhood/adolescent/ young adult abuse until I could get the hell away from her and I did. My entire adult life I stayed away. Why I made the decision to move her here is in-explainable to me right now but I regret it with everything in me.

So... now I'm reacting to this frail old woman like a scared child. I can't believe I could still be feeling this way at 56. I want so badly to be healed of this... I think it's some form of PTSD. I don't mean to sound dramatic, but that's the only way I can explain my extreme emotional response to her for something as stupid as a bad comment on her end. I should be able to brush it off as the musings of a demented old narcissist and just not care. Instead I practically have a panic attack. And the feelings last for days. Not normal.

I know I need therapy and more than what I get from the psychiatrist. I started looking for someone yesterday and sent an email to a woman who had a link through Psychology Today. She is local to me. I was happy to get a response this morning that she can see me the week of the 15th. I was impressed with her profile. She's been doing therapy for a long time and the credentials looked good.

I'm going to let her guide the way, and I'll do the work, even though I don't know what that will entail. A lobotomy would be nice to just forget all the shitty things my mother did and didn't do to me and my siblings. But obviously that won't be happening, so I'm hoping this therapist can help me put this behind me for good and see my mom for what she is now- old and declining in a scary way. I mean scary for her. I'm able to have empathy for others, I need to learn to have it for this person who is my mother.
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This is from another poster, CMagnum in response to another poster.

"In setting a boundary, you are seeking to protect yourself, not change the other person. Just tell them calmly how it is going to be and leave it at that."
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Hi, Piper. I'm sorry you're having such a hard time with this and hope visiting with a therapist helps you get a handle on it.

I'm just wondering if what you're dealing with is really guilt. I'm not a therapist so take what I say with a 50-lb block of salt, but I think what I'm hearing you describe sounds more like resentment. When you moved your Mom in next door to you, you expected her to have a life that touched yours only incidentally and occasionally, and much more at your convenience than has proven to be the case in reality, is that right? Instead, she has become pretty much all-consuming, which you did not expect. Shock and resentment are only natural responses to such a sudden and unexpected change in your life.

If I am correct, these responses are completely natural on your part and there is no need to feel guilty about what you are feeling. Of course, that does not mean anyone can wave a magic wand and Hey Presto, all these unpleasant and stressful emotions will just vanish like morning mist! Would God that such were the case! But perhaps it will help to some extent just to know that a) you are not alone in these distressing and conflicting emotions, and b) they are completely normal. Oh, and c) they don't mean you are a monster or unnatural child! Just that you are dealing with a baffling and difficult disease that is not easy for anyone.

Do whatever you must to maintain balance and sanity in your own life. Your mother will not die if you take some time for yourself. Take a deep breath, grit your teeth, and go out for coffee with a friend. Turn off your phone for an hour. Go get your hair or your nails done. Breathe. It'll be okay. And hang out here when you can. Good people will comfort you. God bless, and (((hugs))).
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ExhaustedPiper Apr 1, 2019
Thank you. It is resentment, but it's resentment over old wounds and issues. I'm going to work on getting over that so I can deal with the here and now.

Thank you for being one of the many comforting women on this site.
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I don't know if drugs will give you the gumption to do what you need to do.

I think talking to someone and owning the fact that you moved away many years ago because mom had a personality disorder and then you were bamboozled into moving her nextdoor and that you resent the hell out of her and her disrespect, ungrateful, entitled attitude would be much more beneficial.

I don't like either of my parents, they did that, not me. I spent a long time getting over the hate I had for them and the way they dealt with or didn't deal with us kids growing up. That was the game changer for me. I had guilt because I hated them and it gave them power, once I found love for them I was able to enforce healthy boundaries and not let them control me. My point is, make sure and deal with the issues at the root of this instead of covering them up with drugs.

You can do this, start writing down what you want to see happen and start telling yourself that you can do it.

If you believe you can or if you believe you can't, you are right.
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SparkyY Mar 31, 2019
I'm missing the part where the OP said anything about drugs? I read it three times and I still don't see any reference to them.
What am I missing?
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Your hubby is correct. Mom has been on her own for a long while and unless it’s dangerous for her to be alone there’s no reason for this overwhelming guilt you’re imposing on yourself. It’s going to make your other relationships suffer. Therapy may help, it’s never a bad idea. It’s hard because she’s a mom you love and care for, but you’re not good for her if you’re not taking care of yourself. You know what needs doing, the boundaries, the limits, but you have to give yourself permission to lose the guilt to practice it. You’re doing good care for mom, time to do some for you
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ExhaustedPiper Mar 31, 2019
Thank you. The rational part of me knows that everything you said is true.

I think the main reason for my vent and big source of frustration is that she moved 8 hours away from all her friends and a town she was very familiar with. At the time I didn't realize she had dementia and I assumed she would make new friends here and be able to cultivate a social life for herself. Now I know she is never going to do that, I don't think she is capable of forging new friendships. She has zero interest despite my attempts at introductions, and refuses to even consider the senior center. She told me she "doesn't like being around old people". So... her isolation is making this extra hard. At first it really made me angry, at her, because I felt she was just being stubborn. But now I think she really just doesn't have the capacity anymore which is sad. But it doesn't change the fact that I myself am going nuts.

Thanks for letting me vent, again.

If anyone has an extra pair of big girl panties please send them my way!
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Take small steps. The longest journey begins with a single step.

Stop eating dinner with her 5 nights a week. Nicely explain that you and your husband have things to do before and after dinner. Invite her over for "family dinner" on a night (or two) of your choosing.

Also, change up your evening routine regarding dinner. Preempt her coming over to your (side of the) house by going over to her place and warming up her evening meal. Also, go over with information about a movie that's on television that night so that she has something to keep her entertained.

Your mother is needy. Recognize that she would benefit from being around other people her own age. Take her to the senior center and pick up a schedule of activities. Ask the senior center director to help "sell" your mom on participating in (at least) one activity.

Doing things differently takes time. Establishing new routines and new habits takes at least 3-4 weeks. But I believe that during those 3-4 weeks time that you will start to feel better and the black cloud will start to lift.
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ExhaustedPiper Apr 1, 2019
Thank you for the suggestions. I agree small steps to establishing a routine that works for her and me.

By the way, she refuses to even consider the senior center. I talked to the director myself and got a calendar of activities and she wouldn't even look at it. I think I'll keep revisiting the idea though every month or so, there may come a point where she will be willing to try.

In the meantime I'm going to stop internalizing what I imagine to be her loneliness and boredom when I'm not with her, and let her figure out some things for herself. She has a very nice place to live that is safe and accommodating. (for now) You're right I don't need to be there every single day and doing so many dinners together. That may need to happen in the future as things progress but for now it doesn't have to be that way and I can adapt to this without making it harder on myself.

Thank you for the encouragement and advice.
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You've gotten some good suggestions here, so I'll focus on another aspect of this discussion - giving up and seeking diagnosis/medication for depression and "covering up with drugs." If you do, indeed, have depression, there's no shame in recognizing it and dealing with it - through a combination of medication and/or other therapies, such as talk therapy.

This is not "giving up." Depression interferes with your ability to make decisions, in addition to just being an unbearable condition to deal with. I speak from experience, though everyone's experience is different. And the medications I'm aware of for the disease of depression don't cover up anything; they alter the chemical balance in your brain, bringing you to a state of normal.

Self-medicating with alcohol, food, illegal drugs, etc. - that's covering up. That's not a good choice and we all (probably) know that, though I'm willing to bet a good number of us do that on occasion, too. On occasion isn't the problem - using those methods as a perpetual way of escape is. But you're smarter than that.

I would suggest reframing your thinking around taking care of you, whether it is through diagnosis of your own illness (depression) and suitably treating it. Be good to yourself and appreciate your husband's support. I wish you good luck.
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The guilt card has been removed from the deck - "Mom, I have a doctor's appointment, a church meeting, anything of the like. I will NOT be available." End of discussion. Because if you don't do this, you will fall ill.
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Please go see a therapist, psychiatrist or a good medical doctor. In the least the therapist can help you understand why you are so willing to ruin your health and life for someone who may not return the dedication. If you have told her how you feel and she doesn’t listen, you need help . Your post is so full of anquish you need someone impartial to help you see what’s going on inside you.
Its funny how we are so used to a situation, we just don’t see it. My husband always( married over 40 years) hated the way my mother treated me but I seriously never saw it until I went to a therapist. Then he was like “ well, duh” but it helped me so much
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I agree that talk therapy will probably be the most beneficial to deal with your own feelings and resentment toward your mom. It's not easy when you feel like the parent to your needy parent, I know.

Just remember though when dealing with her that "No" is a complete sentence. You are grown, and you don't owe your mom an explanation. Also, her feelings are not your responsibility. She may be lonely, but it's not your fault nor your responsibility to fix. There are options available to her for social activities that she's chosen to turn down.

I know it's hard, but you can tell her, "No, Mom, I'm sorry, that won't work for me today. I'll see you on (day and time of your choosing)."
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ExhaustedPiper Apr 6, 2019
Thank you. Everything you say is true. I made arrangements for talk therapy that will start the week of the 15th. Luckily my insurance will cover it.

BTW- you hit the nail on the head. Why should I feel guilty that my mom is lonely when she refuses to help herself. And her excuse- she "doesn't like to be around old people".... just shut up already. I know plenty of older people who love senior activities and flourish in the socialization. My in laws are like that. But my mom? Nope. She would rather sit home and watch Judge Judy and have me fill her social needs. It's nuts and I'm relieved that I will soon be starting therapy.
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