I've been dealing with my parents' decline for a decade. It has involved a lot of ugly stuff including alcoholism (both of them), verbal abuse, dad's dementia, among other things. Dad died a few days ago and mom is on an alcoholic bender. I'm grieving my dad but wondering now what lies in the future with her. Maybe another decade?

Do I have a future? Is this normal? Is there something I missed in the "Kid's Handbook" that your parents would destroy your life one day and leave you a damaged wreck, fighting for your own mental health and future?

Is anybody else so wrung out?

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Upstream, I've been away all day and am just getting to reply now.

You are not damaged goods. You are grieving. Your mother is an addict and if you keep propping her up, she will have no reason to change her behavior.

You need to go to Al-Anon. You need to detach from mom and call APS and report her as a vulnerable adult. She is not going to get the right help if you keep bailing her out.

It's called detaching with love.
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I am so sorry to read such a gut retching post. You deserve so much better. I would back away, either get some in home care for her or when she goes on a bender have her baker acted refuse to take her home and let them deal with her.

For me, it would be time to cut the cord, you have done more than your part, let her go. It is either you or her, I would choose you. Sending hugs your way!
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Been there and still doing it! Burnout from caregiving is a growing epidemic in U.S. according to my psych doc. I burned out about 5 years a go and checked myself into the mental behavioral ward in my local hospital. Fortunately my son lived in the same house as my mother and me and took over her care for 7 days. It was a nightmare. I was the only patient at the time suffering caregiver BO. The majority of people were being treated for suicide, depression, etc. Long story short, the staff psych doc changed my depression and anxiety meds and i was coerced into participating in social activities everyday i was there. At night there was no sleeping as i could hear patients screaming, crying, foot steps in and out of rooms. After 3 days i had had enough however they would not allow me to go home until they felt i could handle the stress of caring for my mother. I had a second episode several years after this one and the 2nd time was far worse than the the 1st time. Try not to let yourself get to this breaking point. Meditate, exercise, do breathing exercises, go for a quick a spiritual book...anything to focus on positive experiences. You will make it and remember you have a choice.
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NeedHelpWithMom Nov 2019
God bless you, Essie. It’s so hard! God bless your son too. Glad you are better. We all have breaking points. I hit mine too!

I cared for my brother who was a heroin addict. It just about destroyed me.

I was putting myself at risk. He had hepatitisC from his lifestyle. I should have abandoned him many times but my mom kept asking me to help him. The bottom line is even though addiction is considered an illness, they are still selfish. Addicts ALWAYS put themselves first.

He was too sick to clean his apartment so when I brought him to his doctor appointments I would stay afterwards to help him clean.

The day I pricked my finger on one of his needles that he shot up heroin with, infected with hepatitisC, I quit cleaning for him. Thank God I didn’t draw blood. It scared the hell out of me though.

After his motorcycle accident where he almost died I nearly lost it. My other siblings did not go to see him.

My mom couldn’t go, so I went. He was in horrible pain. He was so tolerant to drugs from being a heroin addict that the amount of pain meds that they gave him in the hospital did not help.

He was desperate and asked me to meet with his dealer to buy drugs for him. I lost it! I couldn’t even answer him. I left his hospital room and fell apart in the hall.

A lovely nurse stopped to check on me and told me that I had to tell my mom that I couldn’t care for him any longer.

I went back in his hospital room and told him to never ask me to buy drugs for him ever again.

I still cared for him. I couldn’t pull myself away. It hurt like hell to see him destroy himself. Like a fool I thought if I loved him enough he would at some point agree to rehab. I understand emotionally what you are dealing with.

We have so many mixed emotions growing up with addicts. It’s more complex than people realize. I will never judge you.

Yours is alcohol with your parents. Mine was drugs with my brother but it doesn’t matter. It’s still addiction. Addiction specialists will tell you this. I tried to get him into Bridge House here in New Orleans. He would not go.

My brother was odd. He could do what many can’t. He would throw himself into a room and go ‘cold turkey’ but was never able to stay away. He always went back to drugs. I watched him overdose from the time I was 7 years old. It scarred me for life. Earlier in his life he was very successful and even owned his own business, a hair salon.

Addicts will not change. The last straw was an afternoon where we had a horrible argument and I told he and my mom that it was over.

It finally hit a head and I was able to walk away until he was dying and I brought mom to the end of life hospice facility. Then my other brothers went to see him. They didn’t have anything to do with him before that. I did forgive my brother. I am glad mom got to see her first born son before he died.

His friend called us to say that he brought him to hospice. He had been homeless until this man, a perfect stranger, took him in. The man had an unused RV on his property and let my brother use it.

I don’t know if you can walk away from your mom or if you even want to. If you do, I stand behind you and support you. I know how hard it is. Please don’t allow her to destroy you. I don’t regret walking away. I had mom living with me then and I couldn’t stretch myself that thin. It was killing me.

You deserve to live. Dealing with addicts will slowly kill you. It was too late for my brother. He was in too deep. Some people manage to quit using and stay sober. I wish with all my heart and soul that he could have done that. He lived his life as a tortured soul. So very sad.
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Riverdale Nov 2019
I have heard parts of your story but never to that degree. I didn't realize you still have 2 brothers left. I am sorry for all you have been through. It is certainly true that many addicts cannot change but as I am sure you know there are those who do. I have known ones with harrowing stories who finally find sobriety and embrace it. Some become wonderful changed people and others just become sober people. I guess there is only so much of a personality that can change. I hope you can pass this holiday without too much sadness. At times we have to look out for ourselves.
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Oh boy, how I feel your pain. Just about my entire childhood was screwed due to my brother’s heroin addiction.

Yeah, so those of us who struggle to find ourselves after living with addicts find some healing and joy as an adult, then BAM the caregiving years hit!

It’s impossible not to be thrown back into a funk. My dad is gone now too but daddy and I overcame and totally healed with one another and actually became very close.

With mom there was healing too and we were close for many years until the heavy responsibility of caregiving hit.

My caregiving days of mom ended but not in a peaceful manner. Mom didn’t accept boundaries and stirred up so much crap that my brothers accused me of elder abuse.

I had to tell her to go live with my brother and SIL. It’s over for me but I still deal with the sadness of all the miserable 14 plus years that she lived in my house and grieving for a mom that is alive. It never ends in our heads. I hope one day it will and that I find true peace.

I had plans to place her in an assisted living facility and then visit as her daughter. That was what I dreamed about.

I refuse to go by my brother’s house. Would be a nightmare at his house. I never felt welcome in his house.

She will not visit me. Saying it’s too hard to get out. She gets out to doctor’s appointments. That’s the only place she would go.

I sincerely hope that you also are able to find peace in your life, upstream.

Take care and hugs.
Helpful Answer (6)

I've been reluctant to post because I have no life experience with what you are going through but I don't think a post like yours should go unanswered for over an hour. You are still in the early stages of grieving and it is a very complicated grief, you need to give yourself time to find your footing. It seems to me that beyond the loss of your father you need strategies and counsel from others dealing with family members who have alcohol problems, have you ever attended Al-Anon?
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Upstream Nov 2019
No, I have not tried that yet although it has been suggested for me. Thank you for answering my post. I'm struggling today, reaching out...I have no siblings and because of the way my parents lived their later years, there are no friends or other family members. I am trying not to burden my husband as he has dealt with so much sh*t from my parents over the years I am afraid there will be a last straw some day...
Upstream, great big warm hug!!!!

Are you able to disconnect from your mom for a week or 10 days? You need time for you right now and I don't think she is helping you grieve.

It is so important to take care of you right now. Your body was obviously running on adrenaline and now you are feeling the effects of losing part of what has kept you hypervigilant for the last decade. Your body is all at odds and ends because of this. You will probably crash and sleep for 3 days if you can get your mom out of things for a while.

Can I encourage you to eat healthy, get lots of vitamin c and use a magnesium supplement, good for your nerves and helpful to build you up.

One thing at a time for right now, you have suffered a big loss and it is okay to tell mom to leave you alone. Hugs!
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Upstream Nov 2019
Isthisrealyreal, Thank you for replying. Haha mom called me at 5:30 AM today to bring her beer. I'm heading to her house shortly to write out checks for her bills that are piling up. She lives down the street from me, I have no escape. Your analysis of running on adrenaline, I believe, is spot-on and I appreciate you pointing that out. I am just exhausted. I have been taking care of business with my chin held high in order to represent my dad well - wrapping up things at his memory care facility and the funeral home because, of course, mom is too drunk to do any of these things.
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Yes you have a future and no this is not normal. I've not experienced this, but if I were ya'll, I think I'd sell my house and leave for good to save myself and my marriage! Calling you at anytime of day or night to get her some beer is uncalled for.
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It’s impossible to see the light of day when you’re suffering from such extreme physical and emotional exhaustion. But that doesn’t mean the light isn’t there. YOU have a future but right now, let’s take baby steps. You need to be gentle with yourself and take the time to grieve: for the loss of your father, for the loss of an independent life, and for the loss of the family you really needed because it was taken by dysfunction and alcoholism. It won’t happen overnight, but with each step you’ll stand a little taller. Google adult children of alcoholics and read everything you can find. Al-Anon meetings are great so try that if you can. At some point, you’ll need to decide what to do about mom. Remember, you can’t fix her. You can only fix yourself and how you deal with her. But right now, you cry, you scream, you block your mother’s calls and you sleep for as long as you can. We’ll have better days and we will get through this. Hugs.
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Totally agree. My whole childhood I thought we were poor although both parents had good paying jobs and my mother worked when women didn’t work at all. I could never work it out. My childhood was a nightmare Didn’t see either of them for 15 years because I wouldn’t let them near my children

then mother gets diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and in care at age 66. Father can’t pay his bills or feed himself. Brother turns up from UK unexpectedly to force Dad to sell his house. Turns out father was a life long gambler. Had a reverse mortgage on the house (150K AUS) Cashed in everything they had to gamble. Then he gets one thing after another but still hangs on to 88. They actually ran out of room on the death certificate While during the last six if those years battling through with a husband with FTD. Forced to move to a new state to be near son to help with his Dad and he is a real help. BUT then his wife cheats on him and walks out the door because she wants to have fun. Left 2 and 4 yo with me for six weeks while dealing with my husband. Now they have one week on one week off parenting arrangement which means I have them for the week and they are hard work

other son blames me for his poor life choices and when the bank of mum and dad is shut down, I’m a c*nt who gave his father dementia
i have absolutely no life even though husband is now in care. However it seems to be just as much work but with anything up to 12 phone calls a day from him. I am the person that has to keep going so everyone else’s life can keep going and I am sick of it
Get out while you can and let your mother’s troubles fall where they may
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