She was a sad person, depressed, anxiety, nervous breakdown - she really struggled with those issues. And in reading over the emails she sent me over the years they were only about taking her shopping, picking up meds, doing things for her, etc. She relied on me heavily as there was no one else. So it was not a fun relationship for me and I suspect not for her either. So that makes me sad for her and me and regretful that I did not work harder at the relationship. I didn't work at it at all. I was young and not too aware in my 20s, 30s, and 40s. My 50s I got smarter! But all in all, I just regret not really sharing myself with my mother and vice versa. We were not a close knit family, just the opposite. And now that she has passed on, I am very regretful and sad. I'd be interested in everyones thoughts as today was a sad day for me.

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I would suggest forgiving your mother for her having a breakdown and forgive yourself for what you did not do back then which you can't change now. I think forgiveness is key to being able to move forward in the present and future.
Helpful Answer (1)

Blooms I think you need grief counselling for sure but the serenity prayer may help you here if you are religious and even if you are not - I am not so I have made two one for if you are and one if you are not - with huge apologies to all who believe but are not Christians.

God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

I prefer this:
I will try to find the grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
I will try to find the courage to change the things which should be changed,
and I will try to have the wisdom to know the difference.
I will try to live one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time,
I will try with good grace to accept that hardship is part of the pathway to peace,
We live in a world of turmoil that I find hard
And I alone cannot make all things right,
But this I promise to myself my friends and my family
I will try my best to be reasonably happy in this life,
Until such time as I leave it
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I agree about counseling. It may provide you with new ways to view what happened and help you find peace with it.

When a parent suffers with a mental illness, personality disorder or some other trait that causes a rift, wall or barrier to closeness, it's not the child's fault nor the child's responsibility to fix. And even as adult children we try to fix it. It doesn't work. You may regret not trying more, but, there are people who do try A LOT MORE. And it doesn't repair it. I hope you can find some comfort and contentment as you move forward with your life.
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You realize it was not your fault. You could not have that relationship with the person that was your biological mother because of her illness. Your mom could not teach you through her example how to have a close, loving relationship with her, not because you did not try, but because she was unable to form that bond. That was because of her mental illness.

A mental health professional would be able to help you explore this question in much more detail. When you go to "therapy" as it's called, you are actually paying for lessons in what makes people tick and how they get there. You can use some of those techniques in your own life too, or you can become a better observer of situations. Many insurance companies cover these lessons because it benefits everyone to understand each other better, and if they are paying for it, there's no risk. I have enjoyed therapy greatly and have lots of insight into why my folks were and are that way.
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Bloomschool - those who see my responses know that i often recommend counseling - it helped me greatly understand and accept family dynamics - what i can change, what i couldn't change.

You can't change how your mother was. I do think alot of people in her generation didn't talk about feelings but showed love by doing things for people. My dad never said "i love you" but felt that by putting food on the table he was showing it. My mom also didn't verbalize affection or hug us or anything like that. But she did see that we did homework etc.

Counseling helped me because i kept trying to change my behavior to please my mom - who was pretty manipulative and i think had some mental issues. It would probably help you come to terms with her breakdown when you were 12 (how frightening that must have been!) and your relationship over the years.

At the end - your mom knew that she could count on you. You showed her you cared - by helping her. Your actions speak. You can and should forgive yourself. Bless you
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I do have deep regrets. I think she tried in her own way in her last years to be a mother but ive been angry at her since her breakdown when i was 12. Deep regrets and anger at myself for not trying to improve the relationship. Now she is gone and how do i address this issue?
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If there is one trait that is common of caregivers of parents with whom the relationship has always been troubled, it is giving in a last ditch effort to win the parent over and have the parent-child relationship that you never had, However, in a great majority of the time, the parent is not able or willing to change and I've seen adult children sacrifice to the point of self-destruction in trying. While this is noble, it is wasted effort and not wise. Some of us have to be a good parent to ourselves because of a parent that was not able to.

I would say that beneath the feeling of regret are deeper feelings of grief over never having the relationship with her that should of and could of been there if she had been a healthier person, but she wasn't. Life can't be really lived in the could of and should of's of life. I hope you will leave the could of's and should of's behind and move forward with actively living your own life. Give yourself the freedom to do that.
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As the saying goes "it takes two to tango" Mom did not know how to dance which was not her fault nor yours. So put the regrets away and remember any good moments that there were even if it was only the day you moved out and were finally free. You cant' share with someone who won't share with you. We all have 20/20 vision when it comes to looking back, so accept the fact that the family was not close. That is a fact of life and however hard you tried Mom wasn't going to change. It is sad that things were the way they were but you remained a good daughter for her and made sure her last years were comfortable. I think the reason he emails were only about things she needed you to do was because she simply did not know how to connect any other way. We learn from the example of her parents and she probably had the same relationship with her own mother.
You are now old enough and insightful enough to change the pattern going forward so make sure your family knows how to dance and it is up to you to teach them.
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bloomschool, it bothered me that my mother and I weren't closer. I felt like if I could only be nicer to her, etc., then we would be closer. I figured it was all me and that I was just not a loving daughter. Then I noticed that my brothers were also not close to her. All of us kids were not close to my father, either. He had what we now call Asperger's, so didn't bond with any of us. Thinking of all these things, I realized that it was not that we were bad children, but that my parents had spent a lifetime pushing us away. They didn't choose to visit or call. When we visited them, we didn't feel very welcome -- like they were waiting for us to leave so they could get back to living or something.

Even now I can sit down to talk to my mother and she start arguing me or belittling me. It's like she's trying to push me away still, even though I live with her.

If you think about it, your lack of closeness could have been two ways. If parents spend their lives pulling the family to them, they will probably stay close. If not, they won't. This may not be the case in every instance, but in the case of my family, it was. There was just not enough love shared between people to keep everyone bonded.
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Growing up is not about taking care of your elders, it's about making them proud of who you have become. Dr. Laura on the radio says Mother is another word for "she who must be left!" Please don't feel guilty for having your own life. That's what you were made for.

Your mom's mental illness prevented her from having happiness in who you were, not because of you, but because of her brain chemistry.
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