Mother has early dementia and personality disorder. Anyone have advice to help with boundaries/guilt?

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After being on call 24/7 for her, we moved my mom into Independent Liv. recently. Very nice place close to us. She wanted to move there and seems to like it--making friends, getting settled in. Except. As I write this, we're packing to go out of town for a few days. We haven't taken a vacation in nearly 2yrs because she could not be left alone for that long. Even if we tried to take a day trip, she would have a panic attack and call us/act out. She left an angry msg earlier today and my guilt response kicked in immediately. I have been programmed very well to respond when she's unhappy. Her emotional well being has been my lifelong job. When she does not get the attn that she wants, she becomes angry and vicious. She used to go on what we dubbed "spite walks." Sometimes these were at night. Or during the day and she'd get lost. She would tell us that these were to teach us a lesson (her words). Now we know she's safe so even if mad, she has people around her to look after her. People who are probably infinitely better at this than I am. And yet, I'm riddled with guilt. I know logically that my husband, son, and I need a few days away. We need time together. But every cell in my body is saying I'm being selfish and neglectful. (Yes, I'm in therapy.) Does anyone else struggle with this? How does one set compassionate boundaries? Is it unkind to let calls go to voicemail? Thanks.

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My parents both used to leave messages that caused me to feel guilty and neglectful. Yet, I know they are well cared for, healthy and safe in their assisted living/memory care home. I visit frequently, speak with the staff via facebook or email, so I'm able to detach a bit from the guilt and feeling of being "on call".
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I can certainly empathize with you on this one. You sound like a good mother, wife, and daughter who is trying to do everything right. Please don't feel guilty for setting boundaries. My mother also had a lifelong personality disorder and died a few months ago from early-onset Alzheimer's. When you say that your mother's emotional wellbeing was your lifelong job, I thought "oh my gosh, I KNOW that feeling." It was the same way for me growing up with my mother. She would rage in anger if we weren't giving her the attention she thought she needed and tell us how bad and unloving we were. She would keep me home from school and make me lay in bed beside her all day just because she "couldn't handle it today." I was shamed for any thoughts or feelings about myself. I call her persona under her mental illness "Bob." And "Bob" controlled every outcome in our family, I'm sad to say. We all learned pretty young in life to walk on eggshells and tiptoe around "Bob," anything to keep "Bob" from flaring up and rearing that ugly head of anger and rage at us. So, I was pretty hardcore programmed to respond to her every emotional whim and feel guilty if I ignored her. Then she developed Alzheimer's in her early 50s and was severe by her mid 60s. Boy did I feel the guilt for a while! But through serious mindfulness and the help of many on this site, I realized one day that I had no power to control or change her lifelong mental illness. Certainly, I could have compassion for her disease and make sure she was clean and fed and dressed but I need not feel any shame or guilt for letting a Nursing Home be the ones to provide that care for her. I couldn't do it and be a decent human being at the same time. I placed her in a Nursing Home, visited once a week, and spent my time focusing on my children, my husband, and my job. Believe me, I KNOW that's easier said than done. I'm glad to hear you are doing therapy. I don't know if I've said anything helpful, but I did want you to know that yes, someone else out here understands how you feel. It's very, very hard. Be good to yourself. Be compassionate to her within limits, and be good to yourself!!!
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Are you having concerns that she will be able to sneak out for a 'spite walk" ?
A nagging feeling?
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As an adult, you have a hierarchy of responsibilities. To your minor child. To your husband. And above all, you need to keep YOURSELF well, or who is going to care for the family you've started?

Your mom's needs are a distant third. You all need a vacation after two years of being "taught a lesson" . That would have lasted one day with some of us here, lol.

In functional families, caregiving is arranged, it demanded. Did it ever occur to you that mom is mentally ill, if she's been behaving like this since you were a child?

Mom is now in a facility, being cared for. Please tell the facility not to contact you during your vacation.
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Dear nghall65,

You sound like a very dutiful, loving and caring daughter. I'm so sorry to hear how you feel. I know you are doing everything you can to help your mom. Please know you are not alone in these feelings or struggles.

You are not selfish. Self care and your own family is very important. It is not unkind to let phone calls go to voicemail. Take that break with your son and husband. It is much needed.

We women try to be everything to everyone, but sometimes we have out for ourselves as well. I didn't know how to do that and let the anger and resentment build. It was a terrible mistake. I wish I could go back and do things differently but my dad has since passed.
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