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Hi all! In January I brought my dad to the emergency room for severe abdominal pain which turned out to be cancer. It was removed but his extremely frail kidneys failed with the surgery, anesthesia, pain medication, etc. We were all aware of the possibility of it, but he wanted to go through with the surgery. No cancer! It was all removed, but now he is on dialysis. He's gone from a strong willed assertive person to just a small depressed shell of a man. And frankly I've been angry about. My narcissistic mom who has arthritis hasn't been getting the attention she essentially demands through this whole process and has been much more dramatic lately. Anytime someone mentions their issue she makes sure they know her pain is 10 times worse than their's. It never dawned on my that she was affecting my dad's wellbeing, as he has been healthy his entire life, and he has been an amazing patient husband to her. Now that he's the one that needs a little extra help and attention she seems to really be grumpy and sometimes mean to him. I said all of that to say this. I was folding laundry this evening for them and I heard my sweet little frail dad tell Jesus to bring him home because his wife doesn't care about him anymore!!!! My heart absolutely broke. I wanted to run in there and scoop him up and tell him I loved him, but he would have been beyond embarrassed! My mom isn't someone you can address and tell her she hurt someone's feelings. She will blatantly deny it and when she's all finished it was their fault, no matter the issue! Also stuck, because my dad grew up in an era where men swallowed their feelings. That isn't something you discuss. Period. He doesn't ever hardly tell anyone he loves them. He shows it, but doesn't say it. So....that's my plight and I think I just needed to vent. Thanks!

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My mother was very much the same way when my father became quite ill. It was probably the first time in their 62 year marriage when he really needed her. My father had ALWAYS been there for her - taking care of her after every illness, accident or surgery. But the first and only time he needed her she just didn't have it in her.

One particular occasion will always be seared into my heart and soul. It was when my dad was in rehab for five weeks. My mom didn't go to visit him even once. I knew it bothered him - even though he never said anything - so I went to visit him everyday to try to keep his mind off of it and to try and keep his spirits up. One day towards the end of the five weeks - out of the blue, my dad asked me if my mom was divorcing him. When I said "no, of course not", the relief that washed over him was palpable and then he started to cry. It broke my heart and at that moment I hated my mother. 

I never really said anything to my mom - once in a while something would come blurting out in the heat of an argument - but I knew there would be no point to it. Mom would argue and deny - and then slide right into her "helpless victim so unjustly treated" routine and all the sulking and pouting that was the standard routine.
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Your parents are both living in your home? And Dad is on dialysis and is depressed? Mom is narcissistic and has mobility problems?

Yikes! How are you coping? I can surely believe you are tired!

There was a dear little ol' lady in our book club who sometimes had to leave early because we met on a day she had dialysis. She seldom missed a meeting, and she seemed to be pretty active in other ways. She commented once on how many of the other dialysis patients seemed to have given up on life. As long as she was going to go through so much trouble to stay alive, she wanted to make the most of the time she had left. Do you think that if your father's depression was addressed he might perk up a bit and enjoy life somewhat?

I'm not sure what you mean by "addressing her selfishness." Calling her out on it? If she is truly narcissistic confronting her with it isn't going to change anything, is it? I mean, has it ever changed anything in the past?

Certainly when one person in a household is very ill the dynamics of interactions change. I'd try not to neglect Mother entirely, but I'd also not feel a bit guilty in focusing more attention on Father in this situation. Mom's reaction is going to be whatever it is going to be. If she throws a tantrum, ignore it. She is entitled to her own reactions but they don't need to control your behavior.

Best wishes to you. And please take some time for yourself as often as you can manage that!
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