I am already emotionally worn out. And on edge. Mom called while I was out. She thought I might have called her. She left two messages. The second one she sounded stern. Barbara, call me back I want to know what you wanted. She also told me about her extreme pain that she took a pill and fell asleep that's why she missed the call. Brother told her my phone number was on recorder. She gave me another problem to deal with also. I have paid parts or all of gas and electric bill on line. Several time in the last few months. Now she gets a letter saying the bank sent her check back to.her. I used her check to pay on the automatic phone line. The letter said something about not taking personal checks any more. Her account is set up as commercial. Don't know why. But she is all upset. Cause this is the guidelines bill. Recent one said they were going to turn off service if she didn't pay right away.
I ran down to Staples to fax the POA a short while ago. Being on edge after the call I forgot to bring the account number and forgot to put a cover sheet explaining why I was sending the documents. Now I have to wait up till 48 hours to see if someone processes it. So the company will talk to me. Her payment. Amy be late because of this.

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It's nothing to do with the gas bill, or the POA documents, or the "missed" phone calls, or anything in the material world, is it. As you say in your headline, it's about your mother jerking you around so that you're constantly dancing, and how you cut those puppet strings.

What does your husband think? What do your friends say? How would *you* like things to be?

Meanwhile, rather waiting up - waiting up??? - for 48 hours, give the utilities company a call and speak to customer service. You don't need their approval of POA to provide them with information about your mother's account. Then let it be until they have run their process. They are not going to disconnect your mother's services because there will be a holding note on her account on the database. Rest your mind.

Now. I don't mean this to sound harsh, and I don't want you to take it the wrong way. I just want you to consider the possibility.

Your mother's two phone calls. She rang first time because she "thought you might have rung." Fair enough, she thought she heard the phone ringing, missed the call (if there even was one), went on to imagine it might have been you, called you back. So far so good. Then when you didn't call back, she no doubt started imagining all kinds of vivid reasons for that. Was your call about an accident?! Were you not ringing back because you were in traction in hospital?? Has somebody had a heart attack??? So that's why she sounded stern on her second voicemail - she had made herself worry. Not the pronouns there: SHE had made HERSELF worry. Not you. You hadn't done a solitary thing. Except go out for a little while, as one does.

But she managed - AGAIN, if I may say so - to pass on the tizzy. She spends time worry about imagined disasters. She hands over to you. You spend time imagining disasters. Apple… tree.

There is nothing surprising, and there is nothing wrong either, about a person taking after her own mother. I just wonder if you've ever thought that, actually, you're quite alike?

Except that you love your mother. You're not quite so nice to yourself, you know.

But yes, you're right, you need the "how" answers. This is about recognising and breaking thought patterns and behavioural habits. Which is much easier to do with the guidance of a good, disciplined, focused therapist.

Decide how you would like things to be. Well, I say decide: think about it. Picture dealing calmly and efficiently with her utilities bills - or even, seeing as your mother is competent and your brother is in the home, politely declining to be involved in dealing with any of her bills at all, though let's not try to run before we can walk. Think about being able to call her sympathetically about her worry that she'd missed your call, and explaining that when you nod off during the day you might think you've heard the phone ring too. Think about being able to set her mind at rest, and doing the same for yourself.

Those things, or others that you feel are important, are your goals. Then you pick the therapist who seems to be the best fit with achieving them. That's how.

The sooner you start, the sooner you'll feel better. It's got to be worth a try?
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If her mind is fine let her pay the bills herself?
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Barbara, it is not about the bill. It really and truly isn't. That is where you are focusing your anxiety. Re-read each of CM's answers. I think she is right on target.

I also think her solution is not only best, but may be the only workable solution. You and your mother are so enmeshed in each other's unproductive worries that you take this way of relating to her for granted. And you do not get sufficient support form your husband. (I am going to assume that he is a gem in other ways and has many redeeming qualities. But as support for a loved one with anxiety issues, he sucks.)

You need and you deserve a therapist to help you detach from the distressing parts of your relationships.
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Barbara; As someone who use to suffer from dreadful, dreadful anxiety, I have a bit of advice. Your anxiety is looking for a target. It will attach itself to ANYTHING that comes along. It doesn't have to be a bill, a situation, a person. Your anxiety, right now, is part of who you are. You need treatment, and possibly meds to overcome it and to be able to function in a different way.

I'm sure your mother has a "speaker" function on her phone. Have your brother dial, set it to speaker and your mom can speak "hands free".

Now, your job for today is to find a therapist. Call your doctor and get a referral. Or call your insurance company and get a list of mental health providers. Make a short list of those who are geographically convenient and call them to chat and see if you feel comfortable. That's your assignment for today. And please check back in later or tomorrow to let us know.

Let mom take care of her own bills.
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Barbara; Until you can get an appointment to see a therapist, I want you to find two things.

The first is the serenity prayer. Google it, print it out and read it, out loud 5 times a day until you start to take it in. There are things you cannot change and one of them is your mother's way of being.

The second thing is, I want you to notice, for one entire day, how many times you say or think "might" "ought" " "should have". Write down each thing that you connect to these words. these are the things that you are worrying, possibly needlessly, about. Writing them down gives them some form. Sometimes on paper, you can laugh at them, sometimes solutions present themselves.

There's a drug store that delivers, yes? If your mother can call you, she can order some Tylenol, can't she.
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Please listen to CM, Barbara. Either go back to your old therapist, or find a new one. You're going to stress yourself into very ill health very quickly living this way.
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You don't need them to tell you anything. You are giving them information - that they need to make a note on your mother's account that payment is in process and that any action they might have been considering against her service should be suspended pending that process. That's all.
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It certainly is going to take time, Barbara. Of course it is. Your reaction to your mother's conversations with you is natural, as well as habitual. You hear someone is in pain, or needs something, well of course your reaction is to want to try to help! It's only a question of what you can do to help, and really all you can do is sympathise, and really that's all she needs from you.

I wonder. Do you think it's that your brother would, seriously, refuse to pop out to the store for some Tylenol, or is it that your mother baulks at asking him to do it? Or a bit of both? Whatever, this is for them to sort out between them, there's nothing much you can do about either person's attitude; but if you think it's possible that your mother is the one being negative or stubborn then you can at least encourage her to be more relaxed about asking him. Whether or not she will, though… and whether or not she'll take Tylenol as her doctor recommends… that's different! But not something you can change for her.
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Barbara, if none of the options I listed are available in your mother's location, I take it she lives in a very small town or rural community. I am a city kid, but I have relatives on farms and in small towns. Based on that exposure I'd say there is usually a very strong sense of community and social networking in such places -- far more than I see in the city. People help each other -- even people who don't particularly like each other. They show up for each other's baby showers and graduations and funerals. Organizations such as churches and the senior center and the kitchen band have strong bonds.

If your mother is in a city, my suggestions work. If she is not in a city, how come she has not fit in to the community -- or at least one of the social/civic/religious groups? How has she become so isolated? Might it be because other people are afraid of her son and tend to shy away?

It seems to me that your mother is in a heart-breaking situation. She has a mentally ill son. She wants to protect him but at the same time she is afraid of him, apparently afraid of what he might no if she cracks one of those eggs she is tiptoeing around on. How very, very sad.

But she also has a daughter will physical issues and an anxiety disorder. She seems not to recognize a parental need to be protective of that child. Maybe she has used up her full quota of protectiveness with the son.

In any case, here is what I see:

You grew up in a dysfunction household. (Not Your Fault)
Your brother is mentally ill (which was part of the dysfunction at home). Not Your Fault.
Your parents and now your mother doesn't see to know how to relate to your brother in an effective and loving way that might help him. Not Your Fault.
You have seen lots of "worry-wart" behavior in your mother over the years. Not Your Fault.
Your mother, although a widow, has not (can not?) reached out to become a part of her community. She seems to be isolated. Not Your Fault.

These things are not your fault and you can't solve them. But you can learn to limit the influence they have on your life. Please tell us you will go back into therapy!

You deserve less anxiety and more joy. You deserve fewer guilty feelings and more peace! It is not surprising that this is hard to achieve on your own, given the years (going back to childhood) that this situation has existed.
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Obviously she cannot live alone. Call a social worker and let them handle her, get her to a safe place.
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