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Periodic Contributor

Moving back to hometown after decades gone-it's hard

I left home as soon as I could when I was young; I'm the product of a mom who struggled with anxiety and mental illness. Noone validated my suffering under her. I left and became whole and happy. My father now has Alzheimer's and my mom is ill. So I moved back to help care for them. I moved back to a mom who never got help and the siblings I left behind who became dysfunctional and maladjusted adults who inherited issues of their own. I was determined not to be a part of this legacy, but being back in this environment and having daily contact with my mom has left me depressed. I left behind an active and happy life. It's really affecting me. Relatives here aren't ears that I can vent to. My mom is killing herself; stuffing herself with sugary and fatty foods despite diabetes and quintuple bypass. She worked hard and did the best she could, but coming home brought back a youth of hurt and pain I'd worked 30 years to stifle. She called me and asked me if I was happy and guilted me for not being happy. Oje.. I just want to care for them without dealing with all of the other baggage. How do I do it?

Periodic Contributor

Thanks for the great advice; Ive been home a little over half a year. I live an hour away, but visit my parents twice a week to take care of them. I don't have a relationship with my siblings, nor any other relatives. My mother's mood swings and relentless criticism have finally begun to negatively impact me. She becomes argumentative, and I cannot reason with her. I've always been reliable and stable but she lies and portrays me in a negative light lto those who support her. Last night, for the first time in decades, as I drove an angry and fuming mom back home from the pharmacy, I felt the  same desperation as that young me who left everything but a small suitcase behind and boarded a plane decades ago. 

I feel duped into moving home. I had a fantasy of a family. I had a vision of a perfectionist, vicious, and mean mother who never saw me as a human being finally having a heart. I've spent my adult life alone. How do I move forward? It stings knowing that I really don't in reality have a family. As long as I was away I could pretend I did. I could tell tales to friends. I don't think I can do this anymore with my folks. I can't care for tgem and continually get hurt. They claim all families are like ours. I'm sure they aren't. Sorry for fuming. They stole my childhood and are stealing my joy regularly now.

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@AC486571 wrote:

Thanks for the great advice; Ive been home a little over half a year. I live an hour away, but visit my parents twice a week to take care of them. I don't have a relationship with my siblings, nor any other relatives. My mother's mood swings and relentless criticism have finally begun to negatively impact me. She becomes argumentative, and I cannot reason with her. I've always been reliable and stable but she lies and portrays me in a negative light lto those who support her. Last night, for the first time in decades, as I drove an angry and fuming mom back home from the pharmacy, I felt the  same desperation as that young me who left everything but a small suitcase behind and boarded a plane decades ago. 

I feel duped into moving home. I had a fantasy of a family. I had a vision of a perfectionist, vicious, and mean mother who never saw me as a human being finally having a heart. I've spent my adult life alone. How do I move forward? It stings knowing that I really don't in reality have a family. As long as I was away I could pretend I did. I could tell tales to friends. I don't think I can do this anymore with my folks. I can't care for tgem and continually get hurt. They claim all families are like ours. I'm sure they aren't. Sorry for fuming. They stole my childhood and are stealing my joy regularly now.


Thanks for the update, and it makes me sad to hear that things have not gotten better. As dysfunctional as your siblings are, it's their turn, right? You've done your part for now. Time for them to step up, one at a time or as a group. 

 

Did you find a support group, an Alanon group, or a counselor?

 

Your mother sounds very unhappy, and there are good reasons for it, i bet, from her own childhood. Not an excuse for her criticisms and meanness, but perhaps a reason. I'm sorry for all of you. Time to get out, eh?

 

Keep talking to us?

Jane

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@AC486571 wrote:

I left home as soon as I could when I was young; I'm the product of a mom who struggled with anxiety and mental illness. Noone validated my suffering under her. I left and became whole and happy. My father now has Alzheimer's and my mom is ill. So I moved back to help care for them. I moved back to a mom who never got help and the siblings I left behind who became dysfunctional and maladjusted adults who inherited issues of their own. I was determined not to be a part of this legacy, but being back in this environment and having daily contact with my mom has left me depressed. I left behind an active and happy life. It's really affecting me. Relatives here aren't ears that I can vent to. My mom is killing herself; stuffing herself with sugary and fatty foods despite diabetes and quintuple bypass. She worked hard and did the best she could, but coming home brought back a youth of hurt and pain I'd worked 30 years to stifle. She called me and asked me if I was happy and guilted me for not being happy. Oje.. I just want to care for them without dealing with all of the other baggage. How do I do it?


Hi there, AC,

I applaud your decision to take care of your parents despite their history with you. Honor your mother and father, yes. AND... I also think that the challenge of taking care of them now after all the work you've done will actually move you even further down the road to healing. Here's how: you have work to do to know the truth and to let go of their self destruction all the while you are there taking care. I would recommend therapy. And Alanon. And the reason i think alanon is ideal is that there are a bunch of fellow travelers there who love an alcoholic or other-substance-addicted person who are also trying not to rescue, trying to love but not take on the bad choices of the person they love. Some folks drink to excess. Your mother is doing just what she shouldn't and the health effects of her behavior is killing her, slowly. People have the right to make bad decisions. You have the right to protect yourself and care for yourself in the midst of this. this is hard work, which you know very well. very hard work. but so rewarding.

 

i had a mother who was self destructive, and she died at age 55. i am now 58. after  years of therapy i understand more and i'm still dealing with her legacy. Alanon and therapy helped me. Oddly enough i am a therapist and social worker. i studied a guy named Bowen who basically say we have 3 choices with our families of origin: fuse to them and be enabling / codependent, cut them off and be estranged (but don't really deal with the legacy part), OR, the healthiest option, be connected but in a healthy way so that you are protect yourself and allow them to make their own choices, however stupid.  Coaching and therapy is the best way to stay healthy. 

 

There are other things to think about here, too:

1. don't be a martyr. get help wherever possible. your siblings may be disfunctional but they have responsibility, too, even if all they can manage is to bring some groceries. enlist and cajole. 

2. spend only your parents' money, not your own. do not sacrifice your financial health for them. they need to get real about spending their money for their retirement now that they have real needs.

3. do you have power of attorney for health care? for finances? are their legal affairs in order? is there any way to get them organized legally? it will help them and protect you.

4. are you aware of services in their community? find out at eldercare.gov and put in their zip code. Make your new BFF the intake social worker. Find services. use them.

 

I've thrown a lot at you. I totally support what you are doing, but diving back into depression does not need to be the price of doing the right thing.  Right?

 

does anything i've said made sense? please write more. we are here. 

Jane

Periodic Contributor

wow-everyone's words have meant so much-I felt alone in this. I tried talking to my brother but like the rest of my siblings it feels futile to try; He snapped and yelled at me. I'll find a meeting to go to-both Alanon and a caregiver support group. I started searching for community resources today to help. And I'll reach out and try to create a community for myself here. Starting tomorrow, I'm going to find ways to do the things I love and continue with my hobbies. I think coaching and therapy will help too. I have my annual physical soon; maybe I can ask for info. 

AARP Expert


@AC486571 wrote:

wow-everyone's words have meant so much-I felt alone in this. I tried talking to my brother but like the rest of my siblings it feels futile to try; He snapped and yelled at me. I'll find a meeting to go to-both Alanon and a caregiver support group. I started searching for community resources today to help. And I'll reach out and try to create a community for myself here. Starting tomorrow, I'm going to find ways to do the things I love and continue with my hobbies. I think coaching and therapy will help too. I have my annual physical soon; maybe I can ask for info. 


I'm so glad you wrote back! You are not alone! There are so many of us who face this same challenge. I'm sorry your brother yelled at you. You are much farther along the path to healing and wholeness. All of us have gifts we inherited by surviving our childhoods (since no parent is perfect.) And all of us have burdens, distortions, and deprivations, as well. The task of adulthood is to develop what is undeveloped, let go of whatever behaviors we learned that no longer fit the tasks at hand, forgive ourselves and our parents for all the multitudinous screw ups (over and over), learn to love ourselves AS WE ARE (woo wee that's a tough one), and do the tasks we've been called to do. And a few other things too: dance whenever possible, have a deep belly laugh as often as possible. and eat spinach.

 

It's a tall order.

 

But already, i deeply believe that you'll make it. Even as i struggle to make it as well. And we do all of this much better in community. So please keep writing, keep us posted, share your successes, we all learn from one another.

 

Thank you so very much for responding. Sometimes i feel like i'm typing into the air....

 

All the best,

Jane

Honored Social Butterfly


AC486571 wrote:

I left home as soon as I could when I was young; I'm the product of a mom who struggled with anxiety and mental illness. Noone validated my suffering under her. I left and became whole and happy. My father now has Alzheimer's and my mom is ill. So I moved back to help care for them. I moved back to a mom who never got help and the siblings I left behind who became dysfunctional and maladjusted adults who inherited issues of their own. I was determined not to be a part of this legacy, but being back in this environment and having daily contact with my mom has left me depressed. I left behind an active and happy life. It's really affecting me. Relatives here aren't ears that I can vent to. My mom is killing herself; stuffing herself with sugary and fatty foods despite diabetes and quintuple bypass. She worked hard and did the best she could, but coming home brought back a youth of hurt and pain I'd worked 30 years to stifle. She called me and asked me if I was happy and guilted me for not being happy. Oje.. I just want to care for them without dealing with all of the other baggage. How do I do it?


I can only imagine what a difficult situation you're dealing with.  I know how visits with my own family have affected me in the past.  You ask how you do it.  I got a lot of therapy to help me.  I hope you find some help.

Honored Social Butterfly


@AC486571 wrote:

I left home as soon as I could when I was young; I'm the product of a mom who struggled with anxiety and mental illness. Noone validated my suffering under her. I left and became whole and happy. My father now has Alzheimer's and my mom is ill. So I moved back to help care for them. I moved back to a mom who never got help and the siblings I left behind who became dysfunctional and maladjusted adults who inherited issues of their own. I was determined not to be a part of this legacy, but being back in this environment and having daily contact with my mom has left me depressed. I left behind an active and happy life. It's really affecting me. Relatives here aren't ears that I can vent to. My mom is killing herself; stuffing herself with sugary and fatty foods despite diabetes and quintuple bypass. She worked hard and did the best she could, but coming home brought back a youth of hurt and pain I'd worked 30 years to stifle. She called me and asked me if I was happy and guilted me for not being happy. Oje.. I just want to care for them without dealing with all of the other baggage. How do I do it?


I read your post and wondered why you returned and what you expected.  Why did you return to help care for them?  What about the siblings?  Why not contribute financial support?  

 

Life's a Journey, not a Destination" Aerosmith
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