I feel like I'm the only one in the world with this problem...
I'm in my mid-thirties... My parents are separated (deeply estranged, won't be getting back together) and have been for many years, and it really turned my family upside down when I was in my early 20s and just out of college. My father abandoned my mother. For the last 10 years I have been living "at home" and my mother, who has health problems (not serious, but enough to make her feel like she can't work), has come to be rather heavily dependent on me emotionally and financially... to the point where I am really the one she relies on for everything, from keeping the taxes on "our" (really "her") house paid, to providing a car for her to drive in, etc.
Unlike most people my age who are "living at home," I am not sponging off my parents. Exactly the opposite. I am the one who is providing the financial stability, the resources, etc etc. to the point where I feel really trapped in my situation. Even if I wanted to take a risk and get a new job that I like better, or go back to school, I couldn't because there would be nothing for me to fall back on, plus I still have to take care of my mother. Even if I wanted to live in my own apartment, I couldn't because she relies on the monthly rent check I pay to her. She has very little savings, took early retirement (too early, I'm afraid - she couldn't afford it) and isn't very motivated to make any money for herself on the side.
I don't have very many other family members, just only one sister who never contributes much of anything to our mother's up keep. It seems there is a double standard with the way my sister gets to live her own life, while I, the youngest daughter, am expected to not want anything more out of life but this. I have tried to have conversations with my sister about this but she isn't very interested. One time I asked her if she could help me buy a used car for my mother to use; but she claimed not to have enough money - which is bull**** because she buys very expensive furnishings for herself all the time. I wound up letting my mother use my car and buying a second one for myself. My mother never will pick up the phone and talk to my sister about her problems either - it's always just me, when I come home from work.
My mom has a younger sister but she has got emotional problems and can barely take care of herself, much less my mother.
And no matter how much I have tried to lay things out for my mother, encourage her, try to get her to take care of herself and find ways to support herself, it seems she will not do anything to help herself. (Oh, and try to suggest counseling, and she gets really mad and offended.)
I have been to counseling myself, but the counselor just didn't seem to understand that my moving out would just have meant that my mother would have wound up on my doorstep after she lost the house.
Needless to say, this has killed my social life. It is impossible to think of dating... and I feel I have given so much to my mother already that I refuse to bring anyone else into this situation. The last thing I want is a relationship with anyone where my mother just gloms down on the person like she has done with nearly everything else in my life. (My mother would LOVE it if I got married and brought a "handyman" into her life to fix her precious house) My mother seems to regard me in some ways as her spouse - certainly financially. She talks of "we should get a loan to fix the house" and stuff like that and no matter how hard I have tried to get her to see that she is smothering me to death, she just won't listen. We used to have big screaming arguments over this. (One time, we were looking at apartments for my aunt, and I liked the apartments and said so, and my mother actually said to me, "You can move out after I'm gone.") I don't even bother with those arguments any more, as they go nowhere and produce nothing.
I have had some success in charting my own slow, painful course out of this mess. I finally gave up on getting any compensation for virtually giving away my car to my mother and instead, I buckled down, saved money and bought a 2nd car - which my mother is NOT allowed to drive. (You see, my mom's motto is "I don't want anything of my own - I just want to borrow a little of YOURS")
Also, unknown to her, I am saving a LOT of money. (If I even allude to the size of my bank account, her eyes grow round and she starts talking of all the home improvements "we" need.)
Also unknown to her: I am getting back into dating mode, secretly. I go out with friends and lie to her that I am going to volunteer meetings. If I ever meet a nice guy who I'd like to date, I have no idea what I'm going to do. I just don't want her to get her grubby fingers into that part of my life, like she has with virtually everything else. I don't want her to be part of that part of my life... at ALL. I don't want her to even know about a boyfriend I might have. Any boyfriend I might have is NOT going to be at her beck and call too!
I wish I knew why my family thinks it's OK that I am shouldering all this burden. I feel so angry at them for leaving me (the youngest) to be "nice' while they all go off and "do their own thing."
I feel very sorry for my mother. She is shy, and has never really earned anything for herself in her life. She has never bought her own house, bought her own car, or anything like that. But she is so un motivated to do anything herself. When my father left, my parents had gone bankrupt. So my mom did not have a credit rating for a credit card (or so she told me - I was 21, what did I know?). Later, after years of letting her use my credit card for convenience, I was very angry when I discovered that she could actually have had a credit card of her own if she just made a few arrangements. And she KNEW this. She just COULDN'T BE BOTHERED. And she didn't understand why I was so angry.
I honestly get very little emotional support from my mom... I spend most of my time alone and I am just starting to make my own friends. I know I have been prolonging this situation due to my own lack of confidence... but now it's gotten to the point where I really feel like casting this situation off. Except I feel I have to sneak around to do it. Plus, I doubt anyone my age could understand what I'm dealing with. They'd probably run away screaming. So, that's more secrecy I have to deal with.
Thanks for listening to my long tale of woe. I was just wondering if there are any other single women out there who are supporting their parents and would like to be free.
wow my divorce was much easier how do you divorce mom?
You are one tough cookie keep stashing that $$$. This is very difficult to tell someone but I truly believe everyone has a right to remove themselves from situations that make them unhappy or uncomfortable. Once you have enough money to get a first - last and deposit find a place on the opposite side of town of your mother. Do not give your address to anyone in your family or to even your friends. Put a restraining orders on everyone in your family and who are connected that could possibly harass you so if they come to your work they will be arrested. Before you leave go to different retirement communities and get brochures.
If mom can go into a retirement home call your or write your siblings with all the appropriate information along with the letter telling them to sell her house and everything she owns to pay for it.
Move out in one day forget going back to get the guilt trip because you will. Its harsh but you know what this is the only way you will be able to have your own life. You will have a difficult time at first but trust me I did something similar everyone insists I had a mental breakdown because it was drastic what I did but you know what I have a great Boyfriend and am three semester away from a 4 yr degree...sometimes self preservation requires cruelty.
Wow Ersatzteile, youíre doing a lot on your own. A friend of mine just moved to help her divorced mom out more when actually my friend is the one who could use some help (her little boy just had a brain tumor removed about a year ago and she has three other kids). Another friendís mom never learned to drive and her family and friends had to take her places. It sounds like your mom drives which is good.
Not sure what your momís health problems are, but do you think she is able to work perhaps part-time (though she "feels" she can't)? There may be an employer willing to work it out her Ö flex hours, temp to permanent, on as needed basis, etc. Not just for the sake of money, but also to get her back out into society and making other personal connections. Some friends of her own to talk to. Does she go to a church? If so, a pastor or whoever may be able to help connect her up with a supporting friend. There are also non-profit organizations that match people up with volunteers to spend time with.
Iím not saying to turn your back on your mom Ö but you have only one life and you deserve to live it. Not always easy as it sounds Ö some women tend to put others before themselves. Think about where you want to be, want you want 1, 5, 10 year(s) from now and what you need to do now to achieve it. If marriage and having kids are part of that plan, your mom should understand that though I donít think you need to share your dating life with her Ö itís okay to keep that your own business. Remember that your mom made her own life choices.
One suggestion: What if your mom sells the current house and you move into a house of your choosing with an in-law set-up. Then it will be your house youíre putting the money into. And that way you both have separate entrances and privacy but still are close? (if being close is what you want or perceive as the only option).
One more suggestion: perhaps change counselors to one whoíll help you work through your situation, not leave you with an extreme solution.
I don't think my mom will ever leave her house... she's lived there since she was 9. It's her security blanket and always has been (no doubt, part of the reason her marriage ended)
I think my mom will find ways to take care of herself, but only if she absolutely has to. If there is any chance that she can lean on somebody else though, she will do it. So, it's pretty much up to me to formulate an "escape plan"
Logically the solution is for my mother and her sister to pool their resources and take care of each other... but they don't get along very well and my mother seems to be counting on me to be a "buffer" between her and her sister and working out their old issues. I made some real progress a few months ago when I forced my mother to admit she was doing this.
I am hopeful to get out of the situation on my own, but not hopeful that a normal guy would understand why I don't want to bring him home to meet the family until this situation is different.
I am hopeful to get out of the situation on my own, but not hopeful that a normal guy would understand why I don't want to bring him home to meet the family until this situation is different.
Had to laugh when I read normal guy ... whatever normal is?? Everyone has something they’re dealing with, even "normal" guy. But if you meet someone and are not comfortable bringing them home right off, just say I’m in the process of moving out after taking care of my mom for several years. In the meantime, keep working on getting yourself extricated at home. If a relationship develops, then hopefully he can understand your situation and your mom; if not, then he’s an a**hole and you probably don’t want someone you can’t emotionally share with anyway. On the positive side … maybe you’ll meet a great guy who can encourage and help you through this, appreciating that you are a caring and thoughtful person.
Well, if anyone cares I thought I'd give a little update... not that much progress has been made. My life goes at the speed of molasses while everyone's around me goes at normal speed. I should be married by now, with a husband and kids... not stuck at home. I wonder if it's even worth continuing to try to be free.
Over the past few months my mother has just become totally lazy when it comes to doing things for herself. Every time I go out somewhere, she asks where I'm going, and just for freedom's sake I sometimes lie -- but that doesn't help, because every time I go out, she asks me to run an errand for her. Never mind that she has her own car (which I bought for her). Never mind what my plans are. She doesn't want to drive herself to where she needs to go because it's raining, or getting dark, or she doesn't feel like it... One day recently she found out I was going near a grocery store and she instructed me to call her to see if she needed anything, so I could just run in and pick it up for her. Needless to say, although I went to the store to buy something for myself, I did not call her. I just thought that was too much. It was making my blood boil. It was also the third time that week she'd asked me to make a special stop to pick something up for her. Where does it end??? She behaves like she's an invalid, she is anything but. There's nothing wrong with her physically. She just doesn't want to make the effort.
I came home from clothes shopping the other day. The minute I was in the door, she wanted to see what was in my bag. "What did you get? I never get out!" (well, whose choice is that??)
I wish she could just step back and see how pathetic she is acting! But she never will.
This morning, she acted like she needed my help with even the simplest Thanksgiving tasks. "It says roast 30 minutes for every pound. The turkey breast is three pounds. So how long is that?" I mean, give me a frickin break. She was NEVER this needy and helpless when I was growing up, and she has basic math skills. She just asks me for help as a lazy automatic reflex. I didn't answer her. She asked again and I just said, firmly but politely, "I'm not figuring that out for you."
It kills me because even if she was suffering from depression, she'd never get help because that would mean (gasp!) going outside the family. ("I'm not depressed! I don't need any friends!" No Mom, you just need ME apparently.) I love my mom but I am really beginning to NOT love her, if you know what I mean. Maybe I just pity her.
I just have this terrible feeling this is going to end the way her relationship with my father ended -- with someone just walking out on her, and her not knowing why. I wish I had enough money to get an apartment AND pay her her monthly check so she would simply leave me alone.
She's never really been my mom... someone who I could look to for actual support in times of trouble (when I cry about something, she starts crying and talking about HER problems), or encouragement for getting out on my own. She likes to think we're best friends or something. Well, we're not. And if I wasn't related to her, I would not be friends with someone who acts so clingy as she does. I want my own life (a concept she doesn't seem to understand, since her own mother dominated her this way). Right now I just dread coming home from work every day.
Where does it end??? She behaves like she's an invalid, she is anything but. There's nothing wrong with her physically. She just doesn't want to make the effort.
I supposed it'll end where you set the boundary. It seems like a third-party is needed here to spark a change in your mom and help her understand you have your own life to live. Sometimes it takes an outsider to get through to people. I gave some suggestions regarding this in my first post (a pastor or church member that could help, etc.). Ersatzteile, are you seeing a counselor anymore? Finding the right match should help support you in making a guilt-free move. The counselor could also speak with your mom.
She's never really been my mom... someone who I could look to for actual support in times of trouble (when I cry about something, she starts crying and talking about HER problems), or encouragement for getting out on my own.
I can totally relate to this, not my mom, but a sister. One-sided relationships are very frustrating, and if it weren't for my nephews, I've contemplated cutting the relationship off. But I love my nephews and they love me and I try to not expect much from my sister and not to emotionally invest too much in her (sometimes I have to keep it business-like so I don't get sucked into her unending abyss).
I hope this helps ... that was my intention anyway.
Sometimes it takes an outsider to get through to people. I gave some suggestions regarding this in my first post (a pastor or church member that could help, etc.).
That would be a great idea, if only she went to church. My family weren't churchgoers.
She hasn't got any friends. No co-workers (she is retired - she took retirement too soon - which is why she's strapped for money). She has no social life ("I don't need any friends!" she always says, defensively). Her husband is out of the picture and in any case they haven't spoken for years. She's totally isolated, except for my aunt and my sister, both of whom well know about this situation and don't want to get involved. They're very happy to leave it to me (and frankly,my aunt is a bit of a basket case herself who can barely take care of herself let alone someone else).
A few years ago we did go to a counselor (at my insistence), but she bolted after the first session.
You also wrote,
Not sure what your mom’s health problems are, but do you think she is able to work perhaps part-time (though she "feels" she can't)? There may be an employer willing to work it out her … flex hours, temp to permanent, on as needed basis, etc.
How many times have I tried to encourage her to do this? She used to have a nice part time job at a church, but they had to let her go for budget reasons, and now she thinks she'll never be able to find another "easy" job like that. Which is nonsense! She just doesn't want to try to look. On top of everything, she's now devoted herself to caring for our old dog who is paralyzed. The poor dog is suffering and really is way beyond the point where she ought to be put to sleep - she can't even sit up or go to the bathroom by herself - but my mother just devotes every hour of the day to this dog, to the point where she can't even leave the house for an hour. I mean, we used to do things on weekends, but my mother has always chosen animals over the people in her life. She doesn't seem to care about the human relationships she's got right in front of her.
So, here I am, getting totally worn out on this situation, and then the dog's going to finally die and she'll have a nervous breakdown and blame ME for "abandoning" her ("Just like your father did!")
I am planning on doing what worked in the past: simply put my nose to the grindstone, save money and BUY my freedom. I am saving enough to pay for a year's apartment rent so that I can just move out and keep sending her her much-needed monthly checks from me. It's not fair for me to have to pay for HER upkeep when my sister doesn't help at all, but it's the only way she won't start breathing down my neck when I move out. Maybe after a year of me not living with her, she will see the light.
I just wish I had more money... right now. I'm only about 1/3 of the way there.
[quote=Ersatzteile;954598]I feel like I'm the only one in the world with this problem...]
I just turned 25 and for most of my childhood and about age 24 that was me. Same situation. Everyone leaves you with the "dead weight" ( which really someone who is capable of caring for them self and not an invalid)while they skipped down the road to happiness. My credit was damaged I should have graduated college in 3 years now I can barely pass an easy course with feeling depressed at where I should have been. Once had many friendships and networks of associates, but that too ended. Once a vibrant, outgoing and sociable, but now I am in the prime of my life and battling depression. I am a shadow of my former self. You have to move out. You could sell the house and move her into an inexpensive condo in a elderly community; it's a buyers market now. I did some researched and controlling people (mothers) may fall under the Dependent personality disorder or borderline personality disorder look it up on:wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depende...ality_disorder
Continue socializing outside your home, attend church services (embrace your spiritual life), yoga, exercise, go to plays or the movies,
establish one on one time with God when you wake or prior to sleep in prayer, start journaling, save , save, save, and air out on this forum.
Be Blessed and keep your head up unless bowed in prayer
Wow, you are in a tough situation. Although my situation is not as bad as yours you are not alone.
My mom has a broken back and takes pain killers, she is addicted and orders more online, but refuses to admit she has a problem, because "she needs more medication" my dad refuses to work for years, and then he will work for a few months and then get fired for another few years. In the meanwhile my 80+ year old grandfather is working full time to help support my sick mother.
I am 24, just graduated college, moved back home because I have massive debt from getting my Bachelors in Psychology. Everything I buy my mom says to me, "Oh when I was your age I didn't buy myself that, all my money went to my kids"
And I just think, well that was her choice to have three kids by the time she was 23, with no education etc.... She makes me feel like I owe her something.
Like you, all my friends parents help them out financially and I feel like I am stuck in a hole. My mom constantly says to me "Oh you have good credit, open up a credit card for me. My teeth hurt. (her dental work will for sure cost 5k+ and she wants me to put that on a credit card!!!) I just feel like saying ask your husband.
It just kills me, it really does. I only have good credit, because I learned from her mistakes and I have only charged things that I know I can financially handle.
Now that I have a better job, I still can not tell her how much I am making, because then she will want it all.
Anyway I am just trying to say that I am sorry about your situation but I kind of know how you feel. I have two older brothers one of them is married, so she doesn't ask him because "he has a wife to take care of" and my other brother makes ALOT more money then me and he gave her a credit card, that he pays off every month. So she makes me feel bad.
I just tell her mom I can not do that for you, I do not make enough money and I am sorry. Hopefully you will get out of your situation. How is your mom sick, or is she physically fine? Keep on staying strong
My mom has fibromyalgia, which is a chronic pain condition, but she's under treatment and has medication and she sure can carry a 40 lb dog around. She is perfectly capable of working a part-time low-stress job like the one she used to have at the church. She has just talked herself out of everything, that's all. She has artistic talents she can use to make and sell things, but she's talked herself out of that too. Sometimes I think my moving out would be the kindest thing, maybe it would provide her with a kick in the pants.
But there is just so much of my life I can spend on her, on this house, on this depressing situation. Don't I get to live, too? Never mind that most of the people I meet and would like to have a social life with, probably couldn't imagine what it's like to have an over-dependent parent with absolutely NO other circle of support. I can't even be honest with people about my life, for fear of scaring them off. How are you supposed to have any intimacy with someone, even in a friendly way, if you feel you have to keep your home life a big blank?
Here's what makes me angry (well, not any more, I've passed the anger stage)... my older sister has basically been allowed to go out and do whatever she wants. My mother (both parents, basically) applaud her every move. They're almost in awe of her. When she needs a place to stay between apartment moves, or a place to drop off her dog so the dog can be watched all day and doesn't have to be lonely... well, there's always "H.Q." Which is largely bankrolled by me. So, as is normal and right for adult kids leaving the nest, she has a "home base" she can go back to in an emergency.
My sister can't see how she has benefited from this lopsided arrangement where only I am the one expected to make sure our mother gets to stay in her beloved childhood home. No -- the expectation is not explicit -- but it's there. All because of a "choice" I made (or rather, it was forced on me) when I was in my early 20s and just making tentative steps at leaving the nest. So, I can't talk to my sister about this problem either - she doesn't want to hear it. But all the while, she benefits from this "arrangement."
I don't have any "home base." I'm paying for the "home base." So sure, I have more than enough money to get an apartment right now, but my mother has made NO plans for supporting herself in the manner to which she's become accustomed. She doesn't ever want to discuss it; it turns into a fight. I suppose I have to have the courage to just pull the rug out from under her, but there's a personal side to it too... *I* would like to have a "safety net/home base" to come back to if I fail, just like my sister had. But if my mother is unable to fend for herself, I won't have that.
Meanwhile I'm trying to regain some semblance of a social life. Pretty tough to do when you are my age -- everyone my age is married with kids and already enjoying their lovely lives.
So my plan is to save a year's worth of apartment rent so I can get my own place and then continue to bankroll her for a year and then she'll have to start figuring things out herself. I wish I was closer to my goal. It makes me so depressed. And I have no one to talk to.
My mother either cannot imagine, or blocks out, anything I say about wanting my own place. Take this example - I was helping her put up Christmas decorations. I said, not really beating around the bush, that I would love to be able to put up my own tree someday. Her answer? "Well, when I'm old and decrepit you'll be the one putting up the tree!" (you know... not MY tree... "the" tree... meaning "our" tree... really meaning, "HER" tree.)
I can argue with her until I'm blue in the face. She just doesn't comprehend that I won't be living here with her for the rest of my life.
The problem, I think, is that the only way a woman could be independent in her era was to get married and leave home. She does not see me with a boyfriend or marriage prospect, so she assumes I will never be leaving. (Never mind that her other daughter isn't married either!)
And everyone I know probably assumes the same thing, too.
Has difficulty making everyday decisions without an excessive amount of advice and reassurance from others
Needs others to assume responsibility for most major areas of his or her life
Has difficulty expressing disagreement with others because of fear of loss of support or approval (this does not include realistic fears of retribution)
Has difficulty initiating projects or doing things on his or her own (because of a lack of self-confidence in judgment or abilities rather than a lack of motivation or energy)
Goes to excessive lengths to obtain nurturance and support from others, to the point of volunteering to do things that are unpleasant
Feels uncomfortable or helpless when alone because of exaggerated fears of being unable to care for himself or herself
Urgently seeks another relationship as a source of care and support when a close relationship ends
Is unrealistically preoccupied with fears of being left to take care of himself or herself"
Wow, this mostly describes her quite well. But she is just getting worse as she gets older. Especially #1 -- sometimes the way she asks me for my opinion or judgment on every little thing is downright comic. To the point where I have a phrase I say often to her (not meanly), "Yes, you have my permission." She will talk about all the things she's "going" to do and I have long since learned to not pay any attention to it because she has no intention of following through.
I fear I have inherited a lot of these traits, except... I have no one to be dependent on!!!
I am proud of myself for figuring the way out though. Just "nose to the grindstone." Because I gave up all hope of ever being reimbursed by anyone for providing my mother with a car, I just buckled down, save money and bought MY OWN CAR and no one has anything to say about it. The same will go for my apartment. She won't be able to say a thing because she will still be getting her money.
But I worry so much if all this self-reliance is ruining my chance at letting myself depend on others. After all, when you've lived for so long having to take care of all your own needs because your family is indifferent, how do you have normal relationships with people??
tell her she is a grown woman
tell her your a grown woman
tell her she needs to make her way in life
tell her you will help her..
as long as she tries to make it for herself
and if she wont even try..
tell her your gone
dont be gentle with her.
tell her flat out her BS wont fly any longer.
dont let her come back with all sorts of sob oh poor me BS either.
tell her that she doesnt care that she is suffocating and killing you. why should you feel bad if she has to actually provide for herself like every other person out there
let her know though that if she is willing to start working her own way you will still help her when she needs it. but the moment you see her stop looking and get lazy again, your finished with her nonsense.
oh and if she wont listen to you:
tell her that every word that she ignores from out of your mouth is another step closer to walking you out of that door, and if thats what she wants then tell her to keep ignoring what your saying.
if she doesnt care how you feel, then you have every right to start feeling the same way about her.
Some of that I've said... some of it I'd love to say...
...but, my dad walked out on her that way and she's been mourning it for 15 years (and it's what started me in this bad situation, although I didn't know it at the time). I want to get out of the situation in a different manner than screaming and yelling and going off in a huff and having bad blood between people. "Been there, done that" (watching my father do it)
My mother isn't helpless. When she has no other recourse she will gather herself and do what needs to be done... but she tends to take the path of least resistance. I would like to increasingly put up more resistance rather than just slamming the door in her face.
It's also not very easy to "just leave" when you haven't got a soul in the world who will support you -- you know, have you ever tried to move into an apartment all by yourself? Most people have friends or family to help move their heavy stuff, etc... but I have neither. (I mean, I have acquaintances, and my social life is getting a little more normal, but I don't really have "friends" in the sense of they know what's going on in my home life) So, I will have to save even MORE money to pay movers to help me move. (thank God I don't have that much stuff)
I used to think about getting an apartment and dreading it because I had no social life and was afraid I'd get stalked by some perv in the apartment building (they go after women they think are alone)... but it's at the point where I just really don't care. I don't think I could stand living with a roommate, I've spent so much of my life by myself. Maybe someday.
To lighten the load, your mom needs to DO more - Meaning joining a group, church or even going to a therapist to deal with her illnesses. I'm sure she's got depression as well, Fibro isn't an easy during flare-ups, but talking to someone will help her cope, not only mentally but physically! Pain management is so important.
Your mom has gotten used to you looking after her and instead of her encouraging you to GO and live life, she's hanging and is terrified to be alone. You have every right to be upset, fed-up and whatever else you may feel - But please, don't feel guilty for living life. She isn't a child, she just has to learn to cope on her own again...Not rely on you for everything.
Please note: The suggestions and advice offered on this web site are opinions only and are not to be used in the place of professional psychological counseling or medical advice. If you or someone close to you is currently in crisis or in an emergency situation, contact your local law enforcement agency or emergency number.