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Leaving mom on her own... kinda.

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It's late and I just came across this forum. I think I just need to get some stuff out. Probably will ramble. 

My dad died in March 2016. I do believe I have accepted his loss - but not how he died. That's not what I need to get off my chest, though. 

When he was alive, it was always understood that my husband and I would live with my mom if anything happened to him. She's not in poor health or anything like that, but she has anxiety about being alone - especially at night. It's been a lifelong phobia for her.  

When we found out how ill he was, they asked us to move in. Our lease was up at the same time. It seemed meant to be in a way. We just didn't realize how little time my dad had. His diagnosis was Feb 16....we thought he had at least 6 months. He died March 2. And the days leading up to his death, really the whole thing, were a nightmare. There was no time to plan for palliative end-of-life care. He suffered and developed terminal restlessness. But again, not what I want to talk about. 

So we started moving in before we knew he was dying. Everything happened so quickly. We were all in shock. I had the contents of a 1400 sq ft condo to deal with during his death and days afterward. I kinda just went with a scorched earth mentality. Threw out so many things just to get the move over with. I didn't care at the time or for the first few months. 

I do have siblings, by the way. It was just always going to be us. We're also a fairly newly-wedded couple. No kids. Obviously, this situation became more difficult as time has gone on. 

My mother doesn't want us to move out, but we are. She's not alone. My nephew just moved in. That's why we decided it was time. 

Right now, even though I am looking forward to having my own life back, I am dealing with a lot of guilt, sadness, worry, and renewed grief. I told my dad on his deathbed that we would take good care of my mom. 

I do realize that he wouldn't want us to be in a miserable living situation. I also realize that my mom is an adult, and her happiness is not my responsibility. I still feel responsible. 

There are complicating factors. My mother is addicted to RX pain pills. She's high functioning, if such a thing really exists, at least as long as she has a supply of pills. When she's high, she's suffocating. She's selfish. She's manic and makes poor decisions. When she's withdrawing, she's a sad shell that doesn't want to get out of bed or leave the house. It's been awhile since I've seen her get past the withdrawal phase and actually be the mother I know and love. She got there for a little while after my dad died. 

Basically, she's a constant rollercoaster. Even without pills, she's had problems with depression and anxiety her whole life. To top it off, I have a brother who is a legitimate sociopath who leeches off of her and who I know is helping supply her. He is also an addict. 

She denies everything, of course. No pills at all! We're all crazy. My brother, who lived 5 minutes away and never came to see or help with my father, leaving his little sister alone to help 250 lb dad get on and off the toilet in those latter days... who called 50 times throughout the day and night after he died and harassed my mother... told her she caused my dad's death (yeah, completely her fault he had stage 4 cancer that no one knew about... this is sarcasm, by the way)...interrogated her about life insurance (my parents were dirt poor but my dad had the foresight years ago to take out a good policy).... has received $15,000 from my mom in the last year alone. And the life insurance is meant to last her for the rest of her life.

So while being here, I've been an enabler in the sense that I have cooked and cleaned and taken care of things when she's been unable or entertained guests she invited before running out of pills.... and I've been a buffer between her and my brother, which is a role my father used to play. My name is on her house, so I forbid him from being on the property and got a restraining order. And I've tried to be her happiness as well. 

I cannot do any of these things. They aren't my job. I don't want this job anymore. Nevertheless, we begin moving tomorrow, and I've spent the day nauseated and on the verge of tears. Logic doesn't dictate my emotions.There is still huge guilt as well as the unsettling thought that she could be gone as quickly as my father was. I know she's terribly depressed about us leaving (we'll still be close), and I know that my brother will really start to take over her life with me out of the house. Again, logic tells me she chooses to carry on that toxic relationship, but I still feel like I'm supposed to be her protector. 

More than anything, I really wish that my dad were still alive so I could get his input, even though I already know he would tell me to go and be free. 

That's it. Thanks for reading.




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I am so sorry for the loss of your dad.  Also that you are having to go through all of this with your mom.  There are so many dynamics in a single family that makes getting through such a deep loss very difficult.  You have stepped up and done more than many other people would do after your dad's passing.  You are a good daughter but you can only do so much.  

I personally find that when what we do for others in any circumstance may cross a line to enabling and that is when we really have to detach to some degree.  It sounds like you are doing that in moving out of your mom's.  You can keep that promise to your dad and do what you can do within reason.  Staying in touch via visits and phone calls....running errands for her, etc.  

I think that many of us carry guilt when it comes to looking after parents but we must always look after ourselves in the process.  Many people get burnt out, anxiety or depression when we take on too much which isn't what any parent intends for a child.  Hang in there ... and remember, you have stepped up and can continue to help your mom in ways that you can also look after YOU.

Keeping you in prayer for comfort and strength to get through this.

take care

Cindy Jane

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I'm so sorry for all you've been through.  I agree with what Cindy Jane wrote.  You have already done a lot.  You're in a very difficult situation and you need to take care of yourself otherwise how will you even take care of your mom?  We all have guilt of what we could have done, should have done... we are all doing the best we can to cope with painful family situations as well as our own grief.  You've done very well to have coped so well for so long.  Look after your self now and visit your mom, call and check on her.  Your nephew is there now.  You can't do it all.  Wishing you some relief from all the stress.

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Thanks for the replies. We've finished our move, and even though I still have some sadness over leaving, now that we're alone in our new place, I feel like I can breathe again. 

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So much of your story speaks to mine as well. I have been struggling with what to do in my own life. Thank you for your post and for sharing your story. I lost my father last fall, suddenly from a heart attack. One week after his death our house sold, without having another house to move into- we moved into my mom's house with her. It worked, but we still haven't found a house, and have been there for 9 months now. I feel like it is taking a toll on everyone's relationships. When you said 

On 9/2/2017 at 1:46 AM, sometimes said:

I also realize that my mom is an adult, and her happiness is not my responsibility. I still feel responsible. 

That really hits home with me. I feel like I am always trying to make sure she is happy. We have explored the idea of us buying her house and putting an in-law suite addition on for her to stay in but I feel like I am constantly being a mediator between her and my husband. Anyways, thanks for your post. 

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