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Many say that growing up is never easy. And I know that that statement is true. We all have traumas that trigger our inner angst and we all may believe that these traumas are the end-all of everything - that our traumas are terrible and that no one may understand. I'm no different and I've never talked to anyone about mine - but I think that taking the time and putting it out there could be a step in the right direction for me. And if any of y'all have any advice or pointers, please let me know! It's kinda long, so bear with my whining until I decide to get a therapist.

I was the child of two very different parents. My mom was a self-proclaimed "goody two shoes" and a teenmom, daughter to a self-absorbed mother and alcoholic father. My dad was a "freebird," wild child son who was fleeing his dad's death. They met, fell in love, and he took care of her and her son. He doted on them when no one else would. But they started to have problems. My dad became an alcoholic and an abuser. My mom became a narcissist. My brother was always caught in between them. But that's when I came along. I was going to fix their problems by being that bright, sunshiney child of theirs.

But I didn't fix anything and my dad kept drinking and getting worse everyday. He lost his job in the economic depression and started his own haphazard business. He threw finances to the wayside. Sometimes, he would be so depressed and beat me blue. My mom was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and started cheating on my dad. She let the family go. Not me though, she threatened me and made me test out her new beau as my dad sometimes. She said she would kill herself if  I told my dad she was unfaithful. My brother had long since moved away - saying he'd never come back - and he held to his promise. So most of the time, it was just me and my drunk dad. We'd cook and watch movies together because some days weren't so bad. We'd laugh and he'd love me.

But something happened.In the same year, we lost our house and we almost lost my dad. He sustained a cerebral hemorrhage and we lived in the icu for several months, watching him flux. But we made due, and things changed. My mom developed untimely health problems and left her secret beau. My dad underwent massive surgeries and my mom complained about only her ailments and what stress she was under. I ate hot pockets in hospital lobbies until I graduated high school. My brother was still gone. But it got better. My dad got better. My dad lost his short term memory and many motor skills, but he was there and he had changed for the good. He didn't drink and he was dependent on my mom to help him live. She was dependent on his paycheck. She still resented him for being stuck with him though - she told him that, she told me that. They still fought and disagreed, but not so much like before. We lived and I put myself through college and we were kind of a real family - though an angry man and narcissistic mother were still present. I hung out with my dad and we got along better than ever. My mom complained about him, about me, but she tried and accepted her new life. We were kinda happy though, the three of us.

Fast forward to ten years later. It was Father's Day and my dad was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. Around that same time, my mom's health took another turn. While my dad was undergoing chemo - my mom was complaining of leg pain and making him give her insulin shots "cause he's the only one that can do it." But she helped him to chemo, I tried to act like it wasn't happening and being the doting daughter, and my brother came back a little more often to help some too. On the day my dad died, I felt it in my soul. I was going to leave work early and take him to chemo. We were going to have a daddy/daughter day and I was going to sneak him some sonic ice cream. I got the call and my boss told me he went into cardiac arrest. But I knew he was gone. I got to the hospital and my mom was already there. On the day my dad died, my mom called every single person she could think of to tell them the news. We didn't talk about my dad, we didn't hug. We were in the same room and I was taking care of her, but we were a million miles away. For hours, she was on the phone to aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, and coworkers and just crying. I sat on the couch alone next to her. I planned the funeral as my mom took up her spot and accepted everyone's condolences. No one lifted a finger to help but sure opened their mouths to say I wasn't doing something fast enough. My mom told our priest she was doing nothing with the planning and to ask her daughter for anything needed. No one in my family asked how I was handling anything, not even my mother. I cried by myself in my tiny apartment when every time I left my parents' house, which was full of strangers and no father.

Now - its been a little over two months since my dad died. I know it's normal for spouses to mourn their loved ones and that it takes eons to recover. She cries all day and everyday. She barely does anything to take care of herself. She only recently started injecting her own insulin. She barely eats like she should and tells me it's because she's devastated. She refuses to take action on moving from the house where he lived and died and suffocates in her own grief. She tells everyone that will listen at the grocery store, her neighbors, friends about her grief everyday. She goes to grieving counseling and spent a week with my brother and his family. I visit quite often and call everyday. But we don't understand and will never understand because she lost her husband. It's more than a dad, more than a friend, more than a son, more than anything to her. I understand that. But. She fights with me when I ask her if she cares for herself or bring up anything at all. I never say "don't cry," but she always acts like I'm saying that when the words are actually "let's go get some Mexican food." She lashes out at me for being at work and not being able to answer my phone since my phone is in my desk. She calls once and voices that she's angry and that she can't tell me why she's crying right away. She says she wants to die. I love her but I need her and I need some help being a caregiver, because I feel like I suck. She's narcissistic, sure, but she has to be missing him greatly and they were together for forever. But I feel alone and against the world like many people do going through this and I just don't like it - especially with absent mother, absent family, absent friends and lover, and gone-forever father. I really miss my dad so much and I already don't know how to cope with his loss. But dealing with all of this seems so impossible - especially on top of dealing with a mother who wants to stay in her head and be unloving.

Sometimes I feel like we'll be stuck like this.

But I don't know what to do.

But what do you do?

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Dear Akitkat,

I'm sorry for your loss and what you have gone through in your life.  You have lived through so much and its incredible to me you have made it through.

My father was bi polar.  My mother never told me as a child.  I lived through what I can only describe without going into details, as a traumatic childhood.  I hated him.  I found out when I was 25 and already left home and living abroad to escape.  Without going into the details of my story from then to now, what i wanted to tell you is this.  When someone is bi polar, they are a narcissist.  Their ability to care about others is diminished.  Everything that happened happens to only them!  It was hard reading your story because the trauma I lived through, the verbal abuse, the relentless demeaning that changes who you become as an adult doesn't go away.  When he died I felt nothing.  Not sad, not glad, just nothing.  

Your mothers behaviour is typical of a person with bi polar.  The narcissism is typical.  She only sees her pain.  She will tell everyone who listens.

Thank you for sharing your story.  I don't believe in giving advice.  No one has lived in your shoes with your emotions and feelings.  I just wanted to tell you I understand your story even if its not exactly the same as mine.  I wanted you to know you have done so much to help both your parents.  Your mother has mental illness.  She will always have mental illness and having lived through that with my father, it doesn't get better.  Above everything, you have suffered a lot.  You've gone through so much in your life.  You need to get  support for yourself.  The only thing that helped me process some of my past was going to therapy.  What made a difference to me was having someone there that was there just for me.  i didn't need to look after them.  They were there for me so I could talk and share.  When you start sharing things become less heavy and less dark.  I can only tell you speaking from my own experience.  If you don't get help for yourself, will eventually be so beaten down by all this.  Its too much for anyone.  You can't fix your mother and from what you've written you have tried very hard to help her.  It is time for you now to get the help YOU need.  Please feel free to write back.  I'm listening.

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