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AIBU - to not know how to feel about this , let alone discuss it....

(43 Posts)
justilou Wed 16-Nov-16 10:18:53

I have started and deleted this several times in the last few days - this could be a long one - brace yourselves.

My mother has a very extreme Narcissistic Borderline Personality Disorder. In a nutshell, she was very physically and emotionally abusive to me when I was growing up - and was manipulative and clever and nobody ever believed me. (Until the last few years, I was very much the scapegoat and the black sheep of the family. Have had many apologies since then....)

My family moved from Australia to the Netherlands seven years ago. (DH, DD 12, B/G Twins 10 & me) Soon after that, my dad was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and Mum loved it. Mum got lots of support and was allowed to be a martyr for nursing him for three years - lots of attention, etc. when in reality she spent most of her time out on the verandah reading e-books and chain smoking, or roughing him up, verbally abusing him and telling him that she couldn't wait until he died. (We suspect she sped things up at the end, but that's another matter). She's an ex-nurse and loved being told how great her nursing skills were, and how lucky Dad was to have had her, etc....
Soon after this she was diagnosed with Lung Cancer and Emphysema and has had lots of life-threatening medical experiences - mostly because she has a lifelong history of anorexia, so wouldn't eat and is non-compliant with medical advice - so does stupid things with medication, etc...

Up until the last year she had people enthralled with lots of very creative stories about her illnesses (they got so grandiose, and my favourite was "It's a rare form of TB I picked up in Bulgaria at a rabbit farm") I wouldn't be surprised if she said that being sick has been the best time in her life as she loves to be the centre of attention. (My husband and I crack ourselves up with this joke - How many Justilou's Mums does it take to change a lightbulb? Just the one - she stands on a chair and the world revolves around her until it's done - but it's never done properly) As she has not kicked the bucket, people's interest has waned, and their attention has petered out - so of course it's time she got really sick, isn't it?

I have flown back from the Netherlands to Australia to her deathbed five times so far. (Most have actually been genuine medical emergencies, but I am fairly sure that one was a cry for attention... Regardless of the time spent away from my family and the enormous cost involved, she's never been remotely grateful. None of that has been acknowledged.)

The last time I was there was about a month ago - when she was admitted to hospital and was very weak, etc..... She was very clever and was discharged by the locum doctor who believed her when she lied and said that I'd moved back to be with her in her last days - and it was a long weekend, so the discharge coordinator wasn't there to assess her needs. Anyhow, after leaving my husband to manage with the three kids and dog while I was gone, (being Cinderella for Mum - who has not mellowed at all with age or illness) nothing much was changing and she wasn't allowing any support systems to be set up for her, so the community nurse coordinator said I should go home. I arrived on Saturday night and by Monday morning she was back in hospital where she's been for about a month.

While in hospital this time her symptoms deteriorated, and it's been discovered that she has now got a brain tumour. She is weirdly gleeful about it. Most disturbing. It's untreatable and she's dying faster than she was with the lung cancer/emphysema thing.

Now - here's where it gets more complicated.

We are moving back to Australia. As you know, it's a rather large continent. The city we are moving to is two hours flight away from where Mum lives. We are leaving here next Thursday. (SO MUCH TO DO!!!)

She has just managed to get discharged from hospital and told the palliative care team there that my Aunt (who is very kind, and she treats like crap) is more than happy to move in with her until we all arrive. We had agreed to spend Christmas with her, but not move in!!! My aunt has set the community care nurses straight on this situation and my aunt and Mum's cousin (who she also treats like crap) are tag-teaming until we arrive.
My conflict is that I am torn between being a good, loving daughter and a positive example for my kids and not wanting them to be at Mum's place with all this going on. (I can't be there for them AND Mum while she's like this - and they can't do anything at her place.) Mum has made her feelings on going into a nursing home or hospital to die very clear, but has no empathy for the people she's affecting by being at home. I am fantasising about someone calling an ambulance and sending her off to hospital or arriving in Australia to find out that she'd died already. Siiiigh. It would be so much better if she just shuffled off now. *Massive guilt trip.

Somerville Wed 16-Nov-16 10:22:32

Living with someone who is dying is very hard on children and I don't think you should do that unless there is absolutely no other choice.

QOD Wed 16-Nov-16 10:22:40

Sounds like my late mil. She was actually diagnosed with Munchausens and eventually died of a uti with raging dementia
She had cancer once (not) and was anorexic.
Feel for you

juneau Wed 16-Nov-16 10:24:03

So what are you asking - is it should you all go for Christmas or not?

Somerville Wed 16-Nov-16 10:25:04

Sorry, accidentally posted before finishing.

I do think that your children's best interests area higher priority than your mother's. Given her personality disorder and former abusiveness towards you it would concern me that she could be an absolute nightmare to your children.

juneau Wed 16-Nov-16 10:27:47

I would keep the DC away from her. If you feel like you should be there, then fine, but your DM sounds utterly toxic, as well as being on her deathbed, and of things are going to be positive for your DC.

justilou Wed 16-Nov-16 10:29:21

I have just put my mother in law on standby (she's great, btw - but yet another person potentially being put out by my mother's selfish desire to do things her way). I am now thinking that the best plan is for all of us to stay at Mum's for the ten days before my husband arrives. He is going directly to the city we will be moving to. I can get my aunt to stay with Mum while I fly the kids to meet him there. MIL will fly from where she lives (even further away) and stay with the kids and they can have a lovely time exploring, etc. I will fly back after a few days. (Have to buy beds, a sofa, etc.. our furniture won't be arriving until Feb-March) I think that will be better. I can fly back to Mum's and wait it out. Wish she'd just go back to hospital.

YelloDraw Wed 16-Nov-16 10:31:17

What the fuck? This woman physically and emotionally abused you, you think she physically abused your dad and potentially killed him.... and you are considering caring for her?

You shoudl probably get some counseling to explore the complex and conflicting emotions surrounding this. Please do not move in with her. Do not become her carer. Look after yourself and your own DH/DCs who actually deserve you.

YelloDraw Wed 16-Nov-16 10:32:40

Your aunt, your cousin, and you all need to grow some balls and tell the palliative care team you are NOT caring for her at home also.

juneau Wed 16-Nov-16 10:33:38

I agree with Yello. I think you're bonkers for putting yourself out for this toxic woman - even if she is your DM you owe her fuck all (bar your very existence), from what I can tell. I also wouldn't move your kids into her house for 10 days. Why would you put them through that? They should be your priority - not your DM.

juneau Wed 16-Nov-16 10:35:26

If you MUST be in the vicinity of your DM I would rent a flat locally, so your DC don't have to be in the same house as someone who is dying. As a 10 or 12-year-old I'd have hated that.

FlyingElbows Wed 16-Nov-16 10:35:53

My approach to this (my mother is the same but not as genuinely ill as yours) is that it is my job to protect my children from that which nobody protected me. It was the straw that broke the camel's back and my deciding factor when I went nc. As an adult it is your choice if you engage but your children need your protection. It's not easy. I'm waiting to be free too flowers

Prawnofthepatriarchy Wed 16-Nov-16 10:36:27

Sorry, OP, I'm confused. How, if she's terminally ill with a brain tumour, and emaciated with it, is she planning to host Christmas, let alone a longish stay for 5 guests. I'm having a hard time understanding the logistics.

I'm not sure about DC and terminal illness. They lack adult understanding and this makes it less distressing, at least that was true of mine, though they were younger, 7 and 10. Think I'd be more worried about her toxic personality. That's not something that will do DC any good. Watching your DM give you shit is not a good example to them.

nowredundant Wed 16-Nov-16 10:37:19

Why do you think caring for this manipulative, lying woman who is most likely going to emotionally and verbally abuse you further when you get home, be providing a positive example for your children?! They need to be your first priority and not exposing them to this toxic environment is what they need.

Millymollymanatee Wed 16-Nov-16 10:47:59

You must protect yourself. Go for no contact or very low contact with her. Don't feel guilty, it's really ok to protect yourself against your toxic mother.

mommiedearest123 Wed 16-Nov-16 10:53:08

She sounds completely toxic and I don't think you should care for her, because your children don't need to be around that.

However you sound strange in your manner about it all, sort of excited, like you're not really taking it all in. I'm not criticising btw. You feel how you feel, and I've been on the end of abuse by a close family member and your feelings can do very strange things when they are dying.

I did look after my abuser at the end, and I honestly am glad I did. We didn't fix everything, but we did in some way make our peace. Everyone is different however and you have children who must be priority. Definitely get some counselling to support you though. I was surprised at how much I grieved for this person, and had a breakdown after the death.

FruJustFru Wed 16-Nov-16 10:58:40

This will be a huge period of adjustment for your DC anyway, moving back to Oz. To be staying with your mum for your first 10 days when you arrive (and before DH arrives) doesn't sound like a good idea at all. It could be a miserable time for them and make the settling in process even more difficult for them.

Blueskyrain Wed 16-Nov-16 11:01:31

I helped care for 3 dying relatives between the ages of about 8 and 16. Its not very nice, but actually it helped me process their deaths more, and its not something I regret. Death is part of life, and children can be included, as long as its done sensitively.

Purplebluebird Wed 16-Nov-16 11:02:49

I wouldn't. I looked after my mum as much as I could when she was dying, and I got no closure from the abuse I suffered, both when I was growing up and later. In fact, the abuse got much worse, the worse her condition got. I would not take my child to be around her, if she was still alive (and behaved as horrible as she did towards the end).

Notonthestairs Wed 16-Nov-16 11:04:14

Can you not talk to her doctors and insist on palliative care - its actually what she needs. How does it work in Aus?

user1467798821 Wed 16-Nov-16 11:04:17

I had a pretty poor relationship with my mother for most of my life, including physical and mental abuse. Then I won a competition to go to New York and I took her. We had 5 days of just us, and we were able to talk everything through, and after hearing her story I decided it was time to forgive and move on. We never looked back. Six years later she was gone, from cancer pretty much everywhere including her brain, which changed her personality back to the spiteful woman she had been. My dad was her carer and during a lucid moment she opened up to him about my growing up years. When she died I felt sad but my conscience was clear. I think you have to decide what YOU want to do, not what you think everyone expects of you including your mother. I don't need to tell you that you won't get this time back, and your dh and dc's will still be there when it is all over. Don't subject them to the inevitable death. My heart goes out to you, it's a tough call

Wolpertinger Wed 16-Nov-16 11:06:06

Palliative care teams are well used to patients who claim their relatives are going to look after them without having actually discussed it with the relatives at all. They will not look at you in any way askance for not wanting to drop everything to look after her as they will have met hundreds of unrealistic patients before, and they will do after. You need not even tell them about the abuse if you don't want to.

Plus it's rare for a brain tumour to make someone nicer - usually it makes them even more unrealistic. Weird moods may be the tumour + the steroids making her a bit disinhibited.

You want to show a good example to your children - could that not be making sure that your mum has good care that she needs (provided by suitable professionals) but that a sensible person does not take on more that they can realistically do, and listens to advice of professionals? Or that one unrealistic bully doesn't get to grind the rest of a family into the ground?

mmmuffins Wed 16-Nov-16 11:13:28

You are giving this woman way too much time. She doesn't deserve it, and doesn't appreciate it. It is time you could be spending with your family, who actually care about you.

I know you grew up with her so have a distorted view, but I can't believe you are even in contact with a woman who abused and possibly helped to kill your terminally ill father.

Halloweensnake Wed 16-Nov-16 11:13:38

Wow,poor you...but what are you asking our advice on...I might of missed that bit

Rachel0Greep Wed 16-Nov-16 11:20:13

Sounds like an awful situation OP, but I'm with those who say why are you doing this? By all means do whatever you can to ensure that she has the relevant professional care, but I genuinely would not even be considering doing what you are doing, if I were in your position.

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