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Alcoholic MIL - need advice!

(12 Posts)
HaworthView Fri 06-Aug-10 21:05:49

Hi

Im new to the forum. Brief history, I am not a Mum, I have had six miscarriages and severe Asherman's Syndrome and am now 40 and feel its too late and not sure it's something I want to take on at my age. My partner feels the same way.

My partner has elederly parents. His father has dementia and his mother is an alcoholic. She is now in intensive care following a huge drinking/pill binge just because my partner has said that he is going to move an hour away from them to live with me (we have been together for 4 years). He has offered to move them as well, and will and does look after them, but they refuse to move and he doesn't want to live in that area.

It has now become clear that his mother is unable to care for herself or her husband. My partner is trapped by guilt as he feels he has broken her heart and is blaming himself.

I feel guilty because I don't want the rest of our lives to revolve around being 24/7 carers for his parents. My own mother has a drinking problem and she is on the other side of the world. I feel that if, at least, I have to devote my life to looking after an alcoholic, it may as well be my own mother.

Our relationship can't move on because his mother will not let him leave and gives him guilt trips and is now blaming me for taking him away. He's been trying to get them to move even before he met me. Anyway, his sister died of cancer six years ago and his mother never really got over it and it changed how life was going to be. They had planned to revolve their life around their daughter and now they are expecting my partner to take on this role. He is 42.

He is very upset, and I am trying to be as supportive as possible, but sometimes feel its more than I can take on, and not sure what the best way to deal with this is.

Any advice most welcome!

jesuswhatnext Fri 06-Aug-10 22:38:44

i am looking at this from several differant angles, and tbh, your MIL does not come out very well in any of them! fwiw -

i am an alcoholic - in no way is my child responsible for my care!

as a mother - in no way is my child resonsible for my care!

it sounds like your dp has been more than helpful, he offered to move them, they dont want to go, ok, fine, they can stay where they are!

it is nice if a family look out for one another, but to used, pushed about by guilt trips etc is simply not on. i htink your dp needs to grow a pair and tell tehm he has a life to lead, if is mother chooses to drink herself to death, thats her decision!

HaworthView Sat 07-Aug-10 10:32:41

The whole family have been in denial about her drinking. I've been telling him for years. She's been an alcoholic all her life. 65 and hobbling about like she 90, with the shakes. My Mum didn't start drinking until we were adults, but I've been through the same thing with my Mum, went home, hospital trips, detox, financial help - none of it made one bit of difference. My Mum doesn't do the guilt trip thing though and is not in denial about her drinking. I think my partner was 'raised' to feel guilty. I already decided long ago that if my mum wants to drink herself to death, thats up to her. It's her life. I've told her she's going to drink herself to death. I think my partner feels guilty because his sister died, and she would have been visiting every day, looking after them etc. She wouldn't have minded. But it's not really what he wants to do, its just the cards he's been dealt. I can't seem to get him to break away from them, because if they die he will feel guilty that he didn't do enough.

Thanks for your reply, helpful words.

HaworthView Sat 07-Aug-10 10:36:40

The other thing is, they can't stay where they are because his father has dementia and needs looking after, but his mother is not fit to do it anymore. He won't want to separate them or put them in homes though.

2rebecca Sat 07-Aug-10 10:44:52

I'd be inclined to keep your relationship with this bloke casual and think that he doesn't want to move in with you. It sounds as though he wants to continue caring for his parents more than he wants to live with you. That's his choice.
I've lived several hours away from my parents since I was 18 so would find a bloke in his 40s who said it would break his mothers heart if he moved an hour away a bit pathetic.
If the mother refuses to stop drinking and the father has dementia then they both will either end up in a home, end up with alot of SS home care or end up with exhausted younger relatives.
I'd keep out of it.
The mum sounds emotionally manipulative as many alcoholics are.

Haworth - firstly welcome you don't have to be a mum to post here and I am sorry for your losses.

Your DP is not responsible for his sister's death. He is not responsible for his mother's drinking. She is clearly in a very bad place and using emotional blackmail to try and control him. But you already know that and so does your DP.

His mum isn't that elderly if she is 65 this could carry on for 10-15 years. Maybe you need to sit your DP down and ask him how he feels about a decade of this. On a practical note I think you should start investigating all the possible sources of help from outside agencies as clearly his Dad is not getting the care he needs. As his mum has ending up in hospital from a suspected OD you may be able to use that to leverage more help for them from social services etc. If she refuses to allow external help them your DP knows that he tries but anything short of sacrificing himself completely to her needs will never be enough. She is trying to use him to fill a gap in her life and he will never succeed.
I would imagine your DP has grown up feeling guilty, in part, about the fact that actually he doesn't like him mum very much because she has put her drinking before the needs of the family.

HaworthView Sat 07-Aug-10 13:03:59

Thanks so much for your replies. Helping both me and my dp very much. Cheers.

LucyLouLou Sat 07-Aug-10 14:00:06

Hi Haworth.

Caring is not and should not be the absolute responsibility of the (adult) children. It's wonderful if they can take this kind of work on, but it should not be an obligation at the cost of anything and everything else in their lives. In your DPs case, he seems quite desperate to move on with his life and as harsh as it sounds, that's what he needs to do. It's very sad that his parents are in the situation they are, but your DP can't give up his life in order to pamper to them. My biological father (I have a SF as well) is an alcoholic and when my parents divorced, I cut off contact with him. They divorced when I was an adult so I have some experience of what it is like to care for an alcoholic. It's not a fun life, as I'm sure you know. It sounds like jesuswhatnext is a world away from being like your MIL (and my father for that matter) so I don't think it would be a good idea to think that MIL is capable of rational and considered analysis of her disease. Her latest tantrum hospital stay speaks to that.

My practical advice would be to sit down with your DP and have a very serious conversation about what you (not you and him, you solo) are willing to take on. Don't make promises you are not willing to carry through on. Bare in mind that if your DP moves in with you and brings his parents to a nearby location (assuming they agreed to it of course, though he shouldn't be begging and pleading there), you may end up taking on more than you bargained for if you are not very clear about where your responsibilities end. You need to be gentle with your DP, it's obvious that he is not happy with the way things are at the moment, but that doesn't mean you should compromise your own life to accomodate his parents. They have very specific care needs (more so with his dad than his mum) but that doesn't mean you and DP have to give up your lives for them.

My gut says that your MIL has emotional issues that are being both masked and exasperated by her alcoholism. In addition, I suspect your bottom line is that you are unwilling to care for this woman and probably for the FIL either. You should not feel guilty about this, but you should be honest about it. You DP is completely entitled to the same opinion, but he also must be honest about it.

Do you know what the care arrangements would/could be if your DP does not take on the lion's share? This shouldn't overly affect what you and DP do here, but it might help with your DP's guilty feelings to know that some other arrangement would be in place.

Good luck .

HaworthView Sat 07-Aug-10 14:22:04

Thanks. That waas a great post, and summed things up very well. My dp has said that it is him that will do the work, not me, but that will still have a big impact on our relationship. There are definitely emotional issues involved as well. As far as care arrangements, he's trying to get social services involved now and suggesting that his brother move in with them and become their carer, but I'm not 100% about that idea. It all depends on how well his Mum recovers I guess.

2rebecca Sat 07-Aug-10 14:27:36

That seems an unpleasant thing to do to his brother. His brother is entitled to a private life that doesn't involve his parents like all adults.
I think adults living with their parents should be a last resort. It does nothing for your love life or your mental state.
Getting more SS help and living near by are more reasonable.
When I get old and frail I don't want either of my kids moving in with me to ease their consciences.
I'd rather they got carers or put me in a home (some aren't that bad and have trips etc) than put their own lives on hold for what should be the best years of their lives.

HaworthView Sat 07-Aug-10 14:39:45

I found a place 5 mins from where we would be living. It has everything they need. They still live independently, but have 24hr care on site, alarms, help with shopping, cleaning, washing, dementia care. They have lots of social things on, people their own age in similar situations. That's where I think they need to be, and his brother can move close by as well. I don't think they are being realistic about the burden his brother would be taking on. And it's still not too far for her older grandchildren to visit. I think a lot of her problems stem from grief, she lost her daughter, she lost access to her grandson and now she's effectively lost her husband to dementia, he used to do everything for her. My dp is talking about moving them from Lancashire to Cornwall, but I think that move would be too big for them right now.

HaworthView Mon 09-Aug-10 14:45:20

I would say it was more the 65 year old alcholic mother who was more pathetic, than her poor son who only wants to care for them and for them to have a good life. She nearly committted suicide over her son moving an hour away. If that's not pathetic, I don't know what is!!

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