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Advice please... Do I need to toughen up?

(47 Posts)
Itsallabout Thu 20-Sep-12 13:25:06

I live overseas with my Dh and 6 year old DD. We have lived here a little under 2 years and love it.

My Dm and SD were supposed to be coming for a 6 week holiday in July but they decided not to as Sd thought the flight was too long and would prefer to send the money on lots of smaller holidays for them-selves. He likes to drink and is somewhat contolling but in a way that isn't obvious to Dm.

Our lives were recently turned upside down when I was diagnosed with a incurable cancer. I have already had 3 months of chemo which has been tough. We have managed but it has been terribly difficult not having any family around to help.

My DM was due to be coming to help at the of the month as I will be having a stem cell transplant as part of my treatment and will be very very unwell and in hospital for at least a month. I get a phone call from Dm, she is obvious distressed and upset. She said she doesn't know what to do and feels torn and she cannot cope. Basically Sd has declared that he has a drinking problem and now is the right time to get the help he needs but he also needs Dm by his side to help him through it.

I told Dm to do what she feels best and that if she felt she needed to stay home then that I understood. She appeared very relieved and said I knew you would understand, Thank you.

So she isn't coming and has cancelled on us. I feel utterly devastated and crap. Part of me feels that Dm really had no choice but to stay and support her husband and part of me feels that once again her children and Grandchildren have come second to his need to be the centre of attention with Dm. ( there is a long history of attention seeking, insecurities and accusations from him)

I have since found out from Dsis that they have been to see a doctor about his alcoholism and he has stated that he doesn't want to give up drinking completely, He wants to still drink most nights but in a more controlled and social way. ( he has drunk every single day for the past 29 years he has been married to Dm)

I don't know what to think. Did he really just have a sudden desire to change and it was bad timing? Was it his way of keeping Mum there? Why didn't Mum say " No my daughter is seriously ill and needs me more than you do"?

Should I just say nothing and leave it alone? (Mum will not ever have a word said against him)

I have been so upset over this and I am very hurt. I did say that I was very disappointed but that is all I have said to Mum. She is also quite upset and feels like she has been pulled in two directions. She said she will still come but at the beginning of next year.

Can I have your thoughts and advice on this please? Thank you

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 20-Sep-12 13:47:03

No, you don't to need to toughen up. Yes, his sudden illness is entirely to prevent your mum from travelling. And your mum didn't say 'no' to him because you gave her the option and she gave into the attention-seeking yet again. You cannot have possibly been expecting her to say that and I'm speechless at the insensitivity. There are no 'two directions' when it comes to your children. No wonder you are so upset.

This is really not the time to say nothing. Tell her you need her. You don't have to mention the alcoholic at all. Just be very clear that this is you, her DD, demanding her support. Good luck.

pollyblue Thu 20-Sep-12 14:09:26

No you don't need to toughen up.

I do understand your Mums loyalty to her husband - and I imagine his drinking has caused problems for them that she is keen to resolve, so wants to help him. BUT he stil wants to drink socially, and has had 29 years to sort himself out. So I'm hmm that that is going to happen, and hmm about his timing.

Imho, for what it's worth, the gravity of your situation far outweighs his and you are her daughter. Her priority should be you.

I'm sorry for your situation OP, and I'm sorry she put the onus on you to do the deciding for her. I think she needs to be told this, if you feel you can't could your DH speak to her?

glasscompletelybroken Thu 20-Sep-12 15:58:39

You definately don't need to toughen up - your mum is in the wrong but she may just not be capable of giving you the support you need. It's so sad for you but if you continue to pusrue this you may just be let down again and it is just you getting hurt - not her.

Please don't waste any of your precious ti e chasing after something that won't materialise. I would just tell your mum that you are sorry she didn't feel able to support you and that you will try and get some support somewhere else. and then just do that.

Take care

izzyizin Thu 20-Sep-12 18:40:57

(((hugs))) honey. There have been very few times I've been overcome with emotion on reading this board, but this time I'm in tears thinking of what you've gone through and have yet to go through to keep the fucker that is cancer under control.

My thoughts on your sd's selfishness and your dm's self-imposed martyrdom to his cause are unprintable.

My advice to you is to remember that it's always been the case that your not-as-dear-as-I'd-want-her-to-be m has chosen him over all else, including her own needs as well as those of her dc and dgc, and that after 29 years nothing can or will change that sorry state of affairs.

I suggest that you expect to receive a further excuse towards the end of this year when he falls off the wagon of social drinking by having one tot of scotch too many necessitating a futher visit to his GP which, of course, will require your dm to dance attendance on him again, as it will on any occasion when it seems she may leave him to fend for himself for a few weeks.

I wish your sd liver failure a pox of the non-infectious variety, and I wish you every blessing and all the luck in the world together with resounding success for your forthcoming transplant and beyond.

janelikesjam Thu 20-Sep-12 18:52:38

I don't see what "support" a grown man needs to cut down on his drinking, it doesn't make sense to be honest, certainly compared to the alternative, which is helping you at such a difficult time.

You've expressed your disappointed feelings to your mother, but not the full range of hurt that you feel, is that what you want to do? Either way, I see no need to toughen up (whatever that means). Just make sure all your love and care and precious energy (I know chemo can make you feel very sick) goes where it is most needed and appreciated your DH and DD.

I hope you get the love and support you need.

x

Busybusybust Thu 20-Sep-12 19:09:05

Oh, itsall - for goodness sake! What IS your mother thinking? If you were my daughter, I'd be on the next plane. I wonder, do you think she has been 'conditioned' to 'obey' your SD? It certainly sounds like it. Amazing that his 'long-standing alcohol abuse' is more important to your mother than your life-limiting illness!

If I was you I would actually tell her just how angry I was. I can't actually imagine that she is happy with a man who won't 'let her' go and see her very poorly daughter.

I guess there is history here?

Lovingfreedom Thu 20-Sep-12 19:38:45

I think it's understandable that you're upset and hurt...and no question that your DM should go to you. I think the difficulty here is that whereas you say 'it's alright mum, you do what you think'...your SF is saying to her 'don't go I need you. Stay here'...so she thinks 'oh DD won't mind, she'll understand' whereas she knows she'll get a hard time from your SF. So she's chosen a quiet life...as presumably she's done time after time, as you say you and your DC are used to coming second to your SF.

But, this time, she's not got the luxury of being able to tell herself that there is always next time. I don't know...I wonder if you could write to her and tell her that you really would appreciate her coming. Is it ok for her to come at the beginning of next year? If you can wait for that you could impress on her how important it is that she actually does show up that time. You don't give details of your prognosis, but if she chooses not to come to see you when you are ill, that is a choice that she might regret for years to come. It might feel like emotional blackmail and pulling her in two directions, but sounds like she might actually benefit from hearing that from you. You need her (and actually she will need to see you too)...might actually give her the guts she needs to tell that self-indulgent, whining idiot she's married to that he's not her only priority.

Sorry for your situation and good luck with the treatment. Take care. x

izzyizin Thu 20-Sep-12 19:58:10

I would have suggested that your dh gives your dm a call but IMO it would be asking far too much of him to exercise restraint in letting her know that your need is urgent and far greater than anyone else's as the present time.

Would it be possible for your dsis to express some degree of shock at your dm's decision to let you down when you have particular need of her and urge her to put you first on this occasion?

If not, I'd be more than happy to do the deed in a manner that would not make it seem as if you had complained about her - although, of course, you have every right to complain as loudly and bitterly as you want or need about your dm's lamentable shortcomings.

Mayisout Thu 20-Sep-12 20:03:09

I would say that there is not much chance of SD cutting his drinking and DM will realise this before long. She may then decide to come to see you quite soon.

If she has always given in to his wishes there is not much you can do.

Itsallabout Sat 22-Sep-12 11:54:05

Sorry for the delay in replying and Thank you for all your kind words and thoughts on this. They made me cry with the realisation that you all think what I think and it made me sad to know that my Mum maybe doesn't love me quite as much as I adore her.

I spoke to my dsis who is disgusted with them both. She told Dm she is horrified that she isn't coming to help. My Mum replied that she feels bad enough about it without my dsis 'having a go'. She also said that she couldn't really see the need for her to be here when I am in hospital as she wants to be here to help care for me and I will be cared for at the hospital. It isn't about being cared for though is it? It is that I need Mum and so does my Dh and Dd, we all need her. I just want my Mum, why can't she understand that? We are incredibly close and talk about everything. But where Sd is concerned it is a no go area, she defends, supports and placates everything to do with him. I have no idea why.

I spoke to Mum last night and it was all very strained and polite, she said she knew I wasn't happy. I said I was upset, hurt and disappointed about her decison. She changed the subject to Sd , how proud she was of him, that he hadn't had a drink before 6pm all week. I fucking don't care! I felt like screaming...but Mum, what about me?
She then went on to tell me that they decided to go on a last minute holiday next week, they need to getaway and spend time together. Mum is retired, they are with each other every day. They have no friends, they never go out in the evenings because he drinks but they need to spend time together.

She kept saying she is absolutely coming to visit in Jan for a few months. I did express a concern that I was worried that Sd may 'need ' her again and she wouldn't come but she promised me she would. She said I have wanted to jump on the plane for the past 3 months. I said, why haven't you? She didn't reply. I dont think I want her to come now anyway, it would be as a second choice and how helpful would she be if she was worrying about Sd and wanting to be there with him.

I am going to write her an email for when she gets back from their jaunt. It is causing me so much heartache that I need to be honest with her. I shouldn't be worried about upsetting her when she obviously doesn't mind upsetting me.

My lovely lovely in laws have dropped everything and are coming at the beginning of next month and staying until Jan ( 3 months!!!! that is a whole new thread). I am so relieved and grateful. I can now try to concentrate and refocus on getting better and back to being Mum to my baby girl.

You asked about my prognosis Loving Freedom. The cancer is of the plasma cells produced by the bone marrow. It is quite rare and usually effects people over 65. ( Im 40) It is highly treatable but incurable. Meaning if treatment is successful and I reach complete remission I could stay in remission for many years or I could relapse in 6 months. But it will come back one day.

Once again Thank you for your thoughts and apologies for any spelling errors.

tiredofwaitingforitalltochange Sat 22-Sep-12 12:12:41

So sorry about your diagnosis OP. You are right to focus on your own family. I know a bit about this condition because of my job and I hope your treatment goes well. I am sure you know that this is an area where new drugs and research are changing all the time the prognosis and QoL that patients can expect.

You have every right to be very disappointed in your dm. There is nothing unreasonable about your expectations and feeling of being horribly let down. I know a little of how you feel, I am going through a separation after 13 years of marriage and since the process started eight months ago I have seen my mum once and she never calls me. This is not about me, but I just want to tell you I understand what a horrible blow and confidence shaker it is when you realise that when the chips are down you haven't got the mum you want and need.

Like others on here, I would drop anything if my kids needed me and to hell with anyone else.

However, and I'm not making excuses for your mum, because I think that her support should be a given, but I have a few thoughts about this I thought I'd share with you:

Your sd sounds like a selfish bully who lacks self awareness and is still unable to properly face up to his problems. Your dm has probably had a hard time being married to an alcoholic for years and is likely desperate for him to change. Why do I think he's a bully? Because I can only assume that because you have had a good relationship with your mum and have an extremely difficult challenge to face right now, her prioritising him must spring from some kind of fear of him. There is otherwise no explanation.

Also, she may be struggling to cope with your diagnosis and the thought of seeing you ill. I feel that my own mother just can't cope with it when my life is difficult. She doesn't want to know, she wants to shut her eyes and ears. This is a personal failing. Your mum may feel 'responsible' in some way for your illness, since you have had an uncommonly early onset.

None of these points excuse her failure to support you. You are absolutely right to put your own family first and tell her what you think. As you say, you should not be concerned about sparing her feelings in this situation when your own have been so hurt.

Stay strong, and all the best with everything.

fiventhree Sat 22-Sep-12 12:18:03

People always have something invested in their own decisions. I think your dm has some investment in deciding not to come- ie she has made a decision which benefits herself, as she sees it. She just cant present or even acknowledge that.

eg she doesnt like travelling
she doesnt like supporting others, but to be the centre of support
she is over reliant on sf and wont come if he wont
she is getting something from codependency with sf

She knows what it is, and maybe you can work it out by thinking of it this way.

Punkatheart Sat 22-Sep-12 13:49:17

I see this time and time again. I don't understand it. My child will ALWAYS come first. I am sorry that you are going through this. A stem cell for me has been talked about too - so I understand that terrifying feeling.

We will support you if that helps. Are you in the south east or London? I go up to St Thomas' a lot and I would genuinely go with you if you had a visit in a London hospital - it does help to have someone who understands.

Keep talking, please. We will hold your hand.

izzyizin Sat 22-Sep-12 16:29:01

The OP lives overseas, Punk but we can do our utmost to support her through the ether, so to speak, and I hope she'll allow us to do so throughout the coming months and beyond.

Well, bully for your dm, eh, Itsall? What an amazing outcome due solely to one trip to a GP. hmm She deserves a holiday after the stress of worrying about her attention seeking alcoholic 'd'h whose word must be obeyed need of her ministrations is obviously greater than your own.

Of course, credit must be given to the poor diddums him as no doubt he's suffered the agonies of the damned in resolving not to touch a drop before 6pm.. Would that be 6pm GMT or Oz time?

Whatever, I suspect that his self-imposed time limit will go out of the window shortly after the commencement of their vacation because it goes without saying that social drinkers are required to be sociable, and it would be antisocial not to join others in hitting the bottle after breakfast pre-luncheon aperitifs and to imbibe the finest vintages throughout the meal before having a generous measure of the hard stuff a brandy or port with coffee as an aid to digestion.

After you've written to her, in the interests of self-preservation do your best to write her off, honey. If you see her, you see her - and if you dont, the loss is entirely hers.

There's a mighty supportive group at work on another thread and I intend to draw their attention to yours. In the meantime, here's some magic sparkles to ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤øº¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤øº¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø amuse you and I leave you with the thought that 'anyone who doesn't believe in miracles isn't a realist'.

Punkatheart Sat 22-Sep-12 16:46:25

How stupid of me to miss the overseas reference. Sorry OP. But we will support you as best we can....

izzyizin Sat 22-Sep-12 21:14:15

If there's one thing you ain't, it's stupid, Punk grin You're a woman of rare courage and I can only wish that the OP was being treated at Tommy's because I have no doubt she would find herself overwhelmed with no shortage of rl surrogate dms.

As it is, all we can do is offer to be a reliable source of support to her whenever she feels the need for a virtual hand to hold or a need to offload those thoughts that have the power to haunt.

Btw, if you should be in need of any comfort and consolation give us a shout here - the brew and the wine are limitless smile

Punkatheart Sat 22-Sep-12 23:21:54

Thank you Izzy. I am blushing.

Please look after yourself, OP. Things that might help are watching films - sinking into another world. It helped me so much, as did endless Buffy and Angel DVDs. Nature, the laughter of children...anything that makes you happy and allows you to escape.

Offload here. We all send you hugs and a wish for a recovery. Stem Cell transplants are miraculous these days....I wish you all the best....

sadwidow28 Wed 26-Sep-12 01:59:04

I am joining this thread to offer sparkles, prayers and solace.

I have stolen the sparkles from Izzy who told us suggested that some of us with loving and supportive dispositions should come and hold your hand.

:¦:•:*'''''*:•-:¦::-•:*'''''*:•-:¦::-•:*'''''*:•-:¦::•:*'''''*:•-:¦::¸,ø¤º°`°º¤øº¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤øº¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤øº¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤øº¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤øº¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø¸,ø¤º°`°º¤øº¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤øº¤ø:¦:•:*'''''*:•-:¦::-•:*'''''*:•-:¦::-•:*'''''*:•-:¦::•:*'''''*:•,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø :

Your Mum may have chosen not to come and help you OP, but please don't even think that her decision puts you anywhere on the 'less than worthy' scale. I suspect that your Mum is supporting the weaker and most demanding person in her life because she can't share her emotions beyond ONE person.

Please stay on this thread and we will hold your hand. You can rant and rave - swear and hold fists at the gods/goddesses!

I send you love and blessings tonight. Take care x x

Homebird8 Wed 26-Sep-12 06:43:06

Hello Itsallabout. Izzy told me you were here and I wanted to drop in and offer my support. Something about your OP made me think we might be in the same country. You don't have to share but if I you are in NZ perhaps I could be some RL help? PM me if you like.

I agree with pretty much everyone. Your hope that you DM would be there for you is one the 'reason' she's given should not have destroyed. We'll just have to gather our MN resources and fill in some of the gap. Hooray for the ILs for offering. Mine would, I'm sure, in a similar situation. Whether we'd be able to cope with them though, would be debatable.

I'm sending strength for you, DH and DD and praying for the right words for your letter to DM. Keep coming back, we'll be here for you.

Itsallabout Wed 26-Sep-12 07:50:36

Bloody hell...You lot have reduced me to a blubbering snotting crybaby!

Your kindness and words have overwhelmed me and clarified a few things for me.Thank you, you are are wonderfully beautiful.

The letter/email to my Mum is written and in my outbox ready to send. I have not held back and many years of pend up frustrations have been unleashed. It is now up to Mum how she deals with it. I need to move on from this really. I have wasted enough energy, emotion and time trying to make excuses for her behaviour.

I am fiercely independent and rarely admit I am struggling or that I need help. Maybe as someone on here suggested Mum sees this in me and just assumed I am the stronger person and would manage perfectly fine without her. This is of course what we will do.

It seems that I have opened the gates on my emotions by starting this thread. So many feelings that I have tried to hide with regards to my illness, I havent really talked how I feel about it all with anyone. I find it too difficult. I don't want to admit my fears to friends..I dont want to appear weak or as if I'm failing. I am the listemer and helper not the one who needs help.

I do not have oodles friends here yet. There are 2 good friends who I met through my DD 's school and they have been amazing with helping with childcare. But I do feel quite isolated and lonely. My Dh is wonderful but he has to work so mostly I am going to appointments and for chemo alone ( I go 2x weekly). I don't really meet many cancer patients I can relate to as my cancer normally affects older men. There isn't a support group either.

Sorry..I,'m having a woe is me..look at me...wahhhhhh day. I will shut up now.

Thank you all so much for your support. It means much more than.I can say.

I am in Australia not NZ .

Itsallabout Wed 26-Sep-12 07:54:12

Izzy, you are blinking lovely you are x I'm sending you hugs and stuff back to you. x Thank you x

dondon33 Wed 26-Sep-12 17:01:49

I'm so so sorry Its,
honestly there's not many times that words fail me.
You have every right to be disappointed, hurt and angry with your DM but your energies are best focused elsewhere.
It's deplorable that your SD hasn't packed a bag for Dm and said please go to your daughter - SHE needs you. What an utterly selfish person pig he is, I'm so upset/angry on your behalf.
Take support from where you can in RL and also continue to come here.
I would offer some sparkles but failed abysmally in my last attempt ask Izzy, she'll tell you and anyway she is sparkle queen smile
I'm sending you strength, love and hugs for you and your family and also best wishes and hope from the bottom of my heart xx
Take care.

brass Wed 26-Sep-12 17:22:20

I wish you all the very best with your treatment, please concentrate on yourself to give yourself the best positive outcome.

I will be thinking of you and sending vibes x

Homebird8 Wed 26-Sep-12 20:23:51

Itsallabout, I'm so glad you have some RL friends who can help with your DD. It must be hard going for treatment alone. That difficult balance between responsibilities across the family eh sad Are there any charities who might be able to offer you some support, like Macmillan in the UK? Perhaps they have a support wing where there's someone who can at least sit with you during treatment?

Well done for getting all your feelings into that email for your DM. Has it helped to see it in black and white? You will, of course "manage fine without her". You just shouldn't be having to deal with the fallout when you have so much more on your plate. I'm really angry for you. It's not you that needs to toughen up sweetie! I'm so glad you know your DSis is on your side.

We're here for you, even if that is in e-format. I know you're not in NZ but at least we're awake at the same time so I can more easily be around for you. Hope you aren't awake in the wee small hours but if you are that's when the UK ladies can be around. There's always someone around I'm sure, whenever you want to post.

Sending you thanks to brighten your day, and in the words of a very famous poem, we'll help you to "plant your own garden" thanks

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