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Need some advice on a difficult situation

(57 Posts)
GinAndFrolics Thu 09-Feb-17 12:11:14

Hello, I'm a very long-time lurker but this is my first post. I've been debating for a while about posting for advice, but it's really come to a point now where I'm running out of ideas of what to do.

I'll try not to drip feed, so this might be a long one! Sorry.

My parents are both retired. DF took early retirement, but DM took voluntary redundancy around the same time. She didn't want to leave, but they were making big changes to her role which would have meant taking on twice the work load but in less hours, plus additional travel. I completely support her decision.

Unfortunately, the way things are now, it is particularly difficult for women in their forties and fifties to find employment. I've seen this with other family members and also with a couple of women I have worked with. It's a struggle - you become dependent on savings and your partner (if you have one) until you can claim your pension (which may be meagre if you took a career break to bring up a family). I really feel that something should be done to stop companies discriminating against employing women at this stage in their lives.

DM loved working and misses it a lot. DF always said when he took early retirement that he would do a few bits of private consultancy here and there. Despite being called up frequently, he never does any of it. He needs a rest apparently...even a few years on hmm

DF has become unbelievably lazy. He does NOTHING. Sits on the computer or iPhone all day doing F all. He probably wouldn't even eat or go out if DM wasn't there.

Their relationship seems basically non-existent now (a number of reasons over a number of years). They spend the day in the same house but different rooms. I think a big thing is that DF just doesn't do anything for DM, and despite MANY conversations with him, he doesn't change.

DM has a couple of friends, but doesn't have any hobbies. This time of year seems to get her down anyway because of the weather. Over the past year I've been watching her sink into depression and she won't do anything about it. She refuses to seek professional help ("I don't want pills and telling someone how shit my life is won't help"), she won't even try any activities that I suggest to get her out of the house or occupied. She is isolating herself more and more.

I try to point out the good things, but she always finds a way to turn it around or say it's not enough. I know that it's illness speaking. I just don't feel equipped to deal with it.

Unfortunately I live in Europe now with soon to be DH (who is very supportive in all this), so can't even pop in as much as I'd like. We're here short-term for stbDH's job, but will be moving back next year or so to our house (still not near to DM though). I fly back at least one weekend per month. They have never come to visit me. I'm lucky that I am self-employed, so when I'm not with clients I do got back to the UK for a week or so and work from there to keep her company. Siblings live in the UK but the other side of the country. They visit when they can and call DM often. I do feel I'm taking on more of the burden than they are, but I think it's a personality thing and they're in different high-pressure careers that have little to no flexibility.

I don't know what to do. I know I'll be told it's not my responsibility. But it makes me so sad and I feel completely helpless. I also feel guilty for being happy about the good things going on in my life (buying a house, getting married, career is going REALLY well).

Has anyone been through the same? Any suggestions? Even a hand hold.

Please be kind. Thank you.

(P.S. Wasn't sure where to put this - is Relationships the right place?! confused)

GinAndFrolics Thu 09-Feb-17 12:11:47

Sorry it's ridiculously long! blush

user1486613612 Thu 09-Feb-17 14:33:20

Did your mum have any hobbies in the past? What were they? Try to find an inkling of an interest for something, even if you have to drill down as far back to things she might have enjoyed in school. Don't feel guilty over being happy over things going well, since it's also a way for your parents to be happy - through you, for you.

GinAndFrolics Thu 09-Feb-17 14:44:30

Thank you for replying User smile

She's always been arty and crafty. She knits and crochets most days now - I suggested she go with a friend of hers who is also retired and is super social and does activities every day. Things like jewellery making, painting etc. She won't. She said they need to be careful with money. Most of the time that's what she'll use as an excuse not to do something. I offer to pay with my siblings as a treat, she won't accept it because she doesn't want us spending our money on her (she's returned birthday gifts in the past and given us the money back hmm).

I suggested she goes over to her friend's place or has her over to do some crafty things. She won't.

She was socialising and seeing people for coffee for a while after she stopped working, but that's dwindled down. She said she feels like she has nothing to contribute to conversations and that she's boring and that they're judging her for being boring.

I know all these things are from the depression. When she does end up doing things her mood is lifted and she's much happier. When I point this out she says she's doing it for us so we feel better hmm

She loves it when stbDH and I and my siblings are there. I guess there's a bit of empty nest going on as well.

Now I'm rambling. Thank you User, it is nice to have someone "listen".

zznotxy Thu 09-Feb-17 15:10:17

Volunteer in a charity shop? She can do as little or as much as she wants and will get social interaction.

BugPlaster Thu 09-Feb-17 15:23:19

Making bits to sell at craft fairs? Only needs make enough to cover materials of just for a hobby.
Clearly there is a bigger picture and she needs to feel worthy of doing something for herself too. How does she feel about not working?

GinAndFrolics Thu 09-Feb-17 17:34:40

Hi zznotxy - I have suggested that also. She said she'd rather work and be paid for it and wouldn't want to have committed to that and then have to leave if/when she finds a job.

That's the thing BugPlaster, she really wants to go back to work, even if it's not in her field, just no-one is employing women her age. She's even tried roles that people stereotypically associate with "older" women e.g. librarian positions. There's either no requirement, or they want younger people. Nothing wrong with hiring younger people I suppose, just seems society has left her out to pasture.

She keeps telling me she feels like she's just waiting to die sad sad sad

I tell her to think about when she'll have grandchildren and that we all need her.

She's really in a rut and in my opinion does need professional help. But if she won't go I can't do anything and I'm running out of responses and suggestions.

Great suggestions from you guys though. I will try again RE: charity shop.

PurpleToeNails Thu 09-Feb-17 19:48:52

Is it okay to ask how old your mum is? From your post I don't know if she's my age, or my mum's age...which may impact on my reply.
Regardless, is it worth asking her how she feels about life at the moment, and how she would like things to be?

schlong Thu 09-Feb-17 20:00:20

Sounds like your df could be a big part of your dm's problems. If she stuck indoors with someone she has no meaningful connection with she'll just wilt over time. It's actually soul destroying.

GinAndFrolics Thu 09-Feb-17 20:17:13

PurpleToeNails - She's in her late fifties.
I have asked her, most times she says if it weren't for my siblings and I, she doesn't see the point in carrying on sad
As for how she would like things to be, she says there's no point thinking about it because it won't happen.

Yes, schlong (never thought I'd type that on MN!), DF is definitely a major part of the problem. And I agree with you, totally, utterly soul destroying.

The thing is, DF is totally lost without her and if they're apart for whatever reason, he calls incessantly. But when they're together he ignores her or makes sarcastic jibes (that he thinks is just him joking and being funny, but she really hates and it upsets her). No matter how much siblings and I tell him to stop it, he carries on. He does it to us as well. I honestly think he's totally clueless and doesn't know any better.

They'll have loving moments here and there, but it's becoming a lot rarer.

Emmageddon Thu 09-Feb-17 20:18:30

If she's in her mid to late 50's, then she's definitely not unemployable. Can you help her re-jig her CV and suggest she uploads it to some job sites? Encourage her to apply for jobs. Getting back to work will give her independence, a chance to make new friends, and make her feel worthwhile again. Your dad may be perfectly content to do nothing all day every day, but your mum obviously needs to have a life with purpose and meaning.

Grandchildren are in the future, she needs to have something to do now

rollmeover Thu 09-Feb-17 20:21:46

Temp work would be perfect for her - she can take any old gig even Art min wage to get her confidence back and then it's often quite easy to be kept on. Get her to sign up with a couple of agencies.

rollmeover Thu 09-Feb-17 20:22:04


AnyFucker Thu 09-Feb-17 20:25:33

A tough one

My mother has been in an abusive relationship for over 50 years. Now she and my father have retired and he has gradually driven his offspring, family and friends away all she really has left is him

I had to detach myself a long time ago, but not before some truthful exchanges. She admitted that she chose her relationship with him and would still do the same again. She loves him and that is it.

She has been medicated for as long as I can remember. Just to get through the day.

You cannot live her life for her, and you cannot rescue someone who doesn't want to be rescued

If she wants to extricate herself...the impetus has to come from her. Your concern is a waste of mind space and I know how harsh that sounds.

Viviene Thu 09-Feb-17 20:26:01

Could she be a childminder / babysitter?
Do someone's ironing for them?
Try to see if she could apply for jobs at National Trust?

Christinayangstwistedsista Thu 09-Feb-17 20:26:38

Why do you this k its difficult for women in their forties to find employment?

GinAndFrolics Thu 09-Feb-17 20:27:07

Absolutely agree Emmageddon and have done all those things. We still email jobs and applications back and forth that she's working on. The interviews she has had they basically told her they wanted someone younger (obviously not so directly, but that's what it amounted to).

I have a friend in recruitment who has even looked over her CV and gave interview tips etc, so I don't think we're doing anything wrong there.

I'm not lying when I say it's really difficult for women her age to find employment. Unless you're high-flying or well known/in a niche field. She had a normal career in a normal field.

I am continuing to help her with this as I do believe, like you rightly pointed out, she needs something now and a job would really give her back her independence and sense of purpose.

I've suggested courses as well, but that gets rebutted with the "can't waste money" excuse.

Christinayangstwistedsista Thu 09-Feb-17 20:30:41

Why doesn't she volunteer, and I do t mean just making tea, there are lots of interesting opportunities out there

My mother started a new role at 60

Christinayangstwistedsista Thu 09-Feb-17 20:31:36

Remember, you aren't responsible for her happiness

Composteleana Thu 09-Feb-17 20:34:50

My MIL makes cards that she sells at craft fairs etc, to raise money for the local hospital. Another suggestion although I know she may just find excuses against that.

GinAndFrolics Thu 09-Feb-17 20:38:11

Christina - mainly based on what I've seen with her and also with some of my ex colleagues who were made redundant, in that late forties to late fifties age group there really isn't a lot going and, again, this is just in my personal experience, organisations tend to prefer to hire younger people. I'm not going to go into the whole men vs. women, old vs. young as this isn't really the thread for that. Where she is there aren't a lot of jobs (and it's not a small place!), those that are around are aimed at new graduates.

Agree with the volunteering, and I will bring it up again.

Also agree with AnyFucker, it has to come from her. Even if I push volunteering, counselling, craft fairs, if she doesn't want to do it, I can't force her.

Doesn't make my sadness for her go away. Nor can I switch off the feeling of responsibility to help her or stop trying.

Emmageddon Thu 09-Feb-17 20:40:15

Maybe she needs to look at a complete career change? Just because she's late 50's doesn't mean her life is over and all she has to look forward to is the possibility of grandchildren sometime in the future. She could look at working in care, or catering and hospitality, for example.

Why would doing a course be a complete waste of money? She would easily recoup that, as she is likely to be working for almost another decade.

If she refuses to contemplate any of your suggestions, then I don't know what to suggest. Her life should be opening up with new possibilities, not closing down so it doesn't seem worth living. It's very sad, but it sounds as if she has accepted this miserable, dull existence is all she deserves.

AnyFucker Thu 09-Feb-17 20:40:46

It's sad but am reminded of the saying "have the strength to recognise what you cannot change " (paraphrasing)

GinAndFrolics Thu 09-Feb-17 20:42:59

Thank you for the replies, everyone. I honestly thought no-one would respond.

I know it seems like I'm giving excuses or going against suggestions saying they won't work (it does look like that a bit reading it back), I'm just trying to be honest as I have tried so many things in all this time. I can't give up on her though.

It is helping me to unburden and "talk" this through though. So, thank you.

Christinayangstwistedsista Thu 09-Feb-17 20:47:05

Don't feel guilty, your choices have got you where you are and so have hers

If she isn't happy then she has to do something about it

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