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My mum (a bit long, sorry)(7 Posts)
First off I want to say that I love my mum very much and I feel very guilty for writing this. But, it is an issue that makes me feel very stressed and unhappy.
My mum is 82. When she retired, 20 or so years ago she moved away from where myself and my 2 siblings, and all her friends and relatives live, to a village which is nearly a 4 hour drive away. She moved to be with her long-term partner (R) who had retired a few years earlier. He is not a very nice man - he is EA to her. My brother refuses to go to their house because R has picked arguments and physical fights with him. My DH also refuses to go for the same reason. My sister has some contact but not much .
I know my mum is lonely. She lives in a small community of mostly elderly people. She doesn't drive, lives 20 minutes from the nearest shops and she depends on R to take her anywhere. My mum and R have alienated themselves away from the people where they live. On one visit R told me of a incident with an elderly neighbour who R made apologise to a dog - I was shocked, horrified. My mum is also very judgemental and argumentative (to be fair she doesn't know about the dog incident) - I have learnt to keep the peace by not disagreeing with her about anything. The pair of them rarely have a good word to say about anyone. She's very good at the subtle put down - "Are you changing those trousers before we go out" or "are you going to comb your hair" kind of remarks even though I've just looked in the mirror and thought that I look nice today.
To the nub of the issue: I feel that my mum depends on me for her happiness and its a heavy weight for me to carry (that sounds over dramatic). I've been ill with MH problems myself and still feel very vulnerable. My mum doesn't know about this - I had 6 months off work with a breakdown and she doesn't know I had all that time off. If I'd told her it would have become about her - how guilty she feels about divorcing my dad (40 years ago!), how she can't sleep with worrying, and crying on the phone. Plus lots of disapproval about my anti-depressants. Sometimes I think that she still controls me by telling me she's not sleeping, that she feels guilty and that she's worrying. I go
through life thinking "if I do that it will make her sad" .
I want to help her but I don't know what to do. I have made lots of suggestions - she could get a taxi to church (she is quite religious but won't ask R for lift ), join a reading group, join WI etc, but she lacks confidence to do stuff on her own. I go and see her every holiday although I find it stressful; and walk on eggshells the whole time. And she's never satisfied with a quick visit and cries when I go, so I end up staying longer even though it stops me doing things I need to - this holiday I've cancelled a dentist appointment, ended up not getting my hair cut and won't meet up with an old friend. I'm a teacher so holidays are not only a time to de-stress but are also a time to do some prep, which I haven't had time to do this holiday, which makes me more anxious.
I feel frustrated, a bad daughter, that I let her down, guilty, that I owe her something, I'm scared of her disapproval. What can I do to feel better?
You cannot help anyone who ultimately does not want to be helped. Its not your fault she is like this and you should not feel at all guilty.
I would further lower all contact with your mother and her partner; they are not nice people to be at all around and they are not making your own mental health improve. Its also been very unfair of her to make you her confidant; that was never your role.
I've been her confidant since I was 14.
It's so hard though to think that my mum is not a nice person.
Without knowing her its hard to say if she's just weak or manipulative or both.
Either way you can have some compassion for her. You can make suggestions, you can support her (up to a point), but since you have already done this there doesn't seem much else you can do especially when as Atilla says someone doesn't want to be helped.
She has made her decisions clearly. She decided to move, she decided to live with such an unpleasant man. She decided to alienate her children. Perhaps all this suits her. Agree you shouldn't have been her confidante at 14, and the fact you are supporting her (fully abled woman) at the cost of your own MH issues (which you cannot even go to her for support with) says alot. Agree with more distancing and more self-assertion - you need to look after yourself.
You are not responsible for your mother's happiness or mental health. You must take care of yourself, first and foremost. Offer her help if you want to, but make sure it's help which won't cost you.
She has trained you to feel responsible for her, she has trained you to feel guilty when she behaves badly. None of this is your fault. You deserve so much better.
Let her go.
Put out of your mind all thoughts of responsibility for her and do what you need to do for yourself.
You are not a bad daughter op. She is a bad mother.
You have put her wellbeing above your own for too long.
Lower contact further. Put yourself first. Your entire posts scream of how your feelings have been minimised and dismissed over the years, saying you're being melodramatic etc when you're not being melodramatic enough.
Time to look after yourself op
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