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GUILT AND PAIN AFTER MOTHERS DEATH

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Nichole 5 hours, 16 minutes ago.

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  • #227699

    Nichole
    Participant

    My mother passed away last Sunday 9/16/2018. I am still in shock. Let me give you a little bit of history on her. My mother is an amazing woman who unfortunately made terrible decisions in her life. She became addicted to drugs when I was a child. It started very long ago and she continued doing drugs until I was aged 14 and I am 29 now. She landed herself in a diabetic coma back then and was forced to stop drugs or she would die. We thought she was going to die at that time but we had her for a while longer. I have always carried resentment from her years of addiction which was neglectful to me and my brothers. After sobering up she met a man and that became her life. I always felt that drugs came first than a man came first. Our relationship always struggled but we have always had love for one another. I lived with her until I was 26. Then I moved to Florida with the man of my dreams. During my 3 years gone my mother did not care for her diabetes well and was deteriorating (heart attack, toe amputation, broken hip, constant vomiting, low blood pressure, depression). I worried for her my whole time there. 2 months ago I came back home to Chicago after my break up. I was in a bad place and my mom was in the hospital and between therapy in a rehab center for a broken pelvic bone. I love her and I went to see her but not on a daily basis because I felt I needed to time to care for myself for once in my life. So I was heart broken trying to put the pieces together and at the same time having resentment for my mom for not loving myself. I felt like I wasn’t shown much love growing up and was more so a caretaker for my mom throughout my life and hated all my codependency habits. I kept preaching to her that we needed her help. That she needed to put one foot forth and then we can meet her half way because it felt like she was giving up this time. It was so frustrating to watch. I would go and she wouldn’t speak to me and would lay there and not know anything that was going on with her. And I know she was so sick but she didn’t care to ask questions or find out what was going on with her. And we had all been so tired of doing all the work. After over 2 weeks of throwing up she was sent back to Rehab facility where she started vomiting again. She called me and told me they wouldn’t send her back to the hospital that the doctor was trying to maintain it there before going back to hospital since nothing was stopping the vomiting. She told me how sick she was and that she had a cough. I was going through a lot and I kind of yelled at her and said what would you like me to do and that we had to listen to them and that she needed to relax. She told me I didn’t understand and hung up.  That night we got a call that she passed. I was completely devastated. I never thought she was going to die. I thought if she was bad they would call ambulance. I am so sad. I should have done more. I shouldn’t have been so resentful. I am missing her. We had complications in our relationship but I loved her so much. She is my mom and I cannot imagine life without her. I am so heart broken and so ashamed of myself. I am carrying so much blame and guilt and I don’t know what to do. Please help.

    #227751

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Nichole:

    (I just realized that you posted a reply and a question for me in your last thread about a month ago and I didn’t respond to it- I wasn’t aware of that post, otherwise I would have responded to it).

    I read this thread, your heartache. Of course you loved and love your mother. There is no person more important to a child than her parent, usually the mother. We love our mothers when we are babies, we love her throughout our childhoods (sometimes we forget that we do, when we are angry), and we love her for the rest of our lives.

    It doesn’t matter who the mother is, it doesn’t matter if she didn’t really love us, if she was not even there, we love her anyway. Truly, the real unconditional love is the love of a child for her mother.

    You asked for help. The help I am offering you is to suggest to you that you keep your thinking congruent with reality: accept your love for her as the unconditional love you always had for her. Accept it that she had other priorities throughout your life with her and you were far from being the first priority. Accept that in the context of your relationship with her you were not the guilty one. She was.

    It is not you who failed her. She failed you. Her death doesn’t change this fact.

    And yet, her pain was real, what drove her to her addiction, what kept her in it, the consequence of it, the vomiting, amputation, she was in a lot of pain. And now her pain is over. All that pain is no more, not for her.

    What is left is that love you have for her, that need for her that has never gone away. We keep loving our mothers, we keep needing them, no matter what. We try to free ourselves from loving her when that love harms us, we get angry, we yell sometimes, but we keep loving her underneath.

    Now, you feel nothing but that love and that need and she is no longer alive, so there is no hope for a better relationship. There is much sadness in this.

    Please do post again and for as long as I am on the computer I will be looking for your posts and respond the moment I realize that you posted.

    anita

     

    #227795

    Peter
    Participant

    Hi Nichole:

    Sorry for your loss and that you experience with your mother was so complicated. Its understandable that your having issues coming to terms with all the emotions and contradictions of the relationship. (Role reversals and the like)

    When it comes our relationship to our mothers and fathers its indeed complex. Jung felt that one of the tasks of individuation and becoming an adult is to come to terms with the Mother/Father Complex. Often this is forced on us when we lose a parent.

    The task is to take ownership of our ability to nurture and protect ourselves – in a symbolic way become our own mother and father. The difficulty is that our ability to nurture and protect ourselves has been greatly influenced by our relationship to our mother and father and sometimes we can’t separate the experience from our own abilities nurture and protect ourselves.

    We take ownership by becoming conscious of our experience of our mother and our inner mother – Symbolically if we may have to overcome the ‘evil step mother’ the problem of overcoming the negative self judgment and internal dialog we might have. But even the To Good Mother must be dealt with as in this case we may have to over come a tendency to be overly trusting, naïve or the expectation that others will always nurture and take care of us.

    The book ‘The Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed is a good example of coming to terms with the mother complex. Cheryl life spirals out of control when her to good mother (her idealization of her mother) died. With the loss of her mother Cheryl loss the ability to nurture herself in a positive way. It was only after Cheryl was able to see her mother as an individual, the good the bad and the ugly and not only “Mother” that she was able to connect to the positive inner mother and begin to be able to nurture herself.

    Don’t be to hard on yourself as you work you way through this experience.

     

    #227835

    Nichole
    Participant

    Thank you so much for this response Anita. I know she failed me at times but I love her so much and I know she loved me. She had so much pain inside and didn’t love herself and that’s why she was giving up. I can’t stop feeling guilt from not being able to save her. I should have been by her side everyday. I was just going through so much with my own break up and for once I needed her so I wanted her to be there and was mad she wasn’t. So I wasn’t there for her and I feel so wrong and selfish for that. I feel to blame for her being gone and I’m so afraid to feel this way forever. I struggle with letting go and this one I’m afraid to hold on to forever. I can’t believe I’ll never see her face again. I am so deeply hurt and sad.

    #227901

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Nichole:

    I understand that you feel “so much pain”. As a matter of fact, I too felt a similar pain about my mother, only I felt it while she was alive. I will explain:

    Like you, I too observed my mother being in a whole lot of pain. I saw her in pain day after day, year after year. It was heart breaking, broke my heart. It wasn’t just her physical pain but her emotional pain that I witnessed, clearly it was a terrible pain, how she cried, how she described her pain…

    You wrote about your mother, “I can’t stop feeling guilt from not being able to save her”. I felt guilty more than four decades for not having saved my mother from her pain. Anytime I felt joy I stopped myself, thinking about her pain, thinking I must not feel joy before she is happy, or okay.

    You may think there is no logic to it, for a little girl to feel responsible for a woman’s pain, be it her mother. Well, there is no more logic to you feeling responsible. You didn’t bring about your mother’s original pain (it took place before you were born), the addiction, and secondary pain caused by the addiction.

    The guilt feels real but there is no real responsibility.

    As sad as it is that your mother suffered, and it is sad, it is also sad that you suffered and that you currently suffer. I wish you didn’t.

    As sad as it is that your mother is dead, remember, you will die too. We all will. So for now, for as long as you are alive, better you suffer less, better you don’t suffer at all. Let the sadness be, but remove the guilt.

    anita

    #228585

    Nichole
    Participant

    Thank you so much Anita. Your words are so wise and always help me through. I do suffer from the same as you these days. I suffer with feeling joy. I feel guilty that she isn’t here anymore. I am doing better but still struggle daily. I will say I have had a bit of a distraction while I am still grieving my breakup. It is so hard to lose my mom and then not have the man who has always been there for me be there during this time. I feel so alone even though I do have family. I feel empty. I’m back home in Chicago living at home where my mother and brother resided. I sleep in my Mom’s room. I feel like my life is turned upside down. I miss florida but my family is here and I know I need them at this time. I have no clue how to restart my life. I still love my ex even though he cheated on me and is totally discarding me because I’ve bashed him so much. I feel like I’ll never find a love like ours again. I’m so lost and I try to have motivation and hope each day but I am struggling.  So many emotions at once that I feel trapped.

     

    #228589

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Nichole:

    You are welcome. Every time you notice that you “feel guilty that she isn’t here anymore”, repeat to yourself: it is not my fault that she isn’t here anymore. I did not cause her death, I am not responsible for it. Then take a deep breath, repeat the thought when calm.

    Keep distracting yourself in healthy ways, exercise, walks, a good movie, etc.

    The family you do have in Chicago, connect and communicate only with those who are empathetic and attentive to you. Not all family members are created equal… Not all are good for you.

    Maybe you can sleep in another room? It may help.

    Can you make a daily plan for yourself, a plan you put together every evening for the next day or every morning for the day, things to do. Not too many things so to not overwhelm yourself, but enough so that you feel that you make some good use out of your time, that you are moving your life forward somewhat?

    anita

    #267641

    Nichole
    Participant

    Hi Anita, it’s been quite some time since I’ve replied to this post. I am struggling with this same situation once again. I’ve been doing well in my grieving process but it’s been a rough road for me. I guess my guilt is coming from the fact that when I got back to Chicago from my break up, I wasn’t myself. I honestly don’t know who that girl was. I realize now I was in a relationship with a narcissist. I realize I was stripped of myself. I had no confidence, I doubted myself and I lost myself. I started to realize these things and was blaming my mom at the time for my codependency from my dysfunctional child hood. At the time I was even considering my mom was a narcissist. But as time has gone on I realize she was an amazing woman doing the best with the life she was dealt. There was betrayal for sure but I know she loved me and I loved her so much. And I wasn’t there for her the way my old self would have been. I was angry and full of resentment. I wanted to take care of only me for once in my life. My codependency had me hit rock bottom. She called me that day she died. She told me she wasn’t feeling good and that they weren’t feed her at the nursing home. I thought she was exaggerating. She was always sick. She was vomiting or 3 months and we did not know what to do anymore. There were so many signs I should have been there for her. I even felt it in my gut that day that something wasn’t right but I was so lost and didn’t even trust my instincts anymore. I wish I could go back in time and be there. And save her. I know it isn’t my fault but something in my heart tells me I should have been there and maybe she would be here. She needed me.

    #267715

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Nichole:

    “She needed me”. No. You needed her for a long, long time and she wasn’t there for you.

    The fact that she is dead doesn’t change this fact. If it was you that she  needed, when she gave  birth to you  three decades ago, she would have had then what she  needed, this beautiful baby girl looking at her with nothing  but love. She would have relaxed then, having you in her arms, having what she needed.

    This is what happened: “She became addicted to drugs when I was a child… she continued doing drugs until I was aged 14”- she had you, baby, toddler, young child, a teenager. If she needed you, she wouldn’t have been doing drugs, she would have felt good having you in her life, waking up every morning to the thought of this child needing her. and she  would have been motivated to do her very best to be there for you, to be worthy of your love for her.

    The fact that she was troubled before you were born and after, and then her drug addiction led to her sickness and early death is very unfortunate. But don’t misinterpret this one piece of reality: you needed her all along, not the other way around. She failed you,  not the other way around.

    And now, there is one woman who is in pain, and that woman is you. Not her, no pain there anymore.

    Now, what do you do to make your life  less painful?

    anita

     

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 2 days ago by  anita.
    #268271

    Nichole
    Participant

    Thanks for the response Anita,

    You really put things in perspective for me. I needed her so bad. I still need her. I feel that most of my issues in life have to do with not having loving parents, at least ones who made me a priority because they did love me. The problem I have is I have too much empathy. I put myself in her shoes. I am currently suffering from self hate, self shame and codependency. What if she suffered from those things? What if she just didn’t know how to love me. She was a sweet and kind woman some times and would do little cute things for me but as far as a mother figure she did fail. I had no guidance, and no one to care about how I was feeling. I was clearly a depressed child and adult but she offered no life advice. But what if she just didn’t have those things to offer. I often wonder why I come up with excuses for people to hurt me. As I earlier mentioned I was sexually abused by my brother. I would say from what I remember ages 5-13. And I have kept it inside all these years. I’m just now learning to validate myself for what I went through. It was never a forceful thing it was a manipulation. And I am so angry I allowed it. I allow so much abuse in my life. I have often considered my brother and I to be close after the abuse and as an adult. He can be kind and we have both given each other great life advice. But at this point in my life I am very distant with him as I am feeling the pain of what he did to me. I am angry with myself for keeping a good relationship with him and honestly trying to “please” him and his fiance for the last 9 years. I am learning about narcissism since my break up and I truly believe my brother and his woman are both narcissistic. I am so fed up with abuse. I realize how much I put up with in my own relationship with my ex. I was so devastated after the break up but when I look back he isn’t acting any different than what he did in the relationship. I always had to apologize and I was always trying to be perfect and up to his standards and after finding out he was cheated I finally stood up for myself and left. But when I stand up for myself with these people my mind plays games with me and I start finding ways to empathize for what they did to me. And I almost wish they were back in my life. It’s like I can’t trust my mind to establish what is ok and what is not.

    #268281

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Nichole:

    I will be able to read your recent post and reply when I am back to the computer in about fifteen hours.

    anita

    #268391

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Nichole:

    The reason you have empathy for people who hurt you is because a child unloved, tries really hard to be loved by doing the extra empathy. It is like this: a tree is set in a very dry ground, no water, so its roots grow deeper and deeper and longer and longer trying to reach water. A child without love, like a tree without water, grows empathy longer and deeper than otherwise, trying to reach love.

    You wrote: “I feel that most  of my  issues in life have to do with not having  loving parents”- you said it right there, your parents didn’t love you, but then you added: “at least ones who made me a priority because they did love me”- my questions:

    1. If they did love you, where  is the evidence  of this love? “I was clearly a depressed child and adult” and “I am currently suffering  from self hate, self shame” is evidence of lack of love.

    2. You wrote that they  loved you but didn’t  make  you a priority. Let’s look at the simplest, most basic meaning  of the word love, which is intense liking of something. If a person  loves chocolate then the  person makes it a priority, when standing in  front  of a dessert table, to eat the chocolate desserts, correct?

    I have no doubt that indeed “She was a sweet  and kind woman some times and  would do little cute things for you”, I have no doubt that at  times she  felt  affection for you, maybe strong affection, at times. But most of the time she was otherwise engaged, with other priorities, such as  making  herself feel better.

    It  is comforting somewhat to think our parents  love or loved us, problem is that believing  something that is not  true such as this confuses us terribly, and as a result we are unable to tell love from non-love, so in your case, your mind plays games with you, believing someone who doesn’t  love you (based on their acts, such as repeatedly cheating on you and disrespecting you), loves you after all: “my mind plays games with me…It’s like I can’t trust my mind”.

    Figure out where there wasn’t love, and you will be able to detect  now where  it isn’t and where it is.

    I hope to read  more from you.

    anita

    #269197

    Nichole
    Participant

    Thank you Anita, your answers always enlighten me. I am still having trouble finding out where the love was or is. I agree with what you say, my mom was busy finding things to make herself better instead of worrying about her hurt child. I realize I have been looking for love all along. I have been pleasing people in hopes that they would love me. It such a hard reality to think I have been self hating and shaming for years. Its hard to realize I have been mainly abused and manipulated my whole life by my parents, my brother, men, and even strangers in life. It is so hard to start having boundaries and learning myself and how to start even being a “self”. My life up until now has always been lived for others. I have always helped my family, took care of my mom, been depressed from over thinking about others and have never felt good enough to have my own life. Then I got into a relationship and that became my life. Now I am stuck in life wondering where to go and what to do. As I have mentioned before I am currently living in my moms apartment with my brother and father. My brother is not financially stable and I fear he will not be able to handle the apartment alone but I know I shouldn’t be here it isn’t helping my growth. I have an opportunity to rent my aunts basement and I would really like to be there. I am just afraid in life, I don’t want to continue on with same old patterns. I want to learn to love myself and make a life. How do I do that? I feel like I have to keep my family together after my moms death but I feel like I need to worry about myself at this point in my life. Some days I am confident I can and I have boundaries and feel stable and then there are days like today where I wake up with no confidence and my codependency habits are flaring. Consumed with how my brother needs me, how he is making bad decisions in life, not believing in myself. For instance I have saved 5000 and I will continue to save so I can put down on a condo or something to have for me. Well my brother found out and I feel like he thinks I should help him since he is not in a good financial place right now or maybe its just me thinking like i always do to help others. But I know I need to keep building for myself and that is the only way I can ever really help others when I am in a better place.

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