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In a state of panic about sick mother

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  • #386806
    Selkie
    Participant

    I’m in my 40s. An only child, never married, no kids, not close to relatives. No friend circle (mostly for social anxiety/complex PTSD reasons). Both parents are alive, still married, and they’re all I have in the world. Even though I love them, they were very difficult when I was growing up. In spite of that, I’ve always been much closer to my mother than my father though- I talked to her every day.

    Last month, she had a stroke. It’s left her unable to move or speak. She’s in therapy, but doctors don’t know how much of “herself” she’ll get back. To say this has been devastating is an understatement. I’m no longer hearing her voice every day- and she’s central to my life. The grief has been unbearable sometimes. I don’t live with my parents, but I went back when it first happened and have been traveling since then on weekends to see my father. Mother is still in hospital.

    I’m writing because I’ve always been someone who obsesses over worst-case scenarios. Losing my mother would be devastating, but there’s another scenario that’s been eating away at me.

    What if something suddenly happens to my father? How would I care for my mother? I don’t know how much better she will get. I work full-time and I don’t think I would be capable of being a full-time caregiver. Assisted-living would bankrupt me. And als0- when I bring up this scenario to my father, he gets nasty with me- saying that I’m selfish for even thinking the words “assisted living.” I come from a culture where children sacrifice for/live with their parents as long as possible no matter what.

    I would probably have to move back to the family home and hire help for my mother, but…I have very bad memories of my childhood home, and I think I would spiral into a severe mental health crisis if I had to move back there. I can’t tell my father this obviously, because he denies that he and my mother were ever difficult with me at all while I was growing up. He also keeps telling me that I’d become bankrupt if I put her in any kind of a home. They’re fairly well-off, so qualifying for government benefits isn’t an option.

    Of course, all this is the worst-case scenario in my head because right now, thank God, both my parents are alive. I wish I could talk more about this with my dad, but like he says, he gets so nasty that I can’t. He’ll also start telling me that if I had a husband, I wouldn’t be so worried about all this (which– unfortunately, is true, even though his wording is abusive).

    But these thoughts will not stop and I can’t sleep. I’m a total mess. I’ve been to therapy, and yes it’s been a lifesaver- literally- during this  time, but this is one scenario that won’t leave my head no matter how much I talk to my therapist.

    Has anyone ever been through something similar? Thoughts? I would appreciate it. Thanks

    • This topic was modified 3 weeks, 1 day ago by Selkie.
    #386811
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Selkie:

    On August 16, 2016, a bit more than five years ago, you posted here for the first time. Your first words were (the boldface feature is my addition): “I’m already in my late-thirties and I’m still hoping to find the answer…  I’ve dealt with severe abuse and bullying all my life. The thing about abuse is- bad treatment becomes acceptable. I didn’t make my first friends until college“-

    – Fast forward five years, your mother had a stroke, and “doctors don’t know how much of ‘herself’ she’ll get back. To say this has been devastating is an understatement. I’m no longer hearing her voice every day- and she’s central to my life. The grief has been unbearable sometimes“-

    – you “dealt with severe abuse.. your whole life” (Aug 2016), meaning: your mother either inflicted some of that abuse on you, and/ or she did not protect you from others inflicting such abuse on you. You mentioned today “anxiety/complex PTSD reasons“- Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CTSD) is inflicted on a child during childhood. You referred to your father and your mother today, when you wrote: “they were very difficult when I was growing up“.

    Your current dilemma: “What if something suddenly happens to my father? How would I care for my mother? I don’t know how much better she will get. I work full-time and I don’t think I would be capable of being a full-time caregiver. Assisted-living would bankrupt me. And als0- when I bring up this scenario to my father, he gets nasty with me.. I would probably have to move back to the family home and hire help for my mother, but…I have very bad memories of my childhood home, and I think I would spiral into a severe mental health crisis if I had to move back there.  I can’t tell my father this obviously, because he denies that he and my mother were ever difficult with me at all while I was growing up.. I can’t sleep. I’m a total mess”

    -my input: based on what I learned in my over six years of daily (often 6-8 hours per day) participation on these forums, communicating with many, many hundreds of members since I communicated with you: is that it would be a very bad idea for you to move back to your family home: it would be a recipe for a mental-health disaster for you. Neither your nasty father, nor your mother- despite her stroke- is worthy of your mental health being sacrificed. I am guessing that no matter how much you do for them, your father will not be pleased.. and your mother- it may make no difference to her, what and how much you sacrifice. And so, all your loving sacrifice will be for nothing.

    I understand that your current life circumstances are far from perfect (“No friend circle”, etc.), but you do have a full-time work, you live (still?) in a big, relatively thriving city. Making your life circumstances worse by quitting your employment and moving to your childhood home.. or getting bankrupt otherwise-  that would result a significant deterioration of your mental health, as you suggested yourself today (“I think I would spiral into a severe mental health crisis if I had to move back there”).. and all for nothing.

    What do you think (?)

    anita

     

    #386812
    Selkie
    Participant

    Anita-

    Thanks for your quick response. Wow…I’d forgotten that I’d even posted that 5 years ago. Seeing that post and my post today in comparison- reality about the way my life is and the ways in which it hasn’t changed just hit me. Yes- you’re completely right.

    I am guessing that no matter how much you do for them, your father will not be pleased.. and your mother- it may make no difference to her, what and how much you sacrifice. And so, all your loving sacrifice will be for nothing.

    Yes. Correct. Although (before all this happened)- I was in more or less in a better place than that post 5 years ago (I find creative work deeply fulfilling and sustaining and that helps my mental health)- not much has changed. Because I have and continued to put my parents’ needs before my own. And now– that my mother has had the stroke, my father expects me to especially do this, if something happens to him.

    Logically, the most healthy thing would be for me to severely reduce contact. Emotionally, I won’t be able to do that right now because of this particular situation.

    I admit- not taking action has been an issue all my life, and while I do have some good things in my life (living in a large city still, my creative work (outside my not-so-fulfilling job), the most important thing that I should have done- cutting the emotional/codependency cord from my parents, hasn’t happened. I haven’t been able to bring myself to do it.

    You’re also right that moving back to my childhood home should my imagined worst-case scenario come true is a recipe for disaster. It’s just that– I can’t see any options re: caring for my mother should it happen. I’m so overwhelmed right now I can’t even think straight about all this. I probably need to calm down and just think.

    I wouldn’t quit my employment though- that just wouldn’t be possible. I guess I have to hear my mind without my parents shouting at top volume inside it.

    #386813
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Selkie:

    You are welcome. I want to reply to you further Wed morning, my time (in about 15 hours from now), but for now, I agree with you when you say: “I probably need to calm down and just think“- calm down first, don’t think.. and when you are calm, then think.

    anita

    #386814
    Selkie
    Participant

    calm down first, don’t think.. and when you are calm, then think.

    Thank you- very good advice

    #386829
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Selkie:

    I decided to do a comprehensive study of all that you shared since August 2016 and connect it to your current dilemma, so I expect this message to be long. In your original post yesterday, you shared that you are in your 40s, an only child, not close to relatives, never married, no  kids, no friend circle, not living with your parents, but they are “all I have in the world“, you wrote.

    But your parents “were very difficult when I was growing up“, you wrote, with emphasis on the “very“, very difficult. And you “have very bad memories of my childhood home“, you wrote. Your parents were so very difficult, and your experiences with them were so very bad, that as a result you suffer from Complex PTSD.

    Last month your mother had a stroke. She is still in the hospital and you visit your father on weekends. You’ve been obsessing on the worst-case scenario which is: “What if something suddenly happens to my father? How would I care for my mother?..  I don’t think I would be capable of being a full-time caregiver. Assisted-living would bankrupt me. And als0- when I bring up this scenario to my father, he gets nasty with me- saying that I’m selfish for even thinking the words ‘assisted living.'”, “he gets so nasty”, “I come from a culture where children sacrifice for/live with their parents as long as possible no matter what“-

    – You come from a culture/  parents who expect you to sacrifice for them, to live with them.. no matter what, no matter how very difficult they are, no matter how nasty.. no matter they caused you C-PTSD and so far, a lifetime of significant social isolation (while living in a huge cosmopolitan city with endless social opportunities). And of course, there is no incentive for a parent to change their very difficult, so nasty ways when the adult-child is expected to stay .. no matter what.

    I think I would spiral into a severe mental health crisis if I had to move back there. I can’t tell my father this obviously, because he denies that he and my mother were ever difficult with me at all while I was growing up”- so the plan is that he will keep being very difficult and nasty while denying that he is.

    In your second post yesterday, you wrote: “Logically, the most healthy thing would be for me to severely reduce contact. Emotionally, I won’t be able to do that.. the most important thing that I should have done- cutting the emotional/codependency cord from my parents, hasn’t happened. I haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. You’re also right that moving back to my childhood home should my imagined worst-case scenario come true is a recipe for disaster… I guess I have to hear my mind without my parents shouting at top volume inside it“-

    -Please turn down the volume of your shouting  parents and turn up the volume of the following words, your own words: “moving back to my childhood home..  is a recipe for disaster“. Preventing a disaster is a way wiser strategy than co-creating a disaster and then try to get out of it.

    Let’s see what you wrote back in August 2016: “I was a shy child- making friends didn’t come easily for me“- fast forward it still true to your 40s, isn’t it.

    I gravitated toward and put up with people who were disrespectful and verbally abusive toward me. All for the sake of making up for my chillingly lonely childhood… I’m still constantly meeting the same types of people who’ve been a source of heartache all my life- people who are mean-spirited and disrespectful“- reads like you gravitate toward people like your parents and as a result, you keep re-living your chillingly lonely childhood.

    it’s become a huge source of shame for me to be at the age I am and not have ANY friends. I only have my parents at this point for any kind of support“- but what kind of support, what kind of warmth did they provide their only child while she experienced a chillingly lonely childhood…

    a lot of my issues surrounding my relationship problems came from not 1) getting clear on my values, and 2) not living my values to begin with… unfortunately, values like environmental/social responsibility, empathy, feminism, creativity don’t always figure high on people’s lists in the modern Western world“-

    – (1) preventing the disaster of moving in with your mother/ parents and otherwise, improving your mental health, as well as (2)  not accommodating your father’s selfishness- these are parts of being socially responsible.

    just seeing people bonding, going out, etc., makes me think, why is it SO hard for me to have that?“- this is a good question. Please let me know if you want to explore it further.

    In November 2018, you replied to a few members in regard to their boyfriends:

    “the topic of your question is..  ‘Do I Need to Cut Ties with this Sketchy Guy?’ You consider him sketchy, and judging from your description of the interactions with him, you are very correct. So, in being correct, the question you need to ask yourself is, what long-term good would come from maintaining ties with someone sketchy? If the interactions with him have caused this much heartache up to now, what would happen further down the road with more interactions? It would not get better, for sure. The other question you need to ask is- why do you have this belief that a man who behaves this way is worth your time or mental energy?”-

    -if you replace the “Guy” with your father, and “sketchy” with nasty, you get something like this (imagine me saying this to you): you consider your father nasty, and judging from your description.. you are correct, so, in being correct.. It would not get better, for sure.. and a man who behaves this way is not worth your time or mental energy!

    Maya Angelou had some great advice which should always be kept in mind, but admittedly can be hard to follow: ‘When someone shows you who they are, believe them.’ This man has shown you who he is“- you can do the same replacement exercise here.

    I’m very sorry. I’ve been in and out of India my whole life, so I know what you’re talking about -although sadly, patriarchy and abuse is not limited to just Indian society!“- don’t support and expand patriarchy and abuse to your life now or in the future!

    To another member: “I know you love your boyfriend, but his behavior toward you does not sound very loving. I don’t know all the details here of course, but it sounds like your boyfriend is kind of controlling and harsh…it may be time to move on“- there is no ethical reason for a woman to not apply this advice to a parent. Parents should not get a right-to-abuse any more than a boyfriend gets.. there is no such right!

    December 2018, to yet another member: “I think you know that this is not a good situation to be in and that he’s not giving you the respectful and kind treatment that you deserve. It is always best to listen to your own intuition. The question is, why are you choosing to downplay bad behavior? I know it’s difficult, but from what you’ve written I do think it’s smart to step back from him. The best way, I think to do that, is to focus on you.. try to think of things (besides this guy) that you look forward to doing. And I promise, you will no longer about him this much once you do that. ..In any case, this guy doesn’t sound like good news. You should probably move on“-  same thing.

    To summarize for now: don’t further encourage abuse by availing yourself to abusive people, be it a boyfriend or a parent. Promise yourself to always and forevermore live away from your parents… no matter what.

    anita

     

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks ago by anita.
    #386831
    Selkie
    Participant

    Anita-

    Thank you so much for writing such a detailed response- I appreciate it. Your post yesterday helped me so much- I realized how removed from reality I’ve become regarding my parents’ effects on me.

    You wrote: -Please turn down the volume of your shouting  parents and turn up the volume of the following words, your own words: “moving back to my childhood home..  is a recipe for disaster“. Preventing a disaster is a way wiser strategy than co-creating a disaster and then try to get out of it.

    This is exactly what I should be thinking. I would be essentially destroying my own life. And at this age (I’m not old, but not young either), I realize I should pick up the pieces of what’s left of my life and make something meaningful of it.

    You wrote– (1) preventing the disaster of moving in with your mother/ parents and otherwise, improving your mental health, as well as (2)  not accommodating your father’s selfishness- these are parts of being socially responsible. 

    You know, that is a great point! Honestly, I never even looked at it from that angle. I’ve been raised to believe that social responsibility only equals filial responsibility. And filial responsibility is putting up with your parents’ abuse no matter what- because they’ve financially provided for you. I know how disturbing my viewpoint sounds, and I didn’t even realize the extent to which I’ve held it until typing it up now.

    just seeing people bonding, going out, etc., makes me think, why is it SO hard for me to have that?“- This was my own question.

    Although…I will say that I’d just been starting to make some progress in this area, when COVID upended everything. I’m now looking at groups and online dating to get involved with people again. But I know that a huge part of this is thinking that everyone’s going to be like my parents (or extended family- and they’re not that much better). Trying to become more aware of self-sabotage here.

    You wrote: Parents should not get a right-to-abuse any more than a boyfriend gets.. there is no such right!

    Of course, but the scary thing is- a part of me read this and thought- “parents do have the right to inflict damage on you because they gave you life.” I know how incredibly messed-up my mindset is, but it’s what I’ve grown up with. I hope I don’t sound like I’m making excuses for myself– but reading all this in black-and-white in front of me makes me understand just how twisted my psyche has become with regard to this aspect of my life: which of course has affected all the OTHER aspects of my life.

    I’m glad you showed me some of my own posts- it’s like I have the knowledge of what’s the right thing to do- just trouble following it.

    Promise yourself to always and forevermore live away from your parents… no matter what.

    THIS^^

    I’ll be referring to this thread a lot when I’m feeling trapped by my parents again- as will inevitable happen again at some point.

    Thanks again for providing so much insight.

     

     

     

     

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks ago by Selkie.
    #386833
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Selkie:

    You are welcome. I would like to return to your thread and reply further tomorrow morning (in about 17 hours from now). For now my comment in regard to what you wrote here: “I know how incredibly messed-up my mindset“-

    -it’s not just you, it’s the mindset of all abused children who suffer enough abuse to develop C-PTSD: that our mindset, or mental health gets messed up. Mine did too, but lots of healing is possible if we don’t regress (by moving in with a parent, let’s say), and resume and persist our individual walks on the healing path.

    anita

    #386857
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Selkie:

    I realized how removed from reality I’ve become regarding my parents’ effects on me“-

    – a child, unable to change the negative circumstances/ the reality of her childhood home, minimizes her perception of those negative circumstances, cognitively and emotionally removing herself from the reality of her childhood home, best she can. It is natural to do so. The physiological purpose of such denial is to lessen the child’s anxiety. Fast forward, the adult-child is stuck with this mindset until adequately healed, not seeing reality as it is, not in the context of the childhood home, and not outside this context.

    I should pick up the pieces of what’s left of my life and make something meaningful of it“- this is the personally and socially responsible thing to do, and it will include more healing on your part.

    I’ve been raised to believe that social responsibility only equals filial responsibility. And filial responsibility is putting up with your parents’ abuse no matter what- because they’ve financially provided for you”

    – so the message is that a child’s role, all the way to  adulthood and through adulthood, for as long as any of the parents is alive, is to take the parent’s abuse; the parent spends money on the child, and the child owes the parent the privilege of abusing the child forevermore. In this kind of a filial deal, a “filial responsibility”, the parent gets to enjoy her/his sense of power over the child (at all ages), fearing no consequence, protected by a culture that supports this abuse of power.

    The abusive parent does not care about how the child feels.. figuring that the child herself will later get to enjoy such power over her own children. And so, abuse begets abuse, and abuse of power in our world, in so many contexts is so widespread that our whole world is nearing its end as climate changes, politics, disinformation and corruption abound. This kind of “filial responsibility” equals  grave social irresponsibility.

    “I know how disturbing my viewpoint sounds, and I didn’t even realize the extent to which I’ve held it until typing it up now“-

    -the concept of filial responsibility where abuse is included is powerful: it keeps the abused in the dark, blind to reality, it protects the powerful short-term at the long-term expense of all of us.

    I’m now looking at groups and online dating to get involved with people again“- in a big city, online dating can be very effective, if you go about it wisely.

    the scary thing is- a part of me read this and thought- ‘parents do have the right to inflict damage on you because they gave you life.’ I know how incredibly messed-up my mindset is, but it’s what I’ve grown up with“-

    – this is the dominant societal/ cultural message we all grow up with to one extent or another. I know of a person who strongly advocates against this message for other people, repeatedly telling other adults to hold their parents responsible for abuse, to no longer accept abuse, but in her own private life, she still takes abuse from her mother.

    In regard to the message itself: “parents do have the right to inflict damage on you because they gave you life”- (1) they don’t give life, they simply have sex and physiology produces life, same as it happens to reptiles, birds, and other mammals. Talking about other animals, they don’t normally inflict damage on their off springs.  But humans often do.. it’s a human tradition, (2) if you own an inanimate object that has no emotions and which is incapable of experiencing pain, like a cardboard box, you have the right to cut it, flatten it, burn it. But if you “own” a living-breathing-feeling child, you don’t have the right to.. cut the child, or flatten it, or burn it, not physically and not emotionally.

    I’ll be referring to this thread a lot when I’m feeling trapped by my parents again- as will inevitable happen again at some point“- no doubt it will happen again, and maybe it already happened before you read this message. Anytime you want to talk to me here, please do.

    anita

    #386858
    Selkie
    Participant

    the concept of filial responsibility where abuse is included is powerful: it keeps the abused in the dark, blind to reality, it protects the powerful short-term at the long-term expense of all of us. 

    This is very true- it definitely has kept me blind to my reality.

    Anytime you want to talk to me here, please do.

    Thank you again- for taking the time to respond with such care.

    #386859
    anita
    Participant

    You are welcome, Selkie!

    anita

    #387332
    anita
    Participant

    How are you today, Selkie?

    anita

    #387353
    Selkie
    Participant

    Anita- Thank you for reaching out. I’m doing better- just taking everything day by day, which is the best that I can do.

    #387354
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Selkie:

    You are welcome. So good to read that you are doing better. I can’t think of a better strategy than “taking everything day by day”. Try to not take more than is yours to take.. not to add weight on your shoulders than is yours to carry.

    anita

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