Tough Day

Yesterday was a tough day.  As regular readers will know, my Mum is terminally ill with advanced heart and lung disease and in the past couple of years has turned to drink to cope.  Which is fine for her but really hard on my Dad and me.

I deal with it all the best I can, but at times my Mum’s selfish behaviour just really gets to me and yesterday was one of those days.   I totally lost it with her.  And I mean, I lost it.  I screamed in her face that she is a nasty old drunk, selfish and told her if she wants to drink herself to death to be my guest because I didn’t care any more.  And at the time I meant it.  It’s exhausting.

My Mum retired 15 years ago and the second she gave up work she parked herself on the couch, lit a cigarette, poured herself a glass of vodka, put the telly on and basically has barely moved since.  She has no hobbies, no friends, rarely leaves the house and has very little interest in life in general.  And now she’s drinking so much her mental function has declined, so I’m left dealing with just about everything while she has a jolly nice time necking booze and watching the Darts.

Four years ago my Mum was diagnosed with a large tumour in her lung.  Having smoked since she was 14 we were told it was almost certainly lung cancer though they couldn’t be certain until the mass was removed and biopsied.  So Mum had a large part of one lung removed.  Miraculously the tumour turned out to be benign.  I thought having a scare like that would change my Mum, make her thankful to be alive, make her engage in life.  But it made not one jot of difference and she just carried on as before.

Then 2 years ago she had a heart attack and miraculously survived.  But instead of being thankful for that she wallowed a bit more in self pity, turned to drink and totally disengaged.  Yay.

Both her two sisters, two of her sisters-in-law and one brother are all dead.  She was very close to her eldest sister who died after a 2 year battle with cancer in 2013.  My Aunt would have given anything not to die and I feel my Mum’s lack of gratitude for her own life is actually disrespectful to my Aunt’s memory.

I’ve been ill since I was 26 years old and I’m now 48.  For 10 years I was so desperately ill death would have been preferable, but I never gave up.  I engaged with life.  I engaged with people.  I taught myself how to use a computer.  I joined groups.  I volunteered from my bed.  I took on rescue animals.  I lost all my healthy friends, but made new sick friends.  And now I’m slightly better I volunteer for my Church and have taken up a new hobby which I love.  I watch my Mum’s self-pitying, destructive, self-absorbed behaviour and simply don’t understand it.  Our life, however it is, is the only one we have – if we don’t enjoy it what’s the bloody point?

I know nothing will change with my Mum and I just have to find a way of dealing with the situation but it’s hard.  It’s a daily challenge to keep loving and caring for her while not liking her behaviour – some days I manage it, other days I don’t.  Some days I actually hate her which makes caring for her a monumental effort.

My screaming at her yesterday will change nothing – it just left me ill and exhausted and her shocked and upset, and now I’ve got to deal with the fall out from it.  From talking about it on my blog in the past I know I’m not the only one of my readers who’s had to deal, or is dealing, with this situation and I know you all in particular will understand.  It’s easy for someone not going through it to tell me what to do, or not to do, and I would have made the same judgements before it happened to me – but now I realize that it’s not as simple as “getting more help from other people” or just stopping caring for my Mum tempting as that is at times.  I have to be able to live with myself and if I abandoned my terminally ill parent I couldn’t face myself in the mirror, plus I couldn’t abandon my dotty Dad who is stuck living with her too.

I don’t need anyone to ‘fix’ the situation and am just venting – something we all need to do at times.  Thanks for listening.

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24 thoughts on “Tough Day

  1. Ripley

    Be sure to be kind to yourself. I have several family members who are diabetic and eat cake then shoot up insulin. Real idiots. I can count what I can eat on both hands. I know I will die if I eat junk. Some people don’t want to live a quality life. They are shocked and stunned at the crazy world around them. The human condition really is challenging. You seem quite good at venting. Keep up the great things you are doing! In the end it’s your life to live. Even if you have some daft people around. Buy a French horn and practice – or any old wind instrument. It will drive them crazy and help your lung capacity! Hang tough!

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  2. Catherine

    Its an incredibly demanding and almost impossibly wretched position to be in . Very glad you shared as at least we can listen . Ive been there . Alcohol takes over in such an insidious way where there is no logic or sense to be had . It forced me every which way to treasure myself first , then the Alcoholics . That way only did I mostly have the band width to love them ( disliking the behavior and everything that came with it ) Except for the times ( often initially ) when I too lost it . I would then break out like a demented fish wife on steroids making a complete arse of myself as I vented my pent up frustrations . It was hell until I gradually learnt that I could not change , cure or control any of it . Being loving way beyond what I understood that to be gradually became the only sane choice . Sane but NOT easy . You seem to mske that choice day after day .
    You are an amazing human being .

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    1. Jak Post author

      Bless you for that Catherine – I’m so sorry you found yourself in the same position. When I’m having a really bad day myself health-wise, and struggling just to hold my own head above water, it’s just so hard not to get emotional about it all. My peri-menopause hormones don’t help one iota either! Jak x

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  3. Jan Groh

    My dad was much the same – basically gave up after he retired and just drank and smoked, never went out, and was a total pill to deal with. I ended up leaving him to his own devices and got on with my life. He died peacefully at home of essentially failure to thrive at 72 after a lifetime of smoking and drinking (on top of now evident EDS etc in 20/20 hindsight), though we thankfully did speak a couple of weeks prior at Christmas 1999 and said “I love you”.

    He rejected virtually all other help, and overriding him to put in a care home wasn’t worth it – he’d have just died sooner from sheer orneriness or insufficient blood alcohol levels I’m sure. I’ve since observed a lot of Narcissistic Personality Disorder among EDS families in the support groups of thousands – not all members mind, but most families seem to have one or two who just don’t seem to care about anyone else but themselves and are quite invalidating of all our pain and suffering no matter how ill we are/evident it is.

    Quite sad, because they are deep down loving people (I know my dad loved me), but they sure have a funny way of showing it and tend to suck the oxygen out of the room. (It’s all about them, and if they don’t mind, it doesn’t matter, and nothing sticks.) I got my best support through the years from Codependents Anonymous groups who helped me to practice self-care and essentially “let him go” and grieved him even before he died. Yes, it was very hard. But in the end, it was the best thing to do, as otherwise I’d have simply martyred myself for him to no avail. (We did help him plenty at his worst patches.)

    I’m sorry your mum is so depressed and unhelpful. But you can lead the horse to water, but not make it drink – or stop drinking in their case, alas. Keep setting boundaries, and taking the best care of yourself as you can. I’m also sorry for your father too. Best of luck.

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    1. Jak Post author

      Jan, you totally get it. I’m so sorry to hear your Dad was similar. You *do* grieve for them, even though they’re still here. My Mum and I have been extremely close my whole life – she’s been my best friend. But the last 5 years she’s just checked out and it’s so hard to know she actually no longer seems to care about me. I miss our friendship. I struggle with her wallowing in her misery – like me and my Dad aren’t miserable! I don’t exactly have the life I’d planned either and deal every day with pain and sickness and exhaustion and isolation and loneliness – at least she has me to look after her and care about her, I now have no-one looking after me or caring about me!

      I really feel for my Dad too – she bullies him mercilessly yet he probably has dementure. He’s not savvy enough to stand up to her because his brain function is so poor.

      Tough on everyone, Mum included. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your story with me – it does help to know I’m not alone. Jak x

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  4. Robin

    I’m sorry you’re dealing with this; certainly not the way a child would wish to see a senior parent. Tolerating it must be incredibly difficult for your father and you. Your mother’s using alcohol to heal wounds. It’s not the ideal way but it’s the medicine she’s chosen – cheap enough and readily available. At this point, it’s not that she won’t listen to either of you but that she simply can’t. Of course, you know this.

    How is your father handling things? What does he say? Is she physically or verbally abusive to him? Or does she just keep to herself? When she dies from her alcoholism, what will your father do? Stay where he is? How will he get on without her? As it seems there’s little you can do about your mother, and because your physical needs require your full attention, perhaps you should think only about how you can care for him. It sounds harsh but sometimes hard times call for hard choices. The two of you will have to become more selfish, focusing on one another and worrying less about her. Otherwise you’ll both suffer, emotionally and physically. I’d imagine that episode with your Mom took everything out of you.

    I hope a solution comes soon, offering you some sense of peace. With all you have going on, I’d imagine peace sits high on your list of needs. Good luck!

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    1. Jak Post author

      Thanks Robin. I really feel for my Dad. His brain function and memory problems have gotten worse in the past year – I’ve made a doctor’s appt for next month to discuss it with his GP (haven’t told my Dad yet!). He gets so confused bless him and simply can’t deal with my Mum’s behavior. That was one of the reasons I lost it with Mum on Sunday – she’s constantly verbally abusive to him, calls him stuipid, constantly points out all his mistakes. I screamed at her that he’s ILL and can’t help it. She expects us all to be helpful and patient with her, yet shows neither Dad nor I the same care and we’re both ill too. It’s just all about her.

      Yes, peace is necessary for me due to my own health. Between all this and the looming menopause I feel like I’m losing my marbles some days! Jak x

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  5. drmom5

    I can imagine my sons saying something like this when they’re upset. Although I don’t drink or smoke. I DO have an active social life but it’s all online. I shop and cook and do light cleaning.

    I just want to say that people should stop trying to tell others how they should live their lives. Remember when you were a teenager and your mum was always telling you what to do. How did you feel?

    I’m sure she misses her youth, her energy, all her dead relatives. I know I do. Sometimes, I wonder how old people bear all the sorrow of loss.

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    1. Jak Post author

      That is just about the most insensitive comment I’ve heard in a long time. HER sorrow and loss? As against me losing the last 22 years of my YOUNG life to illness – a time in her life when she had kids and a husband and holidays and I’ve been eithr stuck in bed alone or stuck in the house alone? But she’s allowed to feel sorry for herself and drown herself in drink and leave me, sick as I am, to do all her chores? You have no clue what you’re talking about.

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      1. Robin

        I’m going to go out on a limb here and comment about drmom5’s comment. I re-read it and don’t believe she meant any harm. She was advocating for your Mom’s right to her sorrows, disappointments and failures. Does your mother’s resulting behavior seem quite the slap in the face to your father and you? Absolutely! Does it sting? Of course! But she is, like the rest of us, a human being; filled with flaws, regrets and pain. I think drmom5 was only trying to remind you that your mother (like most) is not intending to hurt you and your father, but is too deep into her own heartache to be the mother and wife she’d probably rather be and you and your father so desperately need.

        As a mother and grandmother, I know I do the best I can. Am I always a perfect example in either role? No! In the role of wife, sibling or child, am I perfect? No way! But neither are the children, grandchildren, husband, brothers & sister, or mother & father with whom I share life. It cuts both ways. We all make mistakes and get on one another’s nerves (some more than others). I think this was all your reader was trying to say.

        “It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It is that they can’t see the problem.”
        ~Gilbert K. Chesterton

        I believe your mother isn’t emotionally capable right now of seeing the bigger problem. Hang in there, Jak!

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        1. Jak Post author

          I appreciate what you’re saying Robin, but this blog is for *me*. I am there for everyone, all of the time. No-one is there for me. I’d just had the day from hell and the last thing *I* needed was to hear excuses about why my Mum drinks. I know why she drinks, I’m not stupid. Do I lack compassion for her – yes I do. She’s been ill for 5 years, i’ve been ill for 22. Where’s her compassion for me? All she does is make my already hard life harder. I don’t have the luxury of checking out and spending my day pissed -if I did I couldn’t take care of my Mom and Dad or myself. DrM told me off like a naughty schoolgirl which was totally lacking in any kind of empathy or understanding – I really didn’t need it and still don’t.

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          1. Robin

            I hear ya, Jak. I’m not foreign to this type of treatment either. In my case, though, it’s coming from an adult child. SELFISH, SELFISH, SELFISH! And so bitterly angry and ugly. Sometimes I’m better about seeing life through her eyes, but other times I just can’t give a crap. Hope I didn’t make things worse for you,

            Keep on keeping on! 😉

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    2. Ripley

      Compassion of any kind is difficult with anyone who harms us in any way. We either respond with dumb compassion or smart compassion. You are a loyal person to your parents for sure. But smart compassion and our dear friend histamine, among others, requires that we vent, put an invisible plastic poncho on so the caca rolls off, and we live another day finding peace and happiness as we can. Sounds like you and your Dad might want to throw her in a detox center and have a holiday. She shouldn’t be allowed to crap on everyone. I had to do this with a relative once and they have been sober ever since. Some call it tough love, but I call it ‘Clint Eastwood Time’. It’s Clint Eastwood time sounds like. Protect your health. If she can’t control her drinking and it is effecting that if you and your Dad, then sounds like she needs professional help and swift kick in the arse. All in due course of love and compassion, of course. Sometimes things work out ; sometimes not. But I feel for you two putting up with that behavior. But that’s dumb compassion. People can change, especially if they hit rock bottom. What are your resources to send her to rehab? Would your father agree? She needs help and she’s not helping her karma by hurting you two. Sometimes people might need for family to take a dire action. Dunno if it’s in the cards for yours, but there may be other smart compassionate things you can do. How does she get her liquor? Can you cut off the source. All that stuff you may have considered, but if anyone is enabling her to drink, perhaps they should stop. And if she can get it on her own ask her to stay with a friend and come back the next day. She must be met with some smart compassion. I know she may also be feeling that boxed in feeling we all get when we are so ill, but I wouldn’t let her go that road. Get crafty, my dear. You’ve got the wits. Get her some help whether she likes it or not. Don’t let her rule over you and your Dad with her pity party. Or hell, give her a pity party, make a nice banner and let her drink herself to sleep in the bathroom floor. Anything to remind her she is being immature and hurting you and your father. She’s wrecking her karma points.
      Godspeed and good luck. Keep venting but don’t forget about degranulation. Sounds like she just wants to be a piece of furniture these days.

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    3. Sacha

      Compassion of any kind is difficult with anyone who harms us in any way. We either respond with dumb compassion or smart compassion. You are a loyal person to your parents for sure. But smart compassion and our dear friend histamine, among others, requires that we vent, put an invisible plastic poncho on so the caca rolls off, and we live another day finding peace and happiness as we can. Sounds like you and your Dad might want to throw her in a detox center and have a holiday. She shouldn’t be allowed to crap on everyone. I had to do this with a relative once and they have been sober ever since. Some call it tough love, but I call it ‘Clint Eastwood Time’. It’s Clint Eastwood time sounds like. Protect your health. If she can’t control her drinking and it is effecting that if you and your Dad, then sounds like she needs professional help and swift kick in the arse. All in due course of love and compassion, of course. Sometimes things work out ; sometimes not. But I feel for you two putting up with that behavior. But that’s dumb compassion. People can change, especially if they hit rock bottom. What are your resources to send her to rehab? Would your father agree? She needs help and she’s not helping her karma by hurting you two. Sometimes people might need for family to take a dire action. Dunno if it’s in the cards for yours, but there may be other smart compassionate things you can do. How does she get her liquor? Can you cut off the source. All that stuff you may have considered, but if anyone is enabling her to drink, perhaps they should stop. And if she can get it on her own ask her to stay with a friend and come back the next day. She must be met with some smart compassion. I know she may also be feeling that boxed in feeling we all get when we are so ill, but I wouldn’t let her go that road. Get crafty, my dear. You’ve got the wits. Get her some help whether she likes it or not. Don’t let her rule over you and your Dad with her pity party. Or hell, give her a pity party, make a nice banner and let her drink herself to sleep in the bathroom floor. Anything to remind her she is being immature and hurting you and your father. She’s wrecking her karma points.
      Godspeed and good luck. Keep venting but don’t forget about degranulation. Sounds like she just wants to be a piece of furniture these days.

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  6. KNeillBC

    Jak, it sounds like this is just brutally difficult. The only possible way to go is forward, and many, many people are deathly afraid of what lies there. I think that those of us who have had to work really hard to stay alive have no patience for people who don’t realize how precious what they have is.
    I find it infuriating when I see a kid on their longboard gliding down our road (it is neither that steep or that busy. These kids are just starting. My friend lives on on of THE hills- it’s very quiet, and steep as hell. And she lives at the bottom. She said that she’s considering charging them a fee, to be saved for use when the next one crashes.). She’s had breast cancer and a hip replacement, and she’s 45. She says she wants to go out and smack those kids upside the head. Some would say that they are ‘living life to the fullest’, but I think that they are so numb that they will do anything just to feel.
    I live at the bottom of a mountain. Our local ER is THE place to go to get put back together again. I have never been in the ER and not seen somebody who had fallen victim to the mountain. It’s a top mountain biking destination- the pros come to my backyard to practice. Of course the middle aged woman with the mysterious illness doesn’t really ‘fit’ that paradigm, does she?
    I feel a blog post coming on….but today I get to go to the dentist first. Scared out of my gourd. I have no problem with destists….but I haven been since I’ve started having such awful anaphylaxis. I have at least four cavities, one of my teeth is disintegrating. I have this terrible concern that I will react to the pain, the bacteria levels, the chemicals or just plain having some one’s fingers in my mouth. They don’t use latex gloves on me…but they do on other patients. I fear we won’t get to the cleaning stage- just the x-Ray and consult. And I’m guessing that he will be referring me to someone else (hell, if I were a dentist, I wouldn’t treat me without access to a full surgery. . (In fact, given how likely I am to react, I may decide todothewhole thing sedated…
    Hang in there. Your Mum has no idea what she is doing to you except when you loose it and yell. She is missing all the normal social cues- it’s like you need a hammer to get through. All emotions-bad or good. She probably doesn’t feel happy things either, and we aren’t used to hammering those thoughts in. Remember the number one rule in caring for others. You can’t care properly for others until you take care of yourself first…also colloquially known as the “airplane mask deal” -you first, then the kids and old folks who can’t figure it out!

    Ciao
    Karen

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    1. Jak Post author

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment Karen when you have so much going on in your own life. You’re right, my Mum feels nothing, she’s totally checked out. It’s her life, she can do what she likes I guess – it’s just a good job *I* don’t decide to check out too, or where would that leave her or my dad? :-/

      I’m heading over to your blog right now to have a big catch up – just been too busy the past several weeks to read anything by anyone and I need to know how you’re doing and how the dentist went!

      Jak x

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  7. Elizabeth Milo

    I so love your honesty. Thank you for sharing that. I think I’ve told you my family is full of alcoholics and so is my husband’s. I might have gone down that road if anaphylaxis hadn’t intervened. You are an incredibly loving and supportive daughter and I’m sure your Mum knows it comes from a place of caring. ❤

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    1. Elizabeth Milo

      But I also feel really frustrated for you that you’re dealing with something that is preventable. That’s maddening. With so much illness, it’s unthinkable to drink ourselves into the grave (even if I sometimes I wish I could). 💕

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