Abused Child is now Abused Caregiver

by Katy
(Florida)

I am an only child caring for my 57-year-old mom who suffers from chronic pain, arthritis, and various mental illnesses. I have to monitor her constantly to make sure she eats, stays clean, and takes her medications properly, because her physical pain, anxiety and inability to concentrate makes it impossible for her to do it herself anymore. I encourage her to do things for herself when she is able, but she is more content to watch me do everything and tell me (in very cruel, abusive language) how I do it all wrong.


Her attachment to me has always been very unhealthy, but it is now to the point where if I close the bedroom door to get dressed, she takes it as an insult to her and begins to cry and threaten suicide. She even tries to get me to keep the bathroom door open when I am using it, accusing me of trying to ignore her when I am just trying to do my business in privacy! I grew up in a violent, abusive home where I was beaten, threatened, and intimidated every single day by my father (now deceased), while my mother looked on and did nothing except tell me it was my job to endure it, because he paid the bills and provided the drugs. When his abuse turned sexual, my mother essentially pimped me out to him, and to this day, sees nothing wrong with it. I hold so much resentment and emotional pain, I can hardly stand to get up in the morning anymore.

I am in the ultimate "no-win" situation. She can't work, and filing for disability is a long process. She has no safety net, and my husband and I pay for everything she needs (which we cannot afford, but don't really have much choice). If we were to abandon her, she would be completely alone in the world, as she has no friends due to her non-existent social skills, and the rest of her family is pretty much gone.

But, staying here and continuing to care for her is taking a huge toll on my health, my sanity, and my marriage. My husband tries his best to understand, but he works long, erratic hours, and has no concept of the day-to-day struggles of just making sure she doesn't start screaming, throwing things, or harming herself (something that can be triggered by as little as a misplaced pair of sunglasses). He takes it for granted that I would be a willing, serene caregiver (because it's "what women do"), and doesn't understand how incredibly difficult it really is, and how my entire life revolves around preventing/preparing for Mom's next fit of rage or psychotic episode. So, I am caught between the massive guilt of leaving her alone, and the very real threat of another mental breakdown on my part if this continues.

This is something they never seem to mention in abuse-survivors groups, that one day, you may be caring for the very person who hurt you the most. Am I crazy for doing this? Is the guilt I feel at the thought of leaving her to her own devices a legitimate moral concern, or a byproduct of a lifetime of guilt-inducing abuse?

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To Abused Child and Abused Care Giver
by: Dotty

I too am a caregiver to a Mother that was abusive but not nearly as bad as you had it in childhood.

I have found that as my mom has aged (now in her 90's) that most of the time she is like a child instead of adult. She is overly, sickening sweet to visitors and even to me most of the time. She can still get mean once in a while and does demand attention like a kid would.

Mom is totally bedridden and cannot even feed her self and is in diapers that I change. I have 4 brothers and a sister that do not help hardly ever. But my main point in writing this is not to write about me. It is because I think you need to put your Mother into a nursing home. If she has no money, medicaid will pick up the tab or medicare if she qualifies for it. Then you can drop by and visit which will be more than your duty or responsibility to her.

Somewhere, somehow, you do need to forgive her and your Dad. It is not for their good, but for your own. Bitterness and unforgiveness can actually cause cancer. So, let it go and also let her go to a nursing home and take care of the ones who love and need you at home and take care of yourself.

If your parents had children today and raised them like they did you, they would be in prison for abuse. There is no need for you to feel guilt or a head trip and do not listen to her accuse you of being an ungrateful child. It is not true.

You are lucky to still be alive today after the way you were raised. This is your golden years so go live them and enjoy them. Your Mom had her turn to live however she wanted to. Now it is you and your hubby's turn. God bless and I hope all of us have been some help to you and that you heed the advice. You are in my prayers.

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Return the Favor
by: Anonymous

I was also bullied, beaten, insulted, yelled at, unfairly accused of things, berated ...the list goes on ....My parents drilled it into my head, about how lucky I was to have them as "good" parents, providers, disciplinarians, .. yes, they were all of that. They were also very unpleasant people.

Now my father is 92, and dependent on me! He lives with me, and I have to feed, bathe, clean him. Of course he has never changed. He says I have the god-given "privilege" of looking after him. But guess what? I give him as good as I got.

I also berate him, insult him and yell at him. I remember all his mean and unreasonable behaviour of the past and the resentment wells up in me. He never thought he would ever be dependent on me and have to hear the things he does now ! Life has come full circle.

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Move on to better things
by: Anonymous

I can't imagine what you can be going through, but I know if it was me I would shove her in a home. In Canada they have government run healthcare and there are public homes for the elderly. It sounds harsh, but considering what she put you through it's the least she would deserve.

I'm now caring for my grandfather who has Parkinson's, and I would fill you in on details but I'm so tired from taking care of him I just want to sleep. But I know he doesn't deserve my help, but I'm doing it for my mom because she loves him. I'm caring for him with my mom at his home, but i don't know how long we'll last, because he's wearing us out.

My mom has diabetes and I have a thyroid problem (possibly lupus or Hashimoto's.... I can't continue my doctors appointments because I have to care for him), so I think the longest we can care for him at home is at most a year.

When the time comes we'll look into private homes for him that can take good care of him, but considering that he used to strap my mother as a child and she had to quit college because he kicked her out the house and made her pay him rent double of what it be if you payed the usual fee to the landlord (she would pay my grandpa and he'd keep half of her earnings for himself and give the rest to the landlord).

I don't see how he deserves such special care......But, I guess she cares for her dad and wants what's best for him. In your case however your mom sounds a million times worse!! Get rid of that bitch and live your life with your husband. You never know how long your life will last, don't suffer for someone who doesn't deserve it.

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You are not Alone
by: Christine

Wow, I thought it was only me. I was never abused in the ways that you were; it was more that I was neglected, but my mother has always been "velcro-ed" to my father regardless of the correctness of his views. I was a Navy brat, always being hauled from country to country, and now I'm a little lost.

My mother has had a major heart attack and two strokes and is now dependent on others for her care. She only wants me or my father, so outside caregivers are not an option at this time.

The thing is, I have always known that my mother shoved me aside in quest of my father's affections, and I'm not sure to whom he ever gave them. She shouldn't have been having to try so hard that she neglected her daughter. She was never a "Mom" to me, just the womb which bore me and my father's "woman," except that intimacy between them never seemed to be. Now she expects me to get all happy with my parents and take really good care of her.

She threw me to the weeds, and I don't think that she ever knew she was doing it. She was trying so hard to stay in my fathers good graces that I don't think she ever looked closely enough to see that he can not be loved, connected or even considerate. Yet he is who she needs to be with now - except when "Dad" can't do something. That's where I come in and it's expected that I be there and make whatever right.

I'm sick of the whole thing, but I've signed on to help with Mom. Caregiving is so hard when you love and care for the person in need. It's almost impossible when someone who has hurt you is now in need of your care.

Please take care of yourself, and remember that life will go on after they're gone.

Resentment - yes.

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