Don't Know What to do Anymore


I look after my parents ... both are in their 70s and need care. My mum's movement is restricted and she needs lots of help with dressing etc. My dad can help himself but needs to be taken care of as he has become frail.

Also, my parents are so independent. They do everything that they can do by themselves. They want to take care of themselves. They hate being dependent and unable to care for themselves. My parents are as active as they can be. And it is surprising just how much they do with all that is wrong with them. I would need pages to list all their medical problems. But just because they do these things, want to do these things does not mean that they should be doing all of it.

In many cases, the exertion, the risk of falling, the pain it causes later on is just too much. I know that they want to do these things. They want to make us happy and honestly I don't know whether they know other ways of showing their love. So as hard as it may be, they do these things for us, not just themselves.

During the day a helper takes care of my parents as particularly my mum is prone to falling and already has hurt herself on more than one occasion. The helper is wonderful - truly wonderful. I have no idea what I would do without her. She does everything she can for them and does it with an open heart.

I am 38 years old, single, I work full-time and I have brothers - two who live in the same city. One does the early morning hospital dialysis visit twice a week and the other does a dialysis pick-up once a week. They love my parents. So does my brother who is not here. There is no question that they all love my parents very much. They want the best for all of us I know that also. And I love them too.

But that does not mean that I don't pretty much feel like I am on call 24/7. I also do feel like I am making a mountain out of a molehill as it really amounts to looking after them at night and on weekends. It's a double-edged sword to me right now. Anger and resentment with just around the corner - feeling sorry for being angry and resentful.

I am very tired and am overwhelmed. I constantly worry about my parents. But I think the worry and the guilt and the anxiety has become wrapped up together and is like a stone in my body. It's heavy and sometimes I can't breathe.

My resentment at this situation (having no support, no acknowledgment, no one to talk to about this without coming across as mean and nasty) has erupted into volcano-like anger and the lava has really hurt my parents. I guess I have taken out my anger on them as I feel that they do not understand or accept my reasons for being mad at my brothers for taking me for granted. I also am mad at my parents for not expecting more from my brothers. Does it mean that they don't see what this is doing to me? I think so.

Right now I basically have no life except for work, and very occasionally I spend time with friends (honestly, I spend time with friends approximately twice a month).

Often I work from home when I can (my job allows that) but rather than this being a convenience it has become a burden as then my parents think I truly am available 24/7. The line between my life and theirs has become blurred. There is no line actually. Our lives are so intertwined that I think it is almost natural that it has become so miserable. The tug of their need. This sensation inside me like a rising tide that is going to choke me.

I feel like I do not do enough so I become very guilty when I want to be on my own, or do something by myself, or simply have a life that is just a little
bit for me.

I feel guilty for being angry at my brothers, but then I do know that they are quite happy to let me bear the brunt of everything even when they visit. They have always been happy to be blind to the greater expectations my parents have of me as the only girl child.

My parents always expected less of my brothers than of me when it comes to the things that ultimately make-up the list of carer tasks i.e. helping, cleaning, cooking. It always bothered me and I did resist it in childhood, but now it has reached such proportions and is so much more than mere childhood rebellion.

I am angry and then in equal measure guilty. When I try to tell them - any of them, my parents or my brothers - how I feel, I hear that its all in my head. That I have no reason to feel like I do. Also, I do want what's best for my brothers as well. And I know that this is not best.

Who in their right mind would want this for themselves or anyone else? They also have burdens or restrictions and responsibilities of their own - some really overwhelming burdens that makes me feel like I should not expect anything of them.

My parents also become very passive aggressive and tell me that they do not want me to feel this way, that they know they are a burden to me and that I should go my own way and they will manage. Well, that just makes me feel worse. I try to tell them that they are not a burden, that it becomes burdensome when the spiral continues without release.

There is no one to talk to and right now I am overwhelmingly sad. Moreover I feel like a bad person. A good person would not have yelled at my parents (it was so dreadful that I cannot even describe it) that my parents do not understand that my family takes advantage of me, that my brothers do not understand that I will take care of our parents but can't I just get a day off occasionally when I can think of frivolous things and my brothers think about what to make for supper, and about cleaning up, and about helping our mother get into bed and why our father isn't eating.

And help our mother out of her chair literally twenty times in a few hours. And make my father numerous cups of tea.

And make small talk with them so they do not feel lonely.

And try to take my mother out so she does not feel like she is trapped inside those four walls.

It doesn't sound so bad does it? It's just small things when it's in writing. But what about when this is how you spend every evening - doing the same things, the same mundane tasks, wanting to scream, feeling your muscles tighten with the effort not to show them just how irritated you become. Then feeling so guilty for being irritated - they can't help it. I know that. And often getting mad and shouting despite your best intentions.

It truly isn't that I don't want to or that I won't do those things, but that I just don't want to have to do it everyday. I want to share it with my brothers. I want them to understand that it becomes overwhelming for me. I want them to care enough to help me. I don't mind doing what I do, I do mind being invisible. I do mind being taken for granted.

I am envious of other people's freedom. But at the same time, I do want to take care of my parents. You see I love them so much. So how can someone love their parents as much as I do and still be so angry and resentful. In the same vein how can someone understand each brother's situation yet be so frustrated with them.

Am I blaming them? Am I being unfair? Is there something I can do to change things? Do I care anymore?

I feel quite hopeless right now. I know that not much will change.

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