Heartbroken and Feeling Used

by Stephanie
(Maine)

I am separated from my husband for six years, but he has PTSD, so I am still here looking after him. His mother has dementia, and I have been helping to care for her. I am often a liaison between my husband and his sisters, relaying messages to him.


This morning, while I was waiting for my mother-in-law to wake up, I started reading some helpful hints in a Manila folder left out for the caregivers. I found a release form for my husband as third contact after his sisters. I used to be fourth, but it has been changed. I am now only to be contacted with limited information, and only if they can't contact the siblings.

This upsets me for four reasons
- First, I was never notified that it was being changed, and I have continued to help care for her and relay messages to my husband

- Second, I am expected to notify my husband with limited information, and tell him to call them back to get the whole picture.

- Third, I was lied to. I was told that the change took place because the company that controls her care insisted on it. This has to be a lie. I have never heard anything like this in all my years in elder care.

Last, but not least, I never separated from my mother-in-law. I loved and cared for her like I would my own mother.

I feel like I have been used to fill in the gaps without the privilege of being her daughter-in-law after 37 years.

I gave my notice today, and told them that they would have to work together to care for her without my help. I will look after my own family. My mother-in-law thinks I'm just another caregiver, so she won't miss me.

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Re: Excluded from helping.
by: Anonymous

Thank you, Harriett. I am stuck between feeling grateful that I found this out now, and feeling as though I am turning my back on a situation where I thought I was doing some good.

I am a caregiver by nature, but I still have my grandson to dote on, so that's great. I will still continue to look after my estranged husband, as he had no knowledge of the restriction, so there is still plenty to do for others who need my help.

I keep reminding myself that I am doing the best thing I can do for my mother-in-law. I am looking after her son, do that he will be okay, too.

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Excluded From Helping
by: Harriet

I want to say how much I was touched by your post.

You have obviously cared for your husband and thought were family. After all the support you have given, to be snubbed in such a manner must be very hurtful.

Like other people who have responded to your post, I feel it is their loss, but this now releases you to take care of you.
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Re: Used and Abused
by: Stephanie

Thank you for your words of encouragement. You have validated what I know in my heart is true.

Just to be sure, I contacted the organization that gave the family the release form to fill out. They replied that it is solely at the discretion of the Power Of Attorney, who cannot be provided with medical information. It is not their practice to advise or define that choice.

My sister-in-law made this choice on her own, and shared this choice with my other sister-in-law, but it was not discussed with my husband, who was as surprised as I was.

I am going to leave the care and the liaison work to them. I have several sisters and a brother of my own, one who is terminal. I will use my free time to help her plan a family reunion before she can no longer celebrate with her family.

All is good, and life will continue without toxic feelings and alienation.

Again, Thank you for your kind words,

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Used and abused.
by: Leasa

The last paragraph of your story should have been the first. I am so happy for you that you are now moving on.

Think about it, they don't feel you are 'close enough' to be a part of the real decision making and information, but you are 'close enough' for the grunt work. You were being used.

You personally mean nothing to this family. OMG, move on and don't look back. Don't bring this into your future, shake it off and even see a professional.

It's been my experience that unless you close the door for real, this poison in your mind will taint every single new relationship you might form in the future.

Learn your lesson, take a deep breath, appreciate the spare time you now have to enjoy the fresh air, sun shine and your real family who probably loves you and needs you. Good luck.

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