I'm So Tired Of It All

by Bonnie
(Northern California)

We're supposed to be able to vent on this page, right? So I'm going to express some gut wrenching things that I never thought I would ever feel, let alone admit. I don't even care if I get any responses; I just need to vent tonight ...My 94 year old mother moved in with me 4 years ago. It was supposed to be a "temporary arrangement" (according to the nurses who worked so hard to convince me to agree to it.)I had lost my husband just 9 months prior to my mother falling and breaking her arm and, as I would find out later, the hospital only wanted to get her out of their care once Medicare reached it's maximum. So I said okay, she can move in, because that's what kids are supposed to do - take care of their parents. Little did I know back then how deeply that decision would end up impacting me and my own life.


For one thing, I was still grieving the death of my husband. Somewhere in the midst of getting Mom moved in and settled, my grief was "delayed" (according to a grief counselor). And somehow I ended up with "split grief", which I'm still not sure I understand.

All total, it took me until the past year to feel my original grief lifting - all in the midst of trying to fight the inevitable sensations of having become a caregiver to my mother.

I love my mother. I really do. Still, there were plenty of problems with the way she raised my siblings and I. She's always been an ultra-perfectionist. A narcissist actually. Sometimes I swear she invented being critical and overly judgmental.

Even when we're not looking at her, if she's behind us we can feel her eyes looking our backside up and down to be sure our blouse is pulled down, our pants aren't stuck in our butt, and every hair on our head is combed and sprayed in place so a 90 mph wind couldn't budge it, and we're standing with good posture.

It left all us kids with "issues", as they say, particularly when it came to self-confidence and feeling compelled to please anybody but ourselves. In the past 4 years, though, I've learned (with good counseling) how to make peace with the fact that my mother is incapable of changing.

I've come to terms with her flaws, how those flaws impacted my identity, and I've learned how to "make peace with her" in the process. She has no idea how my siblings and I have struggled with this. After all, she's 94. What good would telling her anything now? So we keep our thoughts to ourselves.

Once I found out her "visit" was turning into something permanent, my siblings and I worked diligently figuring out ways to make it work.

Sometimes our solutions work. Sometimes they don't. You take one day at a time, period. Life just isn't fair, we say, and we go from one day to the next.

Last year, though, I developed my own serious health issues which had to be addressed. My siblings helped however they could when I had to go to pulmonary rehab, get tests done, blah blah blah. What bothers me most, today, though is moments like I experienced this morning which leaves me in tears as I write ...

Have you ever heard of a "thunderclap headache"? Sometimes it only happens once. This makes the 4th one I've had in the past year. As with the others, I immediately went to Urgent Care, because it can be caused by an aneurysm or bleeding blood vessel, etc. Kinda like having a stroke, but I've never had the residual symptoms that go with that. I've already had an MRI, MRA, CT scan, and blood tests in the course of these headaches and the doc can't figure out why I'm having them. It's not like regular migraines (which I used to have.)

This one comes on rapidly and reaches its maximum pain level in mere seconds. Today it lasted 45 seconds. By the time it started subsiding, I was sweating like a pig, my eyes were watering it hurt so bad and I was starting to get nauseous.

It felt like somebody hit me over the head with a meat cleaver and buried it in my brain, and like there was a rush of icy air pouring over my brain. The pain is extremely sharp and, for lack of a better word, feels like it's stinging.

So I'm okay. Now. Although I did have a very subtle dull headache the rest of the day. But here's what upset me most...

I was scheduled to attend my grandson's graduation from the Police Academy tomorrow, then we were all going out to dinner together. But I had to cancel those plans because the doc told me not to drive for a few days. I feel robbed every time I have to miss something with my grand kids and this is not the first time. It's happened over and over in the past 4 years.

My highest priority had always been spending time with my children,and love attending events with my grand kids. Now, however, caregiving has restricted my life and ability for doing such things as I choose.

Before you ask, yes, my sisters are awesome about covering for me when I have to go somewhere. Although they always say they will do Mom Duty if/when I want to take off for a few days, it just doesn't happen very often because it's so hard coordinating everybody that I've gotten so I just don't try.

Meanwhile they enjoy all their vacations and visits with their grand kids. Things are different for the main caregiver though, and I'm sure I'm not the only one to say that. It's just the way it is and you do what you've gotta do.

But I MISS doing things with my daughters and their kids. Seeing their pictures and videos on Facebook or in emails only goes so far, too. I want to be WITH them and I can't. I feel cheated out of enjoying my role as grandmother.

The worst part of that is ... and here comes the REAL honesty ... there are moments when I pray for God to just take my mother in her sleep so I can get on with whatever time I have left in my own life. I yearn for my freedom every day.

I just can't fathom why our medical community has gone to such lengths in helping people live to such an age where they are completely dependent on someone else for their most basic needs - like my mother is. Even she hates it.

If I've learned nothing else in this situation, I've at least learned that I will jump off a bridge before I ever allow this kind of burden to be put on my children.

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Sick n tired
by: Anonymous

Agreed, I have a well paid but stressful full time job and all my money and even what I don't have goes on my mother in return for really nasty thankless comments.

She hates me and i really should. just leave her to it so the other siblings that never get told to pay for everything or treated like worthless rubbish that never gets tired can waste their lives away instead.

I really can't take any more.

I'm always working or cleaning and running around while my siblings relax. Never get a thank you for anything just more and more demands, blame and criticism with dirty looks and things being thrown around to boot.

Plus constantly called ugly, mad/mental and a sinner. I hate my life.

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Been Around The Block, Too
by: Anonymous

I, too, have run the gamut from the intense anger, resentment and frustration of being the primary caretaker of mom. I'm going on six years now.

The first year I started to lose my hair, big bald patches showing up at an alarming rate. I knew I had to get a grip. It was a total stress meltdown.

In the six years I have worked through all the pains and sufferings of our mother-daughter relationship through the years. My mom is 96 and like you say, it's long gone for her. It was only I who had to work these things out on my own.

Not only the past misgivings, but the current resentment that built everyday as I watched my plans, dreams, hopes for my own life fade away or be put on hold. By the time we reach this age of taking on the care for our parents, we are so settled in knowing who we are and what is important in our lives, that having to toss all that aside for an unknown period of time totally throws us for a loop.

This is truly the best time of our lives because we can live out all the wisdom we have earned. To have that time robbed from us, knowing that soon we too will be on the decline, just adds insult to injury.

To see our siblings get to enjoy these best, last precious years tends to drive a wedge between us. They will never know the trenches. They only know it from a distance.

Your health decline sounds totally stress related. Your words convey an acceptance of the situation and a brave soldiering through it all, but your body is rebelling. We can't fool ourselves.

We know we have to do it, so we fake it, but the truth prevails. I urge you to try to make yourself number one in whatever little ways you can do it.

Some of us feel we have to hold up to a perfect standard to the bitter end, but we don't. We can start to let some things go in moms care, and put that effort into our care. She is at the end of her life and if she doesn't want to go to that doctor appointment, take that pill, or eat that meal, I let it slide, its not going to kill her.

But the stress of dotting every I and crossing every T, will kill me.

We all need to step back and just let go, a little bit, everyday. This too shall pass. And we still want to be able to carry on with our lives when it does.

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Thanks for your honesty!
by: Anonymous

I am glad that you are not a hypocrite like most.
I, too, will "pull the trigger" before I become a burden to myself and most certainly to others.

Being a caregiver makes one hate living.

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