What is Love anyway?

by Mary
(Santa Rosa, CA USA)

Sometimes I wonder if I actually love my mom since caring for her feels so overwhelming and exhausting. Of course I love my mom and yet I feel shut off from feeling love sometimes.

My days of trying to live my own life while caring for my mom's needs makes me feel exhausted and anxious! I have my own business which is flourishing right now, I have a sweet husband who gets dumped while I jump at something my mom needs, I have friends....oh, I think I have friends....I don't really see my friends anymore, I have no time. There is not enough time, not enough time, not enough time!

Oh, I breathe, think of being in the moment and use all the other 'tools' for mental health I've learned over the years BUT even if I have one day of not doing something for mom it is not enough time to actually come down off of 'red alert'. I feel as if I am always on 'orange alert' ready for 'red alert' at any time.

In addition to these feelings, my brother and I (the two doing most of the care giving of 5 siblings!) just moved mom to a very nice house with 3 housemates. Mom has her own room and has actually adapted quickly to her new 'chapter in her life' but the cost!! OMG, the cost.

Mom needs someone there throughout the night so that just added 3,000.00 dollars to her rent! Now it costs 7650.00 A MONTH for mom to live there!
What is the freakin' answer people? In no time mom will be out of money (even after we sell her home-if we can sell her home).

To all of you who have moved your parent or parents into your own home, Wow! You must have hearts as big as the largest flower! I know that I could not do it, I could not have my mom living here in our home.

I need quiet time to try to decompress. That's exactly how I feel most of the time 'compressed', compressed into a teeny tiny bundle of nerves.
Thanks for listening, please write back I need to hear some good stuff!
Mary in Santa Rosa CA

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I Know What you Mean
by: Anonymous

I feel awful because my mom is dying of lung cancer. I have taken care of everything for her for the last 10 months. Her cancer did not respond to treatments and for the past 3 months (with some days off from out-of-town sibling) I have been taking care of her 24/7.

She is now bedridden and has to use a bedpan plus she throws up day and night in the bed. I know that she is dying, I know that she can't help being sick, I know that my sibling can't help living out of town and having to work, but know it doesn't make it any easier.

Of course I do love my mom, but it's impossible for me to feel loving when I wake up at 3 a.m. to do the bedpan, clean up throw up, then she starts coughing for an hour so I can't go back to sleep.

And I also have to take care of her old dog that is half-blind and incontinent. Then my day shift starts! Hospice says that she still has some months left and I feel completely helpless! Also, hate myself for having these feelings!

Singing to the Choir! :)
by: Anonymous

Boy, oh boy, can I relate to each of you! I moved my parents into my house 9 years ago.

Things were okay until about 4 years ago when their health and mobility started to decline. I try not to be too resentful but lately I am. I spend my summers running them to doctors appointments.

Last year was a disaster because mom needed an ileostomy which I had to care for because she became totally dependent on me. She was always an independent women but not anymore.
I have 3 teenagers and a husband but they don't really get how stressful it is on me.

I don't want them to feel the resentment that I do towards my mom and dad so I do as much as I can alone. I am also an only child so I really don't have anyone else to share the responsibility with.

I thank you for having a place where I can vent and not feel guilty!

What is Love...good question
by: Anonymous

I have always understood love to be the intentions behind our actions. I thought I was being the loving daughter by moving back into my mom's house to take care of her. I had good intentions, but I'm feeling anything but loving these days.

I'm loving to my partner, my friends, my family, my dog, hell, even the grocery clerk, but I no longer feel loving toward my mom. Of course, as you say, I love her, but I don't feel loving toward her. That's not fair to her, and it's so unhealthy for me.

I have stress and anxiety all the time. Just like you say, I can go away for a day but that's not enough to relax. I went away to the mountains for 12 days camping and it took me 3 whole days just to absorb the quiet. It was so quiet, I could hear it. And I just listened to it. I lost three pounds just laying around the campsite doing nothing! I felt myself again.

I'm someone else here at my mom's. It's like a split personality. And the bad thing is, it's all bottled up inside me. Once in a while, it breaks loose, and we have these stupid, petty arguments over nothing. When I try to tell her I need more of a life, she tells me, "Of course you do. Don't let me hold you back. I want to remain independent as long as I can." And therein lies the absurdity of our conversations. She doesn't want me to move out, and she isn't independent. She has a perspective on the situation that lets her be noble and retain her dignity. She thinks that if I go out on a Sunday afternoon, she has given my my life.

But is this love on her part? Is she excused from being understanding and loving because she is my mother and I owe her or because she is elderly and frail and truly can't understand what I'm feeling?

I,too, use all my spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical tools for "getting by". But that's all I'm doing, just "getting by". I'm not getting anywhere. I'm just here, going nowhere. Those tools help me get through the day, but they are not helping me have a life. They only touch the surface, they aren't solving the problem.

The answer is to be away from here. I felt it when I was gone for those 12 days. I didn't want to come back. I felt the buffer zone. I needed a distance of 300 miles to feel relaxed. I'm irritated here all day long.

I don't have any answers for you. I haven't any for myself. I'm worried I will settle into a low-grade, chronic depression, that I won't even recognize and just be living my life from that pit. I keep saying I have to do something, but the days roll around and there's the errands, and the shopping, and the doctor's appointments, and church, and the meetings, and the phone calls, and I haven't even mentioned my life yet!
Like you say, where is the time to even figure it out?

Something You Just Do
by: Anonymous

Hi, Mary. I do understand as I take care of my Mother (who lives with me) with no help from four brothers. Since I am divorced and Mom is presently healthy enough to stay alone during the day, my situation is in no way as challenging as yours.

Is perhaps building your Mom a small, private apartment as an addition to your home or as a separate structure on your property an option? It would be a better utilization of your Mom's resources and would have her close yet separate.

Possibly she could attend an outpatient day program with a sitter at night, if necessary. Include her in the decision making if possible.

As far as the "red alert" feeling--I can totally relate! Before Mom moved in with me, I was constantly in a state of worry--each time the phone rang late or early, I just knew it was because something had happened to her and she needed my help. I lived in a constant state of dread.

Since she lives with me, I feel more secure that her needs will be taken care of timely and appropriately. Although I work full time, I am able to take personal time as needed for doctor appointments, hospitalizations, procedures, etc. Although not a perfect situation, it is a workable one for both her and me.

We still experience stress; however, peace of mind doesn't come free! Hang in there--I know you will figure out a way to do the best you can for your Mother and your family--THAT'S what love is, anyway! Good luck to you all.

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