Young but Old

Will typing this out help me feel better? Let's try.....

I am 32, my Grandparents brought me up because my mother had a mental illness and couldn't.

They gave up their old age for me and now I am returning the favour but I can't help feeling resentment because as the saying goes, you are only young once.
My grandmother was a horrible lady, she mentally abused me and my Grandfather (I suspect hiding from her) spent all his time at work. She was a nasty piece of work and resented the relationship I had with my Grandfather. The irony is it was born out of how horrible she was to us both which threw us together and the closer we got the more jealous and horrible she became which in turn made us closer still - vicious circle.

It is no exaggeration to say that I am lucky to have survived my childhood however these are long buried issues which do not haunt me. She got Alzheimer's and died about 5 years ago.

I had just gone to university when her Alzheimer's got bad and my Grandfather found coping with her illness difficult. I felt pressured to come home on the weekends and as such would drive back most weekends to be with him and take him out so he could have some respite.

Although I would like to add here that he was still working and attending functions 3 to 4 nights and week as he had installed 24 hour care at home for his wife.

Little did I know that this would continue until now in various guises - him always needing me and me feeling I had to come home to help when all my friends were foot loose and fancy free.
Then she died, then he was lonely, then I went home even more. By this time I was working in my second job in London and home was 2.5hrs down the motorway. So I would work and party hard in the week and Friday night be on the motorway for another depressing weekend at home.
Strange looking back these were easy good times.
My Grandfather has always been a workaholic, he was a lawyer and went into politics - work always came first. Equally this has meant that in times when care is needed i.e. for me as a child (boarding school), or Granny when she was ill we could always afford to 'buy' care in. It also meant he could continue to follow his passion of work uninterrupted.

Our horrible and bizarre family situation means we have a very close bond however, I now find myself in a situation where I am starting to completely resent him.

His health has deteriorated over the last 4 years. He would never put Granny in a home and I swore I would ensure the same for him. So as time has gone on I have put more and more care in at home however, the problem is that now the care is for himself he will not open the purse strings and he has needed 24 hour care for quite a while and I have not been able to put it in. This puts an enormous amount of strain on the carers we currently have (working of shift patterns, etc.) and I am worried I will loose them. And for me when I home trying to care and administer a current staff of 6 people and his considerable business affairs which keep on rolling.

Being 2.5 hours away have made this harder so the weekends are endless toil and I return for my week at work exhausted to hear all my friends talking about what a great time they have been having. I strangely am on more common ground with a lot of them now as they have started having children. And I would like to have kids too but as my husband points out where in the hell would we fit them in?!

But my biggest bug bear is that he has THREE children all of whom live 10 minutes away from him!! You can count out my mother due to her illness but his son and daughter have no excuse.
And through investments he made for them when they were young they get . . . deep breath . . . £20,000 per year from him. However, say they don't want to get involved as . . . . deep breath . . . 'he never did anything for me'.

I can strangely understand this to an extent as he was absent following his career when they were young and never gave them much of his time. But he has supported them well in other ways.
I guess I feel resentment because I have given up so much of my youth for him (he has only ever seen where I live once and that was because he was attending a function in London and it was too late to drive home!) and I now want this to stop.

I want my own family and to have a point in life in between where I have no commitments. However, he now really does need me to come home. If I didn't there would be no one to recruit, manage and pay the staff (he refused to pay agency rates) the ever changing rota, medical issues and deal with everything that goes into running a home and investment affairs he has built up over the years. He would in short be in a home.

So, I now have a great career but to manage his live in nursing home I have had to put my job on the line and ask for a 4 day week. Luckily they gave it to me but it effectively has flushed my chances of progression down the toilet. Our history comes back to me and makes me feel resentment. He cared but he never sacrificed one working day of what he wanted to do. I also feel another stab of resentment on the financial front as I too get a 'gift' from him each year - half of what his kids get and I am enormously grateful however, it is also the exactly the same amount of money by which my salary has been reduced by moving to a four day week. It is not the value that is an issue, more that I am doing considerably worse out of this than his crummy kids who put zero in.

I am writing this as I can't sleep, there is no night care because he refuses to pay for it and is calling me every 45 minutes as he is 'uncomfy' in bed. Needs his bottle emptying. Is incessantly coughing or then falling asleep and shouting for dead relatives in his sleep. And then tomorrow he will sleep all day in his chair with no thought that I don't have the luxury to do that as I am administering his affairs and have a 2.5 hr drive back to London to start my working week.

I have just gone in to attend to him and he has told me 'he won't be here soon' and 'I don't understand' and 'one day I'll be old' but I do understand because I'm living his old age with him and where as he is at the end of his life I am at the start of mine and want it back!

On the plus side I have a great, very understanding husband who endures this with me once a month and who I am gratefully returning to tomorrow evening.

I know there are people out there who do not have the choices we have financially and are trapped doing all the caring themselves so to write this feels spoilt. I sympathize with you all and thinking about it I don't feel I have a right to complain however tomorrow when I am knackered from no sleep I am sure I will.

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Put Your Own Oxygen Mask on First
by: Anonymous

I really feel bad for you, but I think you just have to give him notice that caring for him is putting enormous strain on your health and you are unable to do it anymore. Offer to assist him in getting help and, if he refuses, that's his problem.

You sound extremely burned out.

I thought I had it bad, until I heard your story, but there comes a time in our lives where we have to do what is best for others. It's frequently said that you should put your own oxygen mask on first.

If you need to talk to a therapist to find a reasonable way to get out of this, do so.

If not, tell him you are traveling on your job or your marriage is at risk and he needs to let you have your life back. If he truly cares about you, he'll listen.

If he doesn't, maybe you just need to walk away.

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Twins?
by: Anonymous

Our childhood stories are so similar, I had to take a double look. It was like reading my own personal story. We are even the same age.

My grandmother however, is still alive and still a force to be dealt with. And same story on the family base too. Family won't have anything to do with them. Sad how life is, isn't it? Hang in there, and I will try to do the same. I truly believe that things do work out in the end.


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I Feel your Pain
by: charlotte

I was also raised by my grandma. My mother died when I was very young. Her health has been on the decline for years. Her children live in the same city but always have an excuse for not being able to come over and help. They call me for everything. We finally got 24 hr service at her home but grannie has tried to get rid of the aide. I'm just really tired and angry at my aunt and uncle.

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