Thursday, December 10, 2009

I Swear to Tell the Truth and Nothing But the Truth

Sometimes I find myself censoring my entries on this blog for fear of showing too much of myself, for fear that some of you will leave me because I'm venting again... but today I have no choice. I have to tell the truth about today because I am having trouble. I have told you before that my mother is in hospital and then in rehab for orthopedic reasons. I am her caregiver from afar, meaning that I write all of her bills, keep tabs on the house, act as a liaison between my Mom and the doctors, nurses and aides, worry constantly about her health and happiness.

I've been taking care of my Mom since I was seven years old. My dad left the house and my parents got a divorce. My mother fell into a deep depression that I don't think she has ever gotten out of. And it affected me. Deeply. I have always felt nervous leaving her alone, for fear that something would happen during the time that I was not there. I remember leaving for weekends at my fathers house and seeing my Mom at the front door watching us disappear. Not pretending to be happy. Just watching. I was always worried that she would be lonely while I was gone. Or that she would be sick.

She has 2 chronic illnesses that have taken a great deal on her body. She is much much older than her age. One of the reasons I left Colorado and moved back to New England was because I could no longer manage her care from so far away. Well, I've found that my old habits have not changed. I am still her caregiver and I still worry that something will happen to her because I can't be with her 24/7. She has had about 10 falls in the last 3 years and has come away with many broken bones, hip repairs, hospital stays and rehab stints. In the past 3 years she has been in her house only about 13 months of it, and even that was not consecutive. Ever since breaking her hip she has poor balance and walks with a Walker. Unfortunately, she is fighting for her independence and stops using the walker when she is home. So, I can only look forward to more falls in the future.

My sister and I had a "discussion" today which consisted of my crying, blaming her for not helping me, telling her that I was doing the best I could with this burden, talking about my recent depression, and how I've been working with a therapist to try to extricate myself from my mother's grasp.
The word discussion is a laugh really. I was on my way out of my sister's house when she said something that made me fly off the handle and unleash my years of anger & frustration at her self-centeredness, my mother's manipulation and my own weaknesses. I stood there about 20 ft from my sister for about an hour wanting to leave but still having too much to say.

I am so exhausted. Exhausted from taking care of my mom my whole life, exhausted from being the good daughter, the good sister, the good friend, the good employee. Exhausted from not taking care of myself for one minute in the past 3 years. Caregiving is a tricky thing. I have gone back and forth with anger and guilt for my mother putting me in this position and guilt for not wanting this to take over my life. It has taken over, and I am feeling guilty now because I am trying my hardest to separate myself from her. Separate enough to take care of myself.

I am sorry to dump all of this on you all, but I need to share with people that don't know me so that I know that any words of advice, comfort or criticism you leave me are objective and unbiased. My friends and family are mad at my mother and probably somewhat at me for allowing it to happen. Please, I need you guys now. Please allow me to vent without being scared of losing you too. I ask for healing for my mom and healing for me. Thank you so much for listening. I appreciate it more than you know. Having a chance to get it off my chest can only help at this point. At least I am not carrying it anymore. If you have been a caregiver, I ask for your advice on how to cope. Thank you.


  1. First, congratulations for seeking the help of a therapist. The issues you describe are very familiar to me and I know how hard it is and how long it takes (if ever) to completely untangle yourself from the ties that bind you.
    Second, have faith. Take time for yourself, your art, your writing and your photography. Acknowledge the guilt when it riases up and almosts chokes you. sit with it. breath with it. but, don't let it stop you.
    Your Mom had choices, too. She didn't make the best ones for herself. You have choices, too.
    Blessings and be well, Sandy

  2. I would second everything Sandy just said and I can't think of a thing I would add except to say that I know how it feels to feel as you do and you can have another life ... one that is yours first.

    Sandy is right ... you have choices. Pick what matters most to you, not what you think you should do and then do everything you can to make it happen.

    I'm rooting for you.

  3. Thank you Sandy and Elizabeth for saying what I have been trying to convince myself of for some time...

    Choices are the only things that decide our future!