Friday, April 7, 2017

Weakest link

I learned long before counseling that I often reveal things about myself that I didn't realize myself until I share it.  My mother is in a care center.  A hip replacement started the ball rolling but the final decision was based on her increasing dementia.  I tried to visit her several times a week but the visits were getting more and more difficult.  I shared my opinion with my siblings about the issues involved.  I wrote that I would be reducing my visits since she saw me as the weakest link and badgered me more and more each visit.  I pondered why this seemed to happen.  Didn't take long for me to remember incident after incident after incident where I would give into to what she wanted.  I was raised with the 'peace at all cost' mantra and 'take care of your mother.'  The expectation was never that mother should care for me.  I was her care giver.  Designated provider of happiness and meeting her demands.  If I didn't, she would threaten, whine, demand until I gave in and I did give in over and over and over again.  I would set a boundary she would ignore it.  Before she broke her hip, I was going no contact with her as much as possible.  I reduced seeing her to about once a month and sometimes less. I was doing pretty good.  I liked how little I saw her.  Then she broke her hip in a bad fall.  I felt a ton of guilt.  I also struggled with my definition of who I was and what would I do regardless of my mother's behavior.  My sister and daughter categorically informed I was nuts for going to see her.  I did it anyway.  Weird, huh.  Then an incident came up with a formal complaint against a nurse.  I happened to visit the day my mother lodged the complaint.  The nurse was professional but didn't put up with her nonsense and constant demands and counter commands.  Yes, she would tell the nurse one thing then as soon as the nurse did it, mother demanded the opposite.  The nurse walked away.  I almost cheered.  The complaint was lodged.  I was able to explain to the nurses supervisor about mother choosing favorites and lying about those that are not favorites.  The complaint was reconsidered.  A different nurse was assigned.  We had a meeting with the doctor and he stated, "One person has your whole family in turmoil."  I needed to hear this from an outside source.  It was a relief to me to have someone else 'see' the insanity of 7 people running around frantically trying to appease one demanding person.  I learned at a young age that she would say, "He that's doing to doing does it their way."  However, the consequences are "do it my way or there will be hell to pay."  I walked on egg shells constantly jumping when she said jump.  She expects me to do the same now.  She expects me to volunteer to care for her, like I have always done.  The best years of our relationship was when I lived a 1000 miles away.  Over the phone we had a decent relationship because I still didn't know that my mother can talk the talk but doesn't walk the walk.  I decided for my own self-preservation I must reduce my visits with her because every kindness, every gentle gesture, in my mother's perspective is one more piece of evidence that I am the weakest link.  Her badgering, complaining, and tantrums are getting worse with me.  The longer she stays in the care center the more desperate she will become.  To her, I am always the weakest link.  They call it tough love for a reason because when you have a tender caring heart, it is tough to listen to her pleading and still say no.  No is the healthy loving answer even when she rejects it. 

4 comments:

Tundra Woman said...

Ruth-less compassion in progress. The first times you say "No" do provoke a lot of guilt. And as soon as you start backing off, they double down. If that isn't evidence of knowing exactly what you're doing I don't know what is. When you were waiting on her hand and foot, looking after her all these years did you *ever* get it "just right?"
And ya never will please her. Might as well take the hint and let someone else have a turn on Mom's Manipulation Merry Go Round. She's exhausting even for professionals to deal with-and they get paid and have time off!
TW

Ruth said...

Thanks TW. I appreciate your encouragement. You are right....never could get it right because the demands always changed.

mulderfan said...

My dad is 97 and mercifully lives over an hour's drive away. I thought I could manage a random phone call now and then but when it started taking me two days just to recover from a phone call that ended.
Next a chatty little note once a month but that wasn't often enough!
DONE!
Ruth, the demands not only change, they escalate. Never forget, your mother is far outnumbered by people in your life, who love, respect and value you. I'm one of them!

Ruth said...

Thanks mulderfan...your example and encouragement remind me to put things back in perspective. I am not unreasonable, she is. Heavy sigh. This will not change because she chooses not to change. She will escalate her demands. Thanks for the reality check.