Chaos Attraction

The Beginning Of The Battle Of The End

2004-12-08, 11:24 p.m.

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You know, it's easy when it's just you to think, "I'm okay with who I am and what my priorities are and what my choices are."
It is another thing entirely, however, to have other people in your face often telling you that who you are is wrong, your priorities are wrong, and your choices are wrong. Especially when this goes on for almost as long as you can remember.
No wonder I have self-esteem issues up the wazoo if I've been hearing that I'm wrong and bad in every area from at least one person, if not more, in my life since I was five. And when it keeps piling on from your nearest and dearest, harder and deeper the older you get...
No wonder I'm fucked up.

Sunday night, I got home late, at 11 p.m. I hadn't called Mom yet because my cell had run dead, so I plugged it in and did the requisite phone call.
It...wasn't a good day to call Mom on. Dad hadn't woken up until about 1:30 that afternoon, and she was freaking out. "I didn't think he weak." I'm kind of surprised that this surprises her, since she's physically picking him up as much as she possibly can at this point. "I don't think I can leave him alone at home much longer."

She has said all along that if/when he gets That Bad, she'll have to quit work and stay home with him. I have told her that this is an incredibly bad idea. If you seethe with rage and scream at everyone in your vicinity if you haven't gotten to leave the house all day long (and I mean, she can't go one entire day without leaving the house for at least an errand or something), and you spend all of your days and nights with someone who can't speak and you are pining for conversation, and you feel guilty wanting to leave the house alone because you don't have the excuse of work to leave the house any more and you feel guilty for leaving your handicapped husband behind...BAD BLOODY BAD IDEA. I have told her she has to get help and she isn't going to be able to do it alone even if she quits.

She's not accepting this. When I mentioned this the last few times I was home, or said that she should be talking to agencies or insurance people or something about it, she flatly says that home health care workers make more than she does, and she might as well quit and stay home, and that there's nothing anyone can do to help her.

Stupidly, I tried to bring this up again. Folks I have talked to about it say that she might be eligible for help through insurance or Social Security or disability or some such, and that I should look up the info. Unfortunately I don't know much about the parental financials and they don't tell me about them, so I can't really figure these things out
without that knowledge.

I tried to suggest that there were ways to get help.

She ignored my question entirely and did not admit if there was a way to get help or not. Unless you count her saying that PITA Aunt and Uncle shouldn't be told about things and Aunt Susie is too busy with her own life to help, that is. She instead said that the house is too much of a mess to have anyone come inside. (For the record, while there are tons of piles and certain rooms are obviously taken over by Mom and full of stuff, it's not like there's dead animal corpses or a billion cobwebs around the joint.) I told her again, as I have several times at least by now, that she has to get her priorities in order (as one of the lovely 3WA folk pointed out Tuesday, triage) and give up on having the perfectly neat house before anyone comes in. "I'm sure health care workers have seen a lot worse," I said.

She ignored that and claimed the mess was a "safety issue." There is a pile of boxes, maybe about 20 of them or so, that she usually keeps stacked in my bedroom. When I come home, she takes 3-4 hours to move them out. Last time I was home she stacked them in piles taller than the both of us in the laundry room (which is really a hallway with a washer and dryer, leads to the garage). She claimed that this pile is a safety hazard should any EMT's come in, and they'd want to come in through the garage. (Then why not move them back by the backyard screen door where you USED to keep them when I came home, I thought? Or hell, have the EMT's use the front door where the ramp is.)
But here's the kicker. "All of those boxes are filled with papers, and I really need to go through all of them before I can do anything about the boxes. If you would just come home to help me go through them..."

And that's where I snapped.
(a) Being so goddamned freaked out about having a perfectly neat and tidy home and claiming it takes priority over getting your handicapped husband professional help is just CRAZY. But that will be an entry for later.
(b) She is in DENIAL about Dad getting worse. Not that I can blame her- hell, that's part of why I don't want to come home as much as I should for a dying father- but jesus, she's falling apart and she knows it and she keeps insisting that if she quits her job, she can still maintain things. It's not gonna happen, but knowing her, unless EMT's do have to be called for him or her, she's not going to admit to that. I don't know if doctors have told her now is the time or not, but I bet they have and she's not telling me this. She doesn't mention what they say to me any more anyway.
(c) Even if I was a good daughter and came home to "help" her clean, this is bullshit. She hates how I clean and every time I help, she screams at me for not intuitively knowing how a Right and Proper Woman cleans. (A top selling point for me with the FlyLady thing from yesterday: she said improperly done cleaning is still good! Hah!) And as for going through things and throwing them away, she doesn't throw much away. She used to go through my piles of too-small clothes as a kid, decide they were all too cute to throw out, and insist on keeping my entire pile. With papers she's even worse. And she wouldn't let me read them and decide for myself what to do, or let me read and summarize them for her so she can decide what to do. She has to read them all herself. And she's a slow reader. And I can't babysit Dad 100% while she "cleans", either.

I snapped at her. I told her the whole you-don't-let-me-clean thing, which she didn't quibble with, and then told her that I can't do this. I can't be the only person she counts on in the entire world for help.

I know she has nobody else. I sure as hell don't want to rely on PITA aunt and uncle for anything because they make you feel like shit and they don't really get the whole dad thing anyway. And we all know Aunt Susie's not interested in Mom's problems enough to try to help her- Mom ended up dealing with Granddaddy and Dad at the same time virtually all by herself for years. Everyone else is either too young or mentally incompetent or has young children or lives on the other coast. And Mom has a billion friendly acquaintances but no close friends (semi-close friends run when you say you have problems like this). I am literally all she has to depend on. And I feel like ABSOLUTE SHIT for telling her this. I feel supremely evil. Like I deserve to burn in hell for all eternity, and this is coming from someone who is of the hell-is-here-and-it's-other-people school for the most part. I feel like she's in the ocean drowning and I want to rip away her life preserver. I don't exactly respect myself for telling her for the first time, "It's you or me and I choose me and I will let you drown. And I will watch you drown and laugh at your misery." This is not what we do in this family. Hell, this isn't what a decent human being would do.

She didn't say much this time. I suspect she ignored it. But I got the message that her choice for help is either me, or no one. No outsiders allowed.

I cried pretty much all night after that.

Someone's left a message on my cell since then, but I am afraid to check it. Thank god she didn't e-mail me at work Tuesday. I am dreading having to call her today.

I can't change this, I can't change what she chooses, and it frustrates me no end. I can't be her one and only support system in life, but she has always chosen to turn away from non-family and turn towards family, and most of the family just...hasn't been interested. I can't help but think sometimes that my mother would be so much more sane and less needy had my grandparents stopped at having two children. Middle children on both sides of the family have major issues, and Mom's got a buttload of "I never got enough attention and I was nobody's favorite." So she gave me the exact opposite problems- which, don't get me wrong, I prefer. I'm better off being "please don't smother me quite so much and twelve blankets over my head is more than sufficient, thanks" girl than "starving for attention, grasping desperately at everyone around me and choking off their air supply just so they won't leave me and making horrendous decisions just to keep someone around regardless of what they've done to me" girl. Being a giant walking hole of need that can't be satisfied seems to be one of the worst things that someone can be anyway.

Still, being the only person around that's trusted to fill that me dry. I can't remember who exactly- I think it was Jess- but someone told me that some people are wellsprings of energy and others are giant sucking holes of need, and the latter find the former and suck and suck away trying to fill the hole. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

I can't be everything to her. I can't. Short of quitting my job and moving home to take care of them, which I consider fairly often but know is an extremely bad idea, I can't fulfill her every need. I'm mostly a failure when I come home and try to be a good daughter already. This is unfortunately a point on which I can't give in and give Mom what she wants.

No matter how much I scream and scream that I can't help her in her face for the next year and a half, I know she's not going to get it. Unless/until a medical emergency that she can't deny or argue happens to force the issue, she'll never listen to me. This is going to be a neverending battle...and I don't have a good track record on winning fights with my parents. Even if I "win", I'm not going to win. And I'm going to feel like the world's most evil person the entire fucking time. And cry a lot.

But it's either that or I give up my life and whatever remaining sanity to do nothing but take care of them and do a spectacularly bad job of it.

Nobody wins on that option, either.

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