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Newly Dysfunctional Parents- long

My parents and I used to be so close. 

I used to look up to my mother, as she reminded me of Jackie O- always proper, polite, graceful, and beautiful.  She was even an interior decorator.  She has always been extremely smart, running a very successful business for my father, and her family was her pride and joy.  Everybody who knew her, looked up to her.

Today, I would never know her.  She's completely disheveled all the time.  She abandoned and shattered my father's 30-year business a few years ago.  Over the years, she has become more selfish and it's to the point now that she spends all of her personal time with her favorite girl friend of the day.  G*d forbid should anyone, including me or my dad need something from her.  Having a regular conversation is nearly impossible, since she cannot comprehend any real matters of daily life.  She is completely in her own world.  In addition, she acts like a spoiled brat who always must have her own way.  I could go on...

 My father is, and always has been a hard working, loving man.  We are still so close.  After coming in contact with my dad for even a minute, perfect strangers adore him.  It's just him.  He is scared for her and with outpatient therapy being unsuccessful and inpatient being out of the question, he feels the need to care for her.  He says she has the mentality of a child, and even if he left her, she could not survive on her own.   Meanwhile, the sadness builds for him, and frustration for me.

Seeking something for his own happiness, my dad clings to the affluent way of life that he is accustomed to- yet in a financial struggle.  The result is living way beyond their means, with a bankruptcy filing.  Also as a result of her selfishness and his depression, the house is always filthy and a disaster... they won't even let me clean it up.

It seems I can't do anything to help.  Reasoning with Mom is impossible.  Then Dad says there is nothing we can do but love her and be supportive. Meanwhile, his way of life is equally destructive.

I'm at a total loss and I became so distressed that it even lead to my own depression so deep that I neglected my entire life and lost it all- my great career, my great partner and my great life.  It has taken me 5 years to rebuild.  Luckily, I met the great man who became my H and we have worked very hard over the past year to get our life on track together. My career, however, still has not recovered completely.

If they had been this dysfunctional my whole life, I would be well adjusted to it, but this is new to our family.  I don't want to be insensitive, but I can't possibly let it ruin my life too.  Is that selfish of me?  What can I possibly do?

 

 

 

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Re: Newly Dysfunctional Parents- long

  • Sounds to me like your father is in denial. I don't think there's much you can do for them at all.

    Your mother sounds like she may be clinically depressed. Unless she's willing to help herself, there's nothing that can be done. 

     

  • It sounds like your mother may have had some sort of late onset mental illness.  Will she seek help from a doctor and a therapist herself?  If not, perhaps you and your father should consult an attorney about her legal competence.  All the best to you.
  • Your father is a grown man...his marriage and  business are off limits to you. MYOB

    If he is so miserable he can leave her. You don't have to love her and support her if you dont want to. You too can make your own choices.



  • Your father is making decisions for his life, you are free to do the same. I see no reason for 3 people to have their lives ruined or turned upside down. Why is your father so against impatient therapy when he is seeing first hand he is not qualified to help her? Also, stop putting your father on a pedestal for being a martyr. Good luck with your recovery.
  • This sounds really heartbreaking. Your mother has sunk into a serious depression or developed some other kind of mental illness, it sounds like. Your father sounds like he is in denial, trying to carry on life as it was except now he can't afford it.

    I think you should get some counseling. I think it would help you to see the situation with your parents more clearly and understand what you can do to help, and what is really out of your control.

    I'm so sorry this has happened to your parents. 

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  • GBCKGBCK member
    Ancient Membership Combo Breaker

    why is inpatient out of the question?

    I would second counseling for you--because chances are, this isn't really NEW behavior, it's just newly obvious.

    And finding out what to do to help soemeone mentally ill w/o enabling is a very difficult line to find and walk--a professional can help w/ that. (if you have an EAP through work, call them)

  • Thank you for your responses and suggestions.  This is extremely heartbreaking for sure.  My mother, who is obviously ill in one sense or another, thinks that nothing is wrong with her.  She refuses inpatient therapy.  Even on an outpatient basis, therapy has obviously not been successful and her therapist even partially may be making the situation worse. 

    Just as heartbreaking, I try to give my dad, formerly the man who put a roof over my head, common sense financial advice.  No doubt about it- he is in denial.  I tell him, I'm not sure where they will live when they get an eviction notice...his response?  We'll see then...

    A few years ago, during my own therapy, I learned that I cannot internalize what is beyond my control, so I do not.  It was the best advice I received and the most difficult feeling to overcome- esp. as it related to my own parents.  At this point, all I can do is live my own life and tackle these situations on a case-by-case basis.  Birthdays and holidays (with just us) cause chaos in their lives and are nearly impossible to plan in advance. 

    It's just a sad situation.  I don't wish it on anybody. 

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  • image GBCK:

    why is inpatient out of the question?

    I would second counseling for you--because chances are, this isn't really NEW behavior, it's just newly obvious.

    And finding out what to do to help soemeone mentally ill w/o enabling is a very difficult line to find and walk--a professional can help w/ that. (if you have an EAP through work, call them)

    Ditto.

    This is probably not new behavior. I know it seems like it is, but sometimes when you're too close to a situation, you don't see the signs until things have gotten worse.

    Definitely continue with more counseling for yourself so that you can understand your limitations WRT how far you can or should go to help them. And it needs to be said - as much as you love them and want to help them, they are both adults and are making their own choices. My guess is there is very little you can do to change their direction. You need to make your own choices and do what is right/healthy for you. Doing so is not wrong, and it doesn't make you a bad person.

    Good Luck.

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