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A Family Divided After Death of my Mother

Bob 1968

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I am glad I found this group.  I am so out of control I almost don't know where to begin.  Some family background, Mom and Dad married 50 years.  Got married since my Mother was pregnant, not necessarily because they were a good match.  They have 4 kids together.....3 boys and 1 girl.  I am writing this today, and I am the oldest of the children (50).  My parents marriage was subjected to infidelity from early on.  My Dad never really had very strong feelings for my Mom and if a pretty emotionless person.  Looking back, I think they were too busy raising the kids to recognize their differences.  My Mom and I were cut from the same cloth, and the other 3 sibling were much closer with their Dad.  My Mom wanted a close relationship with all her kids, but some of them just didn't mesh as well as her and I did.  I vividly remember at the age of 12 or 13, my Mom finding out about an affair my Dad had.  She made an attempt at taking her life.  Luckily she lived, but had a very unhappy marriage.  This continued on mostly unbeknownst to most of us at the time.  My Mom eventually turned to me as someone to talk to, cry with, and seek advise.  The hours that were spent were countless over a period of years.  I loved my Mother so much that I would do anything for her without question.  At the time I chose to listen, support her, comfort her, but didn't really want to bear the burden of telling her what to do.  My Mom simply didn't have the courage to file for divorce.  My Dad, who really had no feelings for her, no emotions, was able to tolerate his situation.  He was not going to file for divorce either, since his most important asset in life was his money/paycheck, and he wasn't voluntarily going to cut that in half, probably lose the house, and be court ordered to pay child support.  So over the years, they remained together.  Basically living somewhat separate lives, just under the same roof.  I had some serious issues with my Dad's infidelity when I was in school and seen the hurt and pain he was causing my Mom.  Beyond that I still remembered what he had done, but didn't dwell on it.  Three years ago my Mom gets sick, has sustained some loss of cognitive function and would require 24 hour round the clock care.  After a month in ICU and two month in skilled nursing with some progress, but not enough to keep the insurance company happy.  The options were to move her to long-term care within the nursing home or bring her back to her house.  There really was no decision, I quit my job and cared for my Mother for three years.  I did get some much needed help from my sister, but had 1 brother living out of state who couldn't do anything and 1 brother living nearby, who just wasn't interested in doing much.  She lasted 3 years.......it still breaks my heart.......I still can't accept her passing in Feb. 2019.  In the beginning there is so much that is occurring, you are numb, and things are just seriously out of whack.  Your thinking is not normal if you can manage to think at all.  We were all grieving in our own way, which I know from all my reading is a very normal thing.  Within our family, it was I that was taking my Mom's death the hardest.  Nobody was surprised by that.  I continued to stay in the home and provide some assistance to my Dad who has Parkinson's Disease.  He doesn't require anywhere near the amount of care that my Mom did.  That lasted about 7 or 8 months after Mom died.  It was then that his infidelity within their marriage really started a fire within me.  I was devastated by the loss of my Mom, guilty that all the time spent listening to and comforting my Mom when she needed someone to talk to I should have pushed her to get the Divorce.  I'm sure she would have done it with my consistent encouragement.  Coupled with having to think about this person whom I cared so much about, suffered and dealt with sadness in her marriage because of my Dad's actions.  She was the most wonderful, loving, person you can imagine.  Long story short, I moved out of their house.  #1 it didn't feel like home anymore, and #2 I couldn't stand the sight of my Dad.  Here we are a couple months later.  I couldn't attend the holidays this year, it was just too much emotionally for me.  I have done some not so nice things to my Dad, in an effort to cause him to feel the way he made my Mom feel.  The family is divided, my 3 siblings support their Dad and my deceased Mother would have had my back to the bitter end if she were still alive.  I am not married, suffering from major depression, which I see my Dr. for and take prescribed meds for.  Have gone to a therapist a couple times.  Not really knowing what to think or what to do.  I do not think I have the  ability to forgive my Dad.  I really just don't see much purpose for anything at the moment.  I am interested to hear of any similar experiences and how they evolved and people moved on, either with or without the family that once was.  Really all I want is my Mom...............hoping I get some comments from other readers.  Thanks for your time and sorry for the loss that has brought you to this page.

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Hi, I'm glad you've reached out, it sounds like you are carrying quite a load.

To not forgive your dad doesn't hurt anyone but you.  Try to work on it with the help of a therapist.  Understand first of all that forgiveness does NOT mean what the other person did was okay.  It is not okay to hurt someone the way he hurt your mom...but to turn around and hurt him makes you more like him, the one thing you never wanted in yourself!  There is a better way to do this.  I don't think forgiveness depends on our ability so much as our understanding what it is, what it isn't, the purpose in forgiveness, and taking the step to.  It does not depend on feelings.  Feelings aren't always a good barometer of anything as they can be all over the place.  It is proceeding with what you know you need to do as you learn about it.

Good for you for taking care of your mom land for helping your dad all that you did.  So many bury their head in the sand and do nothing when their parents are old and ill.

I'm sorry you seemed put in the middle, having to deal with adult situations when you were so young.  Dr. Phil always says to leave kids out of your adult problems, yet too many have a hard time keeping it between them, the parents, and protecting the kids.  Kids aren't equipped to deal with so much...if the parents don't know how to handle it, how can the kids be expected to?  I also had a mom that would unburden herself on me, when sometimes it wasn't appropriate.  In my case, my dad was a sweetheart, although an alcoholic, and my mom mentally ill and with a horrid temper.  A lot for kids to deal with.

There were some books that changed my life, I was in my 40s when I read them.  TOXIC PARENTS, EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL, BOUNDARIES, and ADULT CHILDREN OF ALCOHOLICSI highly recommend the first two for you to read.  I'm not saying your mom was toxic, but I think you stand to glean a lot from the book because the situation was toxic and this gives pointers on how to best deal with the parents in order to have the best results for yourself.  For that matter it might be helpful for you in knowing how to deal with your siblings as well as the techniques can be applied to anyone.  ACOA was helpful to me in realizing how I was affected in order to better understand and free myself from this background.  Boundaries is a good book for anyone to read as we all need to learn to set them and respect them.

My dad passed when I was in my 20s and pregnant with my first child.  My mom passed five years ago.  She was challenging to deal with all her life but I'm proud of the way my siblings and I dealt with her.  We were there for her all her life, so long as she respected boundaries.  When she didn't she had to accept consequences which sometimes meant a break from one of us.  We did our best and have no regrets.  We were each other's support throughout it all, even though we sometimes chose to handle things differently from each other.  

I am very sorry for the loss of your mom.  Your parents made their choices and lived with them, good or bad.  Now it's up to you to make good choices for YOU and build yourself the best possible life you can live.  What do you think your life would look like if you could make it how you'd like it to be?


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Thank you for not only responding, but actually providing some valuable feedback and resources to help me through this.  I do have a tendency to put myself last, but that has always been that way.  I guess I learned it from my Mom and always thought it was an admirable trait.  It is good for be to get an outside opinion, as my ideas are made with many emotions mixed in.  Currently just getting from one day to the next seems like a struggle.  I re-read what you wrote about my Dad and I do understand where you are coming from.  I will be honest with you that it will be difficult for me to do.  I think I tend to dwell on things, perhaps I could forgive, but never forget.  That ultimately would be like a dog chasing its tail, as my memories would stir up emotions that made me unforgiving of his actions, etc.  As you point out, I do not want to be like my Dad.  My Mom did not deserve to be treated that way.  

Yes, the opportunity to take care of my Mom is one I have no regrets about.  Given the amazing 48 years she had given me prior to getting sick it was the least I could.  Plus she would have done the same for any of her kids.  I might not have clarified about the time at which my Mom started to come to me for support and someone to talk to.  The first that I was aware of the infidelity was around 13 or so, however it wasn't until my early 20's when the long talks, and support was sought from me.  Maybe she shouldn't have come to me even then, I don't know.  I would have been there for my Mom at any age or stage of the game, its just what would have come naturally.

 Yes, I have a lot going on and things are going very slowly.

Thanks again for your time, Bob

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Of course us kids would be there for our parents, but it's questionable whether parents should put kids in that position in some circumstances.  I'm sorry you had all this going on at such a young age.  Of course we never forget, it'd be easier if we could.  I've had to learn that it's not only okay for me to take care of myself, but I'm not much good for anyone else if I don''t!  (I've had lots of therapy when I was young).  

Sometimes it's good to limit our time with someone who is toxic for us.  
And sometimes we forgive someone and they do something again and it seems a struggle because they're always presenting new things to forgive them for.  I don't think it's out of line to avoid them, honestly.  

You said you've tried therapy a couple of times...I hope you'll try again and if it doesn't seem it's getting you anywhere, be candid with the therapist, there's nothing wrong with trying two or three to get the right fit for you.

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