Gone fishing

Possibly the worst morning on record.

I’ve called my brother and the GCM to tell them what happened. Dad will be gone for a week if the weather holds so an immediate response is not necessary, but it is now clear to me that I am no longer capable of dealing with these circumstances. I need to change the situation or remove myself from it. This needs to start from the moment he gets back. I don’t know what will happen and possibly I will have to move out and arrange other fulltime care for him in the interim.

But in the moments of our fight this morning, I saw the answer to this question:

Why do I defend my father?

Because he systematically eroded my self-esteem so consequentially over decades that I’m involved in a sort of Stockholm Syndrome. He has been holding me hostage — first intentionally, as a parent, and now, as an elderly man who is probably not capable of changing. However, I’ve also been allowing my sympathy for his situation, my Lutheran catechesis, and my overwhelming sense of guilt (all things he also instilled in me) to drown my better judgment about both my life and his. This has to stop. He can’t stop manipulating me, even as his brain is eroding, but my brain is not eroding, and I can, I must, stop being manipulated.

~ by Servetus on May 31, 2019.

56 Responses to “Gone fishing”

  1. 👸🙋💔Much Love And Respect To You❤️🦋

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Huge hugs. Yes, you MUST protect yourself. You have already done so much to ease his situation but you can’t let him destroy you. If you do move out and make other arrangements for him you will have NOTHING to feel guilty about. Breathe deeply. There are masses of people rooting for you. 😘😘😘

    Liked by 4 people

    • Right now I’m thinking staying here but hiring someone else to be the caregiver. It’s really clear after today that for whatever reason he’s not in a position even to refrain from becoming abusive.

      Like

  3. It’s good to figure out the alternative solution. It’s hard as hell to do so, and not without its own trail (and trial) of guilt. None of which you should feel, but I understand why you do/will, given my own Roman Catholic upbringing. Sending lots of patience, peace and self-forgiveness vibes your way. (Even after six years, and her passing, I still have to remember to not blame myself for the circumstances we found ourselves in.)

    Liked by 4 people

  4. So glad to read you have come to a conclusion. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a solution – and yes, I really hope you can remove yourself from the house and the manipulative relationship with your dad (manipulative on his part!). I think all of us here feel that you have done more than your share in the time since your mother passed – and especially since your dad’s stroke. Please now listen to your gut feeling and pass on the responsibility to Heavy Lifter and others. It’s their turn.

    Liked by 2 people

    • HL isn’t in a position to take on any more responsibilities than he already has — that’s part of why this situation has persisted. So other than him facilitating what we figure out, that will probably be it for him. But in a way it could be a relief for him as well. Not a lot of fun listening to your sister sob on the phone, I’m sure.

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  5. Hurray for realizing your situation! (I didn’t figure this stuff out until long after my dad had passed). I agree 1000 percent with Guylty, you have done far more than your share in caring for your dad and it is time to pass the baton.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. ((Hugs)), Servetus. I haven’t spoken to mine in 14 years. I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown that first year. And then, peace. I hope you find a solution that’s right for you soon.

    Liked by 3 people

    • It’s really hard, isn’t it? Sometimes total separation is really the only solution. You’re not the only person I know in this situation.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. My heart just sank to hear how bad your morning was. Hugs coming your way. I’m glad you’re ready to take the next step. It’s not right that your situation should have become so unbearable. Of course you want to make sure your dad is taken care of. But the toll on you seems much too heavy. It’s amazing how a person’s self esteem can become so eroded over years, and yet it happens. Even when they are giving and creative and intelligent like you. I hope you come up with the right solutions over the next week. And have a beer or two!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks. I think that’s the big thing that came out from this — that I let my self-esteem influence decisions like this and that (your oxygen mask on first) I am starting to suffocate.

      Liked by 4 people

      • I use that all the time too — have to put your own mask on first — and yet I don’t often follow that advice. I was taught a work ethic and responsibility by both parents and, by my mum, to put others first and be a martyr. Not a good recipe for taking care of oneself.

        Liked by 3 people

        • I totally get it. We said this every week before Sunday School or catechism class, for eight years and I still have it memorized: “Honor your father and your mother. What does this mean for us? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them. ” I’ve thought about that a lot in the last ten days or so.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Maybe we need to switch to “God helps those who help themselves.” (Not biblical though.)

            Interesting… I was thinking that the only thing I remember from childhood repetition like that is the Guide Promise, which was, “I promise to do my best, to do my duty, to God, the Queen, and my country. To help other people every day and to obey the Guide Law.”

            When I looked it up, though, I find that they have now shifted the focus away from duty and obedience and towards being true to oneself. “I promise to do my best, to be true to myself, my beliefs, and my country. I will take action for a better world and respect the Guiding Law.” Just interesting the shift towards self and the world.

            Sounds from reading your other comments that some headway has been made. I’m glad and I hope things get much better for you.

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            • We had catechism review at the beginning of Sunday School and then on Wednesday nights, too, when I got older. I was a Scout, too, but it was a little more liberal: “On my honor, I will try, to serve G-d, my country, and mankind, and to live by the Girl Scout Law.” Which went “I will do my best to be honest, to be fair, to help where I am needed, to be cheerful, to be friendly and considerate, to be a sister to every Girl Scout, to respect authority, to use resources wisely, to protect and improve the world around me, to show respect for myself and others through my words and actions.” That was Tuesdays and I was a Scout for ten years. The US Girl Scout law / promise have changed a few times, too — I am a lifetime scout but I haven’t followed the changes. The nieces are more interested in 4-H so I’ve been detached from scouting.

              headway: yes — we had the meeting this week with the GCM and dad has at least verbally agreed to some changes. I had planned to blog about it, but it turns out that the weather is horrible, which means Heavy Lifter can’t make hay, which means I may actually get to follow a plan I made today — waiting for last confirmation that he can take dad today before I talk about it and jinx it.

              Liked by 1 person

  8. I agree with others and I’m sending you support in this very very very difficult time. I’m Also hoping some solutions will present themselves that work better for everyone.
    Hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This past March my family had to make the tough decision that long term care for our mother was a necessity. Though we are still waiting for a bed, Mum is in a safe environment until then. Hang in there; you’ve taken the biggest step there is to take. You’re in my thoughts.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I still am hoping that with the right help we can find a way for him to age in place — but my role in that is going to have to change. Part of me wonders though if he wouldn’t be happier in a senior living situation just because he’d see more people than he does now. I appreciate your support.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Would a seniors living situation be possible Servetus? From what you’ve said about your dad he sounds quite social and it might work well for him. And I’m concerned that if you continue to live with him you are going to be constantly walking on eggshells and worrying that the help might leave if he’s aggressive with them. You’ll be the meat in the sandwich and you’ve been brought so low by this that perhaps you need a complete break. But I’m glad you have a week to have to regroup and make some plans not driven by exhaustion and burnout. 🤗

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        • We had the big negotiation yesterday. His solution to our problems was that we sell this house and build another one. He will not consider living in an assisted living facility, at least not right now. However, the GCM was really great at essentially pointing out to him that unless he accepted some compromise with me, he would have no choice. My brother is still skeptical, but I’m willing to try. And I take your point about being the meat in the sandwich, mediating with everyone, but I think dad may listen to the GCM more just because he is forced to be polite to strangers.

          Like

  10. Sounds like my marriage till ‘that moment’ where I finally realized, as you say, I, and my daughters had been ‘held hostage’ — I know exactly what you mean. And you’re absolutely right – save yourself, whatever the cost, it’s worth it. You’re worth it.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Interesting — I got to that point about a week ago — I thought, if this were a marriage i’d leave it now. It is in fact like having a constant sword over my head, living here. I can’t do anything without worrying about what negative consequence it’s going to provoke — and at the very least I need not to be the one who constantly bears the brunt of it. (It may also be the case that he’s abusive to me because he thinks he can and that a stranger spending more time with him would cause him to straighten up and fly right. In any case a stranger taking care of him wouldn’t have the whole history that flows into it when he says something horrible to me.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • To a stranger it would be a job and, like you say, no ‘history’ to affect them. A whole different dynamic for your father for sure.

        A couple months ago I read an interesting article about the classic emotional abuser. Eye opening. But, being trapped in that web at that time it probably wouldn’t have registered. If only I knew years ago what I know now. Even still, those nagging guilty thoughts creep up on me and I have to squash them down. Years of ‘conditioning’ is crippling – my ex husband seems very much like your father in very many ways. His life is a mess since I left probably 5 years ago and I absolutely knew it would be – and it made it so much harder to leave, to knowingly be responsible for that.

        But I did the right thing and finally am at peace with it. I feel happy – I feel like ‘me’ again – after 25 years I feel like me again. And I’m happy for you, that you have come to a realization, and, I think, a decision – that’s the hardest part. That ‘final’ decision. For me, that was the hardest part.

        I hope that you will begin to feel better, to feel a bit lighter as you make a plan and hopefully be able to implement the plan to get your life back knowing you fulfilled your obligations, that you did the right thing not only for your father, but for yourself too.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I don’t know about your experience, but I think it’s just so different when you are in a situation and everyone looks at you expectantly to cooperate. Then you’re out of it for a while and you realize no one lives this way.

          Like

  11. The hardest thing is to try to be a daughter and a caregiver. I’ve faced the same guilt and frustration. The best thing I ever did was let someone else be the caregiver. Being just the daughter has its own issues but it’s a lot better for your own health and mental health.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah — that’s it. I have to stop being the caregiver (or the only one anyway) or our father-daughter relationship will be over. I won’t be able to handle it.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. You have not failed. You are getting him the help that he needs. His not recognizing his need for more help than you can provide has nothing to do with you and everything to do with his brain. Do NOT blame yourself for not being able to stem the course of his disease.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. You have my full support in this. You sacrificed so much time and probably mental health, you must protect yourself now. hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks — yeah, it was clear after that episode that I can’t be the person he wants me to be, that i I even try the revolt is so severe that it’s dangerous for us both.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Yes.
    So many hugs, you’re in such a difficult situation. You have to take care of yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I hope that your family can find the right answer for all parties. Saturday at my sons graduation party i saw even another side to my uncle and not good. My aunt would have like to stay longer at the party as I really didn’t even get to talk to her at all, he had to go and go now. Talking to her friends daughter she has seen things are not well either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope your aunt is surviving. I experience this too — dad gets an idea in his mind and the only thing that will stop him from executing is someone physically preventing him from doing so — and then there’s the guilt afterwards.

      Meanwhile, however, congrats on your son’s graduation — when is yours?

      Like

      • My aunt ended up in the hospital last week I think the root of the problem was stress. They sent her home but still has to go in to get checked this coming week. My 2nd son and I graduated on May 17th. We both graduated with honors. I was only 1 of 3 out of the 8 of us in my program to get honors. If someone got high honors (4.0) they would had to be cheating as it is very hard program. I am now working on studying for the certification exam them I can get my state license and find a job. My 2nd son is going back to Japan to teach English in July. It is harder the 2nd time to get a chance to go. He is also looking at getting a certification to teach English there for a while. He is not sure but if not will look for a job and if not that he will at some time go back to school to get his bachelors degree. I made my son walk during gradation as its not something that happens that often to graduate with your mom. My youngest son graduated high school on May 26th. We had his party on June 1st and the college graduation party is June 29th. Someone had thought we should have on big party but I thought that was not right as his brother had there own high school graduation party by themselves. So we will have another party and some family that was unable to attend the last party due to grandsons own graduation party is coming for a long weekend, so it should be a fun time.

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  16. I hope you’ll be able to figure something out.
    Sending you good vibes and thinking of you!!!! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • The GCM was here this week and she moved a few huge obstacles. I’m feeling hopeful. I’ll write more about it tomorrow night but she got him to agree to all of my “without this I cannot stay here” measures.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Thinking of you and wishing you a positive with this stressful situation. I hope you are able to relax and treat yourself during the free time you have at the moment. Sending ((hugs))

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Although something terrible clearly happened, it was probably overdue and you are doing the right thing. You can’t be his caregiver anymore. Don’t feel guilty. You’ve had dozens of supporters here tell you repeatedly that we would never have been able to put up with the things you have endured for a long time now. Release the guilt, and move forward with a new situation for him, and for you. After being away from my mother for years, I could never, ever, imagine living with her again. I love her, but she is poison for me, because of our past. I am happy that you are putting a stop to abuse that you have allowed yourself to take. I don’t allow my mother to speak to me in a mean way anymore, and she is so old now (and mellowed out a bit) that she seldom does. When she does lean that way, I remove myself. I have come to the conclusion that most of us women shut up and put up with too much abuse because we feel that we must shoulder all the burdens. It’s not right. And the religious-European-traditional family dynamic thing is no excuse for being treated like crap in the name of “duty.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was frightened by both him and myself; I’ll leave it at that. I won’t say it was totally unexpected, though.

      This whole “please don’t speak to me that way” has kind of turned into a hairball, because it just makes dad angrier when I say it. The GCM says it’s a good way to set boundaries but it enrages dad. However, I don’t plan to stop saying it. We got into it about doctor’s appointments yesterday and I said, when you calm down a little I will try to explain this again and he was just as upset at me. It may be the case that walking out silently is the only way to go.

      re: the ethic — I feel like I was raised with the ethic of the 16th c. in some ways — and I don’t live in the 16th c.

      Like

  19. Thanks to everyone for the good wishes and the patience in waiting for a reply.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. […] have the desperate need of the adult child for parental approval. He can get under my skin because the buttons he built into my personality to push for this very purpose are still […]

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