I am lucky. I had a father who is normal. And what I mean by normal is that although he’s a heart patient, his mind functions within the realm of logic and reason. My mother, however, is mentally ill.
I was raised middle-middle class, with two college educated parents. My father, for many years, chalked my mother’s behavior up to being eccentric. But is it really eccentric when a woman tells her 7-8 year old daughter that her father buys her candy bars so that she will become fat so that one will ever want her? Is it normal that, instead of hanging out with people her age as a teenager/pre-teen, she spends her weekends hanging out with her mother and her mothers friends, who sat around smoking cigarettes and drinking hennessy? What teenager chooses this, over going to the movies and hanging out with his/her peers?
I am lucky. I am now 30 years of age. I graduated from college 7 years ago nearly. My mother calls me up and actually says to me ”So when are you going to do something to MAKE ME proud?”, as apparently she had just gotten off the phone with a friend whose child had finally graduated from college after 12 years. Really? I’m sorry- finishing my degree in 3.5 years, with two internships and a 3.5 GPA with a mentally ill mother means nothing. My mother couldn’t attend my graduation. My father had to make the decision to leave her at home, as she had gone ”manic” the weekend before at my godsister’s college graduation. It broke his heart but he had a decision to make, and I fully supported him in his actions.
And walking into a job, making 50k immediately out of college means nothing either. I totally get it now. I’m lucky in that I do not seek her approval. I’m actually quite the oppositite. When she did that, although it bothered me, I hung up and refused to take her telephone calls. It was pretty easy. But when she says these mean things to me now, I want to slap the sh-t out her, disease and title of ”mother” be damned. I’m an angrier person now. I used to be timid. I also used to be the butt of her jokes. And whenever she didn’t want to do something, she’d invent an excuse based around me.
She used to get violent towards me when she became manic. This has caused me to disassociate. I’ve had to commit her. He’s had to also.
I live out of state from my parents. I love my father. And he’s a champ for dealing with my mother. I, however, cannot and will not deal. I’m trying to get my life together, as I’ve been downsized and I’ve made the decision to move further south. While I was in transistion, I needed to have surgery that impacted my ability to have children. Rather than stay with my parents during this time, I lived on a friends couch for months- to where I refuse to sleep on couches now. And when I did finally resume my career search and my move plans, my mothers first words were to tell me how miserable I would be, how my uncle (my father’s brother) would be in my business (as I’m staying with him), and how I’d be unhappy. In reality, I’m happy because I’m far away from her. She’s recently told me that my father doesn’t want me to be with anyone, as I am a single, 30 year old woman. When I yelled at her about how f-cked up that statement was, she tried to clean it up, saying that ”well, it’s because no one is good enough for you”. Nice try lady, but I ain’t buying it. She also told me that I don’t want children. I think this is because he has delusions about moving in with me, as she’s getting up in age. I have firmly told her that the only place she is going is a home. She has never respected me in my own home, or the way I do things in a place where I pay the bills.
She tells me that I am her life. That I’m all she has. She never developed a life outside me. And I definitely have out outside of her. It’s sick to me.
She was diagnosed as bipolar when I was 15. She’s been on meds ever since, but she isn’t active in managing her illness, meaning that she gets her drugs and keeps moving. She doesn’t see a shrink. She says that I am her shrink. That’s an awful lot to put on a child. And she’s put it on me since I was 8, which is as far back as I can remember. I feel like I’ve escaped. She’s never been accountable for her actions. She’d rather gain sympathy and have pity parties. I’m about action. When I needed to lose weight, I didn’t cry. I joined a gym. I hired a trainer. My father (when he had his heart attack), did the same and altered his eating habits. She won’t. Instead, she wants us to do it for her.
I try with her. But I’ve never been allowed to be who I am in her presence. It’s all about her. She tries to work her way into any equation. I got rid of my apartment and was living on a friend’s couch, and she inisists that she wants me to buy her a house behind mine. I am technically homeless. I wanted to call her a ******* miserable *****. Most parents don’t want to be a burden to their children. My mother looks forward to it.
My father moved her into my old bedroom. So when I come home, I sleep on the couch. She tells me that I can come sleep with her. I’d rather sleep in my car than sleep with a person who snores on level 35 (no bull), and in a regular size bed. She’s 220+lbs at 5’4”. There’s not enough room for both of us, and I try to tell her this, and she walks away, upset that nobody ”wants” her. I went from 210lbs to 140lbs, with the help of a trainer and diet+exercise, while she blew up. She’s constantly telling me that my stomach is showing (I still have a slight pouch, plus I had to have surgery) but how can she ever fix her mouth? I kindly remind her to look in the mirror. And then she wants to go through and try on my clothes, and then nearly damages them while putting them on or trying to get them off.
Most days, I want to call her a selfish b-tch.
Her friends no longer call. But why would they? She drains you of your positive energy. Everything is a pity party with her. She never developed interests of her own, other than drinking and shopping. Her job (she taught school for 29.5 years) gave her an IBM laptop. She refused to learn how to use it, saying that they’d probably find a way ”to make me work from home”. Now she feels left out when my father and I (we’re both geeks) are on our laptops, constantly staring over our shoulders and trying to figure out what we’re doing. Her brain doesn’t even understand the concept of the internet. Explaining to her is futile. I wish I could’ve been active in sports as a child. But my mother was never interested in them. It’s tough trying to become a physically active person as an adult, but I am doing it. And then when I say I just came from doing something active, she gives me negative or condescending feedback.
She’s always doing things that no one wants her to do. In order for me to relocate, I had to drive cross-county. I chose to do it alone, as I needed the time and space to cope with some things going on in my own life (but I’m not allowed to have one, I guess… at age 30). I have a very nice, late model luxury car that I planned to drive. Me and Dad even took my car to the dealership to make sure I was good. He even bought me new wipers (good guy). My mother took it upon herself to call her brother and tell them that I needed to use their sky miles. In most families, this wouldn’t be an issue. But where mental illness is present, guess again. Her brother (although his wife is a nurse and they live in the same city as my parents) has had no relationship with her for the past 17/18 years, and none with me as a result. As a result, I do not care for them. And they do not answer her telephone calls, though they send Christmas cards from time to time. She comes to me, telling me to say my email address, and handing me the phone. My first question is ”who is this”, and when I found out it was her brother’s wife, my tune changed to one that was very nasty (as I’ve been wanting to lay into this woman for years now). And she damn near got cussed out before I could even find out why I was talking to her. After I finished digging into her, her response was ”Well, do you still want the tickets”, and I had to explain that I knew nothing of tickets, ”what tickets”, and then I kindly reminded her that she had never done anything for me in the last 29 years, so why start now. I told my father and he yelled at mom for pulling me into that mess.
Basically, she comes to me apologizing and saying ”well, I was just seeing if they would do it…they can do you for you”. So you got your sister-in-law nearly cussed out by your daughter (and she knows I can’t stand those people) on a whim? And you were using them? Needless to say, I understand why her brother and his family avoid her. She owes them an apology. She claims how much she misses them, but that latest antic (plus me being nasty, which I feel a little bad about in the grand scheme of things but only because I know that SHE misses them) probably cost her another chance with them. But calling them, asking for things and putting on a pity party, instead of trying to have a relationship is a GREAT way to reunite. My father and I understand why they avoid her. We’d avoid her too, if we were them.
And the only person I feel for at this point is my father. I’d like to see him be able to go out and enjoy himself. Or to be able to go out for a prolonged period without him having to rush back to check on her. To make sure she’s ate. To make sure she’s gotten up. Most days, he just leaves her to her own devices. My father will go out and play golf, and I’ll get a manic call saying ”Your father has left me. I only have three dollars to my name. Come help me please”. I have to hang up on her.
Lately her thing is ”Don’t let your father put me in that place; he’ll leave me there”. That place being the mental hospital. As if he chooses this ****. As if he just carts her away there. There are times when he’s hesitated, and it’s cost us dearly. But more than anything, I am tired of defending my father, who is giving up HIS LIFE, to take care of person who is too selfish and self-absorbed to realize that she’s retired with a FULL PENSION plus social security, who spends 2/3 months of the year (granted she’s not manic) in Florida as a snowbird, being driven around by him, as she stopped driving years ago. She’d rather sit around and throw pity parties about everything. What about him? What about me?
My father understands the disease. He’s been on the executive board of a mental health clinic in the community since I was 6.
And I’m writing this because I now live in Florida, and I will be seeing them later this week. I miss my dad. I miss MY parent. But not my parents. I realize that this is an illness. But I’ve never known her to be any other type of person. And at age 30, I value my own mental health and well-being. And she’s not conducive to it. I want children of my own. And I want her far away when I decide to do it.
My mother is mentally ill. But I have to put myself first. I’m sorry that it’s at her expense and the expense of us having a relationship. But I have to take care of me. It’s my duty to live a fulfilled and happy life so that I can raise fulfilled and happy children, rather than children who are resentful, hurt and angry. It’s my responsibility, as I’m 30 years old and cannot blame ANYONE else for my unhappiness. Happiness is a choice. And choosing it means I don’t choose my mom.