Monday, February 02, 2009

How To Forgive/How To Forget

Posted by Anonymous.

I literally cannot forgive my mother, but the problem is, I can’t forget her either. My life would be so much easier if she were to just disappear to a far away planet so I would never have to deal with her again.

My mother is in her early fifties and she has eight children, four of the eight are under the age of 11, and the other four don’t speak to her. We try to avoid her like the plague. She is bi-polar, manic-depressive, with a splash of OCD.

I found out about a year ago that her bi-polar had got so out-of-control that her house had filled with junk from the top to the bottom. She filled it with random things, literally anything that she could buy. Shopping feeds her need. I am not sure what that need, or hunger is but I know that it is insatiable. The house was in such despair that there was no food, and the silver ware drawers were filled with roaches.

They have absolutely no money. My mother has a Masters in Biology and my Stepfather has a Ph.D in Business Communications. They both were at one time very successful but this lifestyle, and all of these problems now control their lives. They abuse prescription medications and spend most of the day in a drug induced anti-depressant comma.

In my mother’s last manic moment, she decided that she wanted a divorce. We found out that she was emailing some random man in Oklahoma, who I later discovered was the same man that destroyed her first marriage. She picked up last Christmas day, left her children and moved to Oklahoma. She bought a car along the way, but she basically just drove the thing right off the lot.

My sister is a little older than me, and she was in a position to take the children. She took them last spring until my mother could get her house under control. My mother sent the children with a stash of medicine, enough to feed an ADD army of children. We promptly called the doctor that was prescribing the medication, and then put the rest down the toilet. The girls said that they needed this medication because their mom said that they “were stupid”. Oh, I forgot to add that they were withholding them from school.

We sent the kids back after a few months, because my sister said that my mom got one more shot. We make sure that the kids are in school, and being fed. My mom finally got a job, but she is still the same. We are good for the next few months, until she does something manic again.

It’s this never-ending cycle. It wasn’t always this way, and I think that’s the part that hurts the most.

I haven’t seen my mom since my junior year in college, about four years ago. I spoke to her last May, when she told me she wasn’t sure if she could handle that I was a dirty liberal and dating a Jew.

She doesn’t know that I just got my first job as a law clerk, or that I know that I have found the greatest man and that I am going to spend my life with him. There are a few milestones in life that you want share with your mother. Sometimes I pick up the phone to call her, but then I hang up, because I know that the woman on the other end isn’t the mother than I know, or want to know.

I have a Step mom, but it isn’t the same. I think she tries to love me like a daughter, but I don’t have mother-daughter moments with her, like I did with my mom.

I keep hoping that she will come back to me, and be the mom that she was when I was little.

She sent me a birthday card yesterday. She is trying to talk to me again.

I don’t know if I am strong enough for her games this time.

Does anyone know if this gets better? Any advice on how to deal with her or people with mental illness?

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

So the kids are with her now? God, I don't know if I could handle that. My heart really does go out to you, as my mother was very similar to what you are describing. I ended up cutting her out of my life years ago and it was the best decision I could have made.
But I really worry about your siblings that are still with her.

Kay said...

I am so sorry you are going through this. You and the rest of your family need all the love and support you can get. But your loss is deep. It's like losing a loved one, but they're not dead, they're slowly dying before your eyes. I've been there. I'm STILL going through that. My little sister is experiencing it for the first time and I can see how much it hurts her. It's hard. You never ever truly recover.

I am sending you all the hugs and love and support I can virtually. For your family members who can get together to support each other, make sure you all do. Take your love for each other and turn it into something positive for the little kids still living with this situation.

I wish you all the best.

Anonymous said...

Man, I feel your pain. My dad is bi-polar and it has damn near destroyed my family on more than one occasion. Tragic.

I think the best self-preservation you can do is to ensure your emotional needs are met through counseling, and start attending Al-Anon meetings, which are designed to help people who's loved ones suffer from addiction problems.

Unfortunately it never seems to get better. Even when the sufferer is dilligent about their treatment, things are always somewhat "off." This is par for the course since mental illness gets worse with age.

You have to learn to put it in its place and take care of yourself.

elizabeth said...

My heart goes out to you. My mother is also mentally ill.

Years ago, when I realized that she does not have the capacity to be there for me, I came to understand that I don't really have a mother. That she died when she got sick. She is there as a person, but I don't go to her. I also don't allow her to come to me with problems. We do talk regularly. That we can talk is largely because she is medicated and my father takes care of her. We never discuss issues that are hot buttons for me. I simply have to get off the phone when these things come up.

I am no longer mad at her. Somewhere along the line, I just stopped being mad. I think she just did the best she could. In some ways, that was great and in other ways, it was really terrible. But, I just let go of the pain. I don't dwell there anymore. Lots of therapy definitely helped.

I truly believe that what got me through it was my brothers and sisters. We helped each other through it every step of the way. The way I see it, my mom is bat-shit crazy but I have some seriously awesome brothers and sisters.

The younger kids really need you now and will until they get out of the house. Be there for them as much as you can - but don't try to solve their problems. Just be a great example for them and listen to their troubles. You will gain so much peace from this. In years to come, they will be there for you in a way that you probably can't imagine. My baby sister, who I talked with through one of my mom's stints in the hospital, now counsels me when I think I've had it. We each call each other to express our frustrations and full-out make fun of her. It's a wonderful release to have someone there who truly understands you and you understand them.

Be a safe place for them to talk, a safe place for them to go, and someone to look up to. When they are young, they may not be able to fully accept or appreciate what you are doing but stick with it. I remember how selfish I was in High School and College. Just keep being there for them. They will come back to you.


You will find SOME of your own peace through this.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think you should report her to social services and let them evaluate whether or not your siblings are in a safe, healthy environment. If they decide they're not, where is their father's role in all this (not stepdad, but their 'dad')? Perhaps he could take them. Or you and your other siblings could try to take them/share custody somehow if their father won't step up and be a parent.

You older four are the only ones that can make sure they're ok at this stage... it's commendable that your sister feels your mom deserves another chance, but maybe the decision should be made by professionals at this point.

Anonymous said...

My dad's bipolar II. Aggressive/depressive instead of manic depressive. It sucks. Luckily his cycles are years long, so we don't deal with a lot of ups and downs, but he has a big DOWN about every 10 years, and generally screws up his life. But when he's not cycling down, he is a really great guy. It's hard.

You have to do what's best for you and your younger siblings. I agree with calling social services in. As you get older, and she's only responsible for herself, it WILL get easier to deal with her. But the disappointment, and fear, and resentment won't ever fully go away.

"That which doesn't kill you," I guess. Hang in there. You're not alone.

Mr Lady said...

Oh god.

Ohgodohgodohgod.

Dude, you might actually need to CALL me.

Long story short: My mother? Yeah. I haven't spoken a word to her in 17 years. I left two small siblings with her and ran, even though I knew she couldn't raise them. I chose between them and me. It kills me every day.

It never got easier for me. I can't explain it here, but I know what you're going through. The best advice I can give you is to do what is best for you, no matter how selfish it makes you feel. Someone has to do what's best for you, right?

Good luck, and look me up if you need to talk. I'm findable.

a said...

I know. I know. It is so hard. My brother sounds the same as your mother. The worst part is, as you said, that it's not even them anymore; the disease takes over.

It's funny - I've been planning to submit a post almost identical to this one about my brother. I'm looking forward to reading more comments. I'd like to know that there are some people out there who've been where your mom and my brother are and have survived. Sometimes, after it has been going on for so long, it's hard to believe they'll actually be "normal" again. Maybe they won't.

I feel for you. It's so, so hard. If it's any help, there are unfortunately more of us out who are going through it. Hang in there. Distance yourself if you have to - I've (almost) made peace with the fact that the brother I knew growing up is not the same guy as the one who causes so many problems today. One can only handle so much and it's okay to throw up your arms and walk away. Sometimes, as much as it hurts, you have to.

Take care of you. For what it's worth, I'll be thinking of you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all of the encouraging and informative comments. It's so nice to know that I am not the only one going through this.

Regarding the question about their dad, their dad is my stepdad, so they are living with their original parents. It's a very confusing story. I think I need a organizational chart to explain it all.

Thanks again for reading and caring-

Em

margalit said...

My mother is an untreated bipolar with the shopping mania, too. And no, it does not ever get any better. I'm one of 4 children. My sister, who is in her 60's now, has had no relationship with my mother in close to 50 years. Me, I haven't seen or spoken to my mother since April 1980. That's a LONG time. Pretty much my entire adult life.

While I miss having a mother, even when I did have her in my life she was worthless. She hated me and told me that all the time. She wasn't a good mother or a kind person. So what I miss is the ideal of mothers, not MY mother. It's very sad to grow up without a mother when you know she's alive all that time. But it's even sadder to have a mother that is so mentally ill that she damages your psyche just by being around.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry. I hope it gets easier for you. It never did for me. My mom finally died a year ago last Christmas. It was such a relief - a soul tearing, mind rending relief. I'm now free to pursue my own sanity and happiness.

Anonymous said...

Does this get better? I would say no it doesn't

My mother suffers from Bi-polar disorder, her illness ruled our lives in ways that even now I can't believed my brother and I survived.

My mother was in and out of hospitals every two years from the time I was four until I left home at 17. I left my brother alone with her and I still haven't forgiven myself, but it's like when you're on a plane and the oxygen mask drops, you have to put your own on before you can save anyone else.

My mother is not the loving caring person she was before the meds took over her life. She is selfish, childish and just mean spirited. Honestly if she weren't my mother I would want nothing to do with her. But out of guilt, I haven't severed ties. But I've thought a million times I would be better off without her in my life.

How do you deal with people with mental illness- tough question I think it depend on whether or not the person wants help. My mother always thought she could go off her meds when she felt better, and it always ended up in chaos for the rest of us around her.

I agree with what someone else wrote take care of yourself first, you sound like you've found happiness in your life focus on that. Let yourself heal, and when you feel up to it help your younger siblings, children need stability and love and it doesn't mean you have to take on the role of caretaker. Sometimes just knowing that someone is there for you when the world falls apart can make all the difference.

I hope it does get better for you and your family I really do.

Anonymous said...

my father is type 2 bipolar, diagnosed just 3 years ago. however, i now understand why my childhood was the way it was. why my dad is not always like i think he "should" be. thankfully his manic is not uncontrollable spending (like his sister's BP manic highs are). he does, however, suffer from bulimia. this adds an interesting twist in the mix. super highs. super lows. and continual binging. feel good? binge. feel low? binge. he sometimes cycles 2 weeks high and 2 weeks low. that's the hardest part. i feel for my mom. she has never left him and never will. love is a powerful thing. and commitment. and a decision that you aren't giving up.

anyway, i understand how hard it is. irresponsibility on the part of the one who should be responsible. lack of consideration. emotional highs and lows and completely irrational thought processes. praying for you and your siblings.

selzach said...

I'm sorry.

I don't think it ever gets better. Your mom may have good spells if she gets the addiction/meds under control, but the disease will manifest again.

NAMI has been helpful for me. They offer support groups for families of the mentally ill. I still have a very difficult time dealing with my mom. She was pretty stable for most of my childhood. She's not the same person anymore and I mourn the loss of the person she was.

Rebekah said...

I think part of what makes it so hard is the younger kids at home - I have had a similar situation where I am much older than most of my siblings. I felt a real responsibility to them, especially my sister, when my mom was borrowing money from her (while she was in high school) and allowing my sister to have much of the responsibility of caring for my youngest brother (he just turned 11). My mother too seems to spend a good deal of time searching, searching, searching...I don't know what she is looking for but I think it gives her something to do so that she doesn't have to look internally at some of the chaos she has created for us all over the years. My husband has helped me tremendously in reminding me that I am not responsible for this but it is still hard, especially when my siblings were younger. Two of them are now in college, including my sister, which is a big relief for me. Like your mom, mine also has an advanced degree - you wonder how these smart people can act so freakin' stupid! I know my mom loves us all and I do love her - I and don't think she intentionally tried to f- things up - I think she has just made a lot of bad choices.

Would be happy to talk more with you if you're interested - RNGANDCO@YAHOO.COM

Take care.

heels said...

My mother is, I believe, an undiagnosed bi-polar with the shopping mania. Thankfully, my sister and I have both been out of the house and self-sufficient for a long time.

My parents are now going through a divorce that was brought on by my mother's mental illness/drug use and the choices she made because of those issues. It got so bad, recently, that I had to basically turn my back on her. We are in her life, but barely, and only superficially. At this point, that's all I'm willing to invest. I won't listen to her problems and I no longer go to her with mine. I almost have to treat her as if she's not the mother I grew up with- in a lot of ways it is like that mother is dead. I went through the anger and the grief and now I'm on the other side in indifference. I'm just thankful that the only person she can really hurt anymore is herself.

You are not alone. I'm sorry.

LegalMist said...

It is so hard to deal with mental illness. It is hard to know when it is the disease talking, and when it is the person. And even if it's the disease, it can hurt so much...

You might find it helpful to talk to a psychologist, not only about your own reactions and ways you can cope, but also so they can give you more insight into the mental illnesses your mother is suffering with, and also perhaps provide information about how best to help your sisters.

Hang in there.

Carrien said...

There is the possibility that it will never get better, and only worse. A dear friends bi-polar mother stayed that way on her death bed and beyond the grave with hurtful words and letters.

But, my bi-polar FIL is a really great guy and though he has really difficult months, even years, he's responsible, caring, and nothing like your mother.

I too am worried about your younger siblings.