More threads by rebecca8


I'm afraid I'm going to sound like a very selfish brat right now. I hope no one is going to judge me. Last night at about 9:30 my mother fell, and sprained her foot and ankle. I still live at home although have been struggling with finding the motivation (not sure if that's the right word) to move out.

Well, usually when she hurts herself she seems to exaggerate it, but doesn't REALLY want to do anything about. So, she tells me that she thinks she broke her foot, and might need to go to the hospital. This time I believe her so, I get ready to take her, and she gets on the phone, and talks to her friend for about 45 minutes. We finally go, and I'm trying to be compassionate, but it's hard for me to show towards my mom. I do it anyway.

I try to make light of the situation because it really was just a clumsy fall. I can't say for sure because I'm not a doctor, but I don't think she would have hurt herself as bad if she took better care of herself. She's only 52, but drinks almost every night, and is a chain smoker. I feel really bad talking like this, but I've bore the brunt of many a drunken night. Last night she started drinking, but the fall put an end to that. I was also on the receiving end of some usual verbal abuse. Not so bad last night, but I had spent the whole day cleaning, and then I have to listen to what a moron I am?

I'm the straightest kid a parent could ask for. No smoking, no drugs, no drinking. I have a job, I do all the housework, and I never caused any trouble in school.
Anyway, went to sleep at probably 6am, 4 hours after she fell asleep. This morning she wakes me up at 10am to go pick up the pain meds. When she asks me for something, I get angry, and I'm not sure why, and if it's normal.

I just got home from the pharmacy, and am soooooo depressed. I think I just realized that I'm not living my own life. I have this feeling that sometimes people who are afraid to be alone will subconsiously act like they can't take care of themselves just to keep someone around. (we don't keep in touch with the family either)

Now, I'm thinking of what it might be like 10-20 years from now. I think about some people who have it much worse than I do, and feel like such a baby. Oh, and speaking of being alone, she has more friends than I do. I think my growing depression has drove some old friends away, and prevented new friendships from growing. I'm the one who is so alone. I really just have one close friend, and he is starting to drift away.

I've been contemplating a move anyway. It is such a scary thought because it would be 1000 mi. from home, but there is a school in Colorado that I would like to go to. My mom is so irresponsible though, I worry about all the things that could happen. I don't even want to have kids anymore because I feel burnt out, and only want to take care of myself. Am I really selfish?
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David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
At some point, I think you are probably going to have to take the plunge and leave, and at that point your mother will have to start taking greater responsibility for herself.

It sounds as though you have become "parentified", as they say, where the roles of you and your mother have become reversed. That's neither fair nor healthy. You might choose to look after your mom for any number of reasons but to be forced into that position because she is too urresponsible is bound to create resentment.

Daniel E.
Even if your mom was quadriplegic, you wouldn't be morally obliged to live with her and be her assistant unless you were living in a third world country where your mom would have little to no support from charities and the government.


I'm not sure about selfish, but I sense and understand your frustration.

Being responsible for an aging parent is rarely easy, especially when the parent is experiencing health issues.

The difficulties and pressures become greater if you happen to be the only family member available for that parent's assistance.

The key is to try to arrange for a relief support system to help you when you need to deal with your own personal affairs.

It's possible the frustration you feel may be due to your being "on duty" without a break for a prolonged period.

Is there any other family member who could spend some time with your Mom to help her deal with her needs?

What about a local social agency that could provide a social worker, a nurse or even a volunteer to help out?

As people age, and discover their physical and mental faculties may not be as capable as the once were, the fear of loss of independence begins to occupy their mind.

Some people deal with these changes by adapting to the changes, but others resist adaptation and sometimes find relief in self destructive behaviours such as drinking or medication abuse.

My own view is that we have a responsibility toward our parents, particularly in their later years. The system becomes more difficult for older people to deal with and in an emergency, they need help.

However, from the child's perspective, I feel it's important to live your own life, take care of your own priorities, but be available for your parent.

The danger is to sacrifice one's life on behalf of an aging parent to the detriment of one's own life.

You have only one life to live, and if you don't grab the opportunities when they are available, they may be lost forever.



I don't know how you have manged to stay at home with a parent who gets drunk and verbally abuses you while putting you in the position of being her parent.

Time to live your life and go to that school and have a great time!

You do not have to take care of your mom. She is an able adult. She can provide for herself well enough without you doing it for her and if she acts as though she can't then it's about time she learned don't you think?

You have the right to (and should) live your life as you want it to be. Whatever happens to your mom is her choice and her own doing. It has nothing to do with you. You cannot prevent your mother from making her unhealthy choices in life.

All Colleges and Universities have people that assist new students. Give them a call and get things organized. If it becomes too difficult for you to be able to organize this with your mom's drinking/behaviour can you stay with a friend or other relative?



Account Closed
To add a bit to what has been said. Your mother is the adult who needs to look after her children - that would be you. Not the other way around. This type of role reversal is quite typical when dealing with an alcoholic/addicted parent. But it doesn't make it right and you do have a right to your feelings Rebecca. I am wondering if there are groups like Alanon or Alateen in your area? They can give support and help you figure out what is best for you, and may also help you deal with your feelings.


Thank you all for your replies. You know, that word 'sacrifice' really struck a chord with me. I don't even know why I've wasted 1/2 of my twenties worrying, and thinking I have to be so responsible for someone else. I think I've been starting to give up these past 2 years though. I have no passion left for anything, so it's very difficult to conjure up any motivation. My favorite thing to do is sleep. My self confidence is so low, and I feel guilt and shame, and sometimes I blush because someone has brought attention to me. I hope I don't sound like I'm blaming my problems on my mom, I've just gained a lot of clarity on a whole bunch of stuff now. And you're right about having resentment too.
My brother lives about 30 minutes away. She doesn't really need anyone to take care of her just yet. I guess it's more like watch after, make sure the stove wasn't left on, or the door left open overnight. I guess she is what you might call a 'functioning alcoholic.' She has a full time job, and drives, and really appears to have it together, but home is where it all falls apart. I try my best to clear the clutter, so I can have a clean bathroom, and kitchen. I used to clean out, and try to organize her stuff so we can have a more presentable home, but I've stopped doing that. I kinda felt like I was trying to clear the clutter in her mind or something, and it was pointless because she never kept it clean. I'm probably making it sound worse than it really is, but I think I've developed a very very strong preference for cleanliness and organization from always living like this. Well, I'm going to go somewhere quiet and think for awhile. Thanks again to everyone. It seems like everything is starting to make sense now.



I would offer this thought for your consideration.

Perhaps your mother is continuing to deal with you as a child and has not made the transition to seeing you as a peer adult.

If your mother is using alcohol to excess, I would say the priority would be to pursuade her to join a program to get help.

Once she is in a mental and emotional state for a serious conversation, you might want to calmly and respectfully assert the limits of what you, as her adult family partner, are prepared to tolerate. (I use the term partner as an equal family participant)

I think some parents have more difficulty than others to see their children as adults and as peers.


Hi Rebecca, I am new to posting, and in reading your posts and the replies, I'd like to add my input and agree it might be useful to you to seek out an AlAnon supprt group in your area. I had a father who was a "functioning alcoholic", and a brother who is a recovered alcoholic and addict. I found it useful to attend some meetings, emotionally supportive and educational. One can lose oneself in "taking care of" people who drink or use; resentments can build up and then unhappiness or depression can take over. I hope you find your heart and the way you want to go. Take care, Rebecca.



Rebecca, if there's a school in Colorado that you'd like to go to, and you can find a way to go there, that's what you should do. You're not responsible to live your mother's life. You're responsible to live your own life. We only pass this way one time, and it's up to us to make that one time the very best time we can make it. :hug:

Daniel E.
And some forms of help may be counterproductive in the long-term by enabling an addiction.
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