Looking for Christian perspective on elderly mum with possible long standing PD

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listerlovescurry

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Hi, I've just joined and am looking for a Christian perspective on where I'm at. Don't know where else to turn, so am hoping someone might have some Christian wisdom to share as I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed atm :oh:

Basically, I have an elderly mother who ticks an awful lot of boxes for DPD with APD traits mixed. She's now 78 so unable to change her behaviour (or recognise it tbh). She's not nasty, although she can be stroppy occasionally, but mainly incredibly needy , martyrish, pessimistic and seems to have a depression which works on a 3/4 week cycle. More of a broken person who can be quite manipulative, rather than aggressive etc.

 I've been supporting her behaviour & prob making it a lot worse for as long as I can remember, thinking I was helping take care of her. My dad who was violent to her in earlier days, died 11 yrs ago, after years of chronic and debilitating illness, they had a very toxic marriage on both sides. She was neurotic for the most part of my childhood - walking into the sea dramatically on occasions, ranting, raving, praying very loudly through the night whilst crying, weeping at any hour day or night, major OCD, food control issues etc.
She had a breakdown around 40ys old, went down to under 4 stone in weight - I was born after that. I have 2 siblings, both in their 50's, sister keeps herself at arms length, brother is sociopathic, violent, alcoholic, narcissitic (needed armed police to remove him last time from mothers house, he was hoarding weapons, believed he was a prophet and a messiah, wanted to axe any doctor who came through the door...). Anyhoo, over the years (it would take waay too long to explain everything) my mums always favoured my brother (guilt related to his childhood & victim sympathy)and due to that and her being ineffectual, she has kept opening the door back up to my brother, believing he's changed - when obviously not. She 'sees' him everywhere - yesterday she was convinced that he was a total stranger sat down a hospital corridor during an appt.

The last kick off by my b led me to lose my business, nearly the house & our personal safety for several years. M of course just sees how we let him down,(she actually said "well you never even liked your business") now that we refuse to have further contact for safety reasons (he bought a crossbow years ago & wanted to murder my sister & her family - ever tried negotiating with a sociopath with narcisistic and violent tendancies? Don't want to ever do that again.
Over the years, as well as my mums various mental health issues & what I now believe could be PD, she has genuinely had a really sad life & a number of serious illnesses (breast cancer twice, strokes), so I've tried to help out where I can, even though it affects me badly, emotionally etc.I've always believed that as a Christian we have responsibility to family, and so I've tried to do what I can, but I'm losing patience with the whole thing, get snappy back with her, back off from her as a breather for a short time - then I feel guilty of course - so all round a bit toxic.

 I am very happily married to  a wonderful, kind, patient man, with 2 beautiful kids, one of whom who is vulnerable with a medical condition causing tumour growth.I home school the children full time due to sons condition so I'm pretty busy with that too. We have taken her in to live with us twice and re-homed her twice, the first time due to her taking in my b against our advice/wishes & she lost her personal safety like the rest of us - although she refused to see it that way, and the last time 9 months ago when her landscape gardener went bananas after being politely asked for a listed bill, smashed all the windows in her retirement bungalow causing over 12,000 in damages (no fault of mums tbf this time - he was just a crazy). We then found a rental property as she doesn't want to move back to her owned property - after quite some pushing - and packed  & helped move everything in/set up her home to help her settle in etc. I ended up very very ill or 7 consecutive weeks from the strain of the last drama, which also took our attention away from our sons health, overlooking a tumour growth in his back which we are now awaiting results to find out if it's benign or not.
Just before Christmas, I had a light bulb moment, realising at 3 years away from 40 I've sent my whole life running around after people who won't change or help themselves and that all the wonderful dreams my husband and I have had for the 23 years we've been together have been 'put on hold'. Husband is an Ozzie & wants for us to emigrate - I want this desperately, for the kids as much as for us.

From a Christian perspective, how do you reconcile leaving what is now a frail 78 year old to move 10,000 miles away who clearly doesn't want us to go? Her anxiety has increased massively, she won't eat enough (which is a control thing) but does struggle with mobility (she has physio & walking aids for this), I usually wash and change her bedding as she can't physically manage that due to he extensive mastecomy scarring. She has to come here to use our shower as her bath is unsuitable with her mobility issues. We take her to church/pick her up to save her money (she's paying a mortgage and a rent combined until her property sells). She has the availability of people to be friends with, but refuses to connect properly with people/invite people to see her/go out with people when offered  - though complains that she wants a special friend & she's lonely. Like I said before, she's not cruel or mean - more very needy. Basically we've done everything for years when she didn't need it as much, believing she did, but now she's frail and needs physical support I've grown resentful and impatient, feeling like the clock is ticking and I & my nuclear family are losing out hugely.

She won't accept help for her depression - won't take a paracetamol, never mind anything else. There aren't any decent therapists locally - and she won't go/change anyway. She's tried counselling in the past but made no real progress. Care/assisted living options are dreadful locally. The only light at the end of the tunnel is that unexpectedly my sister has stepped up to helping mum with appointments/finances/hair washing etc which she requires help with & has encouraged us to make the move now before we miss our chance. M was surprisingly supportive at first (think she thought we wouldn't do it) about us wanting to emigrate, but now the pennies dropped she's gone thinner and thinner, more weak and feeble & I don't know if it's a genuine progression with age, an un-consious reaction or part of a PD response.

I feel like I need to follow my husband and this could be a fresh start for us which I feel looong overdue for - I've never even been abroad. Husbands growing impatient and I don't want to see him lose his dream - we need to move out within the next 2 years for my husband to get a decent job due to age. I don't want a root of bitterness to take hold in any of us (m already has that about her own life) and my son desperately wants to go.

Am I being cruel and selfish taking us all away from her in her twilight years? How do I deal with her depression, which is very wearing combined with her food issues? I've stepped back a lot, but we've been here before  - she gets herself run down, ends up needing hospital/GP care & the last thing I need is for her to have another stroke and require hands on care. If I could wave a magic wand, in honesty & as selfish as it sounds, I'd be in Australia now not having to deal with any of it any more, concentrating on my children who I feel I've missed out on for years.

Yep, feeling like a crappy person right now.

Sorry that was so long - 37 years worth came tumbling out  :aaauuugh:

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Bloomie

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Hi listerlovescurry! Welcome to OOTF! I am glad you are here! First, let me say that I am praying your son's pathology reports will show no concerning results! It sounds like you and your family have been through a lot with first your father, and then your brother. How truly awful! I am so sorry!

I wanted to draw your attention to the tabs at the top of the forum especially the disorders, traits, and tool box tabs. Those areas of the Forum are very helpful in sorting out just what you are dealing with and include some do and don't suggestions as you go forward. I also recommend reading and when you are comfortable, posting on the UnChosen Board. There are many here that are facing care taking responsibilities with aging PD parents and the discussions there have been so helpful to me, as I am in the same situation.

To address your leaving from a Biblical perspective, you are talking about two different kinds of relationships here. The parent - child relationship, which is temporary, and the husband - wife relationship, which is primary or permanent. (Genesis 2:24) We are created to leave the parent - child relationship and grow up into separate, healthy adults and marry or not, but develop our own complete life separately. We were never mean to be our parent's primary relationship in adulthood.  What I think you are struggling with is balancing honoring or caring for an elderly parent or widow in this case, (I Timothy 5:4-8) with doing what is best for your family.

It seems there is no question that if you are looking for a Biblical perspective, your family's needs comes first. That being said, establishing assistance for your mother with activities of daily living such as cleaning and maybe some food prep and keeping close contact with her - which you can still do through phone calls, etc., and working with your sister to organize care, would be appropriate, loving ways that you could continue to support her at this fragile time in her life and begin to live your own life.  I will gently point out that you cannot make your mother eat, get help for her depression, interact with others, stop allowing a violent son into her life, or take medication. Galatians 6:5 tells us that each of us should carry our own burdens, or backpack, and as Christians we are to be willing to temporarily help others with their burdens, but we are not called to sacrifice, or martyr ourselves in this way.

I would suggest a great book that might at first feel to you as if it doesn't apply to you. It is called: CoDependent No More by Melodie Beatty. When my T first gave this book to me she told me: "Just read it and underline what seems familiar." It talked a lot about alcoholism and my parents were not drinkers and at first I thought this doesn't apply to me  ;D but I kept reading and more and more I found myself in those pages. Ms. Beatty has an excellent section on Detaching Emotionally, with love. I think it would be a great support to you as you make your decision going forward.

I also highly recommend the book Boundaries by Townsend and McCloud. It is written from a Christian, or Biblical perspective and is excellent.

I look forward to supporting you on your journey OOTF! Welcome!!
« Last Edit: March 06, 2015, 01:06:22 PM by Bloomie »
"If you focus on the hurt, you will continue to suffer. If you focus on the lesson, you will continue to grow." Dr. Caroline Leaf

Bloomie 🌸

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listerlovescurry

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Thank you Bloomie  :) Thank you for your kind prayers, they are so much appreciated I can't tell you.

 I prayed after writing that epic email  that the right person would offer the wisdom I needed to hear for our circumstances. So I can't tell you how grateful I am that you had the patience to read it all the way through.

Even though everything you said is exactly what I would say to somebody else, I haven't been able to apply it to myself. As I was reading your reply, I had a bit of a cry & felt a huge weight lifting off of my shoulders, especially regarding (I Timothy 5:4-8) - that absolutely hit the nail on the head, I've felt so very torn between the different roles of responsibility for so many years for 3 different members of my family, even before we had our children & my sons NF condition and heart problems.

I've woken up today for the first time in years not feeling guilty for wanting to follow my husband & focus on my children's various needs. I feel less guilty and more positive  & grateful about my sisters increased involvement with my mum (just praying now it stays that way and helps their relationship heal!).

It occurred to me suddenly that I could have been lacking faith in Gods ability to provide for my mum for all these years - trying to do everything in the flesh and not in the Spirit. When my husband and I were in our teens, we wanted to go to as missionaries to Africa, to an orphans village- just to help in whatever way we could. It didn't quite happen for various reasons (it was actually the same area where all the terrible machete attacks happened 20 years ago in Uganda so the trip was cancelled). After that, I feel as though life kind of choked us, but I've always had this desire to go to other countries and help where I could - and I'd love for us as a family to have that opportunity. Over this last few years I've felt so sad and weighed down, stuck in the middle between a desire to see what the Lord has for us and bound by the responsibility to ageing parents and a sibling with PD and complex mental health problems.

Strangely enough, 12 months ago my sister was 'encouraging' us to either build an extension on the back of our house for mum, or alternatively to sell our house & mums then rent another larger property so we can care for mum full time. The day before the architect came around I was sitting in bed looking over my garden, when I was suddenly totally overwhelmed by feelings of it being the wrong thing for us and the path we would put ourselves on would mean closing the door on something else. I couldn't stop crying (I actually don't cry very often) & just prayed that if it wasn't the right thing for us as a family then the answer from the architect would be a definate, clear 'no' - down to cost or any other reason that would be inarguably prohibitive. Well, that's exactly what happened, to the letter. What should have been a 25k - 30k job would have cost 100k - 150k, a price totally beyond us. Again I felt a huge weight lift off us, even though we had to deal with another round of depression from my mum off the back of that piece of news.

I think maybe I need to relinquish control and let God do His thing, I'm pretty sure he can do a much better job than me  ;D

Thank you so much for your many kind and encouraging words, you've been a real blessing to me when I really needed it.I'll look into those resources - thank you. I pray the Lord blesses you richly xx

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FarAway

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Hi Listerlovescurry,

I have been struggling through so many of these issues regarding Christianity and PD as well.  You can read my story in the Introductions Page.  I have not had as dramatic of a story as yours, and I am dealing with PD in-laws, not my own parents.  I believe my MIL has many traits of BPD and also plays the martyr often.  Her father was a prominent preacher in his area and was very highly regarded.  I saw her use religion often to control my H and me. 

She would often bring up the honoring your parents commandment. Honoring your parents does not mean you must always do what they ask, especially if it is contrary to scripture (such as leaving your parents and becoming one with your spouse).  I dishonor my MIL  when I allow her to sin against me as I am created in God's image.  It seems totally counterintuitive not to let myself be a doormat for someone weaker than me who has sacrificed so much for my H and even me.  But when I enable her sin, I allow myself, a creature created for God's glory, to be molded into an image made for my MIL's glory.

MIL's mother was widowed and had dementia.  My H and I moved in with her to help the family.  When I became pregnant, it was clear that we could not continue in that situation if we were to have any hope at a healthy family life.  We were often reminded to care for the sick and widowed...that family was to first be responsible for this (1 Tim 5:4).  In our case, H's grandparents had saved enough to be able to put her in a very nice memory care facility.  But MIL felt like she didn't have control over the situation there like she did with having us live with her mum (they lived about 5 minutes drive apart).  When we left, grandma went there.  It's really where she should have gone years ago and she did so much better there with other people and daily activities than she did with us trying to work and take care of her.  We felt that sending her to this home was actually caring for her and that by keeping her at her home we were just enabling grandma's depression and MIL's PD.  Not to mention, it was greedy on our part because we didn't have to pay rent while we were caring for her. 

While my H is a caring and loving man and I wouldn't trade him for the world, his pursuit of pleasing his M hurt me deeply.  I constantly felt as though I was second to her and often, my feelings were disregarded in order to please his M.  I started feeling that my husband was not submitting to God in terms of leaving his parents to become one with his wife.  I have been commanded to love and honor God above all else.  I have also been commanded to submit to my husband.  I felt like these two commands were at odds with each other.  After having time away from them, I was able to relay to him how he had made me feel and how he hadn't loved me as Christ loved the Church.  Only with time away could he start to see these things.  I even saw him putting his M before our baby in the short time we lived with Grandma with Baby.  This propelled me to take action and move.  Thankfully, and by God's grace, he came with me. 

A few other passages that really released me from trying to fix the situation with his parents included John 5:6, Matthew 18:15-20, and Romans 12:18.  In John, Jesus will not heal the man until he has consented to the healing.  My MIL did not indicate that she wanted to be made emotionally well despite my efforts to try and force therapy on her (not a good idea).  From Matthew,  I personally could rest in Jesus' own words that if disputes are handled appropriately and the person still does not want to listen to reason, you are free to forgive them and move on.  And finally, Paul's words in Romans- "so far as it depends on you."  I am so thankful that my relationships with others don't fully depend on me.  I can't control MIL's actions.  It's not my responsibility how she chooses to respond to me.  How freeing. 

When we moved, we had more financial burdens that we hadn't had while living in Grandma's house.  But we were so joyful for those burdens.  The first morning we were in our own place, free from their grip, I woke up early to feed my 2 month old baby.  I was then changing his diaper and I started to cry.  Tears of joy were just overflowing from me.  My H had been in the next room and  I heard him playing music.  I went into the room with baby and we all three danced (well baby not so much) and sang and were overflowing with joy, peace, and freedom.  We had known that we were carrying burdens that we were not meant to carry, but we didn't realize the weight of them until they were gone.  Life has been so difficult since that morning.  But living away (we actually did move across the world in order to pursue God's purposes for us) has given us the freedom to begin the journey to healing in ourselves and in our marriage.  The FOG is clearing and we can start to see where we have been broken, what we need to repent of, where we have been wronged, what we need to forgive, and where we need healing. 

Keep us updated on your story, thanks for sharing.