Rage Can Kill You

First it was Human Trafficking Awareness Month, which I got through mostly by dissociating.  I thought I wasn’t, but I was.  My past homelessness and survival prostitution still haunts me, and although I have forgiven myself, I can’t forgive my parents for not rescuing me, nor can I forgive the shameless bastards who raped me when I was a naive little girl trying to survive on the streets.

Then it was Child Abuse Awareness Month.  I really thought I might get through that in one piece, but after the pieces on emotional and psychological and verbal abuse started coming hard and fast, I have to say I took a pounding.  I grew up with a relentlessly abusive mother and an absent, codependent father who played the sympathetic one and passed me his handkerchief while explaining that Mom wasn’t feeling well, had her period (he described her as a “wildcat in a hatbox” when she was menstruating), or any of a million excuses for her evil behavior.

Since my chief drive as a recovering Adult Child of Abusive Parents is still to try to mollify my mother and protect my now-disabled father from her wrath, I moved to the US from my beloved Jerusalem to try to help them in their old age.  He is 88 and she is 86, although she claims to be 85.

They live in what my dear friend R_ in Jerusalem affectionately calls “East Bumfuck.”  Their house is in a remote hollow, and the road leading to it is so steep that the UPS man refuses to drive down there–he parks at the top and walks down, except in the winter when their access road is a bobsled run and utterly impassible.  Then he leaves the package at the post office, which makes the postmistress frantic because they’re not supposed to do that and what if she gets inspected etc., but there’s nothing to be done about it.

Because of the nature of the road and the ice in the winter, they are often housebound for weeks.  Several years ago when Dad was still healthy he slipped coming down it and broke three ribs.  My mom broke her ankle on it.  My dad broke his wrist on it.

The power goes out frequently.  Since Dad has been losing his balance and falling a lot, I pitched a fit about the kerosene lamps they used to put around everywhere when they were younger, and they finally caved in and got a generator, which has made life easier in that area.

I moved here in a panic, in the winter of 2010-11, when there was storm after storm and they were completely snowed in.  My mother was putting on ice cleats and crawling up the hill to gather firewood.  My dad tried to help her and slipped on the ice and got another of the three concussions he racked up that winter.

I had been calling all the neighbors to please go and check on them, since if anyone asks my mother if she needs help she will say no, whether she does  or not.  Please, please, walk down there and make sure they’re all right and have what they need.  Since they only have one neighbor, I didn’t have many to call, and he never did go down there.  So I packed up my house in Jerusalem and three weeks later was on a plane to East Bumfuck.

I had a hard time getting there because it had just snowed three feet, so I rented the biggest SUV I could find and put the fucker in four wheel drive with the towing gear on and managed to get down into “the hole,” as the UPS drivers call it.  They were in pretty sad shape, and mighty glad to see me.  I had brought groceries and eight gallons of spring water, since the electricity was out and they didn’t have the generator yet.

Well, that was two and a half years ago, and the winters since then have been mild, and my dad’s dementia seems to have stabilized.  And now is the time to start talking about the fact that East Bumfuck is no longer an appropriate place for them to live.  My mother has a million reasons why they can’t move, which I will not enumerate here.  None of them is insurmountable.

Then comes the question, where will they move to?  Their first thought is to move to the nearest small city, which is a lovely artsy place with all the amenities and museums and theatres and lovely architecture.  I remind my mother that Dad is not going to get better, and she is not going to be able to handle him herself for much longer, since she is no spring chicken.

“Well if we move to Hip City, what will you do?”

“I will go home to Jerusalem.  I miss my home.

“But this is your home!”

“No, mother, this is YOUR home.  My home is Jerusalem, and my soul cries for her every day, all the time.”

Her mouth twists with disgust.  I get triggered.

Anger starts to brew.  What does she expect me to do, spend the rest of my life taking care of her?  Dad won’t be around much longer, although his own father lingered in a pitiable state till the age of 91.

I get hold of myself.  “I’ve sent for a packet from Lovely Hillside Retirement Community, where you can live independently until you need more help.”  She is a geriatric social worker and knows exactly what I mean, and knows the place.

“We can’t afford it.”

“I believe you can.”  I outline the plan.

“But what will you do?”

“I am going back to Jerusalem, and will visit frequently.”

Silence.

It’s obvious that HER plan for me is to be the caregiver, so that she can live the way she wants, with no regard to my life, my needs, my health…

Anger starts to brew.  I will not go into the childhood abuse issues that started coming up, because I don’t want to go there again.

Anger brewed into rage.  I live in a separate building, so there was no chance of confrontation, thank G-d.  Rage filled me, overcame me, and every time the sonovabitchin’ trains across the river blew their infernal horns, I was screaming with them.

I started feeling exhausted.  My exercise tolerance was for shit.  I started having these vague, vapory headaches, and I am not a “headache person.”

My blood pressure has been creeping up in recent months, to 130’s over 80’s, which is not good for a person who usually hangs out in the 120/60 range.  I felt so weird that I bought one of those home BP monitors:  150/100!  Fuck, I’m gonna die, and it’s all because I feel trapped by my guilt at not being able to fulfill my idea of filial piety without ruining my not-so-good health and sabotaging my future, which I hope will contain a home and a partner.  I went to my internist, and now have yet another pill to take twice daily.

At this point, my plan is to get them into someplace appropriate for their now and future needs, which is going to be a shrek in itself, since their house is a fine art museum which will have to be turned into money in order for them to afford the new place.  The property will be sold, so that means no inheritance at all for me because they failed to plan for retirement.

And they planned to use me as an unpaid caregiver, room and board included of course, with my social security for pin money.  But now I’ve come and thrown a monkey-wrench into the works, by coming to the realization that I deserve to have a life.  They also deserve to have a life, a pleasant and comfortable life.  But I’m a person too, and I sure don’t plan to live out the best years I’ve got left caring for people who made my whole life hell, and would continue to do so, if I let them.

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18 Comments

  1. I hear ya!!

    Reply
    • Thanks! Are you an elderly-parent caregiver?

      Reply
      • Remember how I told you about having to take care of Mom and her husband, then when he died I moved her up here and took care of her for the past 2 1/2 years of her life?

        Reply
  2. good for you!

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  3. Arrgh, for some reason this theme doesn’t let me reply to answer strings in strings of more than one.

    This is to survivor55: no, I had forgotten all about that! How long did you take care of them, altogether? Did they live far away? How did you manage it without going completely off the deep end? And why did you do it yourself, rather than moving them into a facility or something (I don’t know what)?

    I’ve been feeling suicidal for the past several months, with a no-fail plan in place. I feel as if my life is truly in danger here. My PTSD is raging, my depression is out of remission, and I feel horribly guilty about “abandoning” them but actually my mother is in better shape than I am, and except for refusing to accept that they have to move, is entirely capable of pulling the whole thing off. I’m willing to spend significant time here helping them close up the house and resettle somewhere more appropriate, but I’m unwilling to sacrifice the rest of my (very possibly shortened) life to them. Selfish, selfish, guilt, guilt. Chest pain now, even writing this.

    Reply
    • Honey, I’m so sorry you have been driven to this state of body, soul and spiritual torment!!

      God in Heaven, please pour out your blessings on my dear friend _____, and wrap Your loving arms around her!! Hold her, comfort her, bless her, heal her, lead her to the answer to this awful predicament!! I ask these things in faith and in thankfulness and in Your holy name!! Oh, and please, dear God, take away the needless guilt and feelings of selfishness that is eating her up!! You know what she’s done for her parents and You know what they’ve done TO her!! Give her eyes to see the situation as You do. Give her ears to hear the Truth of the matter. Give her conscience the ability to let herself off the hook. Give her heart the freedom to love herself freely in order to be able to truly love others after she has learned to love herself the way You love her!! Thank You again for hearing this prayer and for answering it!!

      I’m just in tears right now as my heart breaks for you!! I wish I was there to help you!! Sometimes, I know from experience in this matter, you simply need another human being to be your touchstone, your moral support, and sometimes your decision-maker and aide!!

      I went back through your archives and through your blogs that I have kept in an email file with your real name on them and found where I told you about it: https://bipolarforlife.me/2013/03/30/my-mother-and-allen-ginsbergs-kaddish/

      We had a dialogue going about it. So click on the link, scroll down to the comments and read what we said to each other. I pray to God in Heaven this helps you!! I will continue to pray for you _____!! Just as sure as shootin’ I’ll pray, my dear friend!! God bless and keep you!!

      Love,
      Kathy

      Reply
      • Amen to your wonderful prayers, my friend Kathy, and may they be heard and answered soon, in your merit, amen. I have been here two and a half years, and I feel that it is time for my parents to act on their own behalf, as my mother is perfectly healthy and my father is often mentally clear. They don’t need me. My mother uses me for respite. She could easily get a community aide for that. I really feel that my returning to Israel, where I was down to only one psych med, is the answer, rather than my staying here where I have to take FIVE meds just to keep from killing myself. It’s absurd. I can visit several times a year. I am really pushing the retirement community where they have step-up care, all the way from independent living to skilled nursing. I’m really feeling that I have to save myself, or I will be destroyed by this. I did read your response to my previous blog post. You are a much stronger person that I am. I could not tolerate that level of proximity to my mother, with her nasty personality. Funny that both of our mothers were nice to us when we were sick. I sometimes wonder if my present illness is not a subconscious ruse to try to get my mother to love me.

        Reply
        • That retirement community sounds perfect!! I am hoping and will be praying that they accept that this is in their best interest and that your mother will realize that you will NOT be there anymore. Maybe once she knows you are serious and that plans are in place for their move and yours, she’ll accept it. I will be praying, for your sake as well as theirs, that this happens quickly and goes smoothly!!

          Reply
  4. Thank you SO much. Time will tell, and prayers are needed and appreciated!

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  5. I cant imagine that they aren’t lonely in such an isolated spot. Retirement centers have so much social potential if one wants to expend a little energy getting to know other people. I cant imagine how they can feel safe in what you describe. You are right, you have done enough and its time to get them settled and move on to your life. Don’t feel guilty, you are helping them get to a safer place for their age.

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    • There is a large school of crafts and artist’s colony where they live, which is what drew them in the first place, but they live in a remote place. Mainly, they have put off planning for their old age until it is too late. While he was able, my father worked in his studio. Now he’s a wreck and requires help with most things. It’s complicated.

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  6. My Grandmother expected me to be her unpaid caregiver until the day she died. Undiagnosed Bipolar, Narcissistic, suspected psychopath (by her own daughter). She lived with me and my family for almost three years. When coping with my illness took more than I had to offer anyone, I took the unpopular step of relocating her to the best care facility she could afford. Eventually, (of course) I found my balance again. Funny thing – I’ve never had any guilt. Because everyone deserves to live their own life. And not be trapped by others who are, on the best of days, a royally destructive pain in the ass.

    I’ve been there. IMHO, you are making the right decision. There comes a point when you’ve done all you can for some of the people in your life and are no longer capable of assistance to them. It sounds as if that time is here. There is no shame in leaving it to the professionals.

    I hope you find your way back home very soon. Very, very soon.

    Reply
    • Thank you SO much for your support in this. It’s really hard, as you know, to draw the line between taking care of them and taking care of me. I can’t seem to get my mother to admit that I am really ill, even though she had to drive me to the hospital once when I was catatonic. It’s all denial and gaslighting. I am just going to have to draw the line and hold it. Your story is really stengthening, thank you for that.

      Reply
  7. I’m so sorry you’re in this difficult and painful situation but you are in it because you are a truly good person – everything you do from Human Trafficking Awareness Month and Child Abuse Awareness Month to looking after your parents and doing all you can for them. Keeping you in my thoughts xx

    Reply
  8. Thanks Ruth, you’re a good friend xoxoxo

    Reply
  9. Juan

     /  December 4, 2016

    Although I didn’t not experience the horror you did in your younger years, my father never cared to hear what I had to say and later in life if I were explaining something he had experienced in his time he would one up me. Now my mother has dementia he is taking it very hard and of course won’t allow anyone to help. He says “I got it”. He’s to the point now that he packed all of his grandsons stuff up in bags and dropped off at our house, then left a voicemail saying don’t come over for Christmas or again. So now what, do I attempt to help as I always have or do I leave him and mom alone as he ask and go on with my life?

    Enjoy the rest of your life.

    Reply
    • Oh no, that sounds horrible!!! Do you think maybe he’s fallen ill with dementia? He sounds as if he’s at least metaphorically barricading the doors. Have you been over to check?

      Reply

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