Jeanette was afraid to answer her telephone. Her mother was calling every day or two with another “emergency” to induce Jeanette to make yet another l,000 mile trip to take care of her.
Jeanette had been trained to be the caretaker for her mother from the time she was a small child. Both parents had assured her that she was far more capable than her ‘fragile’ mother. She assumed the role in order to keep the family running smoothly and to keep her parents’ approval.
Jeanette left home, married, and successfully raised a family of her own. With some professional help she realized that she had focused her entire life around caring for others and barely knew how to take care of herself.
She learned that her own needs and feelings were as important as those of others. When the phone calls started, she was doing work she loved, and taking time to play.
Now Jeanette was experiencing a dilemma. Two years after her father’s death, her healthy but still helpless and fragile mother seemed unable to cope with life alone.
Jeanette felt terrible. She loved her mother and recognized that her mother’s behavior was a sign of real emotional distress. She also realized that to give in to her mother’s demands would cost her the life style she had worked so hard to achieve.
After much soul searching and consultation with her family, she decided that it was important to find a way to support her mother without compromising her own life style.
Mother was insistent that she did not want to leave her own home, so Jeanette and her siblings decided it would be best to find a way to keep her there and still be assured that responsible people were available to help her manage her life.
Jeanette found an agency that would send someone daily and help with whatever was necessary. She contacted her mother’s doctor, attorney, minister and neighbors and explained the situation to them.
When the support services were in place, she told her mother that she would check with the support people on the scene before deciding whether she really needed her physical presence.
Mother was not completely happy with the situation, but Jeanette reminded herself that mother had never been very happy anyhow.
Mother did test the situation, and Jeanette held firm to the limits she had established. She monitored her answering machine and returned phone calls when it was convenient.
Two months later, Jeanette was very pleased that although she still had frequent phone conversations with her mother, the demands on her time were greatly reduced. Relieved of the worry and pressure, she was even starting to enjoy their contacts.
Is this you? “I don’t need therapy, but I could use some advice about…”
{tags]Relationships, Self Help,Parents, Personal Growth,Aging Parents, CoDependency[/tags]