Feel a fraud but just need to “talk”

Hi everyone, (not so!) brief outline of my situation - although having read many of your posts I feel like a wimp and a fraud as so many of you are coping with much more difficult situations!
Anyway, five years ago, when my Dad died (aged 93), my partially sighted mum moved in with us (she’s now 94). She’s quite fit and well, if frail (walks with a stick and can’t go more than a few yards, so never goes out alone - even before covid), but she’s a very negative, critical character and this 24/7 drags me down. She’s more demanding than genuinely needy but I feel guilty for thinking like that and anyway if I do ever feel strong enough to challenge her, she always seems to “win” anyway and I just feel worse, so I don’t bother! Add to this, my daughter (nearly 21) still lives at home after ten years of mental problems (starting with anorexia). She’s had loads of nhs and private counselling and is marginally better since hitting rock bottom in March when she took herself off to the beach (1 mile from home) in the middle of the night - first we knew was when police brought her home, fortunately she didn’t go through with her plan! She has never been properly diagnosed, although I’m not sure if that would have made any difference as mental health support is so patchy or overstretched anyway. She’s on different anti depressants now but has no friends (well, one, who lives 100 miles away and anyway is no support, being needy herself!), never goes out (okay, covid not helping that) and has only vague “plans” for the future. My husband retired last year and I’ve pretty much always been stay at home mum. He goes out and plays tennis three times a week and can’t stand my mum (although it was his idea to move her in: he’s Italian!), and gets angry and frustrated at our daughter, so is no help with either of them and I can’t talk to him about it.
I just feel so low when I think this situation could go on for years when I’m already so tired of it. I’m overweight because I comfort eat and I can’t be bothered to do anything for myself. I can’t even remember what I used to enjoy doing. I just feel like I want to run away, but obviously can’t!
So, sorry for expressing all this negativity, but I hope that I’ve understood correctly that this is in part what this forum is for: for carers to vent, even where they can’t get, or won’t accept, real help and advice?

Welcome to the forum.
The only power anyone has over you is the power you let them have. However, many of us, me included, were taught that we were “bad” if we didn’t do what our parents asked, and “good” if we did.
Some of us never broke this idea as adults, and still behave as children to our parents.
I had counselling, on the verge of a breakdown, newly widowed, newly disabled, son with LD, housebound mum 6 miles away always wanting me, and “saving” jobs for me to do even when she had carers 3 times a day, a cleaner, and a gardener!!
It’s time for you to stand up for yourself. Not cause a fight, but to just not do what everyone wants when they want it. If mum is rude to you, record it on your phone, then walk out. “I’m not going to listen to you being rude to me”. If it persists, they say that if she cannot be civil in YOUR house, then she must go elsewhere, and mean it.
When did you last have a holiday from all of them???
Is mum contributing financially to the running of the household?
Is everything as easy as possible for you, tumble dryer, dishwasher?
Decide when you want to take time off. Maybe after lunch? Go out for a walk. You don’t need anyone’s permission, just say “I’m going for a walk”. Normally I’d suggest hairdresser appointments, beauticians, to give you some pampering, but that’s not really an option right now.

Thanks bowlingbun, some good advice there!
Mum does contribute to the bills, thank goodness, and I have all mod cons - again, thank goodness!
Husband is good with household chores too, just not a carer!
I do have a gorgeous Golden Retriever, who has saved my sanity, I’m sure! Methinks he’s going to get more walks, bless him (even if I only walk over to the park to sit in peace and quiet! Lol!)
Already feeling better, having joined the forum and shared my woes!
Thanks again, much appreciated!

Happy to help, in total I’ve had ten carees, all relatives, from newborn to 87. At one stage all four parents and son were entitled to highest DLA care. Sadly, my husband died soon after his dad, from a massive heart attack, I’ll always believe that the stress of it all was too much for him.

Hello, Julia. Once again Bowlingbun has summed it up very succinctly. Sometimes both parent and child find it difficult to let go of the relationship that worked so well when the child was indeed young and dependent. We are grateful to our parents for their devotion in bringing us up, and tend to think that in later years we have a moral responsibility to respect their wishes. However this relationship is less appropriate in adult life, when we can fend for ourselves.

This is why your Mum “wins” if you challenge her. You are letting guilt feelings cloud your wishes. At least it is good that your husband helps round the house. If he is not cut out for caring he can help in other ways.

I can recommend a book, which I think you would find helpful. It is called “When I Say ‘No’ I Feel Guilty”. You can read more details in this thread.


My counsellor taught me how to avoid saying now, with delaying tactics.
Especially with a never ending list of jobs, the faster I did them, the faster they came!
Try saying “I’ll do it presently, I’m busy now” or “you asked me to do this first, so I’m going to finish it before I start anything else”…

Hello Julia,
I think the first thing I’d say is to never minimise what you’re going through by trying to equate it to what others are going through. We all have different tolerance levels for different issues and different buttons that those who are close to us invariably know how to push. If that’s how you feel, then that’s how you feel. Acknowledging and owning it is the first step in figuring out what YOU need in order to make the situation bearable for you.
It’s a difficult dynamic to adjust to - when the child becomes the “responsible adult” in the situation. I’m lucky in that this has been a gradual transition for me and my parents have largely come along with me - although my dad is having more issues with it than my mom - and we’re adjusting.
It’s easy to say “don’t feel guilty” but harder to do it. You need to find a way to accept that it’s ok to want to not have to deal with the difficult bits. Your feelings are yours. But you’re under enough pressure as it is, try not to put yourself under pressure that doesn’t need to be there.

Try hard to put mum into context.

My lovely husband died suddenly of a heart attack in his sleep, at the age of 58. He was, I thought, fit and well, even his GP couldn’t believe it. The month before he’d been driving his 32 ton low loader, loaded with his prize winning steam engine, down Lyndhurst High Street, full of holidaymakers and with our brain damaged son in the passenger seat. I can only be grateful that no one else died.

Your mum has lived a very long life, and now she is paying the price in terms of frailty. Very few people reach that great age. Inevitably, her body is slowing down.

It might help you to Google “Signs of Death”, I did this when mum was ill, but she lived for 2 more years. There is lots of information I wish I’d been told when the first of our four parents died, it’s all written by people who have worked in the hospice movement.

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I Googled, and they probably will yours too, so do it when all is quiet in the house. You will find out all sorts of things which should help you manage mum.

It’s OK to say “I can’t do this any more” whenever that’s how you feel. You have done your bit, and you are not getting any younger either. The more help mum accepts, the longer she can stay with you, if that’s what you want.