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Feeling Responsible


phoenixbird85

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A little bit of history. I'm 23, and my mother is 57. We have always been close, but I matured quickly and moved out when I was 18. That was when her alcoholism began. I can only assume that separation anxiety was the cause, or disapproval of the guy I was seeing at the time, or both. I don't blame myself for her actions.

 

At the time, she owned her own hair salon, which slowly started going downhill as she was no longer bringing in her own income to supplement that of her employees. At this point, I was commuting after work to her house, for 1-2 hours each evening, to feed her dog, do the business payroll, pay the business' bills etc. After a while, it became too much, so my boyfriend and I moved in to her house, to help her out. She had been drinking for about a year at this point, and would have bouts of several weeks where she would swear she was sober and then fall right back into drinking heavily at home in front of the TV for weeks at a time. After a total of 2 years, she finally quit, only to wake up in a hospital with her organs functioning at 10%, her business no longer hers (it was seized by the leasing company after 3 months rent was unpaid), and her house months behind in mortage payments She sobered up and hasn't had a drink in 2 years now, but the damage was done.

 

She is now working pay cheque to pay cheque, with no savings. She has no computer skills, is a first generation immigrant with good English skills, and doesn't know how to do anything but hairdressing. We are still close, with flaws, but every week I see her (as we now live separately again) its the same story - dead end job with a boss that is far from fair, always telling me that "WE" have to do something as she's tired and knows that she can't do this physical job forever, that she's not happy where she lives, that she cries herself to sleep every night.

 

Its easy to ignore her, if I don't associate with her. But there's also a level of pity and a sense of responsibility. At the same, though, I resent her for everything. She lost her house, her business all due to her own actions, and now I am responsible to help her? What I really think is that if only I could help her find a place of work she would like, and help her find a place to live that she likes (that takes pets - which is very difficult), things would be OK. But she is 57 years old (although very friendly, young at heart, and doesn't look her age at all), what options are there?

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If you love your mom, if she was good to you when you were a child--did her best to bring you up right, gave you lots of love--then yes, I think you should do your reasonable best to take care of her now. We take turns, right? Our parents take care of us when we can't take care of ourselves, and then we take care of them. Look at it this way: if your mom was wildly successful and had a nice house and a stable job, and YOU were badly in need of help due to your own bad choices, would you go to her? Of course you would. You're family.

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You are not necessarily obliged to help your mother. You're not really obliged to help anyone or do anything for anybody but yourself. However, these are things that we choose to do for the people that we love. If it is within your power to help your mother, why shouldn't you? I'm not saying that you have to move her in with you or supplement her income. Just do small things, help her find a new apartment, help her revise her resume, keep an ear open for new business/job opportunities for her. The more help she gets, the more hope she has, the less likely she'll be to turn back to alcohol.

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