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Am I a horrible person? Is this guilt normal?


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My family life has never really been great. My foreign born parents did the best they could with the resources they had, but they never said "I love you", and never encouraged me to pursue a career or go to college. They basically "financed" my childhood, provided me with clothes and shelter, and when I turned 18 my dad left the family. Years passed and the relationship I desired to have with my mother never came to fruition. I always imagined that she'd call me just to see how I was doing, ask how my day was or my life was going. The only time she ever called me was to either inform me of something or complain about an issue. So basically, we didn't really talk that much. My older brother took off to another country after my dad left and I feel like he's disowned the family in a way. I haven't talked to him in years, i hope he is doing well, though. My sister is a drug addict, and was very manipulative and abusive towards me (from as young as 4 years old). To this day, i secretly resent her because my father left the family because of her. I always speculated it, and then one day in a conversation with my dad, he admitted it. He couldn't handle all the stress my sister caused, she was in and out of juvenile hall from a very young age, and there was just no controlling her. She made life impossible/difficult for everyone.


Recently, as my sister was sobering up and my mother lost her job, my mother decided to move in with her. She decided she would take care of sister in exchange to live in her house. I thought this was a very good idea at the time. However, my sister slipped back into her drug addiction, and soon spent all the savings she had, and due to the mortgage on her house, ran up my mothers credit cards. A couple months ago, I told my mother to get out of the situation; try to find a job and move out on her own again, but she felt guilty about "abandoning" my sister. I know this may sound harsh, but I told her that my sister needed to be "abandoned" and hit rock bottom. She had gone through this several times, sleeping on friend's couches, sleeping in hotels, but she always managed to somehow improve her position. For example, she lives in a home that she owns because she hit rock bottom, sobered up, met some successful people and started a new life. She just goes through these cycles. This time, she took my mother down with her, and despite me telling her to stop putting my sister's life on her credit cards, she let her do it.


She just called me a few minutes ago and told me that if she doesn't pay my sister's mortgage by 5pm today, that she's going to lose the house and be homeless. Im sadly not in a position to have my mother stay with me, as I'm renting a tiny room in a friend's family household. I feel bad, but I yelled at her. I was just so upset that it came down to this. I warned her about letting my sister max out her credit cards, and she didn't listen. It's just such a scary vulnerable feeling, my friends would never understand, a lot of them have always turned to their parents in their time of need (financially and emotionally), and here is my mother, the one I always wanted to be the loving supportive person in my life, is coming to me asking me for support.


I feel so sad in some ways; that my sister single-handedly destroyed my family. That I never received the love and encouragement from a "family" that I've always desperately desired. That now, the roles are reversed and I may have to worry about supporting my mom (which is something I imagined doing, but not at this age.) And then, ofcourse I feel extreme guilt. She did the best she could to keep a roof over my head when I was little, shouldn't I do the same now? Ugh, I just feel horrible right now.

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So sorry to hear about your situation. I guess there comes a time when you realize your family is not going to give you happiness, so you go out and do it on your own...


Your mother is enabling your sister. A tough place to be, and although she does not show love to her children she no doubt loves you all but does not know how to express it. It may be because of the cultural differences or even that she was unloved and/or abused herself and she may not know how to show it.


That being said, sometimes the loving thing is to say "No" to those you love. In essence you are seeing the big picture - your sister has to hit rock bottom to do the things to save herself - and you can't help her if she is not ready to help herself! I know it is stressful for your mom, but she is an adult and has made the decision to enable her daughter and is now caught up in this mess.


It is fine for you to say no - although it is better said calmly and with love, rather than in anger or frustration. And you can expect the usual guilt trip that comes with the request if you say no, but know in your heart you are doing the right thing.


My ex's dad would often call (late at night) with such requests in a panic and my ex used to always bail him out. Once we got married and had kids, I talked my then husband into saying no. My father in law then said that if he loved him he should give him the money! Wow! My ex said he does love him, but that he simply could not lend to him the money and then finished the phone call. He cried when he got off the phone, and yet he felt such relief. His father found the money elsewhere or got out of the scrape somehow. And eventually forgave his son. And the good thing - he did not ask us for money again for a year!


You are not in charge of getting your adult family members out of their own messes.


Yes, it is normal to feel guilty. But in your heart you know you did the right thing. With love.


What you can do: take your mom to Al-anon or some other family support group. Take your sister to a support group. Provide information on resources for them to contact. Find information on low income housing or alternative housing. Say prayers for them (if that is your faith). Love them and show it in other ways.

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