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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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its a long story, but my dad was diagnosed with a hypoxic brain

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its a long story, but my dad was diagnosed with a hypoxic brain injury and alzeimers in October. This was after he separated from my mom after 51 years of marriage because she is crazy. always has been. literally. verbally and physically abusive to him, and me and my sister. I believe she is borderline personality as well as multiple personality and paranoid schitzo. She has never been to a doctor because everything is everyone elses fault. At any rate, he finally got away, but then over took his clonazepam one night without his cpap and got a hypoxic brain injury. He is somewhat better now, but still memory is bad, he went to an Assisted living facility, but she had him convinced that life was better off at her house, and so she kept picking him up for the nigh until he was just living with her again. He cant remember why he left.. that part of his memory is lost, however.. she is still abusing him calling him a fat ass, tells him to quit shitting himself etc.. that is the background. adult protective services was called and they were both perfect as pie for the investigation so no case was opened.
My fiancé and I have tried to visit my mom a couple times, most recently we went over to have my mom have one of her " flip out" episodes, and call me a shitty mom to my kids, i'm destroying dad.. and on and on. My dad just sat there with his hands over his ears not wanting to hear her yelling. My fiancé and I left and have vowed not to go back. The problem with this is that my dad cant drive.. so I cant see my dad anymore because I will not expose myself to my moms psychotic behavior. I try to call, but she intercepts phone calls. I can e mail if it is a day that he remembers how to use his e mail. The botXXXXX XXXXXne is for my own mental health I have to in a sense pretend he is dead. Though I would be there if something were medically wrong, on a day to day basis I think about him, and I send him an e mail to let him know this, not really knowing if he ever really reads them.
My sister. (who has just recently reconnected with my mom after not speaking with her for 3 years) due to my moms mental illness. is now the "perfect " daughter. though she lives in LA, she flies in, stays with them, organizes their home , takes them places, shops with my mom etc.. She tells me to suck it up for dads sake.
She has a different relationship with my mom, (though she has also been abused and seen her meltdowns many times). I am not willing to keep putting myself throught that torchure. Most recently. My son (oldest ) graduated from college, my parents decided to start paying for an apartment for him.( he never asks for help, and does work a full time job). My other son (younger) found out what my mom did for his brother, and although my younger son works also, thinks its unfair. THis is just one example of how my mom loves to devide people. She tells people behind their backs she wishes they were dead, she pits my kids against each other. causes my fiancé and I to fight, and now my relationship with my sister is dissolving .. when my sister comes into town alls my mom does is tell her what a piece of crap I am that I wont come see my dad.
I know that my dad loves me and I love him. He was doing fantastic on his own, happy, losing weight, and we would see him all the time until this brain event. Now, my mom looks like the marter to her friends, because she rescued him, and of course has " no idea" why he would have left in the first place. It was his memory she is sure. (whatever) the night my dad left she had a broken bottle and he had a kitchen knife. luckily he put the knife down and picked up what he could and drove away.
The reason i'm e mailing I guess is for some kind of validation that im doing the right thing. I mean .. I don't have to answer to my sister or her way of handling things.. She can think what she wants about me. I don't judge her , or her life, or anything about her. It is not my job to judge.. My sisters spouse has been phsycially abusing her for years and is a raging alcoholic so I feel that she is easily trapped in the co dependent role.
I am getting married in sept. and have no idea if my mom, dad, or my sister will even show up at my wedding.

Its a lot for sure. My sister just e mailed saying she knows she is right by how she is acting. and for me to even say to treat the situation like dad is dead is the most selfish pathetic thing ive ever done.. (nice)
please help w/ any advice.
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

From what you have described, you are doing the right thing for yourself in this situation. Your mother's behavior is toxic and has affected many people in your family, including your own children. And when someone acts out like your mother does, protecting yourself from that behavior is a smart and healthy thing to do. Many children, such as your sister, either become co dependent or fearful of protecting themselves from their parents behavior. They feel a sense of guilt and obligation to their parents just because they are their parents. What many adult children do not realize is that it is ok to protect yourself from parents when they are abusive, such as in your case.

You are right, you are not obligated to answer to your sister or even your mother. You have done all you can in the situation to protect your father but he is not willing to accept that help or even see your mother for what she is doing behavior wise. And since your sister has stepped into the role of caregiver and possibly co dependent, your father is being cared for even if the situation is toxic.

You also obviously care very deeply for your father and your family. Caring and loving them is good but it also does not mean you are obligated to expose yourself and your family to toxic behavior.

While protecting yourself is good, the guilt that comes with it is hard to resolve especially if your sister and other family members are trying to make you feel worse by commenting on your behavior. The best thing to do is limit your contact as much as you can. And if someone does say something to you, you can respond by saying something like, "I'm sorry you feel that way" and ending the conversation. That leaves them to be responsible for what they say to you.

You can also talk to your children about what is going on with your family. You can try to be as neutral as possible in telling them what is going on. The less you criticize, the more they will be willing to take what you say in and believe it. It may help to see a therapist as a family for this so there is someone there to help back you up.

You can also learn more about abusive parent and their effect on adult children. Here are some resources to help you:

Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life by Susan Forward and Craig Buck

Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You by Susan Forward

Adult Children of Abusive Parents: A Healing Program for Those Who Have Been Physically, Sexually, or Emotionally... by Steven Farmer

I hope this has helped you,
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Im crying.. I just needed that validation. Thank you.

If you only knew the relationship that I had with my dad before this whole event. He was my best friend. I could tell him anything, and he would never judge me.

I miss him so much/ and in order for me to deal with things the way they are .. for my own mental health.. this is how I have to cope.

Its a grieving process for sure.

My mom is a very evil manipulative person. And it may seem selfish to my sister.. but that is HER opinion!!

thank you for providing this feedback. I have just been so emotionally abused by her for so many years that it's time to finally say.... enough!!

unfortunately that comes at the price of losing what is left of my dad.. I know that i'm a good parent, good daughter, good fiancé and good sister. that is what counts.. :)

My sister also told me that me fiancé (who is 8 years younger then me) will likely be looking for a younger wife in a few years anyway..
I cant take these negative behaviors from people. it's just ridiculous.. So much turmoil..


I live a nice life with my dog, and my 2 grown children and my fiancé, and we have normal everyday life stressors, but minimal drama..

thank you again

It sounds like your sister might be taking on the same dysfunctional behavior that your mother exhibits. Hopefully someday she will be able to see how damaging it is and seek help in changing it.

Try to take comfort that you love your father and he knows it. And you did all you could to be there for him. You cannot control the circumstances that he is in now, all you can do is to try to let go. If at all possible, talk to a counselor or a pastor (if you attend church) to reassure yourself that you have done all you can to be there for your family, especially your father and to help you through the grieving process.

Most of all, take care of yourself. You have been through a lot. And you deserve to be happy.


May I please request that if you find the service I provided helpful at all that you rate me with three or above? Your rating is the only way I am reimbursed for my answer. Thank you so much!
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