Friday, October 26, 2018

Reflections: A House & A Toxic Relationship


The Challenge
Today's challenge is to share a bit about two events that are happening, almost simultaneously, that are affecting my life this week. 
It is about two stressors that are on their way out and some thoughts on that.  One is something I've been dealing with for over twelve years, the other one I've been dealing with for a lifetime.

The Details
First the twelve year challenge.  If you didn't guess from the post title it is about our home (pictured in below photo background).  More specifically, the house we've been living in for twelve and a half years.  On the face of it, it's the American dream.  Well, it's still the American dream, but tempered somewhat.  You see, this house has needed a multitude of repairs.  We've spent a fortune on fixes and over time it has taken an emotional toll.  While my husband has traveled quite a lot, I've been left to deal with the problems.  I'm not going to be specific, as it's up for sale.  We planned on putting it on the market this spring, but as you can see, it is not spring.  We are downsizing and relocating for my husband's job.  I've been working at clearing out the house for a couple of years, first by getting rid of a lot of accumulated stuff via eBay, consignment and donations.  When our youngest child left for college last fall, I worked on the upstairs, purging what was left from the kids.  In the kitchen, everything was pulled out of the cabinets, with more purging and cleaning.   As we got things repaired, cleaned, landscaping updated and more, we were held captive by no-show contractors, so we switched contractors and switched again.  Waiting, alone, added two to three months to our schedule.  Finally, the listing went live last night!  

The second, life-long challenge, is my mother, who is relocating this weekend.  Initially, I was going to move my mother (pictured below in profile with my grandson from a few years ago) with us to Texas.  To say she is an unpleasant person is a vast understatement.  Last summer (2017), by the grace of God, I put all the pieces of the puzzle together and believe my mother is on a spectrum of mental illness (I am not a doctor, so don't feel comfortable sharing my precise conclusion--you can draw your own).  It became increasingly difficult to be her caretaker.  She lives in an independent apartment, but I had been doing quite a bit for her as she is getting dementia, i.e. paying bills, sorting out meds, making and taking her to doctor appointments.  What makes my mother so "unpleasant?"  She is never happy.  She rips into and rants about people and things.  She uses any information good or bad that I may accidentally give her and will use it later to intentionally hurt me.  Before I go see her, I mentally prepare myself.  On good days, I get away before too much damage can be done.  On bad days, I leave feeling lacerated.  Darling Husband became more convinced moving her to Texas with us would not be in my best mental-health interest.  I approached my sister a few months ago to see if she would be willing to assume care of our mother which would include moving her back to Michigan (our home state).  To my surprise, she was more than agreeable.  (We are not very close, and I don't think she's in the "same place" that I'm in.  I also think her damage from our home life is different than mine.)  So, in a "God moves in mysterious ways" way, our moving delay helped us make a decision not to bring her with us.   My mother and sister will fly out tomorrow

The Takeaway
God made me a strong person.   Have repercussions and deficits from my childhood followed me into my adulthood?  Yes.  I'm willing to own the decisions I've made.  I'm still working through anger.  I have a husband, children, grandchildren and friends who love me.  Things aren't perfect by a long shot.  In the future, I will probably only go to see my mother if my sister calls and says "this is the end."   That would be for my own conscience.    

On the house front, we're hoping we experience an excitement for the new place and not feel all jaded.  We've lived in this community the longest of anyplace, so I'm going to miss it, but I'm so looking forward to our move.

Anyway, life is good.  Two huge stressors are on their way out of my life.  Hopefully, nothing will rush in to replace them.  Quick!  Somebody get me some roses so I can stop and smell them--Phew!  That was a close one! 




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16 comments

  1. Wow...what a awful environment, Kim.
    Luckily my mother is not like that. Annoying at times, yes. But I'm also not her caretaker....we will see how I feel when that happens.
    We downsized 3 years ago and have never been happier. In fact, I keep saying I'm ready to go smaller. Things are just things to me. And getting rid of them is so freeing.
    I can't wait to hear about your next steps...
    XOXO
    Jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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    1. Thanks, Jodie. I really hesitated on doing this post--people who have "normal moms' don't usually get it. We don't want to over-downsize, as we have five children and three grandchildren! <3

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  2. Thank you for sharing your difficult journey! You will inspired others who are going through rough times like this. God is providing for you and that's so good to hear. I wish you luck with your future.

    https://www.kathrineeldridge.com

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    1. Thanks so much, Kathrine. It's been a l-o-n-g time coming!

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  3. Oh sweet Kim, I am so happy your house is listed! I know that is a huge relief and it will be even more so once it sells!!! I suppose the best thing about the relationship with your mother is that you know what's up and you are not willing to be a part of it nor allow yourself to be abused. That is not the life that God wants for us and it's so awesome that He put your husband there to help you realize moving her to Texas with you would be detrimental. I am so glad you are free of this burden and hurt.
    Hugs to you sweet friend and we better get together soon before you move away on me!
    xo,
    Kellyann

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    1. You are always the sweetest person, Kellyann! It's a strange feeling, too, that I'm giving up on never having a good relationship with my mother. In a way (which I know isn't logical) I feel like I've failed.

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  4. Although we are not moving, I have been going through my entire house that we have lived in for over 20 years (you can accumulate a lot of "stuff" in 20 years!) and decluttering and re-decorating if needed. I've been doing about a room or two a year. And that's enough for me, as it's a lot of work. But I'm pleased with the progress I've made. As for your mom, that's great your sister was willing to take her. I've never had to care for an aging parent but I have had many friends who've had and it is very difficult.

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    1. Good for you for going through your house! We accumulate a lot more stuff than we realize usually. We have a large home, so I think I just stuff things here and there and never address them. Well until recently. Isn't it fun to redecorate and have everything feeling fresh?

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  5. What a story. I decided to never see my mother again 28 years ago. I believe that if people, whoever, only make you feel sad, just untie yourself from them. I'm happy for you that two stress factors are almost gone!

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    1. Oh, Nancy, I'm so glad to know someone else who can empathize with my experience. I want to see that she is taken care of as well as possible, but I'm done with doing it first hand.

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  6. It's tough dealing with a difficult parent. My mom was very difficult too and as she aged we came to think that there was some type of dimensia going on, but it didn't become a parent until later. For may years she was just difficult and argumentative and things like that.
    X, Julie | This Main Line Life

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    1. Sometimes it is hard to tell, isn't it? I always thought of my mother as "difficult", but it really was abusive (and I don't throw that term around lightly).

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  7. Kim, sometimes it is hard to admit the toxicity of a relationship with someone as close to us as our own mothers. But unfortunately, the reality is that these relationships can often be the most damaging. It took a lot of courage for you to recognize this, do something about it, and share it with your readers. I am sure there are many who can relate. I certainly can. My mother passed away 12 years ago and for the first 5 or 6 years after her death, I was just filled with anger and hatred about things she had done during her life and I felt guilty for feeling it or talking about it. Until I realized that there is no shame in my feelings and I was not required to idealize her just because she was my mother and she had died. Now, all these years later, I have been able to let go of the anger and just hold on to the good things. But that’s just my story. Your story is completely unique to your relationship with your mother and you must do what is best for you! Good for you for taking action.

    By the way, this post is a featured favorite on my Link Up On the Edge today!

    Shelbee
    www.shelbeeontheedge.com

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    1. Thanks for the encouraging words, Shelbee. It is so difficult to get this close to my true feelings. I think part of that is because I had to deny my feelings while growing up. I'm still in the anger and hatred part of dealing with my mother, which I know is not good for me and I'm trusting I will pass/grow through it.

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  8. Oh, Kim! I'm so glad you are getting some relief from the struggles, especially the toxic relationship. And I had to laugh about "what will rush in to replace them"... Life! My mother lives with us, and I find myself doing more and more of the caretaking (A challenge, but as expected). What I didn't expect was how hard it would be for her to take the others in our family into consideration after her living alone for about 15 years. Even after more than 5 years with us, it's still a daily struggle, and a source of constant frustration. I'm looking forward to reading more about your new start, and wish you and your hubby a lovely time to reconnect and explore!

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    1. Oh, wow, Liz. What a calling. I would like to think if we had had a loving relationship, these later years wouldn't be quite so hard. All the best to you and your family!

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