Dealing with guilt for mum's life

This website is nuts. In a good way. Very well thought out. claps to team who created it. I’m basically going to write down a part of my life story for the first time ever.

I’m here because I’ve realised since moving back in with my mum, that somehow I feel more guilty now than I did not living with her. Allow me to explain in a way that probably won’t make a lot of sense:

I’m 26 years old. I have one sister who is a year younger. My parents split when I was 11. Dad was an alcoholic, mum was very unhappy towards the end of the marriage, we barely had enough money to eat, cover bills etc, arguments in the house all the time, anxiety driven all the time, and so on. For anyone who’s been through this, you get the picture. So mum decides to pack our bags and we move to the UK (where she grew up). She then blames the failing of the marriage for her unhappiness and financial struggles.

Sis and I were manipulated into hating our dad for years. But things changed. We started to see mum’s flaws. Her general depression and us being away from a father figure (despite how absent he was while we were all living together) affected my sister a lot. She got diagnosed with BPD at the age of about 20. I moved out of the flat at around 18 because I couldn’t stand the arguments between my sister and my mum. It was worse than the arguments between mum and dad. I moved around a few times. Got into 3 relationships since the age of 17, all of which lasted a year before I ended them. I don’t really do relationships with (straight) men anymore because I realised they’re all after a girlfriend, wife or sex (there hasn’t been a single exception to this). I moved around a couple more times. Mum and sis moved back to our home country.

In the meantime, I became as independent as I could. Worked hard, also started drinking. Moved back to London to go to university, 6 years late. But it was worth doing. Point being, when the pandemic hit, and I was isolated, something inside me snapped and I couldn’t cope at all. I drank even more. I attended A.A. after I thought I had a real problem. Then I quit the meetings because they weren’t addressing the actual problems in my head.

So I also moved back to my home country. Now living with mum again. Sis is independent. Dad and I have a good relationship (though we don’t talk about the past). I believe he drinks less than he used to.

So to the main issue I’m currently facing - I always felt bad for my mum. She was a victim. And then she played the victim for other things. Still does. I hadn’t really spoken about any of this with her, and had never really called her out on her own mental health problems PROPERLY until about a week ago. We’ve spoken about what’s happened over the years, but it’s always more as a way for her to repeat the same things over and over again (victim story etc). I’m so tired of feeling responsible. I don’t know why I do. I feel responsible for her. When I go and meet my friends, I feel bad for leaving her. Because I can see she genuinely feels abandoned. I’m staying with my sister for a few days, and all she does is send us videos of her cat, almost as though she’s trying to remind us she still exists, and I can’t help but think “WHY CAN’T YOU DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR LIFE SO I DON’T HAVE TO FEEL BAD FOR NOT SPENDING TIME WITH YOU”.

I’ve even brought this up to her in a polite way, asked her to try joining a club etc, but there’s always an excuse. She can barely sustain friendships, or living in one place (there’s always an issue with the landlord or something). Someone has always done her wrong. I’m so tired of hearing about it. I called her earlier and I could feel myself immediately feeling resentful towards her because I could see she was feeling lonely.

I know I can’t change our relationship. But ever since the age of about 12, I’ve been advising HER. On what I think is the logical thing to do, even on how to be more financially savvy. And she listened. She turns to me a lot. I had it in my head that I would become a famous singer, make lots of money and buy her a house one day. I gave up on that when I learned the reality of things, but still, it’s always in the back of my mind.

I wish I could spend time with her without feeling like I’m abandoning her every time I want to go to my room to do something, or go and visit family. Even that she’s made me feel bad about inadvertently, because she never gets invited to anything (my dad’s side of the family feel she did wrong by leaving even though she was only doing what was right at the time - and I don’t blame her), especially since he met his partner, and this is something she talks about often.

When she sees an instagram story, with me or my sister with family, friends, etc and she always sends a message along the lines of “aww looks like you’re having a lovely time!”, I KNOW it’s because she feels left out. I know she’s sat down wondering “why did my life turn out this way”, when really its all down to perspective. Her life is good. It could be better if she wasn’t stuck in the past.

I’m projecting anyway. I feel bad for her. I wish I could wave a magic wand and get her a husband, financial security, a home, a social life with kind people. Because she is kind, but she’s so worried about people stepping all over her, she sabotages anything with potential. She picks the wrong fights with the wrong people due to her insecurities.

It’s just tragic in my eyes. I had my first therapy session last week, and she got into an argument with her landlady as the psychiatrist was letting me through the door (I’m not exaggerating). I go in, come out, 40 minutes later and her eyes are all red and swollen from crying… I could go on and on.

I have written so much. If anyone, anyone has been through this, please tell me. How do you cope? How do you stop yourself from feeling guilty and controlling that feeling of resentment? I’m scared I’m going to keep snapping like I did with her a few days ago and it will ruin everything. And when I want to have a frank conversation with her, it’s all about her again.


Hey @Aqua95

Thank you so much for being here and sharing this with us. It sounds like there are a lot of different factors playing into the feelings you’re experiencing regarding your relationship with your mom. It sounds like you became a huge support for your mom at a very young age and sort of took on a parent role in a way with how much you would advise your mom on different things from what is the most logical thing to do to ways of being more financially savvy. Plus the fact that she took your suggestions and advice probably put even more pressure on you to be that source of support and stability for your mom even though you were still just a kid.

Divorce is hard on every member of the family and it sounds like your mom is still carrying a lot of hurt from that with the way you mentioned she sabotages anything with potential for fear of people stepping all over her. Not only that but the way she repeats the same things over when you do confront her about what you have been feeling and talking about what has happened over the years, sounds like she is still having trouble working through that part of her life.

With that being said, I can understand how you would feel guilty when you go to do anything for yourself. Even if it’s just you going to your room. You have been the person she has relied on and you have seen her throughout your parents marriage and also their divorce so it would be hard to separate yourself from it because you witnessed all of it. Although it is much easier said than done, you can only control your actions. How your mom feels and the work she does or does not put into her own healing is on her and not on you. You deserve and are worthy of living your life and doing things for yourself without feeling immense guilt for not being with your mom all of the time. She has choices that she can make just as you do and whether or not she chooses to reach out to others to find community is not on you. She is capable of making those decisions and you do not need to carry the responsibility of making sure she makes them. Like I said, all of this is much easier said than done but remembering that you have a life separate from your relationship with your mom is an important step in creating healthy boundaries with her. Especially now that you are back living with her. Boundaries can be difficult to implement and maintain, but they are so very worth it and healthy as well. These boundaries will not mean that you do not love your mom or care about her or her struggles, but rather they will allow you to take care of yourself and attend to your health and wellbeing which is just as important.

Hold Fast,

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Hi @Hannah2911. I really appreciate you taking the time to read the post and writing a well-thought out response. It means a lot. I never really thought about it in terms of establishing healthy ‘boundaries’. That’s something I’ll bring up with my therapist in my next session. Thank you again. :open_hands:

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