MOTHER’S DAY — FILLED WITH ALZHEIMER’S AND HATE

Angry mother tiger growls at baby tiger

Even in the animal kingdom, conflict exists between mothers and daughters. Photo courtsey of Tambako the Jaguar, http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070463@N03/6533105491/

CONFESSION

May 4, 2012 — Reading from the Alzheimer’s Reading Room another caregiver posed a problem to Bob DeMarco stating she was the main caregiver for her mother. Then, without hesitation, admitted she hated not only every minute of her caregiving duties, but her mother as well. She went on in her statement addressing all of the reasons for her emotions, expressing that she and mom had never gotten along, were never close, and now during this time of mom’s need the daughter was filled with resentment, anger and hatred.  “Ouch,” I thought. To further compound the dreary entry I read through a long list of comments stating mostly the same thing.  “Double ouch.”

ANALYZE

As a caregiver for not only my husband, Ken, with us traveling our journey for nearly a decade, I cared for my in-laws and my own mother, all of whom suffered with Alzheimer’s. With so many years involved in AD and caregiving, I couldn’t help but wonder about all of this hatred.  My feelings for these four people in my life, while understanding and experiencing a good bit of frustration, have never dipped to that lowest level of human emotions.  There were times during their illness when I had been angry — which is normal — with the three parents, long-since deceased, and then with Ken, especially Ken, who is my husband.  The man I love, who has wounded me emotionally many times because of his meanness and rejection, and physically when his fury evolved into combativeness.  Painful though it has been and is, I have always known and understood that any negativity I felt was aimed at the disease rather than at him.  However, we are husband and wife with an entirely different relationship than that between a parent and child.

MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS — DISTANCING

Certainly, we daughters can go back decades and recall the distancing time of our life when we yearned to be independent, away from under our mother’s supervision, her scrutiny, her judgment and her thumb.  That was a natural spurt of growth and development – a fledging period – you might say followed by an easing time once the mother and the daughter realized that the daughter really could fly alone.

There is also that natural competition of female vs. female, daughter vs. mother, and the other way around; also a natural period of development which can extend well into the adulthood of the daughter.  Hopefully, though, when daughters reach that stage of maturity and especially if they experience motherhood the daughter gains understanding while female-tiger feelings of protectiveness and overwhelming love develop, if not erupt, allowing her to share the same emotional framework as her mother must have felt for her new child.

Later on, the older mother may still feel the pull of control believing, “After all, I am the mother: older and wiser and I will always know best.”  Not good.  A really wise mother won’t go there.  Instead, just settle back knowing that your grown daughter can also be wise – and probably is really smart. Be proud and take joy in her adulthood. So relax for starters, put a lock on your lips and listen to your daughter, she might surprise you. After listening you may speak.  It’s called communication.

A SECOND EVALUATION

I am saddened that all of these women had experienced the same toxic relationship with their mothers as the writer of the problem. It isn’t as though I am unaware that toxic relationships do exist and there are terrible parents – fathers as well as mothers – in our imperfect world.  To ease a lot of pain felt by these trapped caregivers I would suggest you take some time and review all of those years at home with your parents – mom especially – and look for times of happiness and joy no matter how obscure.  This is the woman who gave you life and brought you into the world as a precious, innocent baby.  There must have been some nurturing amounting to survival, and perhaps love, as only she in her own limited scope was capable of giving.

ROLE REVERSAL

So, now what?  You find the roles are reversed with the daughter becoming the mother – the caregiver — and if mom has Alzheimer’s or other dementias she may have become the child.  Perhaps she is not a very nice child, not even a nice person; one without appreciation or affection – even the same mean and despicable person you remembered from long ago – which has caused the hate to flourish.

Nevertheless, in her vulnerability she needs the same nurturing care that all of humanity needs, worthy or not.  No matter how bumpy the road, no matter how dysfunctional the relationship, she is still the mother.  For that she deserves your concerned attention, respect and honor.

ANOTHER POINT OF VIEW  

From another side of the internet I found this capsule-size description of a daughter’s journey and relationship with her mother — probably written by that great writer Anonymous:

Life With My Mother

Age 6, “Mommy, I love you.”

Age 10, “Sure mom – whatever.”

Age 16, “My mother is so annoying.”

Age 18, “I can hardly wait to leave this house.”

Age 25, “You were right mom.”

Age 30, “I want to go to mom’s house.”

Age 50, “I’m not ready to lose my mother.”

Age 70, “I would give up everything for my mom to be here with me.”

As noted in the above passage of time I believe we all change, optimistically for the better.  Holding onto hate, an emotion of monstrous proportion, is a crippling waste.  The energy to go through any portion of life with that kind of negative force holed up in your psyche places an enormous burden on any and all that choose to embrace it.

HATE:  INJURED LOVE

I once heard hate defined as “Injured love.”  Not like hating liver and onions, or Brussels sprouts, but the suffering pain of unrequited love, rejection, or any of the awful feelings which can result from adverse, damaging or dysfunctional human relationships.

Could it be that many of the women on that entire comment page may have been subjected to some kind of unbearable pain which created the self-destructive hate toward their mothers.  Nevertheless, that heavy burden – like a stone – carried for years needs to be abandoned.

Forget the reason, it’s in the past and cannot be resolved in this lifetime especially when AD is involved. Difficult though it may be, throw away the weighty, repressive boulder of hate and replace it with forgiveness.  It won’t happen over night, but make every effort possible striving to make it a goal.

RESPECT

If you really can’t love her, then give her respectful care and proceed into the future as an example to your child of what a loving daughter should do.  Break the old pattern of hate by beginning a new and better one. Hard to do?  Of course, and it might be the most difficult course you’ve ever taken, but then no one said life would be easy? Just know with certainty that through the effort, you will become a better person feeling good about yourself in the long haul.

Why don’t you surprise mom, the very woman whom you have hated with a bit of love to go with your “forced” caregiving. Besides if toxic mom has some memory left your tender mercies could be returned in like manner, and they might just knock her socks off.

Originally posted 2012-05-05 03:59:46.

11 Responses to MOTHER’S DAY — FILLED WITH ALZHEIMER’S AND HATE

  • Alison Flowers says:

    Is it really hatred toward your mother or just anger, at the disease, that comes out as hatred toward your mother? My mother was a pretty good mom. She gave me everything that I wanted materially, but she was very distant and unforgiving emotionally. She has had Alzheimer’s for nine years. My daughter, who is 24, and I have been her only caregivers. I have such hateful feelings toward her that I feel she may be better off in a nursing home, but we take great care of her. She has never had a bed sore, is always clean, has a nice, clean room… I just feel guilty about my feelings toward her.

    • aromick says:

      To Alison, I notice that the date for this comment is in February. It takes me a while to do catchup with things. I do hope that life caring for you mother has improved in the last year. As I had mentioned before, caregivers are faced constantly with frustration and anger which is mostly directed, or caused by, the disease, and the feeling of entrapment. Hopefully, we can all come to terms with those feelings, and have these last years with our loved one, whether husband, wife, mother or father be one without regrets. The very best to you as you continue. Ann R.

  • Teresa C. says:

    I HATE THIS DISEASE! I will not only lose my mother once, but twice! Once to Alzheimer’s and another to death. It’s hard, I get mad, but not at my mom but the disease that is tearing my family apart. I hate seeing my mom so confused, scared and tearful because she knows she “different”. I don’t understand how my mother had to get this… Why is God letting this happen…. Why us? But at the end I don’t want to have any regrets on anything I do. I LOVE my Mother HATE the disease!!

    • aromick says:

      Teresa C. Yes we all hate the disease. Lost my mom with this disease, both of my husband’s parents and now my husband. Love them all but hate the disease. God doesn’t let this happen any more than he allows cancer to take others’ loved ones. It’s not a perfect world and our bodies are no longer perfect when subjected to all the polution we have. What’s out there, in our food and some of our life styles cause our once perfect body to react and it developes all kinds of disease, especially as we age. Think of caring for our loved ones a our assignment and a test as to our willingness. We should and can grow from these adverse experiences. Remember they can’t help where they are and can’t help how they react, but we can help them. Stay strong.

  • orenda poloma says:

    some times it is easy to forgive.my Mother left me in a foster care situation until the age of 7 .When she became pregnant with my sister she up rooted me 5 hundred miles from my for all purposes suposed mother in my mind.to live with a man who committed murder,but this was before her.Who cut up her clothes with a knife beat hell outta her and molested me .I think I had a nervous break down at 7…She only gave him up after i married at 17 and told of the molestations because my sister was fast aproaching puperty and thats when the rapes accured from this same man.My mother beat me i mean beat me even so far as to break my leg andnot get proffesional help for me .It still bothers me 50 yrs later..tells me i was fucking her husband.ectect. this man took every oportunity to abuse us mentally and physicaly as children .I was afraid of both of them.My other syblings well brothers in pen.sisters alchoholic.Im the worst daughter .mother often tell me she wishes i was in instead of brother.my brother beats hell outta all of us… between insulin shots around 30 pills a day.And continual belittlement I have managed to keep her in her home.Come to find out she is bi polar and schizphrenic.And probaby been undiagnoised for yrs.Ok Im dealing with and already suspicious alziemhers patient .compound that with the metal issues.she kicks me slaps me tells me she can take care of her self ect.Im not Bragging but it took 11 yrs of therapy to see my way clear of hate.My therapist after telling my life story for 5 yrs replied to me….you mean everyone in your family is nutts, and your the only one trying to get help.My purpose in life has came full circle and i am the better person .this i do know.

    • aromick says:

      Orenda, I am so sorry for your terrible journey through life. I admire you or reaching out and getting the help you need. It’s a shame that no one else in your family has sought help — both in the physical sense and also help with their emotional side. Home shoud be a place of peace and love for all who live there. Obviously yours mom has made some poor choices, but by getting help you will be better equipped to make good choices for yourself. Contact your local Social Service people and see if you can get help for your mom or perhaps they can suggest a facility to care for her as her disease progresses. Sounds as thought she is too much for you to handle. Allow yourself a life free from the toxic atmosphere in which you have been living. Everyone deserves to have a chance to live the good life they want and choose.

  • B.C. says:

    My mother and I were always close, I was her baby…I’m talking past tense, not because she’s dead, but because she believes(due to the disease) that I beat her up and tried to shoot her…of course this was in her mind, but it’s almost a year since then, and none of my family members will tell her the truth, claiming if they disagree she gets upset… ..others tell me the whole story is being kept alive to keep me out of her will…but I don’t care about money I just want my mom to love me again… I’ve always been the only one who wanted to care for her when got older… Mother’s Day is a few days away, and I don’t know if it’s even safe to send her anything…

    • aromick says:

      Dear B.C. I am so sorry to hear of your sad situation. That’s one of the awful things about AD and other dementia diseases they are so unfair. You are the kind daughter and if she were healed she would know that without a doubt. Don’t worry about a will. She probably had that taken care of before she became sick. At this point no attorney would make a will with her or change an old one as she is not of sound mind. I understand how hurtful it is for you. My husband would order me out of his house when he became paranoid and would hit me and his male caregiver, who helped me care for him, whenever he had a chance. I am a woman of faith and know without a doubt that where he is now (he passed 2 years ago)in a place and is healed. I will see him again and he will love me as before. I believe your mom will be the same way and will be appreciative of all of your care during her time of need. Take heart even now that somewhere in her dying mind she knows and loves you. Meanwhile, be gentle with her and when she gets in her mood try and change her mental environment by reminding her of some of the good times the both of you had together. It is a terrible and difficult disease. May you be blessed with endurance and patience. Thanks for reading. Ann R.

      • Barbara A. Cornell says:

        Hello… thank you so much for getting back to me… I had forgotten I wrote that…. I believe I was trying to work out my feelings then… I appreciate hearing that you’re a “woman of faith”…. I much suspected that… I am as well… and I am REALLY growing THROUGH this experience… it’s NOT what I would’ve chosen….but I am THANKFUL because I’ve since come to see that my REACTION may be the VERY THING God uses to save my family members….who are all lost and in need of a Savior ..I’ve been crying out to rs Him for years for their salvation … I don’t want this “cup” to pass….. if it’s His will….because THAT’S where I WANT to be….God BLESS you for your service! (-:

        • aromick says:

          It’s good to hear from you. You seem to be doing all right with your experience at this time. No one ever said it would be easy, but it will be worth it in the long run. Caregiving is a learning experience, and that’s for certain. I know that I could never have gotten through it had I not turned to my Savior for help. Knowing that he truly loves me is always helpful so we can ask Him whenever we need his guiding hand. By your loving example to your patient you will show your family that caring and loving the victim is the only way. Remember that they can’t help how they are, but we can help them. The best to you in your continued endeavor, and pray always for His help.

          • Barbara A. Cornell says:

            I want to thank you again for your help when I was having a hard time…. I wanted to write you and tell you how the Lord filled my heart with so much peace tonight…. it’s the peace that surpasses all understanding that can ONLY come through Jesus… and I know this because a few hours ago….my mother passed away… I had a dream…. and God let me know I was going to go through something but He would watch over me and give me rest in it….. and I’m feeling really blessed because my mother’s last words to me were “I love you to” and her mind seemed clear… just praising God and wanted to share! God bless! (-:

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