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Mastering Anger/Is it normal to be angry about this.

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Hello. Ive been struggling with constant anger for a while now. My mom is constantly sick and is sometimes hard for me to handle. She depends on me to read things for her, spell words, give her medicine at times, and other things. Yet, at times she's very ungrateful and acts like she doesn't care what I do for her. Last year I had a peptic ulcer that turned into a perforated bowel. I told her over and over that I felt sick but she kept telling me that it was probably just the flu and to not be paranoid. Now, I'm having some stomach symptoms that are worrying me but when I tell her about them she again says that it's paranoia. I feel like I help her so much while sick but she doesn't give me the same respect. Should I feel angry?

Answer
Hi, Ashtyn,

This certainly sounds like a difficult situation for you.

To answer your question specifically:  Of COURSE it' normal to feel angry in a situation like this!

In the last couple of years, I've been caretaker for my husband, who became quite ill and was hospitalized in 2012. I know firsthand that care-taking is very, very difficult. At times, it's like living two lives, simultaneously.  It is also very difficult to keep going, keep caring, etc. when your efforts go unappreciated. It's even harder if you are encouraged to dismiss your own needs and illnesses, in favor of theirs.

I'd like to make some observations that may help you move past this situation.

It's clear that you are in the same pattern you were before when you had the peptic ulcer that perforated. You are ill, your mother is dismissing your complaints, and you're not looking after yourself. First, ask yourself this question:  Are you willing to go through the pain and illness you'll likely go through if you don't take care of your own illness?

I don't know how old you are. I bring this up because you don't seem to be taking action on your own behalf when you know you're not feeling well. Instead, you're involved with having to have her confirm that you are ill.  A main feature of your situation that I see is that you are putting your mother ahead of yourself. There are lots of reasons why a loving person would do this. However, at this point, you are loving your mother, while simultaneously NOT loving yourself enough.

When people are ill, they tend to be focused on themselves, not others. It's actually natural for your mother to be more concerned with her own needs than yours. But YOU NEED ATTENTION for your pains and illnesses. Since she is not availabe to do this, YOU MUST MAKE YOURSELF IMPORTANT EMOUGH TO GET YOURSELF LOOKED AFTER MEDICALLY. The sooner, the better.  Go this week!

During the 41 years I've been a therapist, I have come to see our earth as a "giant school." We've all come here to learn and grow. We get "homework assignments" in childhood. We work on these until we complete them. Things are designed so we CAN complete them. One of the assignments I see that you have is about your personal power. From my observation, you have given yours away. You are not being powerful on your own behalf. Instead, you have given your power away to your mother. Things will not work in your life until you reclaim your personal power.

I had to do this in my life, too. A good way to do it is, whatever happens or whatever the situation is in your life, ask yourself "What would I need to do here in order to be powerful over myself?" At first, you may not get much of an answer. But keep asking the question. When you do get an answer--even if it is faint---to the best of your ability, do what the answer says to do. Keep going, with the intention of reclaiming your personal power, until you start feeling more powerful.

Being personally powerful is not about being powerful "over" somebody else. It's about being powerful "with" yourself! We are powerful when we follow the messages from our heart. This, in my observation, you have not done for quite a long time. Life will not go well for you until you reconnect with those heart messages and start following them. Personal power is also about setting personal boundaries. Such as:  "I will do this for you; but I'm not ready to do that for you. If you need that done, we'll have to get you to do it for yourself, or get somebody else to help you."

Anger results when you think something "should not" be happening, yet it is. Apparently, you think your mother "should not" be telling you about paranoia regarding your physical complaints, especially since she did it before and it turned out you were ill, not paranoid. Here's the truth that I will tell you. Your mother "should" tell you that you're paranoid, because that's what she does! Yes, it would be wonderful if she did something else. But she doesn't. The question is this: Do you have to do without medical treatment and attention just because your mother says you're being paranoid instead of ill?  I say "no." I encourage you to say that, too.

Can you get someone else to help with your mother? I think this burden is far too much for you to do alone. If she has insurance, see if the insurance will pay for her care some of the time. You can call on a Visiting Nurses association, the family doctor, a local hospital...find out where there are people in your community who can help people (whatever your personal or financial situation is) who are ill and need the kinds of help your mother needs. Even if you had someone come in once or twice a week for a couple of hours, it would give you time to do things that are right for you. If your mother is 65 or over, there should be lots of resources. Google "Resources for the elderly" in your community to find them.

Can you go to therapy yourself? It would be wonderful for you to have someone who can coach you in moving back into your own power over yourself. I recommend this.

There may also be some groups for people who do caretaking available in your community. Go to the county hospital and ask them for help in finding people who are in situations similar to the one you are in, who meet together once in awhile to support one another, get bad feelings off their chest, and learn new and effective ways to cope with what they're dealing with. Caretaking is HARD WORK, and it's work for which most people are not prepared.

I hope these ideas and thoughts are helpful to you. Please give up thinking your mother is going to agree there is something wrong with your own body, and just go see the doctor! Don't wait.

Will you please rate this answer before you leave the site?

Thank you for writing. I wish you the best in making these changes.

Ilene  

Mastering Anger

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Ilene L. Dillon, M.S.W.

Expertise

As a "Recovering Angry Person" and psychotherapist, I have thoroughly explored Anger and its related emotions, hurt, fear, depression and guilt. I'll give a free half-hour of coaching to anyone who can ask me a question I cannot address!

Experience

36 years as a family, individual and group psychotherapist. 15 years of teaching for California Probation Officers and Psychotherapists. Author of "Exploring Anger with Your Child" (now "The ABCs of Anger in its updated version). Personal, clinical and group work with anger, including in the parenting arena.

Organizations
C.A.M.F.T. (California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists) N.S.A. (National Speakers Association) Professional Member since 1984

Publications
Magazines: Woman's Day, Personal Excellence, Care Notes Newspapers: Marin Independent Journal, The FAX, San Francisco Chronicle, in-house publications for therapy organizations Books and CDs: Total of 17 published works (www.emotionalpro.com/)

Education/Credentials
M.S.W. from University of California in Berkeley Two California Licenses: Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Social Worker Lifetime Jr. College Instructor License in California Host of Internet radio program (since 2004)Full Power Living, focused on "awakening the world to the power and importance of human emotions" http://www.emotionalpro.com/

Past/Present Clients
Write me for a partial list; or look on my web site, www.emotionalpro.com/

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