Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Handling Family Pressures


I am currently helping my mom through breast cnacer treatment 1 year. she is done with treatment but needing my help through some terrible side effects including becoming very emotional (which is to be expected). I am an only child and outside help has been limited even with resources the cancer center has provided outside the center.  So emotionally and physically I am exhausted not to mention my reduced income.  Anyway, I am dealing with that and doing the best I can.  Now, here's where the real question/problems come in.  My father (they are divorced) was the worst father.  Selfish, hurtful, distant and most of the time completely absent.  He constantly calls telling me about his money woes (he is a compulsive spender and gambler) and calling all of the time about how bad his health is and how he has no one to help him, he's on his deathbed. And lies most of the time.  One minute he tells me he can't work and the next time he tells me he was at work blah blah blah. And about the vacation he is planning out of the country.  I try to be calm with him and not lash out but even when I am horrible to him he calls anyway.  I try to tell him I am sorry and wish I could help, but I just can't.  He didn't even bother to tell me Happy Birthday. Then there is HIS sister, they don't speak and she has no family (besides me really) and no friends.  She was absent for 10 years because she is a nutjob.  Prescription drug addiction which I tried to get her help for and it ended in her refusing to speak to me for 10 years.  Well, she sent me a message on facebook apologizing about the past, so I agreed to accept the apology. Well, she is a really messed up lady constantly going to the doctor where they find nothing wrong and crying etc. and telling me how horrible her life is. How lonely she is. For every 5 minutes of not complaining you get about 30 minutes of complaining.  Well, my mom likes her and I detest her she's always telling me what I should do with my life and putting me down in ways my mom doesn't even catch on to even when I point it out.  So my aunt is always looking to me to help her in some way and talking about how great it is that we are family again.  YET she does nothing to make my life enjoyable or easier. So it is a real chore to be around her,she lives out of town so just assumes when she comes to town for her doctors appt. she can stay with us or we will help her in some way. Pain pills are a way of life for her every day, tones of them. Well, the way I see it my dad and aunt have no one so now that they are "sick" and in their late 60's they feel it's time to be "family" with me.  My mother says she feels bad for them and I don't.  Too bad so sad.  I have been living with a chronic illness and surgeries off and on since I was 14, but I keep pushing forward and no one listens to me complain and no one helps make things easier for me. I've always worked and kept a home for myself while maintaining friendships and volunteering some. My mom has helped financially when things were rough and I am happy to be here in any way she needs me. But when I talk about what I need emotionally she says she just doesn't understand. I am emotionally spent and my mom and I are fighting because she feels I am being cold hearted. It is causing me to have horrible outburst because no one can see my side of things. Perhaps my mom puts herself in their shoes and thinks of how horrible it would be to go through her stuff alone. How should I handle all of this?  Oh and to make matters worse my therapist just died unexpectedly.  Sorry this was so long.  Thanks for reading.

Hi, Marly, thanks for your question. You asked, "How should I handle all of this?"

---I'm not sure what you mean when you say "all this" ... that's a very open ended question, if you mean it literally, and would likely take me months to answer.

Perhaps you mean, "when I talk about what I need emotionally she says she just doesn't understand"?

---- if so, it seems as though you are expecting your mother to 'be there' for you emotionally? And, when she isn't, that is upsetting for you. Well, I hate to tell you this, but there is no law that says she has to do anything you want. I know that might sound cruel, but it is a fact that she (just like you) is free to do (or not do) anything. This is true for any relationship.

So, if you make a request, and the other person says "no", then you can either live with it, move out, or offer an alternative request.

I know this violates the unwritten rule of female communication (reciprocal emotional support), but perhaps she is unable to do so at the present time.

So sorry about your therapist. I'm sure that is adding a lot to your current stress. I can only suggest that you find another one quickly, no matter how that feels wrong. It's completely OK to feel angry / made / upset / disappointed / rejected / etc. at your old (and perhaps new) therapist. These are completely common feelings, and your new therapist will likely understand and help you through them.  

Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Bruce Borkosky, Psy.D.


any related to psychology, especially related to forensic psychology


15 years as a licensed psychologist, 15 years in private practice. My practice began primarily doing individual and group psychotherapy, is now devoted to assessments, but I occasionally do take on clients in therapy.

American Psychological Association

B.A. psychology, B.A., music, Ohio Wesleyan U., 1978 MCS, computer science, University of Dayton, 1984 MA, psychology, Miami Inst. of Psychology, 1991 Psy.D., psychology, Miami Inst. of Psychology, 1993 post doctoral training in Neuropsychology, Fielding Institute, 1995-1997

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