Question: Dear Luise: I can’t believe I’m writing this but I’m not speaking with anyone about my feelings and as I’ve found myself in this mood now I’d better continue quickly. I’m 48, and I’ve lost my mother eight months ago after a long illness. She’s been riddled with arthritis for almost half her life. I’ve lived alone with her for the past 25 years, caring for her as she could not walk but only sit or lie in bed. I never did get a job as I could not leave my mother. It is something I accepted and didn’t see it as a sacrifice. It was a proper and moral thing to do, although to some it may sound silly. Well I’m not from the States, so such situations are I suppose viewed differently in different cultures, though these days people would laugh at it anywhere. But I loved my mother, though I was at all times aware I was living on borrowed time. We lived off her pension – a good peaceful, calm existence. For about 20 years I was never able to leave home for more than hour and a half, but I didn’t mind, I never had any friends anyway, and such enclosed life suited me anyway. The last two years her health worsened with pulmonary complications and after much suffering (I stop myself reminiscing or tears start without fail) she died..but peacefully thank heavens, here at her home and not anonymously in a hospital. But I was alone through all that time, had to do everything myself without help, even dress her afterwards. I now feel I’m so much scarred with pain and I always summon willpower to stop thinking about it or tears start. I’ve lived off some savings all this time, didn’t even think about a job as people of my age get sacked rather than employed, besides what is my work experience, but also I don’t have the interest or desire to fight for myself at this time in my life. What I mean is, supposing even I had a job or no worries money-wise, I still feel deep inside me that I loved my mother too much to be able to go on living without her. I suppose people are now laughing on the floors reading this, how hugely funny from a 48 year old man..yet I know what I knew for the past twenty years -that my life would end with my mother’s. So what is the question? I don’t really have one, I just felt the urge to talk with somebody, to find out if I did right, I mean why would people laugh if someone sacrifices one’s life for someone else? M.
Answer: Dear M.: You have done with the first half of your life what you chose to do. Some would commend you and some would see it as arrested development. How others see you is not the issue. The issue is that you have led a peaceful, useful life and many who might laugh, haven’t done as well.
Now you find yourself where you knew you would end up…alone and lacking the ambition or energy to get on with your life as an independent person. What you do with that is up to you, of course. Your life isn’t over unless you say it is…and your mother gave you life; remember that.
I think your sharing this with me is very important. And I think you might benefit from interacting with a supportive, online community…if you can stand that my Web-forum is about 99% women, (mostly because a lot of men don’t want to face and deal with their feelings.) You would be very welcome, of that I can assure you. www.WiseWomenUnite.com Blessings, Luise