My other problem is my sister, who is 50 years old and with whom I have never had a good relationship. She is making life as difficult as she can for me and refuses to speak to me now. When she comes to visit my mother, which is in my house, she calls me disgusting and says that she “never thought I would turn out like this” (whatever that means). It is almost ruining my relationship with my girlfriend before it’s had a chance to get started. My mother is worried I am going to leave her and my brother and go off with my girlfriend. I have no intention of doing this, but I feel that my mother is being totally selfish and that my sister is being a bully!
I would appreciate any advice you could give me as my girlfriend is even willing to take on my Down’s syndrome brother as well as me, and yet we are being treated so badly! — Mom’s Full-Time Caregiver
You say your girlfriend of seven months has been over to visit you on “several occasions” which leads me to believe she doesn’t come over often. “Several occasions” in seven months is what — maybe once a month? If that? So . . . one would assume she is not privy to most of what is said in your home and the behavior exhibited. She really only knows what you tell her. So if your sister’s behavior and words are “almost ruining” your relationship with your girlfriend, stop relaying to your girlfriend what your sister says. And if your girlfriend happens to be present when your sister is over, change that. In fact, is there any reason YOU need to be home when one of your siblings comes to visit? If you don’t get along with them and they create such angst for you, take advantage of their visits and use the time to get a break from care-giving. Go over to your girlfriend’s home . . . or go on a date. Minimize the time you spend with the siblings who cause you grief and minimize — or just completely avoid, if possible — ever having your girlfriend over to your home where you are afraid your mother will treat her dreadfully. And if it can’t be avoided, explain to your girlfriend that your mother is a 95-year-old woman who is likely not 100% mentally there and that the things she says should be taken with a big grain of salt.
And you know, if your girlfriend can’t deal with a few crazy things your very old mother says on the “occasional visits” she’s made to your home, I wonder how prepared she really is to “take on your Down’s Syndrome brother” and you (whatever you mean by “taking you on”). I’m not comparing your brother’s needs and behavior to your mother’s, but simply suggesting that both family members are high maintenance and require a certain amount of patience, compassion, and understanding, not to mention acceptance of behavior that might otherwise seem inappropriate from someone else. Regardless, I would spend a lot more time getting to know your girlfriend and forming a bond with her before even beginning to entertain the idea of one day living with her and your brother together and letting her help take care of him. Presumably, this wouldn’t happen until after your mother is no longer with you, right? But maybe you are considering a nursing home or some other alternative living environment for her in her final years, which might not be a bad idea either. Perhaps some of your seven siblings would be willing to help find and pay for such an option. And then you could have a little more privacy in your own home to further develop your relationship with your girlfriend. And your siblings could visit your mother without bothering you.
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