I have a hard time dealing with that part, but the big issue is that she relies on my care and I’m worried about leaving her (she and my father are divorced and she’ll live alone when I move out). She doesn’t drive, so I usually drive her to work, twice a day, everyday. She also has type 1 diabetes and has a hard time keeping her blood sugar stable, especially at night time. (I keep telling her to test her blood before she sleeps because otherwise her blood sugar gets so low she’s close to a coma.)
I want to make this new chapter for myself and my boyfriend, but it’s difficult leaving behind my mother, who doesn’t support my decision but also needs help, because, if something happens to her, I will feel responsible for leaving her. I am NOT moving out because of her, but I need to make this change for my life, guilt-free. Should I be thinking in a way that it’s her life and she needs to figure it out? Or I should I be helping her the same as before? — Feeling Guilty
You’re inclination to let your mother “figure it out” is right to some degree. And your desire to live your life for yourself is 100% right. The challenge — and what you’ll need to do to feel some level of comfort in your decision to move out — is to help your mother “figure it out.” She has both immediate needs and longterm needs, some that you continue helping with even after you move out, and some that she will either need to take responsibility for or someone else will have to help with. Your job as her loving daughter is to sit down with her and decide what you will be able to continue doing — like driving her to and from work? — what she will need to do herself (check her blood sugar each night before bed), and what responsibilities might be better outsourced if there are resources to pay for it. Your mother may qualify for assistance that she has otherwise not been using because you have provided the assistance. Work with her as her advocate to see what she might be entitled to that would free you up both from some of the hands-on work of caring for your mother as well as the guilt of not being as available to her as you have been as a live-in caregiver.
As for your decision to move in with your boyfriend before getting married: You are an adult and it’s not your mother’s place to tell you how to live your life. That’s not to say that she won’t make snide comments or judge you or try to make you feel shitty. You can’t control how your mother reacts to your decisions. But you can control how you react to her. I would use these tactics: ignore; change the subject; remind her she’s not the boss of you.
Ultimately, I predict that having some space from your mother and creating a new chapter with your boyfriend will benefit your relationships with both of these people. As you deal with some of the challenges that are likely to come — in both relationships — with the transition, you’ll need to remind yourself that moving forward isn’t always without some hurdles. It isn’t the presence of hurdles that define whether you’ve made a good decision, but rather how well you handle them, what you learn in the process, and where the path forward takes you.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].