How many took on *parent roles* as children?

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by lurkernomore, Feb 6, 2006.

  1. lurkernomore

    lurkernomore New Member

    I am just curious about something here. I have read so often here on the board that so many of us have the caretaker personality. And it has led me to wonder how far back this caretaker role has gone for so many of us and if it is possible that all this stress and early responsibility could have anything to do with our eventual crashes and burns.

    I know that for myself, it came to a head at age 17, when my father left my mom, for the first of many times, as it was discovered he had been unfaithful. But long before that, things were going on, hushed arguments which ceased when I would enter a room and yet, the tension was always there. Dad would leave, mom would cry and I would, even as a small and confused child, try my darndest to cheer her up.

    It was not enough. No matter how hard I tried, it was never enough. But each time dad would leave, he would tell me to keep an eye on my mother, because she was not well and she needed me now, more than ever. What a wonderful job to leave a small child with, eh?

    The pattern was always the same, dad would leave, mom would stop eating. She would sit and stare at nothing, drinking pots of black coffee and chain smoking and almost always wind up in the hospital. She had an irregualr heartbeat and did everything the exact opposite to what her cardiologist advised.

    So she would be hospitalized, word would get back to my father and guilt-ridden, he would move back home. All was well, except for me. I had been "put in charge" of taking care of my mother and in my child's mind, I failed miserably.

    Eventually, they divorced and even then, I felt I should have been able to prevent that. I "mothered my mother," trying to encourage her to eat, to get out and get some fresh air, call a friend, talk to someone, get some therapy, but she would have none of it.

    Now I have fibromyalgia and my mother is doing fairly well. She seems to have adjusted to being alone and has a pretty good circle of friends while my friends seem to have disappeared. Please do not think that I am writing all this just to whine or to cast blame.

    I love both my parents and did what I did because it was all I knew. Chances are very great this had absolutely nothing to do with my getting fibro whatsoever. But as I read how many of us were thrust into the caretaker role, I do wonder how far back it goes and how you feel about it all.

    I apologize for being so forthcoming or for TMI. Perhaps I needed to purge, I don't know. But I truly am curious as to what extent we have been put into this role and how many of us wound up being the parent to our parents?
  2. lurkernomore

    lurkernomore New Member

    You really have lived a full lifetime of being sole caregiver, haven't you? Has there ever been anyone available who would be willing to give you a break, even if only for a short while?

    Nevertheless, the reality is that even if you get a break and are able to go out for short periods of time, the responsibility is always there, on your mind. Oh how your situation breaks my heart! Prayers for you.
  3. lovethesun

    lovethesun New Member

    and no child support.She only had an eigth grade education she went from 2nd grade in Canada to Kindergarten in the US-she was 18 in the 8th grade .she was the oldest of 7 children and they needed her to work then.

    ANYWAY,FLASH TO AGE 18.I wanted to go to college.I was in all the accelerated classes but I was making double what my mother was so I stayed by her.She's a great woman and she tried but I always had to help her decide which bills were the most critical. As she always worked so much and I was so responsible,I took care of the kids early.I thing that my first marriage was just trying to start my own life.


    Thanks for letting me rattle on.Linda
  4. lurkernomore

    lurkernomore New Member

    So you got to be in the parent role too? Amazing, and I expect that so many more of us have found ourselves in this position. God will bless you tenfold for putting yourself after your mother's needs. I hope you have found the happiness now that you are so deserving of.
  5. WoodstocksMusic

    WoodstocksMusic New Member

    Yes I was oldest of 5 girls.... the middle child was spina bifida and required mothers attention full time...she was blind/ paralized from chest down and basically a vegetable...but we all loved her dearly and all shouldered the work load. Mother took care of her.... I took on of the little ones and my sister a year younger then me took the other one....

    My baby sister never felt the responsibility I did...I remember mother going out to hang cloths and telling me to watch the girls....Mother died when I was only 23 (my crippled sister had died 3 years earlier.) Some how I thought that "watch the girls" meant to be responsible for them the rest of my life....

    Mother never said to youngest sister to watch the girls...she was only 12 when mother died...so she never felt the burden of responsiblity that I did...

    Funny how your birth order determines your personality.
  6. MamaR

    MamaR New Member

    Well, I had my awful childhood poured out yesterday on
    WakeMeUp's similar subject line... I can't remember the title now.

    I came back....it was POLL: How Many Years of Stress did you endure B4 Illness

    I was in a deep DOWN mood yesterday....amd I entered it...but later felt like it might not be appropriate and went back and deleted it.

    It was just telling how my mom was a alcoholic... and the abuse I went through as a child.

    I didn't have a childhood.

    It is a long story and I have to leave soon, but I now think maybe I shouldn't have deleted it. I have nothing to be ashamed about.

    You all suffered too!

    I'll be back maybe tonight.

    Love and appreciate you all SO VERY much....Mari
    [This Message was Edited on 02/06/2006]
  7. KJH_10

    KJH_10 New Member

    My mom left my Dad when I was only 4. My brother was 6 and my sister was 2. She up and left us all, moved to Florida and stayed there for 10 years.

    So my parenting role started early. Eventually my dad met a new woman, and they had 2 kids together. I was always the one taking care of them as babies. Even when I had to get up for school. Me and my sister took care of the younger siblings because my step mom has a lot of mental issues and was in bed half the time.

    Anyways she eventually got too much to handle, and my dad left her when I was 14 and my sister was 12 and my brother was 16. My brother went to go live with my mom in Florida, so it was just me, my sister and my dad. We had the younger siblings on the weekends.

    My dad worked alot, he worked shifts, so there were alot of the times where my sister and I had to take care of ourselves. My dad always made sure we were provided for, but he just was not home alot.

    So yes I would say that me and my sister as well have always taken the "parenting role", it has made me grow up a lot faster, and I am known as the "responsible" one because I have learned to be responsible at a young age. I hope this helps me and my sister with our own families, because she has a little girl on the way due in June......and I am sooooo excited!!
  8. marta

    marta New Member

    I was The Parent for as long as I can remember, not only for my mother and often absent father, but for my grandmother.

    We didn't get to be children.

    Marta
  9. lurkernomore

    lurkernomore New Member

    Thank you all for being so honest. I know the truth can often be very painful and I agree that so many of us have felt the responsibilities of the world on us at a time when we should have been the ones on the receiving end of the comforting and encouragement.

    But I am hoping that it can be a healing thing, as well, to vent some of these truths. So I am selfishly bumping the thread I started myself in hopes that it does not get buried and more folks will get the chance to see it and reply. Again, my thanks and love to all who have responded so far.
  10. Hope4Sofia

    Hope4Sofia New Member

    Since before I started school I stayed home alone. I learned to care for myself and be very responsible very early. Anyone else??

    Sofia
  11. lurkernomore

    lurkernomore New Member

    This is odd, I could have sworn there was a post here, I am thinking, from someone whose nic was Gigi and now I am not seeing it. Does anyone know what could have happened to it? Deleted maybe?

    I am trying to reply to all who posts, but my bursitis and myofacsia problems are really playing up in my traps tonight, so please forgive me if I don't get to them all today, well, technically, morning now.

    So one more question should anyone be willing to confide. Has anyone ever felt that it would have been easier to bear the responsibility had it ever been acknowledged that they sacrificed of themselves. For instance, and I know I am really speaking out here, but I would have given anything if, during all this, my mother had just once acknowledged that I was hurting too.

    To this day I would still like to hear, just once, for either of my parents to say that they are aware that all of what happened had an effect on me as well. Just once, I'd have loved it if my mom would have hugged me and said "I'm so sorry, I know you miss your daddy too." But it never happened. And yes, I may sound bitter, but really, I don't think I am. I have "done my time" in therapy and on a day to day basis, it rarely crosses my mind.

    Just now though, as I am bringing this subject up, the pain still gives me just a twinge of sadness. But nothing close to what it use to. I was just really curious as to how many of us, as another poster so eloquently stated, never got the chance to be the child, or had to grow up overnight, and were forced to stuff the feelings inside for so long that they turned toxic to both mind and body.
  12. Shannonsparkles

    Shannonsparkles New Member

    Lurknomore... I have been wanting to ask this question of our board members for some time now, but didn't know how to put it. Thank you for starting this thread.

    Mine is a sad story. Comming here, I find myself writing it again and again. I suppose it helps to air it out. Hopefully at some point I will be well enough to get some therapy for myself. At present, I am housebound and too ill to interact with people, even over the phone most days.

    What I long for now in my life is to have someone taking care of me. I cry and pray and hug myself and say, "I want my mommy! Where IS she? Why did she have to die?" And I want her back with me so badly.

    She died when I was 7 years old, from a bad reaction to a prescription med. She was 29, and she went so suddenly. One night after we had some back from bible study class, she said she wasn't feeling well. We went downstairs to watch TV. She lay down in bed, fully dressed, and pulled a blanket half way over her hip. And her heart stopped. Just like that. Dad did CPR till the ambulence got there, and he thought she would be alright because she coughed and got spit on him. It was my little brother Craig who found her dead and tried to wake her up. He was 4 years old. He used to bash his head against the wall because he couldn't get the immage out of his mind.

    I was 7 years old, and my little twin brothers were 4. I am just shaking writing abuot this. So after that, young as I was, I was the stand-in mommy of the house. I drew the baths, walked my brothers to school, and had to take over childcare of them. We had babysitters, but they were so disengaged from us that I was the one it fell to to watch the children - never mind that I was one of the children. I had horrible nightmares.

    All this time I was being abused too.

    Dad turned into a big child. He turned to me to advice, and dumped all his issues and problems onto my skinny shoulders. When I had a problem, he would cut me off and say HIS problems were the important ones. I tried so hard to please him, but I could never get through. I was an artist. Mom had always placed my art in an album and wrote in the titles for me. Dad hardly looked at my stuff. I was holding everyone's world together, and there was no one to take care of me.

    Even now Dad says to people, "Shannon really stepped up and kept this family together." He says it like he is proud of me. I think it is disgusting and wrong, all that I have been forced to go through.
    [This Message was Edited on 02/06/2006]
  13. lurkernomore

    lurkernomore New Member

    So often we keep these truths buried so deeply inside because we are so afraid that people may think we are whining. And we hear plenty enough of those accusations from people regarding the illness alone, don't we?

    I was just about to log off and something told me to pop back and see if there were any more responses to the thread and now I am so glad that I did.

    Shannon, you really have had more than a horrible experience as a child and I so wish you could talk to a professional about it. Because therapy really did do wonders for me. I also have a friend who is housebound and believe it or not, her therapist works with her over the phone. This has been done now for three years and she has really been helped so much by it.

    My biggest epiphany came during therapy when I finally realized that it was not that I was unloved. I *was* loved, to the best of my parent's abilities, considering all that was going on. Once I realized that, I was okay, because I knew that it was not about my being unloveable. It just was...what it was.

    I really hope that you can find a way to find some help, someone to talk to and pour out all your past hurts. Maybe you could call around and see if there is a therapist in your area who does sessions over the phone? Bless you lady, and know that you really are loved. We may not be your mother, but we sure do love you here.
  14. lurkernomore

    lurkernomore New Member

    I hope I don't offend anyone here by stating that I do feel as if there is a mind/body connection. Not to say that I believe for one second that fibro is all in our heads or that we absolutely must have been abused in order for it to happen to us. But I can't help but think that years and years of stuffing all those negative feelings and hurts deeply inside have to eventually come out in some way.
  15. Hope4Sofia

    Hope4Sofia New Member

    It is interesting how many of us experienced some form of extreme loss or abandonment as children. My father died of colon cancer when I was 10 but he actually left us 2 weeks before I was born. It was like losing him twice.

    I read a study that showed statistical significance between abandonment and FMS.

    I'm so sorry for all of your hurts.

    Sofia
  16. Shannonsparkles

    Shannonsparkles New Member

    Please read "Invisible Heros - Survivors of Childhood Trauma and How They Heal." I'm reading it now. It goes in depth into what psychological trauma actually does to the body, focusing specifically on people with CFS/FM. Very well written and scientifically accurate.
  17. as far back as i can remember my life was horrible and totally full of stress.
    my dad had a job in the coal mine,but liked his beer more than his job and family.my mum was always crying,had terrible migraine headaches that would last for 3 days at a time.my dad used to say to her,,your no good to me, leave,im sick of you.
    anyway mum hardly had any money coz dad spent it at the pub.i was about 7years old when i remember mum taking all us kids to visit our grandparents.we,d have to go play on the yard,no matter how wet or cold the weather was.
    mum would be telling my grandma how horrible my dad was to her,and how she cant afford to feed and clothe us all.
    my uncle who was a horrible horrible man,would take me into his bird shed and kiss me,i cant say if he ever did you know what to me,as i cant remember,and i dont want to.but this continued for many years until i bacame about 13,and he took me into the shed and locked the door this time.
    i had a feeling that something horrible was going to happen to me,but didnt know what it might be.i just screamed the whole place down,mum heard me and banged on the shed door for her brother to let me out of the shed.
    she never told him off,but years later told me that my grandma had been concered about how my uncle always sat on a chair in the corner rocking me on his knees.
    i hated my mum for keeping things secret.which they did in those days.
    i always felt that i was different from the rest of the kids,my mum always needed me to be (THE MUM OF THE FAMILY)id have to listen to her moaning about how bad dad treats her,and how is she supposed to manage with such little house keeping money.id nurse her when she was ill.
    our dad used to beat us up every weekend when he was drunk,and mum wouldnt stop him.it was a nightmare life.
    so i know where my fears came from.not being able to JUST BE A CHILD AND ENJOY LIFE.
    my children are so loved,theres no violence in my marrage,and beer,,,i might drink some at christmas,thats about it.
    my parents have passed away now,and i forgive them,mum coped as best she knew how,apparently her own father was violent due to beer,and her mum was always ill and needed to be cared for.
    ive broken the family curse,yes im living with illness,but i look after myself,my kids have enjoyed their young lives,and they actually say to me...mum we know you are ill but we admire your strength and we know you love us.
    on a sad point..because of my past nightmare life,i find it very hard to trust men,i panic if im in their company.i suppose its to be expected,but i wish i could just feel normal,whatever normal is.
    and i wish with all my heart that as a child i could have had more fun,instead of having to deal with my own mums problem sorting and caring needs.
    but on a good note,today im happy,yes i have fibro/chronic fatigue syndrome...but i also have this wonderful site and you good people,you are all my saviour,and im so blessed to be part of this site.god bless you all.


    all the best
    fran xx
  18. kch64

    kch64 New Member


    As a small child, I didn't feel responsible, but I do remember we were poor, and I could sense when my mom was having money problems. She would try to keep it hidden, but i could tell. There is an unspoken shame with poverty.

    My dad was an alcoholic and died in a car accident (in which he was a sober passenger) when I was three.

    We lived on social security survivors benefits. We usually made it o.k. but in 1982, I was 18 and the Reagan administration changed the rules for SS and said that if you didn't attend college by a certain date, that your benefits would stop.

    well, our highschool arranged for many of us to start community college to finish our highschool education, but if I hadn't done it, my mom and I would have had nothing to live on.

    My older brother had his own family and he didn't try to help my mom very much back then. He got better at it toward the end of her life.

    I always felt responsible for her care. She watched children when I was younger and made some extra cash, but I have always worked and paid our bills. Even after I got married, my husband and I helped her out. I didn't mind, but I do still feel an insecurity towards money, as if I might never have enough. However, I've never gone hungry or not had something I really needed, so I don't know why I feel this way.

    I'm glad you posted this.
    K.
  19. lurkernomore

    lurkernomore New Member

    Wow, what can I say to you except that your childhood experiences are that of which books are made. I would imagine that your homelife and childhood was one in which there was very little peace and rest, huh?

    I feel so deeply for all children in which there is a crippling disability in the family because it truly does affect evry single member in some way. And yes, I do think that birth order very often does determine an awful lot of how much responsibility we feel or take on.

    I am so sorry for what you went through.
  20. lurkernomore

    lurkernomore New Member

    Even when a poll is started, it's not unusual for folks to want to share their situations. And why be ashamed of something over which we had no control?

    I am so sorry that you had your childhood taken from you too. It almost seems to be the norm from what I have read so far. I do hope you will come back. Hugs, Lurker...(I may have to change that nickname, I never thought about it but it sounds a little creepy to me right now!)