Apparently, it isn’t normal to feel as though you are solely responsible for your family’s well-being…at least so long as you are not head of house. The sad thing is, I only discovered this very recently.
If you read my first post, you know that I have a mother, father, and a younger brother. For the past decade or so, I have felt deep within myself that I am the one who must care for my mother and brother. I never felt that I needed to care for my father, as he has always found jobs when unemployed, and it probably didn’t hurt that I don’t like my father that much, so why would I want to care for him? My mother, however, I haven’t felt is of a condition where she can care for herself. By this I do not mean that she cannot feed herself, bath herself, etc., but that she cannot financially care for herself. My mother is in her 60s and obese; I do not see how she could get a job to support herself, and since she is lacking the funds to do so without a job, in my mind, the onus of supporting her fell on me. I have fewer worries about my brother. He is smart guy, and though he is not the most sociable person on the planet, I know he could get by in the world, but were he ever in need of help, I would [have to] be there for him. (Note: my concerns about supporting my brother were stronger when he was younger, but now that he is an adult, I do not worry about him quite as much)
You may ask: “Why can’t your father support your mother?” and the answer is simply because their marriage is broken. While they still live together, they should not be. So when my brother leaves the house for school in September, it will just be my mother and father in the house, and that is a recipe for disaster.
Therein lies the situation which caused me countless amounts of stress over the years. For many years I have felt as though I must remove my mother from the situation and support her. Over the past two years, while I have been in university this has caused me the most stress. In no way am I able to financially support another person, my budget is that of a student, and it only supports me. I have considered more than once that I could perhaps drop out of school and get a job to support my family, but the thought only depresses me, because I love learning and the knowledge that I get from school.
Not so long ago, I was speaking with my counselor about my family and its dynamic. She remarked eventually “You already have a family! You have two boys and a girl.” At that moment something clicked. I did have a family, but I was the parent, not the child. This lead me to learning about parentification, adultification, and spousification. I can honestly say that I have been affected by all of these things, whether it be through being the one parents complain to, or providing money to pays bills, buy groceries, etc.. While I often felt bad for myself for having these responsibilities, and complaining to myself that it wasn’t my responsibility, it was my parents, I never understood that my complaint was valid. IT’S NOT MY RESPONSIBILITY.
I still don’t know what to do about the situation with my family, but I’ve been trying not to think about it. To say it’s not my problem seems very harsh, but I’m finding that I have to think of it that way so that it doesn’t haunt me.
Comments, questions, suggestions, and jokes are appreciated, especially about this.