How to deal with difficult family issues in unexpected circumstances
What a place to be in! Everyone was asking, what, where, and how this came about? If I’m honest, it was very much in the background for me, I had so much going on already.
I was attempting to cope with mum, who herself was struggling with dementia, and I wasn’t coping with her or those around her.
Five years ago, when dad passed away, I thought I would be set free, yet the opposite happened, I found myself entangled in a web of manipulation to a level I hadn’t expected. I was deep inside it before I even recognised what it was, ensnared by what felt like a spider, a darkness entrenched throughout our family, unaware by many it was there. I still didn’t recognise it after all these years, my focus it seems was in the wrong place. Despite finding myself here, God walked with me, standing by my side on the precipice I sometimes found myself on. Despite this, I didn’t see the plan God had for the future, and things looked bleak at times.
I knew I wasn’t alone in having a relative with dementia and just how hard it was, I wasn’t even personally caring for mum like so many were; for this I was relieved. To many this may sound harsh, but this was a journey I had been on for a long time and God had been with me even when I hadn’t realised it, but He showed up in a big way last year.
My mind, especially in the last year, had been taken back to my childhood, I was forcibly reminded of events I would have preferred to forget, things done to a daughter by a father, all the time not knowing my mother was aware of what was happening, or at the very least suspected. Then mum was told by nan, who I’d gone to for help, to ask if I could stay with her, what was happening to me. I waited an age for the anger, which eventually erupted, then the silence, nobody spoke about anything, to ask how my day was, how I was feeling, and nan refused to let me stay, nothing more was said, I was punished by anger, silence and nothing changing. She knew! This was always hard for me, but then I saw her as a victim too, her being under his thumb. I was wrong, this relationship was one of control from one side, manipulation from the other, the perfect combination. He thought he was in control of her, when in reality, she was manipulating him. She stayed; I didn’t understand how, especially when he got his revenge by doing to nan what he’d done to me. Even then, with a completely devastated family, she stayed.
So, last year, for me, was never going to be straightforward, it was painful, especially as I’d found myself caught in mum’s web of manipulation along with others. I had to help extricate them as well as me. I could not have done this alone, I had support from other family members and friends. My son and his girlfriend moved in with me a few months before the pandemic. God’s first plan, company and support for me as I tried to find my way forward. My sister, who helped with phone calls when I no longer could, God brought her in just at the right time, and Christian friends who were there, often on a daily basis, albeit forced to be at a distance, holding me up in prayer, and just being there, along with my counsellor, all there at precipice moments.
Then came the point when it was no longer viable for mum to be at home; not our decision alone. She didn’t want to be there and the constant call outs to the emergency services because she wanted company became too much. She had a fall just after lockdown and was taken to our local hospital. I had spent many hours trying to find the right place for mum to live, I had visited sheltered housing complexes with her before the virus, but it was now obvious these weren't suitable, long term care was needed. She was transferred from our local hospital to another, smaller one, further away, where she stayed for several weeks.
For me, this was a blessing because lockdown was in full flow so I wasn’t able to visit, God gave me time to breathe, I was mentally and physically exhausted, already dealing with my own disabilities as well. Then God sent a fairly forceful woman, He knew I wouldn’t cope with someone like that, but sent her anyway. At the time I didn’t understand and questioned Him, even as she was talking at me, not to me. They had a place for mum, it was further away than I had expected, I questioned her as to whether there were nearer ones, she said there are a few but many aren’t taking people at the moment because of the virus so I needed to make a decision quickly before this place disappeared. So, I came off the phone saying I need to look into it, shocked and not sure what to do. I looked up the place, checked its care levels, discussed it with my son’s girlfriend, who worked in care, God’s provision for certain. She said the levels were good, so I rang my sister and she looked at it. Also, I don’t drive so it had to be easy to get to, it was, it had everything mum needed, and everything I needed to give me and the rest of the family peace of mind. God walked this path with me, He gave me answers in unexpected places, He enabled me to care for mum as best I could despite the past, despite, even the present circumstances. It all fell into place; God was my anchor in times of the storm.