Adult staying at home to help financially support parents, parents split up, total financial chaos ensues... NOW how/when am I going to become an independent, grown-up adult?
posted by so_gracefully to Human Relations (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have been living at home with my mom and stepdad, because neither my or my stepdad's jobs pay enough to fully cover a household's expenses. My mom was laid off from her job about 8 years ago and hasn't had another job since, but has also, at this point, drained whatever available savings and credit she had available to her (she spent a bit of that time giving hospice care to my grandma, who moved in with us for a couple years and passed away in 2008--so there have been some bumps in her larger plan of "get another job ASAP", but she also has not previously been very serious about trying, from what I have been able to tell). Between my stepdad's income and mine, we could handle the bills and get by, and although I have basically hated living at home as an adult, I've tried to focus on the fact that I'm helping take care of my family and that it has benefited all of us.
So my mom decided a couple months ago that she was breaking up with my stepdad. She asked him to move out, and he did. This came as a pretty big surprise to me, although I know that there has been plenty of tension. So he's gone, and I make NOT NEARLY enough to pay the bills, so I decided my plan was to give notice at my job (I am still working full-time there, basically until I get something else, because they really need me, and I still really need the tiny income I have now anyway) and look for another one. Luckily, within a few months, I can probably get a job that pays about double what I am currently making, although will be doubly stressful, but I'm willing to do it because I realize it is also part of my larger goal of moving out on my own as soon as I am able. My mom is also ostensibly looking for a job, but I have no clue what's going on other than that she doesn't have one yet.
When I get this much-better-paying job (which I have kinda needed to do for a long time anyway), I will be financially able to move out and live on my own completely independently of my parents, but I feel like I can't do that YET because I have to provide for my mom. I do cognitively understand that I don't "have to" take financial responsibility for my mother and that she can be getting a job to deal with her situation and choices, but obviously, humans are complex. My mom and I have what could be described as a pretty "enmeshed" relationship; she raised me on her own because my dad passed away when I was a baby, and although she had been together with my stepdad for ten years by the time I was starting college, he didn't even move in until then. She and I were a little two-woman team for a long time, and have depended on each other a lot. In the past several years, though, I have naturally grown and matured a lot, and depend much less on her and much more on myself (except for the room and board, obviously). I have a truly wonderful boyfriend and a few close friends who I am able to lean on when I really need support. I also already have a therapist, although I am not going right now because of the expense.
Lately, the biggest stress has been that my mom is constantly picking passive-aggressive fights with me and telling me how much she hates living with me, basically pushing me away as hard as she can. And then she alternates that with pulling me close and wanting to talk like we usually do, or wanting me to go on a walk with her, whatever. This is part of a larger pattern that I can see over the past few years--she has been slowly making her (already very small) circle of relationships and support much smaller. I'm doing my best not to add fuel to the fire at all, trying not respond antagonistically when she yells at me, just trying to keep my eye on the primary task of getting more money so that we don't have our electricity and water shut off. I have some pretty fair concerns about her mental/emotional health at this point, and don't know how to be actually helpful to her, other than to just back off and encourage her to call her few close friends to talk.
My specific question is:
How do I figure out where to draw the line between staying here and financially supporting my mom as best I can, and attempting to preserve my own emotional health by getting the hell out? I'm 27, I'm fully emotionally ready to be on my own, and will soon be financially ready too, but I have no idea how to leave her to fend for herself when she's demonstrated that she's not able to do that right now.