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Should I stay or should I go? Now?
July 9, 2012 12:34 PM   Subscribe

How should I resolve this dilemma between family and personal / career fulfillment?

Fellow 'Fites, I feel stuck in a very hard place and I desperately want to get out of it.

My parents are in their late 60s / early 70s, and they are starting to show their age. My mother in particular needs a lot of help as she is paralyzed from the waist down and hence wheelchair-ridden. Currently she is hospitalized with a serious, potentially life-threatening condition, but at least she is in stable condition now.

As they are getting older and less independent, I feel obligated to stay home, or at least in my hometown, and help them. Problem is, I'm in my early 30s and have no job and not even a career path to speak of. When I think about a potential direction I want to take, I see that I need to get out of this city because it doesn't have much at all to offer in this area of interest. Besides, my resume is very weak and needs filling -- yet there is nothing in the general vicinity to fill it with.

You could say that this problem is easily remedied just by finding a job and moving to a neighboring city or commuting to and from home. But I hate driving long distances or on highways. I repeat, I hate driving long distances or on highways. It's the stress of always running about, of always racing against time. It's also the fear of getting into accidents and becoming paralyzed like my mom is.

Finding an Internet job / online job / work from home is not optimal, as I spent too much time at home as it is.

Hiring someone to take care of them, ie an au pair or some such is also not optimal, as their English is not great and they are generally uncomfortable with people outside the family anyway.

There's also personal fulfillment. There seem to be very few people my age in this city, and certainly very few my age who are just as lost, just as unemployed and feeling just as hopeless as I am. And there are not very many potential life partners here. Who would be interested in a 30-something who doesn't even have any direction in life?

So my question is: should I stay in my hometown or not?
If I do, I can more easily help my family, but personal fulfillment suffers and I'll worry every day (as I already do now) about my career. If I don't, I'll hopefully grow wings to let me and my career fly, but there will always be a nagging guilt that I should have stayed home to take care of the 'rents. I feel that perhaps I should wait longer, at least until my mother's condition improves, but I also feel that I should leave now and that I am wasting my time away.
posted by ditto75 to Human Relations (49 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
What do your parents think?
posted by OmieWise at 12:38 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


OmieWise, they just want me to be happy, which means me leaving. They're not the kind to put pressure on others to help them, but at the same time it's obvious that they can use it. They also probably don't see how much they need help (if not now then definitely in the future), since it's them we're talking about anyway.
posted by ditto75 at 12:45 PM on July 9, 2012


If you moved to another city and got a job and got settled there, would your parents be willing to move (with your help, obviously) closer to you?
posted by DestinationUnknown at 12:47 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thought #1: well, is there any possible way your parents could relocate WITH you?

Thought #2: your problem, as I see it, is not "I live in a small town". Your problem is "I feel directionless and unfulfilled". While moving to a bigger town MIGHT help things, it's not the ONLY thing that could help, nor does it necessarily get to the heart of the issue. I think it's entirely possible to find direction and fulfillment no matter where you're located. It can be EASIER in certain places, sure, but it's POSSIBLE in most of 'em.
posted by julthumbscrew at 12:47 PM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


How entrenched are they? Can you pack them up and move them into an assisted living facility near where you land for your job?
posted by skittlekicks at 12:48 PM on July 9, 2012


Hiring someone to take care of them, ie an au pair or some such is also not optimal, as their English is not great and they are generally uncomfortable with people outside the family anyway.

What about a home health-aid? I mean, uncomfortable or not, they certainly need one and you have a life to get on track. Plus, the home health-aid won't be there all the time -- just a few hours a day, probably -- and will be a great help to them. I don't know anyone with aging parents/grandparents who doesn't have one really. Plus, Medicaid or Medicare (I get the two confused) tend to cover completely.
posted by griphus at 12:48 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, home health aids come in all manners of cultures and languages. If your parents want one that speaks their language, however, they need to make sure to never speak English to anyone when dealing with the company. That's the only way to guarantee it.
posted by griphus at 12:50 PM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


You need to do what's best for you. Eventually your parents are going to die or become too much for you to handle and you'll be in your 40s-50s still without a career or a real job and employers aren't going to care what a dutiful son you were. Do you think your parents want that for you? As much as they might need/want your help right now, they surely don't want you to jeopardise your future to stay home and take care of them.

TBH it sounds like you know what you need to do but you're using your parents' infirmity as an excuse to not put yourself out there. Your parents will either manage to take care of themselves or they will cope with a home-helper. If language is an issue, its not out of the realm of possibility that you could find a carer that speaks their language. Do you real think they would put their dislike of non-family members over your happiness/future security?
posted by missmagenta at 12:50 PM on July 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Finally, if taking care of your parents is going to make your life shitty (not hard but like, genuinely shitty) you need to put yourself first and them second. It's hard, you'll feel guilty, but it's also the only way you're ever going to get your shit together.
posted by griphus at 12:51 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Moving them to another city with me would be a HUGE logistics issue (mother is paralyzed and has other medical problems as well). Plus they have a ton of junk that they don't want to get rid of. Comfort and all. Plus they're old and tired.

Assisted living facility = no deal. They *hate* not to being able to get about on their own. (Don't they keep you locked up in assisted living facilities? Aren't they the same as nursing homes? Not clear on the nomenclature)

Yeah, we do have a nurse-type who comes to help my mother on occasion, but I know it's something they're not incredibly comfortable with.
posted by ditto75 at 12:53 PM on July 9, 2012


You have to live your life. Your parents didn't bring you into this world to see you hold yourself back because of them. Taking care of them is not taking care of you...and what good are you as a potential caretaker if you start to hate yourself because you're not trying to live?

Not to mention how they would feel if they saw you stifled because they're aging.

Do what you can, but it sounds like you need to get out and spread your wings.
posted by inturnaround at 12:55 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just read missmagenta's and griphus's answers -- I want to agree. But yeah, I feel guilty about it, which is why I'm wondering if it would be smart of me to hold off just a little longer before venturing forward. (Note here I've already held off for 2 years... which is why I need to get out NOW.)
posted by ditto75 at 12:56 PM on July 9, 2012


I want you to know that I empathize with your situation - I am an only child and my parents are in their 70s and have health issues, so I know exactly how you feel in terms of feeling responsible for them.

One advantage of small towns is that labor is cheap. Currently my parents have a maid/surrogate family member who comes by twice a week to clean and help with various things around the house.

Growing your career is (in my opinion) a better long-term solution since the higher income available in cities will allow you to help take care of your parents indirectly. Having a "cushion" of disposable income helps solve a lot of life's little problems; you'd be surprised at how many. Additionally, once you are established and have a solid career, you can invite your parents to move closer to you, making it easier for you to check in on them.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 12:59 PM on July 9, 2012


You're obviously Deeply Unhappy with the status quo, so no, you shouldn't just stay there continuing the way you have. That leaves you two options: stay and do something different, or go and do something different.

You say in your most recent update "which is why I need to get out NOW". Uh, there's your answer. Go, do what you can from a distance. Yes, you may feel guilty sometimes, but you're currently miserable. Guilty beats miserable, especially if getting out helps you get the resources (ie money) to be able to help yourself and possibly them in the future.

Go ahead, we give you permission to save the only life you can: your own.
posted by ldthomps at 1:00 PM on July 9, 2012


But yeah, I feel guilty about it, which is why I'm wondering if it would be smart of me to hold off just a little longer before venturing forward.

It's also possible that the opposite is true: if you left now, and got some more work experience, money, and personal fulfillment, you might be in a better position to help them (whether by moving back or paying for care, etc) in a few years when they're older.

My version of it is somewhat different than yours, but this dilemma totally sucks, I know.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 1:01 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, it would not be smart to hold off just a little longer. Because that "little longer" will turn into ten years as quickly as it turned into two.

Your parents are adults. Sadly, they are old and tired and disabled, but they are adults. And adults put up with shit with which they are uncomfortable if putting up with it is the best case scenario. So they will have to learn to deal. And you will learn to be more assertive with them as time goes on. After my mom died, it took me a while to get my act together enough to tell my grandmother that this is what will be happening regarding that, and if she doesn't like it, tough shit. And I felt guilty, and she nagged, but, at the end of the day, if you're the only adult of reasonable means to get something accomplished, you have to embrace that role. Just because they are the wishes of your parents does not inherently make them the correct choice for everyone's welfare.

How often is "on occasion"? Hours are doled out based on your state and city, but over here they would qualify for at least six hours a day, five days a week.
posted by griphus at 1:01 PM on July 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


You should go. Now.

You seem really resistant to the idea and I totally get it. It's a really tough position you are in. Your parents could live for another 20 years. You might be 50 when they die. 50!

If you want to be really forward thinking, you could look at cost of living calculators for retirees and then see if that meshes for better job prospects/environment for you. You go first and then you can invite them to come out with you. Look also at major hubs and price of frequent airfare.

Your parents should be taking advantage of every social service available to them. You need to let them get comfortable with home health aides and other services.

Sit down and envision your life in the future as you want it. Then start a list of steps, working backwards to where you are now. Then start on that first step. Don't play the "what if" game. Yeah, moving someone across the country with a disability is a bit more of a hassle than, I don't know, someone without a disability? But, it's done every day, no doubt.

Look, you don't get a do-over. They want you to be happy and fulfilled. It does honor to your parents to live up to your fullest potential. Think about what you want and talk to your parents about getting there. Take your guilt and put it on a shelf. You can unwrap it later if you want.
posted by amanda at 1:01 PM on July 9, 2012


Where is it written that your parents get everything they want (clutter, staying in their home, no "strangers") and you get to sacrifice the prime building years of your life?

The great thing about life is we all get to live our own. Go live yours.
posted by cyndigo at 1:02 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was in the same position in my early 30s. I had returned to an island off the west coast of Canada after spending 10 years in Japan. At the time, I thought that I didn't want to spend more time in the "English industry" (my wife and I ran a cram school, and I taught part-time at a college) and wanted a real "career".

After a lot of struggling and effort, three years after I had returned I transitioned to a full-time management-level job in government. I then wondered why I had ever wanted a career. A couple of years later I was downsized, and I went back to square one, where I had been when I arrived in Canada.

I found that by my late 30's, having a career wasn't so important anymore. Being able to support my family was more important, and remaining engaged with my wife and children. Career satisfaction? I'm happy if I can pay the bills and save for the future.

I think you really need to focus on things that are fulfilling to you, and not chase after some sort of abstraction like a "career". If you need to get out of the house, get out of the house.

If you need to stay close to your parents, stay close to your parents.

From your previous posts, you seem to have an aptitude for, or an interest in data, etc. Why not try to get some sort of IT certification, perhaps as a programmer?

You may need to freelance and work out of your home for a bit, but in a couple of years you might be able to find work in an office or something.

But you have a lot of requirements: get out of house, support parents, no commuting by car, living in a remote location. Something has got to give.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:02 PM on July 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


wolfdreams01 brings up an issue: sure, moving to a bigger city might help me make more money which in turn gives me a cushion and gives me a chance to support them financially -- but that's only if I get a job. As it stands now, that's not likely, because like I said my resume is kinda empty, especially since I spent the last couple of years home doing very little. So even if I *do* move away, financially I'll likely end up worse off and just ilking money off of them, who have the ginormous medical bills to pay.
posted by ditto75 at 1:06 PM on July 9, 2012


Why do they have large medical bills at their age? Are they receiving Medicare and/or Medicaid and/or SSI?
posted by griphus at 1:08 PM on July 9, 2012


Oh, and SSDI, as your mother is paralyzed.
posted by griphus at 1:08 PM on July 9, 2012


KokoRyu, I totally agree with fulfillment. Although I'm not entirely set on what fulfillment will be for me, at the very least it means leaving this hell of a city. By the way, aren't IT people a dime a dozen? Considering how career-less and job-less I've been in the recent past, I just cannot bring myself to be just another fish in the pool.
posted by ditto75 at 1:10 PM on July 9, 2012


PS KokoRyu -- I didn't say no commuting by car AT ALL, I just don't want to spend 2 hours of my waking day bhind a wheel, as apparently many in major cities do.

griphus, she does get SSDI but it doesn't seem enough. And now that she's hospitalized, things could get worse financially, and quickly.
posted by ditto75 at 1:12 PM on July 9, 2012


Is there a reason their Medicare isn't covering it?
posted by griphus at 1:14 PM on July 9, 2012


griphus, I'll memail you
posted by ditto75 at 1:18 PM on July 9, 2012


Why don't you contact the local Spartanburg technology council? They can provide insights into the kinds of skills local technology (ie, "IT") employers are looking for, and can also provide advice into career paths into the tech sector.

There's actually a tech skills shortage where I am located, just as there is a looming trades shortage. If you can do math and can fix or make things, you can look forward to a job. Just not necessarily in home construction.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:19 PM on July 9, 2012


But I hate driving long distances or on highways. I repeat, I hate driving long distances or on highways.

If you can't overcome a basic issue that most people manage to deal with, the odds of you putting together a successful career will be low, as well.

, I just don't want to spend 2 hours of my waking day bhind a wheel, as apparently many in major cities do.

The point of living and working in a major city is that you don't have to drive in a car because you're close to work. So you could move to that major city and visit your parents on weekends. Granted, you'd have to drive to see your parents, but that's part of growing up-- sometimes you have to do stuff that's not your first preference, because you have to balance off other obligations.
posted by deanc at 1:19 PM on July 9, 2012


deanc, yes driving is a "basic issue" -- like I said, I don't want to spend a major chunk of my day behind the wheel, as that means a worse quality of life. (My idea of a good time is not saving my life from stupid drivers.) And if I were to get into a major accident, I'd have no one to help me out (see above with parents).

The point of living and working in a major city is that you don't have to drive in a car because you're close to work.

I disagree. I know people who live in huge cities (New York, Atlanta) who still have to commute via automobile.
posted by ditto75 at 1:25 PM on July 9, 2012


My mom is in assisted living (no, they don't lock you in, they only do that for Alzheimer's skilled nursing units) in another state. She and I have lived several states apart for years - I left long before she needed help. I have an established life in my state of residence now and I don't plan to move closer, particularly with the job situation as it is.

I can't get there in under 7 hours, and I'm her health care proxy and POA. It's challenging, to say the least. It can be done but it's not desirable.

If you are going to act as your parents' health care proxy or agent (I assume that they are taking steps to have a health care proxy AND an agent under POA for financial affairs), it would be wise for you to stay within a reasonable drive of your parents, 4 hours max. That's the way I would have it if I could do it all over again.

If there is someone else reliable who can act in that capacity, then you'll have more flexibility. And if your parents aren't drawing up that documentation, well, you have even more flexibility. It's up to them to do that, but it would be good of you to recommend it to them even if you don't want to act in that capacity yourself.

Finally, telecommuting <> working from home. Many libraries, restaurants, etc. have WiFi these days, or you can always tether a laptop to a smartphone (which would be a cost of doing business, maybe even tax-deductible, if you chose to telecommute as an independent contractor).
posted by Currer Belfry at 1:26 PM on July 9, 2012


"Assisted living facility = no deal. They *hate* not to being able to get about on their own. (Don't they keep you locked up in assisted living facilities? Aren't they the same as nursing homes? Not clear on the nomenclature)"

No. You need to do some research. My neighborhood actually has an "assisted living facility" on the edge of it. They offer semi-detached houses with garages on beautifully-maintained grounds with small personal gardens and a large community garden plus plenty of very well-maintained walking paths; independent apartments in a large gothic-y looking building with and without kitchens; assisted-living apartments, with and without kitchens, in the other wing of the same building where someone can come in and help you with daily living activities as needed; and then they have a wing with a locked ward (for patients with dementia) and a hospital ward (for patients needing 24-hour care). They can do hospice in any of those locations. Everyone in the facility can choose to eat at the big community dining room so they don't have to cook. They run community programs basically 24 hours a day in the community center so there's always stuff going on. About half of the residents have their own cars, and another quarter use the facility's bus-and-car service. (Another quarter don't go anywhere.) It's part of our very walkable urban neighborhood and within a quarter mile of two schools; lots of the folks volunteer at the schools to keep busy. They can walk to the pharmacy. We see old couples walking around our neighborhood all the time, and we take the kids to stroll through the gardens there. People who live in the semi-detached houses can have nurses and CNAs come in as needed (maybe once a week, maybe three times a day), and they all have emergency buttons to get emergency help. If necessary, they can move from the houses to the apartments to the hospital ward with little drama or upheaval. Plenty of people there are retired couples who just didn't want to deal with upkeep of a yard anymore and be able to have at least some of their medical care "at home." They drive out to the golf course and golf every day.

Also, what about carpooling, or public transit? Are those out of the question? I'm not totally clear on what acceptable commuting circumstances are to you. You don't HAVE to drive if you live in New York City; most people don't. In a mid-sized city you can probably live close enough to work (for a reasonable amount of money) to walk or bike.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:28 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure what area you are in but if you google your area + Department of Aging you will get some helpful links. If you are in California there is On Lok which is a great service especially for elders who are Asian/Pacific Islander or Latino.

Do your parents have anyone else but you? Any family, friends, or church? I'm an only child of parents who had no other living non-estranged family and did not go to church or establish much of a social network so I know from experience how sucky that can be. Don't hold yourself back and live your life for them - it's great to be a concerned, helpful adult child, but don't sacrifice, or you will find yourself at fifty with no work experience, no spouse, no life - and that is not a happy place to be.

In terms of work experience, have you tried researching the job market in your target city? Can you get some temporary or contract work to get your foot in the door? Can you get work at non-peak hours so when you drive you don't hit rush hour traffic?
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:28 PM on July 9, 2012


Currer Belfry, good suggestions about healthcare proxy and POA. Might have to mention this to them. Thanks.

Eyebrows McGee, they couldn't care less about gardens and volunteering at schools and community kitchens. They're immigrants who prefer cooking their own food. Gardens? They don't do that; my dad only goes outside to get the mail. (Mom is paralyzed and cannot leave the house.) Ditto with golf and school volunteering.

I wouldn't mind public transit at all -- to me that's actually a plus to living in the bigger cities.

Rosie M. Banks, yes I do have a sibling but s/he is largely out of the picture, living in a far-enough-away city and with a high-powered career. Parents are uncomfortable bothering hir and do so only when necessary, so a lot of the responsibiility falls on me.

Yes, oh dear god yes have I researched the job market here. There's nothing. NOTHING. At least nothing that I'm interested in, which is why I feel so, so stuck.
posted by ditto75 at 1:36 PM on July 9, 2012


You need to get your life stabilized because if you don't and your folks die you will them be worse off than them with no one to help you. And honestly they are not THAT old.
You can't use their problems to avoid facing your own. And I have parents that age so this is not academic to me.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:38 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Moving them to another city with me would be a HUGE logistics issue

Assisted living facility = no deal.

So even if I *do* move away, financially I'll likely end up worse off...

I just cannot bring myself to be just another fish in the pool.

And if I were to get into a major accident, I'd have no one to help me out...

I know people who live in huge cities (New York, Atlanta) who still have to commute via automobile.
You can catastrophize and shoot down suggestions until the cows come home. I guarantee that you can find a fault in any suggestion anyone will give you, and pretty easily. But that leaves you exactly where you started. There are issues here far beyond your parents' situation, although that is almost certainly exacerbating it. For any theoretical plan anyone has, we can all find reasons to shoot them down cold. And, yet, people move to New York City (where I am from) every day, in different parts of their lives, with different skills and difficulties and baggage and make shit work. Or, they don't, and they go back home.

It's not as easy as "buck up and do shit!" because you clearly have some thick mental blocks in place that force your hand into responding to plans for change with the worst case scenario. Believe me, I know what that's like. I don't even have a driver's license because I'm terrified of driving. I can also count on a single hand situations where a car would've been really useful and I couldn't get a cab or ask a friend to drive me somewhere. Do I know people here who drive? Yes, of course. Do most people I know take the train or the bus? Yes. And you can apply that across the board. Moving parents is a giant pain in the ass -- and not something I would ever entertain as an option -- but it can certainly be done. My grandparents moved to America from the USSR in their 60s. There are nice assisted living facilities and shitty ones. They are not uniformly prisons. There are jobs and they will be filled and the only way they will be filled with your body is if you wade into that big-ass pool. And so on, and so forth.

This is a really common suggestion in AskMe, but with your (and my!) kind of thinking patterns, giving the exercises in this book an honest go won't hurt. Good luck.
posted by griphus at 1:38 PM on July 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


griphus, you nailed me down pretty well. I used to be so much more optimistic and positive about life until I returned home and started feeling bogged down by all this, the family changing and trying to get my / a career into gear. I might need to read that book to feel good again about my situation in life. Thanks for your mail btw.
posted by ditto75 at 1:48 PM on July 9, 2012


You are shooting down pretty much every suggestion people have offered. Clearly you have thought about this a lot, and all of the risks involved in leaving. It's scary.

I took the liberty of looking at your most recent question about careers/direction. It appears that this issue with your parents' health -- while important and legitimate and definitely the kind of thing that keeps many, many care givers from living a more independent life -- is not the first obstacle you have encountered that has kept you from developing your career and your independence. It sounds like there may be some anxiety and over-thinking that's been getting in the way of your decisionmaking for a long time.

Going overseas to teach was a way to "generally escape life for a while," not wanting a significant commute/tight schedule/boss breathing down your neck, wondering even now in this thread if it would be "smart of me to hold off just a little longer before venturing forward."

All of these things seem much more about you than about your parents. I can see how the relative comfort of the living arrangement combined with a feeling that you're helping them out and a fear of making the wrong choices or failing at what you attempt can all add up to some real paralysis. If therapy of the CBT type is available to you I would recommend that you try it.
posted by headnsouth at 1:52 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


headnsouth, yes there has definitely been over-thinking here. It stems from the terrible, terrible decision of going to the worst college ever and absolutely making certain that I do not make that mistake again. That could explain why I am so, so hesitant to move forward with anything to anywhere. I don' think I need therapy (at least I hope I don't) so long as I can change my life for the better. But who knows how / if that will happen...
posted by ditto75 at 2:02 PM on July 9, 2012


You really seem to be playing "Yes, but." That's where someone recommends something and then you shoot it down by agreeing with the jist of the idea, but you have some special snowflake reason you can't do it for yourself.

I think you need to take a risk or two and just get out there. Find a job in an urban area, preferably one with decent public transport.

Don't automatically rule places out because they don't fit your pre-conceived notion of what you want. Just because you live in Atlanta doesn't mean you have a hellish commute. I spend 12 minutes each way getting to and from work.

For sure, get out and get your life underway, you can help your parents set up a home health aid to do the stuff they're not able to do any more. Your parents may kvetch a bit, but simply explain to them that you can't leave if they won't accept help. It's that simple. Everyone can get used to everything if they have to.

At the end of the day, you can't live for your parents. It's not healthy for you, nor is it healthy for them. Pick a metropolis that's an easy distance way, go there and make something happen.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:06 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


[OP, this needs to be more of an "ask a question, get answers" thing and not an ongoing discussion session about your issues. A few updates in the thread are okay for clarification or update purposes. Please ask us via the contact form if you have questions.]
posted by jessamyn at 2:20 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


The thing about what you're doing with shooting down suggestions is, maybe you're right. We're strangers and we don't really know. Maybe you can't drive on highways at all, maybe it's impossible for your parents to move or for your sibling to help out or for you to get an interesting job where you live. Maybe you don't have the credentials to get a job in another place right now. If that's the case, I think all you can do at this point is own it. Sometimes people are really screwed by their situation, and they just have to deal as best they can. Sometimes that's temporary and sometimes it's permanent. It's sad and unfair but it's reality. So if you have to live with your parents and work from home and/or in your town where there's nothing of interest, what can you do with that? How can you make the best of it? Maybe you can get a job doing something boring but that has good benefits. Or maybe you just have to do some crappy job because that's all anyone there can do. Maybe there's one person there you can find to be friends with if you look for them very hard. Maybe there's one hobby you can have there. Etc. Maybe this unfortunate situation has to be your life for the next decade or two, but you can at least feel good that you're taking care of your parents when they need you. Only you know if you're making excuses because you're scared, or if this is really the only/best choice you have. If it isn't, it would be sad if you put off taking a chance when it was possible all along. But if it is, it would be doubly sad if you spent the whole time wishing that wasn't the case, rather than attempting to work with what you have.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 2:51 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you and your parents are in Spartanburg, that's really not a bad location for you to move to Charlotte or Atlanta and then come home every weekend or every other weekend as your parents need you. (I'm assuming you've exhausted job possibilities in Greenville and Columbia already.) Both Charlotte and Atlanta have adequate public transportation and nice intown neighborhoods such that a short commute, possibly not including driving at all, is a real possibility. Based on your previous question, I would imagine your Chinese language skills could be in demand in either location.

People above have given you great suggestions for seeking out ways to provide your parents' daily care, and by being less than 3 hours away you would be able to check on them to ensure that care is good and be available for emergencies.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:06 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


deanc, yes driving is a "basic issue" -- like I said, I don't want to spend a major chunk of my day behind the wheel, as that means a worse quality of life. (My idea of a good time is not saving my life from stupid drivers.) And if I were to get into a major accident, I'd have no one to help me out (see above with parents).

My point was this-- if you cannot evaluate a situation, see that there are difficulties, and push the envelope of your comfort zone to overcome difficulties that you'd rather not deal with, then you're going to have a hard time developing a career where you will have to do this all the time. Life involves tradeoffs, and some of those tradeoffs are going to make you uncomfortable. And you're going to have to deal with those sorts of tradeoffs if you want to be "successful."

I don't want to spend 35-45 minutes driving each way to work every day. But I do, because I would rather work at the job I have than work elsewhere, and I'd rather live in the city I live in rather than live in the towns closer to work. There are other times at work when I've been dropped into a situation where I had no idea what the solution was, and no one else did, either, and I had to figure it out.

The approach you take to driving isn't an approach you can take to the rest of your life. And you certainly can't both live in the town you live in now and take that approach to driving. Something has to give, and you're going to have to move out of your comfort zone, and solving this sort of dilemma is typical of what a career requires.
posted by deanc at 4:15 PM on July 9, 2012


Like others, I'm getting the impression from your two questions on this issue that you're inventing or exaggerating future difficulties and using them to rule out too much. I agree with others that until you change this habit, you're going to have trouble making changes.

If you want to break the habit, you might put aside the really big questions for now and focus on small things, really small. For example, if you think, "I'd never enjoy karaoke because I don't like bars or loud music and I'd have nothing in common with the people and..." then go to a karaoke bar. With your mind open, watch the people who are enjoying themselves and just don't judge anything, and see what happens. Do you crack a smile at some point? Do you really suffer horribly the entire time?

Or if you think "Why would anyone want to eat at Cracker Barrel? I'd never go to a Cracker Barrel because..." go eat at a Cracker Barrel with your mind open, like an anthropologist doing field work. And so forth.

The goal is to notice when your brain is inventing reasons not to do something, and then go do it in utter defiance of your brain. The more you do this, the more you show your brain that it's wrong, and the weaker the excuses become. At least, it works that way for me. Good luck.
posted by ceiba at 4:40 PM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


You're shooting down a lot of these suggestions because you might try it and have it not work out. Like you're owed a guarantee of success before you give anything a go. But the great thing about being an adult is, hey, if it doesn't work out, YOU CAN TRY SOMETHING ELSE. Right now the only guarantee you've got is that if you stay where you are, nothing will change and you'll still be miserable. The only way is up, here you have endless possibilities, if you'll only embrace it. And who knows, you moving out may snap your parents out of the inertia and help motivate them to look after themselves a bit better and be happier too. It could be better all round. But as long as you do nothing, you'll never know.
posted by Jubey at 4:58 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Assisted living facilities, nursing homes and retirement homes are NOT the same thing..... each offers a different level of care, and with the exception of, say, those physically dangerous to others or memory impaired/dementia patients, no one is 'locked down'. Retirement homes are usually little more than apartment complexes for seniors, with the addition of usually-daily welfare checks. Nursing homes are pretty much like a residential hospital. Assisted living is somewhere inbetween, with more privacy than a nursing home but more medical care than a retirement home.

One extra thing to consider in your decision to stay or leave (and by the way, I agree: you ARE inventing reasons not to do anything!) is whether or not there is other family available --- either other family to help them where they are, or other family elsewhere where they might be willing to move.
posted by easily confused at 5:16 PM on July 9, 2012


Therapy. (first time I have said that on here) It will empower you to create your boundaries and gain clarity on what direction you want to go in.

Assisted living or caretaker for them. (if they never leave the house to go walk in the garden, they will never be bothered by the other people)

Move where you like.

Get a job.

Get over the driving issue. (it sounds like you might actually need therapy for this)

Tell other sibling to sack up and do their part. The responsibility does not 'fall' on you, you are choosing it. You are embracing it with open arms and not setting boundaries.

Visit your parents one or two long weekends a month.

Everyone needs to compromise here. I would suggest having a meeting with your parents and sibling to divide up the compromises that need to be made.
posted by Vaike at 1:07 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Get over the driving issue. (it sounds like you might actually need therapy for this)

With regards to the driving issue: Was your mother disabled by a car accident? When you bring up driving, you always mention your mother and her disability and your fear of getting into an accident and winding up like her. No-one likes a long commute - believe me, the Bay Area (where I live) is notorious for hellish commutes - but most of us decide to suck it up and learn to love audiobooks and spill-proof coffee cups if it's worth it for our jobs. You sound like you have some fears or even a phobia or PTSD around driving on freeways because of your mother. It's understandable that if someone close to you was disabled in a car accident (especially if they were wearing a seatbelt and driving defensively, that is doing everything they could to NOT have a crash) you would be afraid of driving. But if it's limiting your life, as it is, you need to get help for it. Many graduate psychology programs offer great therapy from students on a sliding scale basis.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:11 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


headnsouth, yes there has definitely been over-thinking here. It stems from the terrible, terrible decision of going to the worst college ever and absolutely making certain that I do not make that mistake again. That could explain why I am so, so hesitant to move forward with anything to anywhere. I don' think I need therapy (at least I hope I don't) so long as I can change my life for the better. But who knows how / if that will happen...

Even if you did make a really terrible decision and your college really was the worst college ever (it seems more likely to me that you're over-dramatizing it, but obviously I don't know the details), this is still not really a rational reason why you're stuck and over-thinking and unhappy and shooting down your options for improving your life. And even if it was, so what? You're still stuck and over-thinking and unhappy and shooting down your options for improving your life, and that sucks and you want to change it, right? That's what therapy is for... it's not just for Really Serious Mental Problems. You say you don't need therapy so long as you can change your life for the better-- but I suspect you'll have a lot of trouble changing your life for the better without therapy. (Or at minimum, acknowledging that your own thinking patterns are getting in the way of the life you want to live, and making a really concerted effort to change them with the help of books and exercises on anxiety, depression, CBT, etc. You may or may not be able to do it on your own, though.) I speak from experience...
posted by EmilyClimbs at 2:32 PM on July 11, 2012


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