DEAR ABBY: I was born into a poor family, and my father gave me up for adoption to his well-to-do sister. My narcissistic adoptive mother severely abused me physically, mentally and emotionally as a child, and tormented me financially as an adult. I no longer speak to her.
My biological mother has been attempting to have a relationship with me as her daughter. But I don’t regard her as my mother. I don’t feel anything toward her. All those years of abuse have left me feeling ... jaded.
My biological mother is still poor, and she constantly asks me for money to help my nieces and nephews with their needs. I understand that they are blood, but I work hard for my money and cannot afford to support them financially. They have had plenty of opportunities in the past to better their lives but decided to live off handouts. How do I find validation that I am a person and not just a piggy bank? — JADED IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR JADED: Considering the circumstances in which you were raised, it may not be easy. A way to find some of that validation would be to start establishing some boundaries in your life. If you can afford to see a licensed mental health professional, you would benefit greatly by scheduling some sessions. Not only will it help you to get your priorities straight, it may also help you to feel less guilty about saying no to relatives with ulterior motives.
DEAR ABBY: I felt compelled to write after seeing your Dec. 15 response to “Anywhere, USA,” the hosts seeking guidance about how to respond to the daughter of longtime friends who had recently visited. The daughter had emailed asking for a report on her parents’ habits and conduct during their trip.
As a caregiving daughter myself, knowing many other caregiving adult children and belonging to a few support groups for caregivers, I believe inquiring of family friends and other relatives about their loved ones is not wrong or invasive. Our loved ones behave differently in different situations. How they negotiate changes and social situations without the caregiver present may provide important clues and information regarding their mental/cognitive status.
Caregivers try to give their loved ones as much freedom as safely possible. Gaining information about the visit would possibly give clues regarding the ability to travel independently or not, and whether they can still negotiate social and public situations appropriately. These are examples of things that a caregiver will never observe without the eyes of others.
Many caregivers out there read your column, and others who have aging, declining friends with caregiving kids. People must not hesitate to say something when they notice a change in behavior. — LOYAL READER IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR READER: I’m printing your letter because it is representative of the response I received about “Anywhere, USA’s” letter. You raise an important issue about how it “takes a village” to band together and to share observations about changes in older people’s comportment beyond simple aging.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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