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How do you move out when your family are financially and emotionally dependent on you?

Community Member

I am 25, and live with my sisters, mum and boyfriend. My mum had cancer when I was 17 and has recovered, but has long term complications with her health due to postoperative issues. My dad committed suicide when I was 19 and pretty much left my sisters and my mum to deal with everything. We were renting at the time, and decided to buy a place together with the money from his death so we could try and relieve the financial burden. This was 4 years ago. Boyfriend and I have been together for 4 years and he has lived here for 3.

Me and my sisters have good jobs. I would really like to move out with my boyfriend who works full time too but financially don't know where I will be leaving the others in my current household. My sisters are happy to move out together, but it leaves my mum on her own. She doesn't have an income and struggles with chronic pain and depression her whole life. I have tried helping her to get on a disability payment but it's like pulling teeth, she is resistant to change. Understandably she has gone through a lot in her life and is in a position she didn't expect to be in, but I have felt like my life is on pause.

She has refused to seek help and talk to someone as she has had some not so great experiences. We have mentioned moving out to her and what that may look like. I feel so guilty and sad about her being on her own, and not knowing how she will financially and emotionally survive, but then I also get angry because I resent that I am constantly trying to find the answers and solutions and put my life and goals on hold because to support a co-dependant relationship. She says all the time how she doesn't want to hold us back, but I feel like she has no motivation to get her life where it needs to be.

I don't know where to start.. my boyfriend wants to go to. I just constantly get the "yeah yeah, we will look at it in the new year" but I just feel like things won't move. I don't even need any money from the sale of this house, my sisters and I are 100% okay to give it to my mum to set herself back up, but it won't be enough to buy something else and it wont be enough to maintain anything especially if she doesn't get onto a disability payment.

I feel so mad and sad and am DESPERATELY craving emotional, physical and financial freedom. Will I ever be released from this vice? Will my mum ever be okay on her own? Will I ever not feel guilty leaving 1 parent alone? Will I ever not worry she will commit suicide the way my father did?

7 Replies 7

Welcome to the fourms, shewhommustnotbenamed, and thank you for sharing this with us today. It sounds like a difficult situation, one that has you wondering how to balance your needs with the sense of responsbility you feel for caring about loved ones. We're so sorry to hear about the grief and loss you've experienced, not only with your father's passing but also with a loss of choice or freedom.

If you feel like it could be helpful, we would recommend that you get in contact with the Beyond Blue Support Service. They are available 24/7 by phone on 1300 22 4636 or on Webchat 3pm-12am AEST on our website: www.beyondblue.org.au/getsupport  One of our friendly counsellors will be able to talk through these feelings with you and can offer support, advice and referrals.

You might also be interested in our pages on "Looking after yourself while supporting someone" -  https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/supporting-someone/looking-after-yourself 
  And also "Talking to someone you are worried about" - https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/have-the-conversation/talking-to-someone-you-are-worried-a...

We hope that talking with our wonderful community members will bring some comfort and support. Please feel free to keep reaching out here on your thread whenever you feel up to it.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi shewhomustnotbenamed,

I think that while ever you give your mum an option she will always find a reason to delay it to some other day. If it was me, I’d have a family meeting of sorts with everyone there and explain that you want to move out with your boyfriend and then everyone can participate in finding solutions about what that means for them. You are well within your rights to want to move out and live your life, your mother did that when she was your age and you shouldn’t be deprived of that either. You can say that you’ve made a few applications so that they understand the urgency of the situation, but that way everyone is informed. It is not your responsibility to carry the burden of your entire family on your shoulders, everyone is an adult here. Your mother is resistant to change because her current situation is quite comfortable for her. But plenty of people with depression and chronic pain need to work for a living, myself included.

Community Member

Hi shewhomustnotbenamed,

Wow, You sound like you've had a lot of responsibility for one so young. It does sound like a really difficult position to be in. It sounds like you want to go, but feel guilty about leaving and living your own life. That's pretty understandable. Perhaps counselling would be good to help you navigate this time with grace and wisdom, so that, even if your mum isn't getting help for herself, she 's getting the benefit of you being assisted in your decision making, which might help everyone. If that makes sense.

It also sounds like you have tried different ways to help your mum move on, and stop being so dependent on you and your sisters, and that must have taken a lot of patience. Don't give up now! Your mum sounds pretty resilient too, she has survived cancer, and the death of her partner. The idea to get her on a benefit is solid, and probably necessary no matter which way things go. Maybe the counsellor can help you with some strategies to get the ball rolling. I wish you well!

Cheers, Jstar

I can't thank you enough for taking the time to offer me help and support.

Your message made me feel seen and understood without putting my mother down.. So thank you! I definitely understand what you mean, I think I will book back in to see my counsellor. It has been a while since I have seen her and that can be a little nerve wracking but I will definitely do it.

Yes, that is very true, she is a VERY strong woman and always puts others before herself. This however is part of the problem as she is rarely selfish and does what is best for HER. Not me, her parents or my sisters always being first.

Thank you again for your suggestions, I try all the time to support her in going onto disability, but I feel like she doesn't even want to admit to herself that she will possibly never have the capacity to work again.

Anyways, I digress.

Thank you again! 🙂

Definitely a difficult situation, thank you so much for the support.

I greatly appreciate it and feel a lot better after writing it down and seeking validation that it isn't easy.

Thanks again 🙂

Sadly, I feel the same way. I think my sisters and I are now just enabling her and not actually helping her anymore.
I never use to struggle with the whole tough love thing, it was how I did things. However, after losing my father I guess I saw more risks in being hard on people and fearing that might be their final trigger/last conversation... Sounds silly, I know..

That is a good idea, I just feel for my sisters and don't want them to think I don't have their backs either. They are feeling the pressure as I am. I guess it's hard, we've always been each others biggest support getting through what is thrown at us, leaving them to deal with my mum just feels wrong. Even saying "we've applied" I don't want them to think I'm bowing out of the trio...

But I do want things to move quicker than they do and have my own future to think about too..

Thanks so much for your advice, it really means a lot to me that you took the time out of your day to offer me some advice. Thank you again! 🙂

You're very welcome. Tell us how it goes!

It is hard to make those appointments sometimes hey, but if she's a good counsellor then you'll probably be glad you did.

You sound like a really lovely caring daughter. I wish you well.

warm regards,