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I wish I didn't have to do this anymore

Jan 15, 2013 - 11 comments

I really don't know how much more stress I can manage, I really don't. I feel like I'm losing my mind, losing myself in all this mess.
For the last 10 months of my life, I have dealt with the loss of my mom to cancer. I'm still having a hard time dealing with the everyday grieving process with that alone. She wrote up a will and trust before she passed away, and I know she meant well in doing so when she appointed me, and me alone, as her sole executor and trustee over my minor sister's trust. For those that are unfamiliar with this lingo, an estate is the personal assets of the deceased, and a trust is basically a secured account that holds money for a set time before it is paid out to the person who inherits the trust. The person appointed to manage the account until that happens is the trustee.
My mom's death was more sudden and unexpected than we thought would be--we all knew her odds were not much beyond about two years, but...then one day, she was sick...and got sicker, weaker, incapacitated. She died after three weeks. I feel cheated, robbed, deceived. I've just been having a really hard time "getting over it."
Before her death, I knew nothing about what the heck an estate was, how it worked, how a trust worked. I had to learn fast in the midst of the most overwhelming loss and grief I've ever experienced in my life. Long story short, in a matter of a few days, I was given the "honor" of adding the legalities of two extra lives to my already hectic life of being a sole income earner on a pitiful salary, with two young kids and a husband in college. Yay for me, I am now liable for every bill, debt, asset, title, pet, property, taxes, and managing a trust.
Things did not pan out well between my younger sister (17) and me. She hardly speaks to me anymore and has decided to live with a bunch of busy-body, do-gooder, homewrecking a-holes from her private school, thanks to her "father" who signed over her legal guardianship and custody to these nuts--none of whom to this day he has even personally met. He lives halfway across the country, by the way. Oh yeah, and he doesn't want her, nor does she want to live with him.
I thought she and I were close. Mom and I thought my sister was serious when she said herself she wanted me to take care of her if Mom died before she was 19 (age of majority in our state). Well thanks to a brainwashing, cult-like private "Christian" school and her moron deadbeat father who thinks he's being some sort of hero by giving her everything she demands when she tells him without even an ounce of respect, he ruined her having any chance at a life without our mom that would have benefitted her as greatly as if Mom was still alive, given that I could have provided that. In the last year, between watching our mom die and then being isolated and brainwashed away from her own family by these school jerks, my sister is not the same person I knew. I don't know who she is anymore. In my opinion, she's falling apart and heading down a road of a lot of risks and there's not a damn thing I can do about it, because I'm "just her sister." I have no legal authoritative parental-type rights over her like Mom wanted me to have and had written into her will. My sister's father legally undid EVERYTHING for that matter, just because he his a "surviving parent," although not much a part of her life. Just having that "title" and having had joint custody when my mom was alive gives him the final say about everything now except her trust, and if she agrees with or wants what he offers her--I'm nothing to anyone in her life with any legal standing.
If I were to describe my sister as anything after this last year, it's hollow. In every sense, hollow. She used to be so mature, had great ambitions and huge potential to fill those ambitions. Now...I think she could join the Kardashian sisters or whoever the heck those dingbats are that do nothing but sit around looking pretty and making money without lifting a finger and have nothing of intelligence to offer the world. Maybe that's harsh to say of my own sister, but it's true, and it's true because she was uprooted from me, the one person who realizes she needs the structure and lifestyle that Mom gave her, and she needs grief counseling that these morons she's with will never get for her because she's not grieving. She hasn't grieved. She "looks happy" and "acts happy" being a bimbo and everyone is all hunky-dory with that, even though her grades have dropped so badly this last year and she's being allowed to make her own decisions with zero adult guidance. And believe me, she's making some crazy mistakes already; in this last week, I've had to bail her out of a huge debt she's already accrued--at the ripe old age of 17. So yeah...I lost my mom to death, then lost my sister to cult-like morons by the permission of her progenitor.
Anyway, over this last week, my oldest son had gotten sick with a stomach bug and had to be hospitalized in the ER for dehydration. I was there with him from midnight to 4:00. I went in to work the next day at noon. The day after that, my husband caught the bug. It took him down harder than my son for two days, but he managed to stay out of the hospital.
Earlier last week, I had to manage the sale of my mom's saddlebred horse, which my sister inherited as her own, but, being a minor, can't "own" it so I still have to manage the horse's title until she can transfer it to herself at age 19. At least, that's what was supposed to happen. That huge debt I mentioned she accrued? Due to the horse. She just didn't financially manage any responsibility to him, when all that required of her was to let me know what his bills were so I could budget it to her trust. She told me her dad decided to support the horse, so I heard nothing about bills due for months and assumed he took on the cost. Turns out, that wasn't the case. As you can imagine, having a debtor call me first thing in the morning about it, saying the horse can't be sold because there is now a lien on it, caught me off guard. I didn't even know the horse WAS for sale in the first place. Found out that my sister and her father do in fact want the horse sold, so away he went, as much as that broke my heart. Mom adored that horse.
But before he actually got shipped off, the stable keeper informed me the sale will remain on hold because a vet just found a lump in the horse's nose that could be cancer. A biopsy has been taken and if that's the case, I don't think the sale will fall through. So here we are with ALL the paperwork complete for the sale: transfer of title, registration, etc. A horse of this value is basically JUST like selling a car. But the sale is not complete until we find out if the horse has cancer.
Between severe illnesses and this horse issue last week, I ALSO found out that a portion of the trust money has an issue with it. For legal reasons, I won't mention anything else.
So, in the midst of all the chaos of vomit, diarrhea, the ER, phone calls, paperwork, money managing, a visit to my lawyer, anxiety and extreme sleep deprivation, I forgot all about doing a basic routine at home for the last five days. A BASIC ROUTINE. It should not have been forgotten by me, and I'm the only person who can do this basic routine. Well, because I fogot about it and neglected to do it for five days, I found the consequences when I did remember yesterday. The guilt and shame I feel are so immense that words can't even describe. I just want to crawl under a rock and cry and never come out.
And the icing on the freaking cake??? As if that wasn't it right there...
My oldest son, only five days after the stomach bug, wakes up at 1:00 this morning crying, feverish, body aches, and sore throat.
Strep.
Awesome. Just. freaking. awesome.
He missed two days of school last week and now today and probably tomorrow, so he's REALLY behind on homework and getting him to do homework in the first place is a battle about 50% of the time because of his vision and auditory sensory issues making reading, spelling, and just being focused in general a challenge. My husband is taking him to the pediatrician this afternoon to get a swab test and antibiotics. Hopefully it's not the flu; I'm confident it's not because he gets strep like 4-6 times a year so I know these symptoms all too well. This has been a breaking point though, and I called the ENT this morning to set up a consultation next week to discuss a tonsilectomy that I hope they'll do for him, preferably over spring break if they do.
I'm just wiped out, emotionally drained, and depressed from grief. It's like there is a road block with every step I take, or a slap in the face, or both. I want my life back. I want what I had back two years before this time--when I had my sweet family and I was content with life even though it wasn't easy, and I had my mom and my best friend, I had my kid sister who practically lived with us on the weekends and actually loved me and my family back then, but she's forgotten us now unless she needs money. In the last two years, it's like my whole sense of contentedness and security has unravelled before my eyes. Part of my family have been lost and another has fallen apart. I've dealt with more death this year, both physical and of relationships, than any other time in my life. In two years, I feel like I've aged 10 years, mainly just in these last 10 months. I feel numb to any optimism and even bad news anymore. It's like I expect crap to happen now and I'll have to clean up the mess, and if anything good happens, I feel like it's just short-lived. I know that's not true and I have a lot to be thankful for, but...I'm just tired. Spent.
I don't want to have to manage any of this anymore. I just want my family back. I want my life back. I want my mom back. I hate that, even with all the emotional and physical support I get from my friends and family, it still all comes back to me. I am the sole executor, so my name is the only name legally recognized that counts for anything. I just don't want to do this anymore. I'm sick and tired of being "strong." Screw being strong. I want this over.

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13167 tn?1327197724
by RockRose, Jan 15, 2013
I've been reading your posts for years,  AHP,  and am sorry you're going through all this.

The core of your difficulty is this:  You aren't recognizing that you have no control here.  You are struggling mightily to right this ship,  and make everyone see things the way you do and follow your guidance,  but you have no power.  This is wasted force,  and wasted energy.

You do have control over a lot of things,  and you make careful wise decisions with the raw materials you are blessed with.

But this?  You have no control.  And it's driving your happiness away because you are trying to exert your will where you have no ability to.

Your sister is probably exactly where she needs to be right now,  even though it's not what you would have chosen for her.

Best wishes.  Keep your primary focus on your husband and kids,  and your home,  and the rest will fall in to place.  Even if you do nothing,  the rest will fall into place.

377493 tn?1356505749
by adgal, Jan 15, 2013
Oh sweet Audrey.  How I wish there was something I could do to help you out here.  I don't even have any good advice to give you, but I will tell you that I am always here to listen if you need an ear.  And I'm thinking about you and hoping that some of this begins to get resolved quickly.  One step at a time.  I have no doubt your going to get through all this, I just hate to see such a great person dealing with so much.  Love ya girl, just want you to know that.

Avatar universal
by newtowngirl, Jan 15, 2013
Sounds like you have way too much on your plate.  I recommend looking at the trust paperwork together with a lawyer (the trust should pay any legal fees that arise out of your efforts) and see if you are granted power of appointment.  If so, consider appointing another trustee.  I am sure you want to follow your mother's wishes but I am also sure that your mother would not have wanted to burden you to the point that you are exhausted, and you sound exhausted.  The same thing goes for being executrix of the estate.  You can decline to serve in that capacity.

Talk to a lawyer.  You need some relief, and someone to share these burdens with you.

Good luck.

Avatar universal
by brice1967, Jan 15, 2013
I'm so sorry about all of this.  I read and responded to some of your posts in the past.  I didn't read this whole entry.  I got a few sentences past the part where you said there "is nothing I can do for my sister".  I know how you feel, but there is something really, really important that you can do for your sister.  You can be there for her when she bounces back.....

You've got so many things going on and so many things on your plate right now.  And I really know what it is like to "have to think that we are in charge of everything or take care of everything."  Take a step back and isolate everything that is going on and put them into their own categories.  (Mom's passing is a category of its own, sister situation is a category of its own, your home/work situation yet another category of it's own.)

Believe me.... For my entire life, until about 3 years ago or so, I thought I had to be in control of everything.  I thought everything in the world was happening to me and I thought it was all connected.  Here are the simple facts... I nor you can be in control of everything.  There is too many outside circumstances that interact/interfere with our plans.  We can only control US and how WE act.  As far as everything in the world happening to me, simply... that isn't happening either.  (I am not minimizing your situation, by no means, just trying to put things into proper perspective.)  EVERYTHING in the world is happening, no doubt.  But, EVERYTHING is not happening to you.  You have all of these issues in one pile and are trying to deal with the whole heap.  It's impossible, because things keep happening and those things are out of OUR control.  Where we gain control is by isolating the issues and handling them separately.  

Also, everything is about lessons and I just know from your writing in this post that you want what's best for your sister.  You are an awesome sister for that?  Perhaps the lesson with this isolated issue is that we don't have control, and that it is okay.  I also get the feel that you may want some support from your sister.  (Hope I'm not off base there.)  That is understandable.... but this goes back to control.  It is out of your control and I understand the uncomfortableness in that right now.  You want it all to be right... I was that guy.... I did not want anyone to make a mistake.  The deal is that these things aren't even mistakes, they are learning opportunities.  Sis will undoubtedly learn a lot during this time, and the one thing that you can control during this whole deal is.... that you can be there for her in the end.

I wish you peace and I hope some of what I said makes sense.  (I'm no doctor, but I have walked some of the paths you have and have learned along the way.)

184674 tn?1360864093
by AHP84, Jan 15, 2013
Newtowngirl: I have done many consults with my lawyer regarding all this. I do have a plan in place for managing the trust very differently in the future, but certain things need to fall into place first that have yet to happen. And those things cannot happen fast enough as far as I'm concerned.
The estate is a different issue. If I resign the estate, the next person in line to manage it is a trustworthy possibility, but an unrealistic option. Managing the estate hasn't been nearly as stressful as being the trustee for my sister. It's like there is a major problem with that every few weeks, or a problem with her and the people with whom she associates and I get called in to patch stuff up.

Brice: so much of what you've said makes a lot of sense to me, and thank you. You are correct in that in times of overwhelming stress like this last week, everything gets really difficult to separate and deal with one step at a time. It's like my attention is being pulled in 15 different directions and they're all urgent and I'm just not capable of handling that much all at once. Realistically, I know things CAN be prioritized, but in the middle of the chaos, it's just hard to do.
And yes, I cherish my sister so much and I'd do anything for her. I have suffered a heartbreak with her that is truly on the same level as the death of our mom. I've struggled with mixed emotions of disappointment, anger, confusion, despair, and apathy. I want to have basic and realistic expectaions of her for her age, like Mom did, but Mom isn't here anymore and my sister isn't the same kid she used to be, and I'm not one of her closest friends anymore. It just hurts that it seems so easy for her to have walked out on us like she did and appear to have no regrets or remorse whatsoever.
I've never considered myself a "control freak" by any means; I think I'm easy going and I actually do everything I can to avoid conflict. I hate confrontation and I'm not very assertive. But I want to keep everything in line as best I can to honor the will of my mom, her estate, and protect and help my sister mature into adulthood. I never would have dreamed it could be this difficult to do those three things.

973741 tn?1342346373
by specialmom, Jan 15, 2013
I just want to say that I so feel for you.  You are so loyal to your mom and wanting to do the right thing and you are trying to be loyal to your sister.  You've taken such good care of everyone and you need some tender loving care now for yourself.  When I lost my mom, I lost that too.  The person that mothered me and made sure that *I* was alright was gone.  It has helped me to think of her and think of what SHE would say to me or tell me to do or how she would spoil me and just do it for myself.  As silly as that sounds, it makes me feel connected to her.  Think of what she'd do right now to make you feel better, what she'd say.  Hear her voice within you.  She's there and wants you to be okay.  Maybe just a small break for yourself to be alone so you can breath a bit would help.  A walk, a few hours of someone else caring for the kids while you relax.  I sometimes think it would be impossible to find that but it never really is.  

Wish I could come on over and give you a big hug.  Hang in there.  A peak is around the corner.  

184674 tn?1360864093
by AHP84, Jan 15, 2013
Gosh, your statement of "The person that mothered me and made sure that *I* was alright was gone," is so true. I mean, the only best and closest friend I have in my life right now is my husband, but...he's not a mother and he's not a woman, so there's that void there for me...simple as that. And it hurts. Especially when everything I have to deal with to settle the estate and hope for the best for my sister is just an everyday reminder that she's gone.
I know she wouldn't want the stress on me that has become this situation. It wasn't supposed to turn out like it has, but there was no telling that it would or even could. Had she had any idea the situation was capable of anything like this after her passing, I know for a fact she would have designed her will very, very differently. She wouldn't want this burden or stress on me but for now, I just have to wait a few things out before some changes start to happen to hopefully make things much easier for me to manage all this.

1035252 tn?1427231433
by Ashelen, Jan 15, 2013
I'm here too! Audrey you know I would take this burden for you if I could...but since I can't, I'm always here for you..all you've gotta do is pick up the phone. Hugs darlin

Avatar universal
by brice1967, Jan 16, 2013
AHP84, you have absolutely every reason to hurt and grieve for the losses and all of the stress that seems to be surrounding you.  It must be a horrible spot to be in, and again, I do feel for you.  I hope you understand that I was not insinuating that you are a "control freak" or want to be one.  I was trying to convey the opposite, that perhaps because of the loss of your mother (who could delegate authority and make sure things were taken care of) has made you feel that you have to step up and be her... walk in her shoes, and try to do it as gracefully or as strong as she did.  

I think we tend to put our parents on a very high pedestal.  (I sure know I have with my mother.)  And not that I am going through the same thing you are, but my mom's mental capacity is slowly deteriorating and the woman who used to be very active is slowly becoming more and more lethargic.  My sister and I are having to do a lot of things right now with my mothers financial affairs that I thought we'd never have to do....  

I am just thinking out loud here, but could it be that you are trying to inject yourself as the person you admired your mother as?  You know, having all of the stress of having your own family (husband and kids) is a big deal, and now you've got to follow through with your mothers affairs and at the same time worry about your sister.  That just complicated your life x 100.  We only get one mom and nobody can fill those shoes.  It is irresponsible to ourselves to think that we could even come close to stepping into those shoes.

We can only do what WE can do.  We are different.  Somebody above mentioned getting or taking some kind of break.  Even if it just a few hours, might really be invigorating.  There was a time when I thought that I had to be in control of everything, and that stress alone was so overwhelming.  (I had to do this, that, the other thing plus 100 more things.  I added urgency to everything, like it had to happen right now.)  I think that is a stress mechanism and I have no idea why we do that to ourselves, but we do.  For some reason, I didn't realize that everything does not need to have the same amount of urgency and not everything needs to be handled right now.  I had an epiphany (with the help of a therapist and my wife) one day and it was when I was kind of at a breaking point.  My therapist asked me, "Why do YOU think YOU have to be in charge of everything?"  First thing out of my mouth was, "Because I have to."  She told me "that is a self imposed sentence that nobody can rightfully own up too."  

She went on about how there are too many things happening around us that we have no control over.  Some of those things we can eventually come eye to eye with and understand them better, but there are too many other people involved.  I know it hurts with your sister... I can feel your pain and I can only liken it to what I feel with my children... I never really want them to make a mistake, but they are going too.  Honestly, they both have and they were both able to recoup and bounce back.  Your sister has the capability too, and sometimes we have to allow stuff to happen.  We can't control everything.  

I'm talking in circles now, so I will close with this.  As serious as everything is right now, your mom's estate, your sister and everything else, you can only do what you can do in the time and fashion you can do it.  (Is there an attorney helping with the estate?  If not, can you get some professional help with that?)  Try to rely on your husband.  He is not your mother, but neither are you.  You have to find something to give yourself a break in the action.  I can't put my finger on that one thing yet, but I bet between you and everyone who posts here (and maybe talking to some kind of a therapist, if you havent already) you WILL find that break.

Best Wishes.

184674 tn?1360864093
by AHP84, Jan 16, 2013
Thanks, brice, I really appreciate your input. I didn't take any of what you said insinuating I was a control freak--that was more of a rhetorical self-evaluation statement on my part, mainly because I feel so compelled to try to keep all of this under some sort of better control to avoid any more of a mess that this already is. I just really feel put in a position that I don't have the personality type to handle with assertive authority, but...here I am.
Everything you describe about how I could be trying to step into the place of who my mom was and how she would manage things on her terms under her own authority makes a lot of sense to me too. She had a very strong-willed, assertive and ambitious personality type, and she was so graceful with it most of the time. She wasn't perfect and made plenty of mistakes and bad judgement calls in life, just like everyone else does, but she also always had her life, her finances, and her goals firmly grounded. She was the type of person that could literally accomplish everything she put her mind to doing, and do it well, even when she had to juggle a bunch of other things into the equations. She was always my source of guidance and stability. She was always there for me and kept me motivated and feeling secure enough about my own goals to be able to accomplish whatever had to be done. I am who I am today because of how she raised me, but at the same time, my personality is drastically different from hers too. So naturally, the outcome I'm facing in all of this is a challenge for me to accept from myself--because I'm trying to accomplish HER will (literally) and not my own, which she had written with great detail and specifics. And while all bases are covered, the task is a challenge to accomplish.
I'm not sure if that makes any sense. My mind is still a bit foggy from sleep deprivation. :-P
But your statement, "It is irresponsible to ourselves to think that we could even come close to stepping into those shoes," brought back a memory for me. I actually said something almost exactly like that moments after she passed away and I was still sitting next to her and crying. I can't remember who I was talking to but I said it to them as we sat there in those moments: "She was my rock, the foundation of my whole life. How can I EVER fill her shoes? How can I go forward from here and do what I'm supposed to do next?"
Whoever that person was said something like, "You will just have to, and you can. You have her strength in you."
To this day, I really don't know if that irritates me or if I should be inspired by that. I have had to find a strength within myself over the past year that I never knew I had, but it's nothing like how she was, how she would have handled things in this very situation if she were in it. I would be fooling myself if I said I could do a better job, but then I have to remind myself that I can't expect myself to do a BETTER job, I am simply handling it differently than she would, which doesn't make it better or worse. Just different. But that is difficult for me to accept of myself, personally, because I do admire her so much and I spent my whole life being guided along by her. I don't have that anymore.
And with my sister, our age difference is almost 11 years. Mom spent the majority of my childhood raising me as a single mom before she met my sister's father and they had her. They divorced when she was six years old, and she then raised my sister over the next 10 years as a single parent. So basically, from day one, I've been more in a parental role toward my sister than a sibling, and especially after the divorce, my mom really relied on that role I played. So basically, losing my sister has been a bit like losing one of my own children for me, and beyond frustrating and heartbreaking because I have no legal standing to do anything about it. The only thing I can do is let it go and let things happen and wait and see, and that is A LOT easier said than done. The whole ordeal with her has torn me apart pretty badly as it was coupled with the death of our mom.
And yes, I have had an attorney representing the estate and myself as the executor since last April. That has really been how I learned a lot of the ins and outs of handling this. I also did therapy sessions last year between April and August, and the biggest benefit I got out of that was how to cope with the PTSD issues that haunted me. I didn't really have "problems" beyond that that were overly pervasive in my everyday life and functioning and dealing with the grief. Once that was under control, I decided not to continue with the services because I'd been so bogged down trying to schedule everything else into my days and weeks without the concern of making an appointment to therapy.
The main issue I have still is just feeling overwhelmed with grief most days. Just missing her and missing the life I used to have and missing my sister and just feeling frustrated with it all. But everyone says all that is normal and time will pass and ease the stress and pain eventually, so...I don't know. I'll just wait for that truth to happen one day, I suppose.

Avatar universal
by brice1967, Jan 16, 2013
APH84.... Bless your heart.  You have all of the time you need to grieve.  There are no text books or time limits on grieving, but I do know that time will make a difference.

"How can I ever fill her shoes?"  I completely understand that question.  I asked it of myself when my dad died.  He was a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  No way could I fill those shoes, and neither can you.  But the deal is, you don't have to.  You are only you and that is all you can ever be.  You can learn, you can bend, you can stretch, you can tap into some of your mothers strengths.... but you can't fill her shoes.  And really, that is an honor to her.  Filling her shoes or being her means that you would have her troubles.  That isn't fair to yourself.

I didn't grieve my dads death until some 14 years or so later.  I stored up all of that emotion and covered it all up by trying to be him... walking in his shoes.  In the end, that cost me years of MY life.  It also took a toll on my little family.  

Listen, just reading what you write I can feel the emotion and I can sense a lot of strength.  Some battles take longer than others, and the strong do prevail.  Learn these lessons as they come to you.  They are making you stronger.  Take some time every day to just breath a little.

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