Tim: I’m screaming “HELP” and no one’s listening

Tim, Ted and a carful of young’uns had a wonderful day in Yellow Springs and “many adventures in the Glen.” They came back cheerful and rested. Tim was a lot of fun. He didn’t resist their attempts to help him climb over rough patches, apparently, and he didn’t deliberately choose the more risky “screw you” routes he would have if I’d been along. He didn’t demean the women present or tell the children filthy jokes.

Meanwhile, back at the motel with Jerry for two days, as happy as I was for them, it was physically excruciating not to be with them. It was my own choice but it was a terrible one, to come all this way to get to know Ted and my nieces and nephew better and then deprive myself of that opportunity because I was afraid of being abused and humiliated by Tim.

In town Tim even checked out senior living places, got paperwork to fill out. That was wonderful news.  On their way home they dropped Tim off at Ted’s house so we could pick him up there on our way to the airport.

When I heard Tim was at Ted’s house I had my first breath of hope. What if we didn’t pick him up? What if he stayed with Ted until there was an opening in the town where he wants to live and die and could move right in? I would have complete confidence Tim was in good hands with Ted.

But when we called Ted to suggest it he said no.

Because of stories Tim has been telling them, they now believe I am the abusive one.

No one understands. By saying “I can’t do this anymore; I need someone else to take over–,” I am saying “–and care for him as if we have, provide the services he can no longer do for himself, enrich his life with conversation, laughter, games, movies he does not have living alone. Bless him and enjoy his company. I need to know he’s safe so I can have peace of mind.”

What everyone in the family is hearing is, “I want to control Tim’s life and I’m not willing to let him live on his own with independence and dignity.” Tim wants to go back to the roach motel in Long Beach (while he tries to apply for senior living in Yellow Springs 2,000 miles away! That’s not going to be possible.) He will be confused and dirty and “buzzy” again before long. In fact at the reunion he had already stopped taking all his pills (including those for confusion, paranoia and  depression). He will be taking buses going the wrong direction. He will be getting lost in Dads R Us trying to find a friend’s house. He will be wandering around at night, picked up by strangers offering him a ride home.

And that is supposed to give me peace of mind. Knowing my brother is living alone, unable to take care of himself. Knowing he’s lonely and depressed. I am supposed to pretend he doesn’t exist.

Desperate, I called 911 the night before we left Michigan and told someone from Suicide Hotline that I was staring at the NO DIVING sign at the pool and considering diving. I was looking at my wrists and picturing them cut. In response they sent a cop to our motel room–a man! I’d specifically asked for a woman, but the only woman was busy–to help me consider options that would not put me over the edge. They sent Brad, a nice guy who told me I am an enabler and I need to stop it. I said, “I’m TRYING to stop! That’s why I called for help, to learn other options for my brother.” Brad said brothers and sisters aren’t supposed to take care of each other, that he himself has a sister with Krohns disease $86,000 worth of medical bills.

“I feel sorry for her,” he said, leaning casually against the door jamb. “But I don’t feel any obligation to help her. You can’t help him, either.”

I thought it was a bad analogy. I didn’t think helping a woman with a disease constituted “enabling,” but I held my tongue. I thought, That’s why I asked to talk with a woman and thanked him.

The cop and Jerry agreed that Jerry would interface with Tim, being firm, giving him his plane ticket today and if he makes it to the other end of the country with it, taking him to his apartment (because his key is at our house) and cutting him loose to fend for himself. That’s what Tim wants too–as little contact with us “meanies” as possible.

That’s not my idea of treating someone with the disease of forgetfulness, confusion and grandiose assumptions of his own capacity. I don’t want to cut him off. I want to hand him off–to someone like me (but not me) who can get him through until he gets appropriate housing where he wants to live. I’m not trying to punish him for having Alzheimers.

I know what will happen when he gets back to Long Beach. We’ll have to get his phone turned on again. We’ll have to get his newspapers re-routed again. We’ll have to change his address for him and notify his friends of it. We’ll be the ones on call for Life Alert when he falls and will have to provide transportation to AA and doctors’ visits and the pharmacy and the market because there isn’t anyone else. And we’ll be sucked right back into his full-time care.

I have made my needs known, as they taught me to do in the hospital so many years ago. I have stood up and said distinctly and audibly in every way I know how, “NO! NO MORE. THIS IS IT. THIS IS WHERE I DRAW THE LINE. I can’t do this. Someone else must. He can’t be allowed to fall through the cracks. It’s someone else’s turn. He’s taking me down with him! I’m drawing a line right here. We are not taking him home.”

I’m screaming “HELP!” and all anyone will advise is , “Just let him fall.”

I’m trying to put on my oxygen mask first and it’s not working. Jerry’s going to take a tough line with him (good luck bossing an angry man) and put him in his place and be done with him and I’ll live with a knot of regret and guilt the rest of my life.


About Jessica Renshaw

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3 Responses to Tim: I’m screaming “HELP” and no one’s listening

  1. as16@juno.com says:

    Why can’t Ted help him. You have done your share and more. That is not fair. And you need to take care of YOU for awhile. We all need you around. Satan is attacking and he can’t win!!! He is a defeated foe. Praying for you and Tim and Ted and especially Jerry. Allean

    Please note: message attached

  2. This entire post demonstrates how much Tim controls your life even when you’re not physically with him. Maybe you and Jerry should deliberately come home without Tim and MAKE Ted take care of him. You need some serious rest from all this responsibility.

  3. tedrey says:

    Dearest Jessica,

    This is written in the utmost love and caring. I am not going to “take sides” between you and Tim. I AM going to try to show why, in my opinion, all your painful attempts to help Tim have come to this debacle.

    You have acted the Good Samaritan, at great discomfort to yourself and Jerry, trying to bring to bring health and safety and comfort to Tim’s declining years. All you expected was a little gratitude. And you didn’t get it.

    You made one error. You did for him what you would have had him do for you. But you didn’t recognize that he was NOT you, that his needs and wants were not the same as yours.

    You yourself want to be sure that you are safe. You want your environment and your future free of danger and uncertainty. You want people around you that do and say expected things. It gives you security to take the right food and medicine. Above all, you want to feel that you are taken care of by somebody.

    But when you find your own misery in “knowing my brother is not eating right or taking his medicines as prescribed,” you’re prescribing your own mental sufferings.

    I do hear you screaming. NO! NO MORE. THIS IS IT. THIS IS WHERE I DRAW THE LINE. But I think I also hear Tim screaming the same thing. “NO! NO MORE. Let me live my own life, walk my own paths, choose my own destiny, die my own death. As* I* wish it, not as you do.”

    You don’t want him to go out alone, because he might fall and hurt himself. But as I read Tim, to be kept in like that is imprisonment; he’s willing to take the risk. If he gets lost, he’ll have a new experience. If he falls, he’ll look for the stars. If he dies, he’s gotten through to where we’re all going all the time.

    You worry about Tim “wandering around at night, picked up by strangers offering him a ride home” Jessica, that is exactly what Tim has done all his life. From it he has gained experience, friends, and a lack of fear. You can’t imagine that behavior without fear. But the fear is yours, not his.

    You hate to think of him being “lonely and depressed” in his apartment; (you actually keep his apartment key yourself!) But it is precisely in his apartment that he feels really himself and whole; he was lonely and depressed at your house. If he died with you, it would be a tragedy for him; if he died at his own apartment, it would be closure.

    Your methods were completely well-intentioned, but they haven’t worked. The solution is not to hand him over to another person who would use your methods. What some of us are trying to tell you is “Let him go.” You can’t make him want for himself what you want for him, or for your own peace of mind

    There were 17 people at Lisa’s this weekend who want the best for Tim. He is not alone. None of us are going to “cut him loose.”

    You took this burden on you for the most noble and loving reasons. Please put it down in the same spirit.

    With much love and hope for your comfort, I’m still

    your other brother


    P.S. Consider removing some of your recent blogs from public view. I feel they don’t do justice to Tim or to yourself.


    On Thu, Aug 8, 2013 at 10:51 AM, hiddeninjesus

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