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Another frustrating phone call with my mom and I need to vent. We've had a strained relationship for many years. She is a narcissist who wants everything to be about her, who wants constant praise, and so on, so she's difficult to deal with and I never get a "normal" mom experience with her anymore.
Today I call and check on her and she informs me she's made contact with my cousin (she cut off all contact with her sister 20 or so years ago), and he was going to visit her. Later it comes out that she has hopes he or his wife or his daughter will take her shopping. Nothing about reconnecting, just looking for a shopping trip. Whatever. Maybe it'll turn into something good.
In the course of a conversation with her, though, she continues to rattle my cage, making her usual points:
1. I'm ungrateful and never give her recognition. (I've sent cards, told her she made a lot of nice memories, etc. or thanked her when she does something nice or something I like: I believe in giving people credit or saying something nice because I know I'd like that myself, so I believe in giving what or how I'd like to receive.)
2. She has always had to do everything alone. (This is her constant story. Never mind that she's had help from me, in the form of money I've given to her, lent to her, shopping I've done for her, appointments I've taken her to, vacation time I've used on her, etc.)
3. Awful things I've done to her. Since I've married (10 years ago) I've changed. I think what's changed is someone is more important to me than she is, and she resents that. I still help her and take care of her, but because I share a home and time with another person it makes me a bad guy? In addition she accuses us of stuff that's never happened. (She gave us some stuff we never wanted but took it after she tried to push it on us a half-dozen times and then she turned around and accused us of theft. She's hidden money -- accused us of taking it -- and then found it and it's like, well, if not that there's something else awful that you'd have done or will do.)
But what is it with her? I'm at the end of my rope. Every time I talk to her I end up with a migraine or I end up sobbing uncontrollably or just want to curl up in a ball and sleep for hours. It is like she is not getting what she wants (which I suspect is a daughter who will be at her beck-and-call and constantly praises her and so on) so she, instead of saying, oh, it's good my child has a happy marriage and a nice life, feels hatred and resentment toward me.
I don't even know what I'm trying to say here. I'm just frustrated and sad and tired. I'm tired of every conversation with her ending up being about how she is the victim or how she has had to endure alone, or how everyone has screwed her over or something. She tells me I'm angry and bitter or mean and miserable, and no one I know says I'm that way. I think it's how she feels and she accuses everyone else of having her state of mind. But with the accusations of theft and how much hate she throws my way, I don't know what to do.

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It's very easy to say, "Then just don't talk to her" but many of us have family obligations often with family members we'd rather not speak to. I have a very self-centered aunt and talking to her is a trial but I only have to do it every couple of weeks so it's tolerable.

Cut down on the time you spend on the phone with your mom. If she is behaving in a mean and nasty way there is no reason why you have to be at the receiving end of that. When she gets going explain to her that you have to go and you'll talk again later, then get off the phone. Get the preliminaries out of the way first, 'how are you doing?' 'how are you feeling?' etc.

You don't have to be held hostage by her behavior. The phone works both ways. Give her a few minutes of your undivided attention and then get off.
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Thanks everyone. I really needed to vent so I didn't explain a lot. I just ranted!
My mom will be 77 this year, and there is some dementia going on, and one doctor in the past has said she thought my mom might be bipolar or something but nothing has formally been diagnosed. My mom is on antidepressants, and so am I.
My mom did have a bad relationship with her mom (I never met my grandmother, as she died before I was born). I'm reading on some narcissistic behaviors now and realize my mom can't help a lot of it, but it doesn't make me always feel any better!
As for the family contact, I was a bit shocked (she complains about how the whole family always hated her, but she was the one who cut off all ties) but told her that I was happy she's reaching out and I hope it all goes well. If it gets her out more I say that's a good thing. I can't get my mom out for anything except to take her out to get groceries and cigarettes, so maybe talking to other folks and doing something a bit different will be good for her.
I really hope she reconnects and establishes a relationship, and it's not for just a taxi service (though she told me she is sure his wife and daughter like to shop so she thinks they can drive her around).
She used to take my cousin camping when he was a kid and stuff like that, so maybe being around him will bring up some good memories and good moods. Fingers crossed!
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What's with her is dementia. Get her an Rx for an anti-depressant. If she won't take it, then maybe you should. Part of dementia is manipulation, making you feel bad, feel guilty feeds her ego. Don't pick up the guilt card when she plays it, tell her you have to go. When she has a tantrum, tell her "I'll come back when you feel nicer" and go. Do not linger, just get your coat and go. When my BIL finally dug up the courage to end the conversation and go home, Mom was a whole lot nicer on the next visit.
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I fully agree that she doesn't speak logically and probably doesn't really understand what she's doing. But that doesn't make the pain she causes you any less.

When I first began reading posts here, I would have suggested ways that you could try to reason with her. Now after seeing how common this behavior is, I say walk away when she becomes like this.

It might not help but tell her that you won't tolerate this kind of disrespect. Don't offer explanations or excuses. Don't argue, disagree or agree. Just cut it off.

Not only do you not have to justify your actions but she may not be able to reason them through.

Just say you won't be treated as she treats you nor will you be insulted.

If you have to, leave the house and go for a walk; terminate a phone conversation. Don't contact her again for awhile. If there is any part of her behavior that's not dementia related, she'll have ample time to rethink her actions. If it is all dementia based, you've at least stopped having to listen to it and becoming more frustrated.

And there is also the possibility that she sees your marriage as a threat because someone else is getting attention she may feel she'll need going forward.
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"But what is it with her?" She is mentally ill. You did not cause it, she did not ask for it, but it creates a huge emotional burden for you. You cannot cure her. You cannot even make improvements. So, save yourself. Detach. Speak to her less often. Don't stop loving her, but love her from afar.

Many people on this forum have first hand experience with narcissistic parents. I'm sure you will lots of helpful responses. At the very least it is good to know that you are not alone!
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You don't say how old your mom is or much about her general health. She isn't acting logically, so I'm inclined to think there's dementia going on there. Her paranoia isn't uncommon at all.

If you can, stop taking it personally. She's probably deeelighted her niece and family is coming to visit. Something new in her life! A shopping trip or two! Celebrate with her. Try not to look at mom's ulterior motives (she just wants to go shopping) and be glad someone else is in her life for the time being.

You're letting your mom lay all kinds of guilt on you. Don't know why you would. Sounds like you're a good daughter... Hold on to that thought and see if you can overlook the short-comings of an old woman.
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