I'm at the end of my tether with my manipulative elderly parents who live overseas.

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My dad is close to 90, my my mom early 80s, living in Europe, but not in their home country. They are totally alone, have alienated everyone around them apart from a few masochistic neighbors, have mobility and vision issues, won't move back to their home country where they have a bit more help. I'm in the US and no siblings. My mom in particular is a passive aggressive borderline personality disorder victim complex, emotionally abusive, money/hoarding issues real piece of work (always has had) I get daily phone calls telling me how bad I am, how she can't cope, how my dad did X and Y and poor little her.. She nags like crazy and tries to take away every little pleasure he has. He explodes and then she runs to me like a victim. They blame me for living far away, but study, work means I"m here with my family and they are honestly so emotionally weird I wouldn't want my kids near them. We dread going, for about 2 days a year and even then they criticize my elementary school kids non stop. I am dreading what will happen when my dad dies (he's more than a decade older and has health issues, though not the underlying mental illness of my mom, which no-one in the family acknowledges). My mom is going to want to come and visit me and she's just bizarre- tries to play the normal mother but has no idea how to do this. Brings back bad memories of how she treated me as a kid. I've had this hanging over me since I left home, been criticized for everything I did (I've done well in my career, but that has never been acknowledged of course). It's horrible to say this but I just wish they'd die and leave me alone. I don't want to be 50 before I'm free to not have their daily crying wolf and 'poor little me' and 'why didn't you call me back immediately' calls. I don't know why I'm writing.. just got another screaming call from her.. (i tell her now if she can't talk to me in a civil way, without interrupting, I'll put the phone down) does anyone have any advice?


faraway, I feel your pain because my mother used to do that to me when I lived in another state. It always made me feel so guilty. My parents were not willing to adapt their lives to the changes, so expected someone to step in so they wouldn't have to. Several years after this started, I finally caved in and moved to be with them. I am glad that I hadn't done it when my mother first started her woeful calls to me. That would have been over 10 years.

I think in your position, I would be looking around for a promising assisted living community near you. That way when you Dad passes and Mom comes to visit, you'll have a nice place where she can stay that isn't with you. From what you write, she would probably drive you crazy if she were under the same roof.

This is a wonderful place to vent and I have a feeling that you need to. We're all ears and heart here when it comes to caregiving.
Thank you JessieBelle, you are more loving than me to have moved to be near your parents and thank you for your very kind note. I would love to put her in assisted living - but she would make a HUGE issue of 'why don't you want me' so I'm preparing to hide behind the 'you don't have healthcare in this country (which is true), and can't stay in the US beyond the 3 or so months (not sure how long) that your visitor visa allows..' etc. She's also from a mediterranean culture that doesn't really believe in assisted living. Kids are supposed to look after parents.

She almost wants me to say 'you can't live with me' because that feeds her 'poor little me' attitude and she can get sympathy about that from the few masochistic people around her that believe her lies.

Yes, you're right our marriage would be over and my kids would be in therapy if she were here for more than a few days. Skype calls are screaming matches between her and my father..I hit mute so my kids don't hear.

Thank you for also for just acknowledging I need to vent. I feel guilty doing so. My husband's parent are younger and still active (he's an only child too) and he doesn't sometimes understand how nuts the situation is between my parents and how much hurt I was growing up with that woman. I hesitate to say 'my family' referring to them because I don't feel I've had a mother- giving birth isn't enough to make one a mother, behavior towards a child is the key. I feel terrible saying these things about them, but to ask me now to 'look after' them in the way they didn't look after me as a kid is painful. Yes I had food and shelter, but emotionally they were completely absent and I got out as soon as I could. Now they rest of the family (her siblings) is sending me emails saying 'oh we can't look after them even if they move back here to their town, they are YOUR parents.' They know there's weirdness but they wash their hands of it, as they did when they allowed my mentally ill mother to move overseas with me as a small baby and start the abuse. The best thing my husband has ever said in regards to this situation is 'you're so not like your mother' that was a big comfort, though I knew it deep down!

I think you hit the nail on the head when you said they are not willing to adapt to changes and want to live the illusion that all is the same. Self awareness is so so important imho.

Thank you for your virtual hug!
Oh dear, crazy knows no borders. Sounds just like my mother. She has been mad at me for moving to a different state (my husband lost his job) for 20 plus years. It is all about her.

These types are all the same. Me, me, me and some more me. I don't blame you for wanting them to just leave you alone. I hope things work out for you in the future and just don't buy into the pity party. They love it when they have an someone to whine to. Set borders and do what is reasonable for you and your family. She will never be pleased, so don't try to and she will use you up if you let her. I speak from experience. Good luck.
((((((faraway)))))) I so identify with what you wrote about the phone calls, only I have, over time, stopped answering them all, and hung up if they got difficult. My parents ( dad is dead now for years) are of European origin though they moved here. My mother is now 100, has Borderline Personality Disorder, is narcissistic and lives in an ALF. She calls rarely now, but emails me occassionally over 20 times a day. I have drawn some very firm boundaries recently as a number of the emails are abusive.

My advice is to extricate yourself from these daily dramas. You do not have to be a participant in the Skype or telephone dramas. You are choosing to do that by talking on the phone daily, continuing Skype sessions even when they deteriorate into yelling sessions etc. It sounds like your mother, amongst other things is narcissistic, so what she craves, more than anything else is attention - at any cost. If you refuse to give her that attention - which she demands on her terms - she may not continue. If you draw some boundaries, she will find someone else eventually, to feed that need. In any case you will be out of it. You can tell her that you will take, for example one phone call a week, and let the others go to voice mail, and that us the converstation is not pleasant, you will hang up. It is not your job to mediate between your dad and your mum. Not your problem - nor is it your problem to provide a home to your mother once your dad dies, no matter what she says. She is competent mentally - it is her job to provide for herself. Do not fall for the line that it is your job to look after her. You need to develop a bit of a thick skin around people with these problems. Yes, she will say things to peoiple who will listen - you can't change that, but do not let it drive your behaviour. In fact, that must not drive your behaviur.

There is a website that many find helpful - google daughtersofnarcissisticmothers (we are not allowed to post links here,) and you will find many of the interactions between your mother and yourself, and information that will help you

Quote - She almost wants me to say 'you can't live with me' because that feeds her 'poor little me' attitude and she can get sympathy about that from the few masochistic people around her that believe her lies.

My experience is that my narcissistic mother will always find someone to complain to, and to bad mouth whoever is not doing what she wants them to do. You cannot change her - only yourself. Obviously you cannot have your mother live with you, or even stay with you for long, I totally understand, as do others here. My mother abused the privilege of visiting me, so I finally had to put a stop to it. You do not have to do what she wants. You can decide what works, and doesn't work for you aand that is what you need to do, and tell her - clearly - and don't argue ir try to justify yourself. It might be easier to put it in writing. Will she use that to create drama - sure, but that is what her life is about anyway, and if it is not one thing it will be another. She wants to play victim and poor me - so be it.

Detachment is needed to survive a parent like you mum and mine. here are some notes on detaching, I have shared before on Aging care.

Detachment is not a feeling so much as a choice of behaviours, though the feelings should follow the behaviours. Detachment means you can maintain positive behaviours towards to others –kindness, compassion,

Accept that they are responsible for their own choices
Anger –deal with it in a healthy way
Blame –don’t blame, and don’t accept blame
Consequences – face them and see that others experience them -e.g get off the phone or Skype if your mother displays negative behaviours
Decide what you are willing to do and what you are not willing to do
Don’t take on blame, guilt, manipulation, anger - don’t enable
Focus on yourself
Forgive, but don’t forget the need to protect yourself
Grieve the relationship as it was, the hopes that you had, the mistreatment you received,
Refuse to be manipulated e.g, emotional blackmail by fear, obligation and guilt (FOG)
Respond, don’t react
Separate - physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, socially from others behaviours/feelings
Set boundaries
Say “No”
Space –create it between you and them
Try not to take the behaviours personally
Treat others and YOURSELF with love and dignity
You can only control /change yourself – your emotions, your behaviours –do not take responsibility for the others feelings or behaviours
Realise it is a process and that you will make mistakes and get “sucked” in, but that you can learn from your mistakes.

and finally - a saying that means a lot to me - by Paulo Coelho: "When you say “yes” to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself".

Put yourself and your family first, and, particularly, look after you. Counselling might be helpful in dealing with this. I have found it so. The stress from parents like yours and mine is hard on mental and physical health. ((((((((((hugs))))))))) Keep us updated. Joan,
oh no i just wrote a long comment and 'there was a problem posting' arg.
yikes.. anyway since i can't remember it all. i just wanted to say that thank you so much joan - the paul coelho comment was very on the mark.

i have analyzed my mother so much over the years but like you concluded there is nothing that would satisfy her. let's say i did everything she wanted. essentially moved to her town with my husband and kids, became a slave to her. she would still not be satisfied. i concluded long ago, when i was a teenager that there was s'thing wrong with her. and slowly i stopped telling her anything important. this made her mad. but if i told her something she'd use it against me immediately. if i didn't, she'd get mad for 'not sharing' but as it became more important for me to find 'me' it became more important to keep the newly found me away from her vindictiveness. she would even call my office and try to either bad mouth me to my bosses or tell sob story lies about things that made them innocently find me and tell me to call her (then i told them she'd nuts). this has not been easy in my career.

i have self sabotaged myself before she could, either by not taking on projects i knew i could do, or working below my capacity. yesterday, after reading your post, my eyes were wet and i recognized so much of what you said.

you have so been there joan, and the other posters in this wonderful community - thank you so so much for reaching out and helping a stranger. it's the first time i posted and i feel like a 'bad daughter' even now sometimes. i do not hang out on self help boards, but after yesterday's screaming call - (i'm hyper calm, because she WANTS me to get angry so she can then be a victim. the calls end when i keep calmly repeating to her that i can't help her if she interrupts me every 2 secs. she then tells me to go to hell and puts the phone down, then writes me a long snail mail letter about my failings. i've stopped opening them but will keep them for my kids when they are grown so they know.)

living overseas there's not much she can do to me, but the one thing i'm worried about is her not leaving me a very special house in her will. it's our grandparents house, small, not valuable, but the only place i was happy in my childhood. they played with me, they loved me openly. (i have no memories of her playing with me, i do have memories of her walking away saying she's busy if i came in from a playground with a scraped knee, or after severe bullying at school being told 'i must have deserved it - at 6 years old' ) . so i don't tell her i care about this house, or she'll use that as blackmail.

otherwise i'd break off all contact. and if things get much worse, then the house may not be worth the pain of continuing to be in contact with her. she calls (not skype_ almost every day, repeatedly -and if i don't pick up - then when i eventually do the first minutes are a diatribe about 'why didn' t you pick up). i have continued with skype once a week for about 10 mins, so that more my dad (who is v old but pretty harmless now, though he can be critical too) can interract with the kids who he sees about 2 days a year. but now my kids are old enough to know that it's not normal that grandma tells them the drawing they did is bad, or that whatever pursuit they share with her 'is a waste of time' i stop skype at the first abusive comment. i literally sit there with finger on the mute button. inexplicably once in a blue moon she doesn't say something offensive.

i am absolutely dreading going there myself, alone for a week soon, to help them sort out some things, but also secretly to talk to my parents doctor. my mom tried to have my dad certified as mentally incompetent so she could control his finances and so on. but the mental health professionals didn't buy it and reading between the lines of their report, they are aware there's something wrong with her.

one thing i don't understand is loving a mother who is like this. i haven't loved her for decades, and i don't look for her love any more. hopefully that will make it easier when she dies. but i do feel weird when people talk about normal weekends they have with their parents, or that they call their parents on mothers' day or something. i also have a very difficult relationship with my mother in law, who is generally a sweet person. but she didn't have a daughter (my husband is an only) and she wants me to be that fantasy best friend and daughter. as you can imagine that sends shivers up my spine since closeness withe a mother figure = pain for me.

so how does this end? is there relief when the person dies? can these people be 'trained' like you train a toddler to share toys or whatever. i know i've suggested counselling to her but she flies off the handle ad denies there's anything wrong with her. 'course she does.

i also looked at your link joan- didn't work but it did lead me to a few google searches and i found lots of other stuff lie a book called 'will i ever be good enough. there's a therapist in colorado who deals with daughters of narcissistic mothers and she has a good quiz on her website to help determine if yours is. i'm not sure of the difference between that and PBD, there may be some overlap.

anyway thank you all.. i will try to help in return if YOU need an ear to listen, though you are probably much more experienced at this than me! (i'm in my early 40s- my parents married not for love, but because that's what you just did then. they have nothing in common and both are weird, though my dad is loving in his own way, played with me and so on. he'd have been a healthier person mentally without my mother but with a normal wife. and i remember surreal conversations as a kid where i felt he was confiding with me about job stress or whatever and it should be to her but of course she couldn't help. i tried to play the role of adult listening to my dad, but i didn't have the tools for it of course!

anyway.. hugs to all.. you've all really helped me.
I have a narcissistic mother oversees, who behaves exactly the same way. My father has died many years ago. I have a brother who is also a malignant narcissist. He is 62 and I am 58. The best way, I think, is to maybe help financially and arrange for your mother to have some help. Don't live near her, especially, if your children are young. My mother really hurt emotionally my three (now adult) children, as she was spending 6 months each year in our home! Now my brother is divorcing his wife of 35 years for a younger woman, but he is upset because his adult children figured out that he is a narcissist and they are avoiding him. So my mom's latest words when she called to wish me happy birthday: "your brother is miserable, even suicidal; I am very worried. Anyway, happy birthday and don't concern yourself with our misery!"
Again, try your best to not live near your mother; as damaging as phone calls are, personal contact is much worse.
I think this is a case of drawing hard, firm boundaries and enforcing them ruthlessly to protect yourself and your kids. When your father dies, find your mother a quality assisted living facility just far enough away to give you an excuse not to visit more than quarterly. Call bi-weekly, and otherwise let the chips fall where they may.
Hi again,
I discovered my mother is a malignant, engulfing narcissist (plus she has histrionic personality disorder) two years ago at age 56! I was having problems and one of my adult children suggested that I look up NPD. The next thing for me was therapy and it has helped a lot.

I come from a Mediterranean culture; graduate studies and employment opportunities along with the fact that both my husband and I feel that we fit better in this culture than the one we were born into made us decide to stay in this country and become Americans. For the first 25 years of my marriage, my mother spent 6 months with us in the states and she demanded that I spend at least 2 months in the summer at her house! Then she decided that she was too old to travel and so, my wonderful husband and I invited her to come and stay with us for good; we were going to start the process of obtaining a "green card" for her. She refused our offer in the most insulting way and decided to stay near my brother and his family; my brother is also a malignant narcissist and her golden child. So we kept going for a month each summer to see her and spend the whole time with her. Up until two years ago! I had all kinds of health issues and psychological issues to deal with; I couldn't take it anymore.

My mother tells me the nastiest things about me (she is ashamed of me as she told me 2 years ago), my husband (after 40 years of seeing me so happily married, she told me she wishes I had never met my husband!!!), and my children (she puts down everything they do, their marriages, even their looks); she insults us all the time; she lies about everything. She befriends our old friends back in Europe and she badmouths us. She has one rage after another and you can never know what caused it. She is envious of everything I do. She is a typical malignant narcissist and my brother is the same. So I decided to go low contact with them. For me it means calling on Skype three times/week for an hour! After each call, my hands are freezing cold and I have palpitations! I don't share anything with my mother anymore. I don't even know that she has noticed! It's all about her anyway.
So here is my question: I plan to go see her this summer, but only for one week and I will stay in a hotel (she liked the idea of the hotel). Is this enough time? I dread it. But I also dread telling her it is going to be a short visit! She will have a rage! What should I do?

My mother, an A1 narcissist, made my whole life a living h**l and it was only a couple of years ago I discovered the term narcissist and looked into it. Once I started coming here I realized just how many narcissistic mothers are out there destroying other people's lives. I cared for her for four nightmare years until she went into a nursing home in November 2012 but that didn't stop her. Eventually I changed my phone number, telling her it was playing up and I got rid of it.

Out of duty I ensure her bills are paid and she has all she needs but I visit infrequently. After each visit I feel quite ill for the next couple of days. I have no feelings for her whatsoever and never did. The stress of the years has affected my health, I've aged terribly and my hair is falling out. For my health and sanity I had to get away from her and try to rebuild my life, These toxic people suck the very life out of you and will continue to try to do so until they die unless you get as far away from them as possible.

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