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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?

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It is not all your fault. If something happens to her, it is not all your fault. If nature takes its usual course, she will die before you do, and it is not your fault. Her nastiness is not your fault. Keep this firmly in mind. No matter what guilt trip she tries to send you on, it is Not Your Fault.

It sounds like your mother doesn't even need a caregiver. You certainly shouldn't give up your career and your relationship to become a taxi service. If/when she does need care, take the time and make the effort to arrange good care for her in PR. Then get on with your life in NY, visiting and calling as appropriate -- on your terms, not hers.

Continue with the semi-annual visits, since those are pleasant. Perhaps even consider making three visits a year (and include your sweetie). And reduce the number of phone calls. Drop the trying to calm her. "You sound upset Mom. I'll call again later." AND HANG UP. Do call again later, and repeat the hang up if necessary. She threatens to cut you out of her life? "Sorry you feel that way, Mother. Call me if you change your mind."

You are in charge of your life. She can give you tickets for a guilt trip, but you don't have to take that trip!

Read up about narcissism. I wonder if this is your mother's problem. If it is, it is Not Your Fault.

Stay strong!
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Your life, job and relationship are in New York. Your mother is in Puerto Rico. Leave it like that, it's fine.

If phone calls turn ugly, learn to recite "I have to go now mother, I'll speak to you another time, love you lots" and hang up. Seriously, practise those words until they become automatic. And get into the habit of calling her at particular times - Sunday evenings, Saturday mornings, whatever - so that you don't feel so obliged to pick up the phone every time she rings you.

Your mother can't do anything to you. Can she, now? Anything that you do as a result of your feelings about her are still *your* doing, and not hers. Don't blame her for your actions. She doesn't control you, not in fact, and so she cannot be responsible for your choices.

There is, moreover, nothing "evil" about a woman approaching old age who unloads on her daughter. Annoying, sad, in denial about her loneliness perhaps, and possibly - something to consider - at risk of failing mental and/or physical health. But she's not evil. Don't allow her to become this all-powerful malignant being in your life. She's your mother, and you care about her, and that's why what she says bothers you - if you really were a bad daughter you'd tell her to go and beep herself and hang up, wouldn't you?

She adopted you and she gave you a home and a good upbringing and that is why you are now happy and successful; and you are duly grateful. But if you wreck it, you're actually just throwing away all she gave you, and that really would be poor thanks.

Next visit, have a good close look at how she's managing - physical health, taking care of home, paying bills, eyesight, hearing, all that stuff. Don't quiz her about it, just observe. It may be that she's beginning to struggle but too proud to ask for anyone's help except yours. Well, there will be other options for her and you can help her find them. Just be clear that you are not one of them.

Final exercise. Ask yourself, as you lie in bed, "which would I rather, be here in New York with my work and my boyfriend and my nice life? Or pack it in and move back to PR to live with my temperamental, needy mother. Hmmm, tricky..."
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Hello everyone, I have a mother who is single by choice. She is 73 years old lives in Puerto Rico and still works. (She's a work addict) she works a regular job at the natural reserve, she's pretty active goes out to casino, church, etc with friends. I love her and miss her always but she lately has placed me in a strong corner, I feel pretty trapped. She insists on me returning to live under her roof with the entire "I am old and alone" she's never home!! I visit her 2 times a year. I paint her house spend quality time with her she's very happy nice person until I return to NY she goes fine a few weeks then goes crazy on me. She yells tells me I am dead to her, she is changing her phone. Not to write to her goes crazy insulting my life my spouse. Then starts talking about her other fights with her friends and insults pretty ugly. I know she misses me but she has pushed me to the point that I don't even pick up the phone. I am literally scared of her yelling. (She used to beat and yell at me as a child) so mentally still takes me back to my childhood. I work as a massage therapist and make pretty decent money and have been in a relationship with someone for seven years and my mother wants me to leave everything and move in with her. i love PR but the truth is there's no money to make and my spouse only speaks English. She says I'll take care of you or work at a McDonald's. I want to cry cause she is not taking my feelings in consideration and blocks them it's all about her. "All I've have done for you" I am adopted. I feel like she adopted me took in the "role" of a mother and now expects me to leave everything to just be by her side and drive her around cause she can't drive for her life. Her friends take her places cause they use the car she got me years ago fr college. Which she kept on her name so I could not use a car to drive in NY thankfully is not a necessity in NY. I just don't know what to do with her evil calls. I feel sick thinking anything could happen to her and it's all my fault cause I am not there. Can some one please share some light am desperate at her manipulative evil conversations. Then she will pick up the phone okay and snaps at me for no reason I try to calm her but nothing helps... HELP!
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susan - you are not callous at all!

rena (((((hugs))))) it is so hard to get out of the grips of the narcissists. You need to do what is good for you. You count at least as much as they do. It is OK to say no to requests, I know it feels scary to begin with but the sky does not fall in. Your mother is looked after and you have health issues to consider. I wish I can considered my own sooner. Look after you.
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You are never sounding callous! Your comments are always helpful and sweet. Thank you and hugs.
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I just read my previous comment. I sound very callous.
I meant to add that I'm accompanying my husband on a business trip (planning for a year) which happens to coincide with my father's birthday, and that I'll be visiting them in
December instead.
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Excellent, Rena58. Well done! I have just had to inform my parents I shan't be travelling to England for my father's 80th birthday. Like you, it went surprisingly well. But I know they won't 'behave' another time. I've been lulled into thinking they've changed before, to be shocked and disappointed another time. I've learnt there is no way to alter BPD - it's an illness.
And, like you, I end up feeling guilty. It's years of training that they've done to us. But at least we've said "No" for a change.
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Susan65, thank you so much for writing. I have had a hard time thinking of ways to avoid going. I became anxious and depressed and started having all my usual symptoms of muscle pains etc. I did write down why I think it's unreasonable to travel for so many hours just to stay a few days. My brother doesn't email! So I called him yesterday and I told him my reasons and that I'm thinking of not going. I said I'm still thinking about it and that I will most probably not go. Well, he was understanding!!! It was a nice phone call and he didn't rage at me! I guess I got him at a good point in his day! After the phone call, I still had palpitations and frozen hands and I started feeling guilty for thinking so badly of my brother when he behaved so well. Two of my adult children happened to be visiting and they explained to me that his behavior was good, but also "normal" adult behavior and I shouldn't get excited that maybe he has changed. I know they are right. For now I feel good because I was dreading both the possibility of the trip and telling my brother. I'm calling my mother every day on Skype and she too the past few days is behaving. A miracle? Probably not. Thanks again and hugs to you and all adult children of narcissistic families.
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Rena58: Do be careful. He may say 'yes' just because he feels it's easier for him. And then you'll be stuck in that awful position of guilt and resentment. Write down how you're going to inform him that you won't be going. Perhaps you could email him rather than a phone conversation which could degenerate.
As you once told me, it's not our fault we have mentally ill mothers (or brothers).
Very best and please keep us updated.
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jeannegibbs, thank you so much for your reply. I'll call my brother tomorrow and I'll ask if my going there is going to offer any real help; if he says yes, then I'll go. Thanks again
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Rena58, I understand why your brother would ask for this. Often family can give each other some respite in this way. BUT your mother has 24/7 care. Brother should be able to leave as he wants.

I see NO POINT in putting yourself through this trip. You saw her a few months ago. If you have no desire to see her at this time, then it is not reasonable that you go. We reap what we sow. Your mother, an extreme narcissist, did not sow the seeds of a wonderful mother/daughter relationship. Why should she expect to reap that now?

I'd say, put up with feeling guilty (if you have to) at home, rather than feeling miserable half way across the globe.
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Hi all,
I haven't posted in a while, but I'm reading your messages. I have the following problem and need advice: my mother who is a really extreme narcissist leaves in Europe; my brother, also an extreme narcissist leaves near her; my mother is well off and has 24/7 care at home with a qualified nurse plus a house keeper plus a niece who is paid to supervise her care; my brother visits her often and he is her "real" child. I call her everyday and I see her for a few days when I visit. Last time was a week last May; she seemed well when I saw her; she is 95 years old. She now seems to have dementia. My problem: my brother called that he is going on a business trip for a week and asked that I go be with our mother. This means 30 hrs flight (both ways) plus 12 hrs waiting at the airport. I'm getting older and I'm not of the best of health. Is it reasonable to go? I feel intense guilt and I feel that I must go. I also feel fearful to tell my brother that I decided not to go. I don't think I'll be of any real help, but I still feel guilty if I say no.
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Yes and the guilt created by the parent or parents is actually a form of child abuse which goes by unnoticed as does when a parent makes a child a substitute emotional partner. We need to wake up to how much and how many types of abuse are out there. Sad to say it but some of this goes on even in church going families.
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I'm learning some things by your input on why so many adult children have this guilt. It's so unfortunate. This guilt by adult children who are working their fingers to the bone, giving up their lives, sacrificing their own privacy and careers for a disabled parent and still they are filled with guilt that they aren't doing enough. It boggles the mind. I do feel for them. What do you do about it?

I grew up living with my grandparents, great grandparents and parents. I had strong, good and giving role models and was taught to help others, do the right thing and to believe in myself. I learned to listen to that little voice inside at an early age and believe it has served me well. The Golden rule was my motto. I do make mistakes, but I know they are not ill intentioned. I do my best and understand that's all I can do, with my parents and others. I would not punish myself with guilt when I have done my best. I do have empathy for those who seem to be immobilized with unfounded guilt.
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Susan65,,

My wife reminded me that freudian psychology would describe an over active conscious as too much of a super ego which was his way of referring to the parents' voice. I've been told that too.
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Susan65,

Thanks! When parents groom a child to feel responsible for their parents' happiness, that kind of enmeshed relationships is professionally called parentification which makes one feel like they must function as their parents' parent which like you've seen just doesn't work.

My wife experienced that plus another version of parental grooming which also creates enmeshment a knee jerk reactions which I call partnerfication which is not a real word. In this, the child is drawn in emotionally to become the parent's substitute spouse either for a deceased spouse or one where their is a poor relationship.

My wife's mother did that to her and as is typical in a parent making their child their partner her mother told her marital details that should never be told to a child.

I only learned this lately as I been dealing with my own mother's issues who made me her emotional partner as well which she found ways to keep in place when she was no longer a single mom and got married again. I did not understand what was going on but I knew it was not right. I got very angry with her one day and point blank told her, "look you are married now, please let go of me."
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Good theory, cmagnum, regarding the parent grooming. In my case, I was brought up to feel that my parents' upset was my responsibility. Whatever I did (or do) is never enough. Hence, I'm already predisposed to feel it's my fault if they aren't happy. And they know exactly what to say to make me feel guilty.

With help, I'm slowly learning to not have that knee-jerk response. It's a long road and doesn't come naturally. I believe that I don't judge my own child and I certainly avoid making comments to him in a similar fashion to that of my parents.
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Some degree of guilt is normal and we should feel it when we do something that is actually wrong.

I think though that some have and an over developed conscious leads them to feel guilty for almost anything and everything. I think much of that type of easily raised guilt has something to do with the parent grooming them in childhood to have an an over developed conscious. That's my theory which may or may not be accurate.
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I read so much about guilt on this site. It really amazes me. I just don't understand it. I grew up believing that when you do what you think is right, you have peace with it. I guess I was blessed with a modest helping of guilt in my DNA.
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Thank you, everyone, for writing here. It's really helped me. It all sounds so familiar. I'm an only child with a BPD mother and a father who drove off every time she abused me.

And now I live 5,000 miles away. My 21 year old son is still in England and they use the "You're a terrible mother leaving your little boy when he was only 19". And what's worse is, it works. I have terrible guilt. (My son is fine, living with his Dad.)

Faraway: Don't let your mother blackmail you regarding her will. My parents recently told me I'm getting nothing - it's all going to my son (only grandchild) - because I abandoned them and don't deserve it. I'm so angry but just smiled and said "Okay". It's not worth trying to please them for an inheritance.

My biggest problem is when I visit. They want me to stay in their house, but my therapist warns me not to. I am physically ill for weeks because I can't tell them - I become my abused, petrified 4 year old self. My father uses "Family should be together" etc. I can't tell them I don't want to (also, their house smells). I'm visiting next month for his 80th birthday. I'm already getting wound up. It's the guilt again.

The distance does help though. I don't think I'd be as mentally healthy had I stayed near them. Keep strong.
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Forgive me, but your mom needs to be trained. Hang up the moment she becomes rude, and put the phone on voice-mail. Don't listen to the messages, just erase them. Repeat as needed.

I'm not suggestng you kick their behinds to the curb. But if they're going to keep making your life miserable there should be no place in your life for them.

You said you wished they'd die. Pretend they have.
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Suze, yes! Also a serving of Claude Rains on the side.
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Thanks Babalou. Does Paul Henreid come as part of the deal? :)
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I saw something on my facebook feed the other day that said "Do you feel like Cinderella? You never get to go to the ball but no matter how hard you work and how much you try you're always made to feel worthless" ... that kind of struck home.

I see I last posted to this thread four months ago and things have naturally deteriorated since then. My mother is almost 90, bed ridden, skin & bone, barely able to speak and nuttier than squirrel poop.

Over the months she has had a (phantom) cat ... bent down to pet it in the dining room, over she went, wheelchair and all, taken to ER for stitches ... there's a man who sleeps under her bed, plans to go live with one or two people she knew years ago so they can wait on her 24/7, move back to the UK (3000 miles away) to live with her brother in law (who she hasn't seen in over 30 years) so he and my father can go fishing ... Dad's been gone 16 years now ... and so on, and so on, and so on. I lived in dread of visiting and felt quite ill for a few days after.

My blood pressure is very high (I wonder why?) and I explained to my doc about the years, a lifetime really, of the living hell of Mommie Dearest. His reaction? "Some of these *%#!*% old narcissists just won't die". Yes, he's quite colourful!

I go back for a recheck on September 8 and we agreed that I will not visit her in the meantime. After a shopping trip the other day I dropped bottled water, apple juice and chocolate at the desk for the NH staff to take to her with the explanation I had a cold, distemper, rabies or whatever. By the time I got home and unloaded the truck there was a voicemail from the NH that she'd tried to get out of bed by herself and they found her on the floor ... again. No doubt, in her demented state, she thought I was still there somewhere and was coming after me to give me hell.

Sorry, not my problem right now and I'm starting to feel better ... the constant palpitations and thundering stomach like you just woke from a nightmare are subsiding. Going outside to pick blackberries to freeze and make jam in the winter. Tomatoes and other veggies coming in like crazy and I have to start canning soon..
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I'm still working on some new verses for my song "50 Ways to Leave Your Abusive Mother" So, set yourself free, even it it means getting some therapy!
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I very much advise watching the movie Now, Voyager if you haven't already.
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I see this is quite an old thread, but I thought I'd post anyway - at least it gives me a bit of space to vent.

I so associate with your post, Jojo Ellen. My mother has been passive-aggressive all my life, but it's only been in the past few weeks (following her sustaining a nasty fall) that I've really examined her behaviour throughout my life and come to realise this. I too live at some distance, she is in the UK and my husband and I are in France. My husband, who is only slightly younger than my mother, is unwell and leaving him alone is a constant anxiety. Nevertheless, I made some rapid covering arrangements here in France, and went back to the UK to coincide with her discharge from hospital. I put in place a whole care package for her, arranged a visitors 'rota' with her dozens of friends and family, stayed for five nights and all I'm made to feel is guilty. Though she hasn't actually said it she clearly shares your mother's opinion that as her daughter (and only child) it is my responsibility to care for her.

At 61 I've finally realised that SHE has riddled me with guilt for my entire life, and that it's impacted detrimentally on some big life decisions as well as on my day to day life. She's also made me ill at times from stress and depression, which I had always blamed on other things.

I've been calling her each evening while she is recovering from this fall, and like you I absolutely dread it because so often I'm reduced to tears by her asking me to go to the UK again - on one memorable occasion she accused me of abandoning her. She hasn't once asked about my husband.

I've been reading about NPD, and whilst I don't think she has this I do think she's borderline. The only way I think I can survive my mother is by maintaining a significant distance between us, and this I shall continue to do, but how one deals with the irrational feelings of guilt I don't know.
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I so feel for all of you. My 87 yr old mother doesn't have the rage thing going when I call her but instead is kind of passive aggressive. She tells me that she just sits alone in her apartment and cries all day because she is so lonely. She blames me for moving 5 hours away to be by our children and grandchildren. She says it it my responsibility as her daughter to take care of her. My brother lives in the area and calls her every week and takes her out to eat once a week. She lives in a very nice facility where she is in independent living. I don't want to call her anymore because I get so upset and depressed after the calls. I have even invited her to live with us but then she gets upset because she wouldn't be able to go to church anymore as we are not church goers. I don't know what to do to please her.
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My grandmother was very sharp to 93 and died of liver failure. (Who knows what caused that as she was a teetotaler. It was truly a blessing that she was together to the last 3 weeks of her life. But. yeah, limit what you tell your mom. Don't give her ammo to stew over and rip you with. Take back YOUR power!
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Thank you for the great advise, Moxie1. My mother is very sharp. even though she is 93. She is reading novels, learning a foreign language, and she is solving crossword puzzles. Her memory is amazing as well. As for the phone, unfortunately, she knows I call via Skype and she also has my home phone and my cell phone! But I understand what you are saying and I pretty much try to do it; it is best not to confront her and just escape as best I can. Thanks again. Hugs.
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