Since I arrived Dec. 4 about 7 weeks ago here in Southern California at the end of every 3-6 hours with my mom I feel like a miserable failure. I rented my own apartment 2 miles from her home and have done the driving, grocery, doctors and hospital runs. In between I have taken her to museums., movies, shopping, and other entertainments to get her fresh air and out of her hot house. There has not been one session with her that has made me feel worthy. She questions every thing if do from how I wear my hair to making sure I know the difference between the kit. had towel and dish drying towel which she changes everyday. I have been bringing a lot of food I make up to the house, tonight she demanded she was going to make her own plate which looked like bird droppings and then called me a pig because I ate 4 times the amount.
She claimed I was messing up her refrigerator with all the containers and made me take them home.. This getting rather comical..
If you are dealing with a person who has a psychiatric & personality disorder, you absolutely NEVER can use their responses to you as any kind of measure of success. Sometimes when you are doing the exact right thing, their reaction is very negative and very strong.
Give yourself permission to be a human being who will make mistakes. And learn to say "so what!" when they happen. Nobody is perfect, despite how they advertise themselves.
The hard part is recognizing the mistake. My mother's horrible selfishness and contempt for me while demanding all my time and attention is not due to any of my mistakes. My mistake (if I can call it that) is sticking around for it for so long and trying to make it better. I had to recognize & learn that she is not capable of change, but I sure am. So I did.
Get help. Therapy works wonders. Get a book like Surviving the Borderline Mother, or any one of the many books out there on being the adult child of a person with narcissism & other Cluster A, B, or C personality disorders. You will feel a load come off your shoulders when you realize you have been programmed to hate yourself from day 1. And programmed to be overly sensitive and concerned about how others react to us. And programmed to feel like someone else's problem must be my own and I have to fix it. No - you don't own that.
Eventually you start to recognize that you are a separate person, entitled to feelings, boundaries, and time alone. Entitled to interests, loves, and fun.
Then you start to see who the crappy person really is...and it's not me.
BOUNDARIES - get some and then stay behind them!
Mom won't like it, but that's OK.
Don't put yourself in a position for criticism. Other people now need to take on her care & feeding instead of you.
Don't promise & commit yourself. Pull back, like others have said. Busy yourself with YOUR interests & YOUR life-affirming activities.
Take as much time away from her as you need, be it 2 weeks or 20 years.
AND NO GUILT.
Also, maybe it's time to cut back on how much time you spend there. Example, just do the grocery shopping once a week. Scale back on the outings like the museum, movies, shopping. Cut back on the food. You know that she eats like a bird. So, just bring smaller portions over. Perhaps, you can eat a large meal before going to visit her. Then you don't have to eat too much when with her. When you leave her home, make sure to transfer whatever leftovers to her own container. Take home with you your own container. Your containers are invading her space. So, don't leave any of your stuff behind.
FYI, most of us hands-on caregivers have been described and told to everyone (relatives, non-relatives, social workers, paid caregivers) that we are slouchers, not helping out, etc.... I never knew that my dad was telling everyone that I was a Bad Daughter. I cried a lot. I felt so betrayed. Did a lot of crying. Then I found this site. I vented all over the place. I'm doing fine now.
You will just need to find your own way, at your own pace - how much you're willing to keep trying to please your mom. Maybe backing off will give you some me-time for yourself. And find outside sources for positive feedbacks of YOU the person. I got my positive feedbacks from clients. It helps a lot to get these feedbacks.
What if you stayed away for a few days? If she calls, "Oh, Mom, I never seem to get anything right for you. I just thought you might want some time to yourself so you could do things right yourself."
If being a miserable failure is a promotion, what has your relationship with your mother been like in the past? Why did you decide to live near here and do all these things for her?