I’ve read some of the threads on this site, and my situation is probably not as dire as some, but I have no-one to talk to. I’m the sole caregiver for my 93 year old mother, since 2012, when she stopped driving. I also work full time. I feel like I’m working 7 days a week. I spend both Saturday and Sunday driving her to do her shopping and errands, and spend time with her during the week. I have no social life, except for some lunches at work. I’m single. I can’t travel, because I don’t have any backup. The only time that I’m not stressed is when I’m at my office. My office is my safe space - I love Mondays. My mother is very emotionally dependent on me. Last week the bank made a mistake and she wanted me to drop everything during a work day and drive her to the bank. She’s depressed because she doesn’t get out enough during the week. She won’t have anything to do with Senior’s programmes, paid caregivers, it has to be only me. I was really sick this winter, and she still demanded that I take her out - she said I was malingering and all I had to do was to splash some cold water on my face and get going. She said she couldn’t trust me anymore because I was always sick. (I think I had bronchial pneumonia or something). I have spoken to her many times about how I need a back up; not having a back up stresses me out. Finances are not an issue for her or for me. I would like to hire someone to take her out mid-week so she won’t be so depressed but the answer is no. 4 years ago I managed to get away for a weeks vacation. I paid her cleaning lady to go and knock on her door every day and report back to me that she was okay and to get her anything she needed. She got the door shut in her face and was told not to come back. I’m getting sick all the time, with bad headaches and it’s starting to affect my work, I’m having trouble concentrating, I need to take medication to sleep. I feel like I’m living in a box. I’m exhausted. My mother thinks I should devote all my time to her, because she looked after her mother. When I pointed out to her that she didn’t have a full time professional job, she said “oh right”. My mom is fine mentally, but she is failing emotionally. I really want us to have a good relationship for the time we have left together. I know it’s up to me to set boundaries and look after myself. I just feel so guilty when I set a boundary that it’s easier just to give in.
"Finances are not an issue for her..." Time to start helping her pay for things she needs/wants to get done.
Too bad that she doesn't want anyone but you to do things for her. My FIL did that with my husband and we nipped it in the bud. Instead of my husband picking up his dad, I showed up to take him to the dentist. He came up with all sorts of guilt-infused nonsense. I patiently stood there, let him have his little temper tantrum, and told him that if he wanted to go to the dentist he should get in the car or he'll miss his appointment. He got in my car but sulked like a child. It was beyond ridiculous. He obviously survived my suboptimal chauffeur services, and your mother will too!
Does she have her important paperwork - living will/advance directive, durable power of attorney, will - all in order? If not, get her an appointment with a family or elder law attorney. In my opinion, taking responsibility for someone without having the authority is a bad idea.
Plan a vacation. Then tell your mother something like: "Mom, I'm going away at the end of the month for two weeks and want to get your transportation, housekeeping, groceries - whatever - in order. Let's look at your calendar and make those arrangements."
Only you can stop enabling your mother to behave this way. Swing by the senior center and pick up an activity schedule and hand it to her. Say something like "Mom, I'm starting a new project at work and won't have as much time to spend with you during the week. I think it's a good idea for you give the senior center another try." Make yourself your new project. Your mother is too selfish to accept the truth - that you deserve your own life - and so you will probably have to fib in order to break this unhealthy dependency she has on you.
Mom also thinks I should be her "all". There recently has been a bit of relief because she has home PT/OT which meant for awhile daily visits, now tapered to about 3/wk. I think I'll continue it on when insurance stops paying and hire someone 2 x wk to take her out. But it is easier for me, because it is my home, and I have been made to be more "forceful" of making some things happen.
She has always been a "NO" person and doesn't want to do anything at all unless I do it, too. Single life.... yeah, me, too. Recently, I'd had a rough day working and wanted to eat out, called Mom to get ready, and we'd go to the restaurant 5 minutes from home. She again " I don't feel well". So, I went by myself to a restaurant with a bar and sat at the bar as I was by myself and didn't want a table; had a great salad and glass of wine, and the gentleman next to me struck up a conversation and I had a great time out. This is once over the last few years. Maybe I'll get the nerve up and do it again :)
Coming up, I'd planned a short out of town vacation for the both of us and for the last couple of months, it was "No" over and over and over. Finally I gave up and a week ago she stood at my bedroom door and said she'd go. Well, fine. Then Friday night she did one of her taunting type behaviors which I have asked her repeatedly not to do, that it really bothers me, she did it anyway and then tried to justify. I was so angry! I decided right then and there, I will go on this vacation by myself. I called and canceled her part. She does not yet know this as we haven't spoken since then. Yesterday night, she blocked the doorway and wanted to know if "we're ok". No apology (she has never in her life ever apologized... big sign of narcissism!) and I excused myself and walked past her. Sad, I don't want life to be like this, but I am not in control of everything, and just learning how to control myself to try to keep from being reactionary.
I didn't mean to go on about myself, really other than to let you know you are not alone, and maybe all of us kids of NPD parents can help give each other the courage to go forward with our lives. (And oh yeah, our family moved away from grandparents when mom was in her 30's, and we would make the annual summer car trip to visit.... so when mom tries to say something about never acting like this with HER mother, I remind her that she never took care of her mom and that she never had a job. )
Your mother sounds like she is suffering from an extreme case of selfishness. More nicely put, one could say she's a narcissist.
How about taking a two week break? You've offered alternatives to your personal assistance. She has refused.
Now is the time to stop dancing to her tune. Refuse to play her game.
There's a book by Townsend and Cloud. It's called Boundaries. If you haven't read it, you should.
Have you thought about going to a therapist to try to figure out why you are subjecting yourself to this? And why you feel guilty about standing up for your health and wellbeing?