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?

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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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