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Just found this website. Surely there is someone out there who also walks in my shoes. My mother, who is basically healthy, nearly 80, and lives one minute away from me with my dad, is one mean, spiteful person. She's always been that way. We've never had a relationship. I've come to terms with that over the years.

Mom has an amazing memory. She can remember things from decades ago. She also remembers every slight/perceived slight toward her, incident you did that made her mad, whatever. Nothing good, however. And most important, she holds grudges. She loves to. I just had a "wonderful" conversation yesterday with her where she went from an incident that happened a couple of weeks ago with my 7-year-old grandson to how selfish I am because my husband and I like to travel and if something happens while we are gone, they'll be buried before we get back, to an incident last Thanksgiving, and so on and on and on. She finally hung up on me.

But she said to me, "I do hold grudges. I like to. That's how I get back at people." I asked her if she ever would forgive someone, and she replied, "not usually. I can, but I usually don't."

My father is miserable. Something happened when they were newly married and she holds it over his head. She told me that one day, and he sat there and agreed. She's a miserable person. She's made my dad's life miserable. She wants to make mine miserable.

Physically, though, she is as healthy as a durn horse. A bit of arthritis seems to be it, although if there is more, she won't tell me. My dad's the same, but he doesn't have the memory she has. She's 79 and he's 81.

So technically I am not a caregiver yet, but it's coming, and I don't know how I'm gonna handle this. One day my phone will ring and my life will be drastically changed. If my dad goes first, my mom will have to move. She cannot stay in their home; it's too large.

Oh, and she hoards. I haven't been in their house in years. They don't want anyone in unless there's a plumbing problem and since my dh is a plumber, he gets to take care of the problem. So he's seen inside. He says it is unreal.

So here I am, an only child who is nearly 54 with my parents just a short walk behind my home. I have two adult children: a son and daughter. My son lives 45 minutes away, and my daughter, son-in-law, grandson (7) and granddaughter (1) live about a mile and a half away as the crow flies. I'm not a caregiver yet. But I know my life will become a living hell when I become one, unless my mom goes first. She's too mean, though, to do that.

Honestly, I'm surprised my dad hasn't pushed her down the steps. I hate to actually type that, but I've thought that so many times.

I suppose my question is this: how do I deal with her? How do I set boundaries? For the most part, I just don't talk to her. I can go weeks without speaking to her and it doesn't bother me. I do talk to my dad, but poor Dad gets caught in the middle a lot. I'm definitely a NON-CONFRONTATIONAL person. Just being near my mom makes my blood pressure go up.

Surely someone else out there walks in my shoes. I need someone's shoulder to cry on. My husband's is there, but he doesn't really UNDERSTAND. He's close to the situation, but she's not his mom. His mom was opposite mine: sweet and loving.

So I have a mean mom. Help.

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Thanks again for comments. Ag8080, it is really weird trying to communicate via computer. You are correct in that no emotion, no inflection, nothing can be inserted into the typed word. Occasionally the italics or capitalization or quotes can be added, or the smiley face, but it still isn't like speaking and seeing facial and body expressions.

I wasn't upset if you took it that way. Again, thanks to the internet's lack of emotion. There is absolutely no way I can even begin to explain all that goes on with my mother. In trying to hit highlights to I don't drone on and on, I leave out so much.

But I do appreciate your concern very much. And also everyone else's. Knowing I'm not alone helps. What I wish is that we could all physically meet and have a weekend (OMG! That would be a trip my mother would not approve of!) of just talking.

I've actually looked for some group meetings locally, but cannot really find anything.
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Wow, VS - reading your post was like biting on a piece of silver foil - that shot straight through a nerve with me. Mother's mantra is "people are horrible." Ah well, it only took me about thirty years to realise that wasn't even usually true..! And oh how I share your sense of sadness for our mothers. Both for what they missed out on, and for what made them have their beliefs in the first place. If we could only see the scars, eh?
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My heart will always ache a little from having let my mom discourage me from having closer - or ANY - relationship with friends or other family. My heart aches for her too, I know she did this out of a deep sense of not being good enough and irrational fear of being criticized. Facebook only goes so far to catch up on all we missed!
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Sharon:
I did not mean to upset you further. I was only speaking from my own experience. My children (both adults) never liked to be put in the middle. If your daughter wants to talk, of course talk to her. I did not know the whole situation and was coming from my own perspective. Well, it's better to "not care" than to hate. Indifference is freedom. True freedom. I wondered because you seem to still feel her slings and arrows.

When we write on forums, we answer from both a)what we read whichmay not be what you man. Much is lost in written communication. It is not like being on the phone where you can hear someone and say ..."is this what you meant when you said? Also, we do not know the whole situation, the history, so that, many times, there is room for misunderstanding and subsequent hurt feelings.
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Thank you to everyone for your comments. I have truly learned a lot just by coming to this forum. I have purchased three books, two mentioned here, have finished one and will devour the next two shortly. Again, I am learning so much. But I do realize that there is my lifetime of ...I don't even know what word to use... to deal with and that I probably will need some professional help. So I feel I am perhaps off to a better start coming here before they need my help than waiting until I am in the thick of it. You all have helped tremendously.

ag8080,

I don't feel I've brought my daughter into the middle of all of this. My mother treated/treats her as she treated/treats me. So my daughter knows firsthand how my mother is. My mom has even lit into my son (33) (my daughter is 31) who can do no wrong, but is the most irresponsible person in my whole family.

In talking to my daughter yesterday, I told her that I just don't care anymore. I don't hate my mother. I just don't care. I don't care if I never see her or speak with her again. I don't care if she hates me. I don't care if she loves me. I just don't care. She has influenced my dad to distance himself from me, and, even though we've always had a great relationship, my dad and I, I don't care if he cuts me away, either. It's his choice. It's his loss.

Sharon
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Sharonkay:
I would not put your daughter in the middle, even IF she sides with you. It is really unfair to her and it may, one day, backfire on you. I did this once re my Dad (who is abusive) and it only hurt them and they did not want to be put in the middle. They estranged him and I have to live with that. There are people like friends, pastors, and others. Watch what you read ... Narcissistic is the big buzz word and you will find literally hundreds of books on the topic. Make sure you choose one by a person who is schooled in the field, preferably a psychiatrist. You can read all you want, but the lifetime of abuse does not go away without "real" help. I would advise you to never be her caretaker. You don't like her and, believe me, sick people aren't the easiest and things would get out of hand. Not judging you. It is just a bad fit. You need a lot of love, caring and patience to do this job which, under the best of circumstances is trying. If you already dislike the person, leave itto someone else. Good luck.
PS: Hate will keep you tied and miserable. You are not free. Reading a book isn't going to do it after all these years. I hope you do not take offense because none is intended. People like that get worse with time and worse with illness.
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Sharonkay, if you can find a therapist that deals with elder care, that would be your best bet. Wish I would have found one, even though I liked my therapist she wasn't in tune with all the issues regarding elders.

One thing my therapist did teach me is that it was my parents decision to remain in their single family home, and that my parents need to live by their decision.... thus, if my parents have no transportation because they can no longer drive, that is THEIR problem, that they shouldn't keep depending on me to drive them everywhere....

That if they are bored being in their home, that is THEIR problem, not mine to correct or to spent time watching them nap ;)

That my parents could easily fix the number of issues they have if they would move to a retirement community, which they can afford. My Dad would start packing tomorrow but my Mom doesn't want to spend the money. They are still living in the world where a loaf of bread was 25 cents.
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Linda22, good comment about the making decisions by not making decisions. Mom is a pro at this. It is just passive aggressive behavior. Another way to get what she wants without having to do anything. Responsibility and my mother do not know each other!
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sharonkay, I find that my husband and daughter are excellent at cutting thru the rubbish with my mom. They have enough knowledge, yet enough distance to have clarity. Watch out for parents making decisions by not making decisions. My mom nixed every option we presented for life changes after Dad went in NH. We ended up doing things "for now" until we were totally responsible for her care and happiness. My sister and I do what we call "20 step mental chess" with Mom. Before we do things or even say things, we think ahead about 20 steps because that's what she's doing. It helps us avoid caving in on our needed boundaries.
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Sharronkay my husband also tries very hard to listen and he sees even more dysfunction than I do. But like your husband, he can not fully understand the depth of the problem. You just have to live it. His mother was loving and generous with him. He misses her terribly. When my dad died I felt very little and today I do not miss him. That was a big red flag.

Like someone posted on here about narcissism and abuse, it is like porn, hard to define but you know it when you see it. Yes, you are enmeshed. It will take much time and work to detach from your mother's behavior. I am still struggling and some days, like today, I feel great sadness about the entire situation. you will make great strides when you work at it but there will be slip ups. It takes a long time to overcome a lifetime of abuse. Take care
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Many thanks to everyone for your advice/suggestions/input.

I AM seriously thinking about talking to my cousin. But first I will purchase a couple of books suggested here and scrounge around for what else is out there. I am a reader.

I am open to therapy. But I want to try a couple of things first. Lucky for me, my daughter is a good sounding board. She has been on the sharp end of my mom's tongue many times and knows what it's like, but, doesn't understand what it's like to be my mom's only child. My husband is also intensely disliked (hated) by my mother and knows what I'm going through and listens to me, but his mother was totally different, and he just doesn't TOTALLY UNDERSTAND what I'm going through. He is very affected, of course, by all of this. It's not only my life she's attempting to ruin, but his also.

I've never had a therapist before. I'm going to google therapists in the Nashville area and see what pops up.

Thanks again for everyone's support. It has helped.

I'll keep you updated.

Sharon
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I do believe that there is lots of information on the internet about toxic people, most of it by non-professionals. The point is that you need more than this forum or a book. You are enmeshed whether you realize it or not, and, at the very least, go ONE time, at least one time for yourself.
Read over what you have said about how you feel about your Mom. If you had gotten over it, you would not be writing that. Think about the anger statement ... I will not repeat it ... you know it ... you are still under her thumb. You could be living 10,000 miles away and, she is still in your head. If she were not in your head, controlling and upsetting you still, you would not have posted to this forum and you would not be thinking, I may one day be her caretaker. Think about it.
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SharonKay, I am so sorry to read that you have a toxic mom. . Bottom line, if the person is toxic, YOU really don't have to put up with them no matter who they are, daughter, son, mother in law, sister in law, it does not matter. You probably feel obligated since you are an only child but I hope you can work through that. There is an excellent book called 'Toxic People' by Nancy Glass, that book should help you get things moving in the right direction.
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I know the topic has come up but I want to encourage you to help your parents get the proper POA and advanced health directives in place now rather than later. Having these two in place made a huge difference for my brother and I as we helped both of our parents in their advanced years.
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Yes, please listen to ag8080. This person is absolutely correct. It is believed that growing up with dsyfunctional or abusive parents/family can caused PTSD. I believe this. When my father was alive I would promise myself when I visited him I would not respond to his nasty, negative verbal abuse. No matter how hard it tried, I would lose it. One time he was really been an a-hole to me and I could feel my neck on fire and my head begin to spin. It was then that I realized that this was beyond my control and psychological damage had been done (I was 55 at the time). That was when I decided I had to do something about distancing myself and setting boundaries. I had to learn how not to responses. It was beyond my ability to know what to do at that point. So I educated myself, talked a great deal about the situation and decided to distance myself from him and my family. Thankfully I live in one state and they live 800 miles away. I would have killed someone by now if they lived in my backyard.
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At least your mom is honest about enjoying being mean. I take it it's like a sport to her, and she enjoys the thrill of dishing out vituperation. I'll happily trade my MIL for her. MIL can be mean as a snake with the shingles, throw tantrums and call me names, and the next time I come in contact with her, whether it's hours or months later, she acts like I'm her best buddy. She never, ever, apologizes for the awful things she's said.

I avoid her as much as possible and have taken steps to put her on a waiting list for a nursing home for when she permanently goes off the rails. There's a saying that you should be nice to your daughter-in-law, because she's the one who will choose your nursing home. In my case, that's spot-on! It's a very nice nursing home, but she's still going to hate it because it's not Buckingham Palace and the staff aren't going to treat her like she's Queen Elizabeth.

And no, MIL's behavior isn't a product of dementia; she's always been that way. In her case, it's narcissism. Narcissists think the world revolves around them and they can do no wrong. Maybe your mom is one, too. Or maybe she just gets off on being mean. Who knows?

You don't have to become responsible for her if your dad dies first. You can have the court appoint a guardian and walk away from the messiness of day-to-day care. You could become conservator for her financial assets and deal with that end of things from afar, if that will help you preserve your health and your sanity.

Maybe you could take out dad out someplace for a few hours to have some one-on-one time with him without your mother. You can't rescue him if it's his choice to stay with your mother, but at least you could give him a respite from her.

As for when she starts up on you, leave. Hang up the phone. Act detached, as if she's some random old woman who walked up to you and started saying crazy stuff. If she sees she's not getting to you it will spoil her fun.
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Addendum: I know you have kept your distance, but the fact that you think yo will be her caregiver and are writing about all that she does means you are still enmeshed and affected by it all. That is why I have suggested professional help so that you do not get "guilted" into doing something that would be inadvisable under the circumstances... should it ever come to pass.
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Please get professional help for yourself. You have been abused for a lifetime and it is very complicated. You cannot change her, of course, and you cannot just change yourself and respond differently without a lot of help. This has been going on for way too long. She is abusing you and you have taken her abuse. Your father has played a role by staying with her. Please get professional help. We can suggest and advise, but for you to really put it all into action for yourself, you need professional help. JMO
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Oh Sharronkay, I just read your post about finances. I do believe we have the same mother. However, my mother chooses to give my brother all financial information and me nothing. They both act as if I were a thief that they have to protect her money from. And this has caused great discord in my family. However, my brother has told me "you will take care of mom". From God's mouth to my ear?!?

What mom has done is destroy her children's relationship. My brother, being more like her, fell right into this. So I have boundaries around both of them. At least you are not dealing with a selfish brother or sister as well. Dysfunction affects each member of a dysfunctional family. No one escapes.
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Sharronkay first of all you can not change her nor should you try. She is very narcissistic and enjoys the trouble she stirs up. Her thoughts are about HER and she does not care how much she hurts you or your father. It is all about her. And no matter what she does, she is not guilty, no matter what she says, she did nothing wrong. Every conversation is turned to a pity party about her. Everything you do is unappreciated. How do I know this? These are classic signs of narcissistic behavior. The guilt tripping (projecting) and negativity. Even your dear father I am sorry to say is codependent in this little circus. You are the victim if you let yourself be.

Your mother has some of the very same behaviors that my mother has. And my mother is 83 and very healthy. The best thing you can do is read books about dysfunctional families and narcissistic behaviors. Also get counseling as to how to set boundaries with your mother and understand your father's enabling ways.

There is a term "the fog of war" that I often think of when dealing with my family. You have to step back and educate yourself to why things are "just not right".

I will give you a little recent example of my mother's personality. I just had my first grandchild almost a year ago. My mother hasn't bother to visit or be involved with my daughters for years and years. However, I would print out photos of the new great grandchild (whom she never asks about) and send them to her. The last time I told her I was mailing her some photos she said, "well I just wish you would send me a picture of you, I haven't seen you since you lost so much weight". Now this was a guilt trip about me not flying up to visit her but going to see my daughter and granddaughter. She only wants me for two days and then complains to my brother about every little thing I do while there. So I stopped visiting. Now it is poor me, poor me, no one cares about me. I just ignore it. You have to put up some powerful boundaries.

I have no intentions of caregiving for my mother. She made it very clear my entire life that every penny she has is for her nursing home care. Well by d*mn it will be. I would never subject myself to this petty selfish woman. Never. So I suggest you look at AL or Nursing a home care as well. And will she hate you for it, most likely. They love to have something to hate over. It just makes their day.

Is this a sad situation? Absolutely. We both deserve better but life is not always fair. Take care and get counseling.
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Chast's book is called "Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant". She's a cartoonist for the New Yorker. It's a very funny, sad and poignent book about her parents' very co dependent relationship, their decline and her attempts to manage to be a good daughter while never having gotten the kind of love from her mom that she wanted. Not at all a self help book. Just one woman's insight into her own situation, which you might find validating. And while you might get wonderful support here, I'm suggesting therapy because, hearing you tell the story, you've bought into the narrative that your parents' have presented to you. We all do this; as children, WE MUST! But as adults, we can learn to look at the family "myth" through different eyes. And see who all the contributors are. You'll come out stronger on the other side of that experience.
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Well, if I didnt know what "their consciences are seared" meant, I do now! I guess be thankful Mom is only ruler of her own home and her own marriage, and not the whole world. And, not YOU. You may find yourself in a spot of needing to "rescue" dad and if you can do it, do it. Yes, it was sheer foolishness to let his life and marriage turn into this on the basis of whatever guilt he has for whatever he did, but he could have a chance to be a decent person with a decent life. And yes, I know what you mean, there is a sort of bitterweet blessing of knowing what it is like to have the venom stop dripping into your life, and a chance to recover more and more fully without facing more of it every day. Honestly, though it more or less stopped before she passed on, the other aspect of that is that well, its over and it wasn't worse than it was. No more nameless dread of what will it be like when...Not that I don't miss my Mom in many ways, but I do not miss being belittled, criticized, scolded, and made to feel bad about who I really am. The journey of forgiving your parents and yourself, and rebuilding yourself, is long and seems to have more hills to climb every time you think you've gotten to the top of it, it does not really end with the parent's death either.

SharonKay, if there can be a miracle in your parents' lives such that your mom just stops being hateful and indulging in the power over others that grudgeholding gives her, it will be an answer to my prayers and yours. Sometimes miralces happen. Something could shake her loose. If it helps you any, look at her with sadness and pity for what her life and her legacy could have been...and what it is. How small her world is, how it shrunk with her grudges and how her greed and possessiveness has her living in a junk pile instead of a home. Get all the love and support you can get to be your own authentic person and don't be trapped - you do not have to make the same decisions about life and relationships that your mom and dad did, even though you are their daughter.
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Sharonkay, if you were a fly on the wall at your parents' house, I wonder if you would be hearing the same type of conversations between your Mom and Dad. Some people just thrive on gossip, grudges, etc when there are other people around, they like an audience... I had an Aunt and Uncle that did that, always shouting at each other, but when my Uncle passed on, my Aunt was so lost without him.

My Mom rules the household where she and Dad live and I've been trying to get both my parents to move into a retirement community... but my Mom won't budge... Dad said he would start packing tomorrow if Mom said she would move.

I know what you mean when you say if one parent should pass on, you hope it would be your Mother.... same here.... my Mom is far from mean, a very sweet lady of 96, but so very stubborn, doesn't trust anyone, and quite stuck in her ways. Dad on the other hand is very easy going, he would be happy to live in a tent in my backyard :]

I am also trying to get financial information and after life information from my parents so I know what I need to deal with should something happen to either one.... it's like pulling teeth.... my parents need to update their Will, etc. Hopefully I can get them into an Elder Law Attorney real soon to discuss whatever final plans they have. I really believe my parents are in denial about their ages.

I, too, am jealous of friends who parents had already passed on years ago. I know that sounds harsh, but when my parents were my age they were retired and seeing the world, they never had to care for their parents.... I don't see that ever happening for me because I believe my parents will outlive me :(
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I hate typing this comment.

I'm jealous of friends whose mothers have passed away.

But that's how I feel and the anonymity of the internet makes it easier.

Plus I know that people here understand.
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Countrymouse,

Our living arrangements are unusual. We bought around 60 acres in the country years ago. My parents at that time lived an hour away. Ah, 20/20 vision. Anyway, they liked where we were so we sold them ten acres and they built their home a quarter mile behind us. We share a driveway. So just up and selling and moving would be difficult. Actually, we put our home on the market a few years ago after a big blowup, but it didn't sell.

My advice to anyone is not to do this.

Anyway, we seem to be stuck here until at least both homes can be sold. I don't know. I just don't know. I feel stuck. And I don't like the sound of that.

looloo,

I'm thinking of calling my cousin, my mom's sister's daughter. I do know she went through counseling regarding her mom, but I don't know all of the details. Right now my mom takes care of the finances as far as paying bills. That's about all they do. Very old fashioned about writing checks and all, but that's fine. They don't have many bills, and Dad was in the service so gets retirement from that plus their social security. I'm fairly sure they have a hundred thousand or so, but I don't know more than that. Oh, the house is paid for.

During our last conversation, Mom made the comment/question, "what do you want to know? Our finances?" I replied I wanted to know about their health. She shares nothing. So POA stuff and legal stuff, I haven't even thought that far ahead. I do know they have a will and living wills. I don't know what's in them. I'd think, being their only child, I'd be the sole receiver of whatever they have, but I'm not even sure about that. She's insinuated before that that may not be the case, but I think she's just enjoying lording that over me. If I ask straight out, I won't get an answer. Or it'll be, "wouldn't you like to know?"

I'm depressing myself.
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There's more than meanness going on here. There's dominating, controlling and manipulative behavior as well as acquiescent and subordinate behavior.
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You are right. He just goes along; it's easier.

What I don't want to be is him.

Any suggestions on books? Is there a section in the bookstore on moms who are just mean?

Thanks
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Dad picked her as his wife and stuck with her, his decision. He brought you into an environment he did not fix. These things happen, we are imperfect.
The heck with books, they won't fix this at this stage.
Just move on, when the time come dad and or mom need to go to a facility. I hope they have some funds. I do not like mean people no matter who they are and I certainly do not knowingly welcome them to my home.
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I'm joining the others here who are recommending that you develop your boundary skills, perhaps with a therapist. My therapist has helped me immensely.
Also, decide what you will and won't do. Will she ask you to be her POA? Would you want that? There's stuff to figure out, that's for sure. Maybe you will want to go "no contact" (yes, it's a thing for dysfunctional families!). Maybe you'll communicate your feelings and plans to her, and maybe you'll decide not to. Actually, now that I've written all this, I strongly recommend finding an understanding therapist. You don't have to go every week, but going regularly will change your life in a huge way. Good luck :)
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"…my mother lives one minute away from me."
"…we've never had a relationship."
"...I just had a "wonderful" conversation yesterday with her where she went from an incident that happened a couple of weeks ago with my 7-year-old grandson to how selfish I am because my husband and I like to travel and if something happens while we are gone, they'll be buried before we get back, to an incident last Thanksgiving, and so on and on…"

Sharon, you do have a relationship with your mother. A very long, very intimate and very bad relationship. Bad for you, anyway; she evidently thrives on it.

She likes to hold grudges. Well now. I say to my children, when they catch me out for crabbing about something: "eee, I do love a good grievance!" But I am joking. She seems to have made it a way of life.

You're a bit stuck in the quicksand, aren't you. Sucked in so deep it's very hard for you to wriggle out. But your mother is hale and hearty, and this could be the rest of your life we're talking about. How do you like the sound of that?

I have one question which I would like hear three good answers to, and then I will shut up. Why can't you move away?
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