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This is just a mini-vent, because I needed to talk to someone. My mother is in mid-stage dementia. She has always been rather narcissistic -- a lot of take and a little give -- but she has descended to a point of complete narcissism. She is now mad at everyone because they don't pay enough attention to her. It is a irritating situation for me.

The past week has been the worst. My cousin lost his wife of 45 years unexpectedly. It was heartbreaking, because they were always together. I did the things I could do to let my cousin know how much I cared. My mother got mad at me because she and my father had been married for 64 years, so her grief was more important. I didn't realize there was such a thing as grief competition until this week.

For Thanksgiving, her grandchildren played with friends, instead of coming inside to be with her. I've been hearing about that one non-stop for 3 days. I told her it was normal for the kids to play, which just made her mad. I wondered if she thought they should all be gathered in a circle around her. I don't know what she expected of them.

Today I woke up sick, but I was going to still take her to church, wasn't I? No? Well, could I at least drive her there and pick her up? She kept on at me until I took her to church. I decided it was better than to listen to her narcissistic whining for days to come.

I realize that, in her dementia, she has lost all sense of other people. All of her vectors are pointing to herself. If family and friends are not serving her needs, then something is seriously wrong with them. Her grandkids are rude, her children are not doing right, her friends must be on vacation. Of course, I know her and know she hasn't given anything to anyone ever, so I try to let the words pass on by. Really, I am thinking that she reaped what she sowed, and she should be glad that she still has one person paying attention to her. Being that one person, however, is not easy. I have never dealt with pure narcissism. It is an ugly thing indeed.

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Awww - what's she got against the poor old possum? But as long as it works..!
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On a lighter side -- I've found something that works when it comes to food. My mother finds fault in many things I buy, especially the fruit. It isn't ever good enough for her to eat. I bought a bag of oranges a couple of weeks ago, but she said they were too dry and "not fit to eat." We have a possum that comes through the yard every night in its quest for food, so I started leaving an orange out for it every night. I told my mother the possum was really enjoying the oranges. Yummy nom nom. She told me that I was NOT to give her oranges to a possum. I reminded her she said they weren't fit to eat and got a, "I never said that!" She started eating the oranges again. (Of course, I'm still sneaking them to the possum, too, since the fruit is getting old now.)

So anytime she won't eat something now, I'll just say I'm going to give it to the possum.
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assandache, it is so discouraging when you give and give, and it still isn't enough.
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I had come here to this discussion today so I could reread my comment!!! I need to heed my own advice....

We've had a couple difficult mornings.. Mom has panic attacks occasionally and today I was told by her that I just walk away when she doesn't feel good!!! I told her what she needs to do when she feels this way. She doesn't like my solution to the attacks.. She wants me to call 911..I reminded her I awoke with her at 4am and settled her down then continued to sit with her for 4 hours. Sorry I had to get up to go to the bathroom!!!!
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(((((((((((SA))))))))) it hurts to have these things said about us. Mother maligns people all the time. I am one of her targets - so be it. It was harder when I was younger, but now I care less and less. They are the ramblings of a bitter woman who has chosen, and I do believe even with the BPD she has some choice, to take this path in her life. It says a lot more about her than it does about me. Same for you and your mum - what she said about you points much more to her than to you. But when we are young, we are more vulnerable and impressionable, and more easily hurt as we are still forming our self images. Believe me I know about being mortified But we can hold out heads high as we know the truth, You are awesome too!!!
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JB, you're describing my mom when you talk about how she says crap about 'taking you in when you had no place to go', blah, blah, blah... Only my mom told everyone and their brother that kind of shit after I moved in with her. Forget the fact that I had a nice place to live, paid my bills and actually had a life and was happy. Nope, according to what mom was telling everyone, I 'couldn't make it' and she had to 'support me'. She'd tell people this mess IN FRONT of me, like I wasn't even there. I wanted to crawl in a hole. Forget the fact that she hounded me to move in with her for over a year and I kept saying NO. Forget that we had an agreement that if I moved in I wouldn't have to pay expenses, which is why I agreed. Forget the fact that I was giving HER most of my paychecks and taxes every year.... Nope, she supported me because I was just a big, fat loser that couldn't do anything without her. **headdesk** Growing up, I was pretty much a recluse. I knew she told people all kinds of crazy stories about me, I'd overheard some of them, and was mortified. I kept to myself because God knows what people thought listening to her and she always had to have an audience. She loved playing the victim and telling anyone who would listen how lousy and rotten I was, how 'crazy' and unhelpful. Just...ugh. So glad those days are over. Central noble role indeed! All the time, JB, every time. You'd think my mom had a halo glowing over her head the way she talked, and I was the devil himself.
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((((((((((hugs)))))))))))) Jessie. We do work out our histories, and hopefully learn from them and move on at least in some areas. I married the same mistake twice - unresolved family issues, Then took a 15 year break before I met Gary. He is totally different from my exes and my family. It is taking a while for that to sink in in some areas. I am totally different to his ex. We are forging a good relationship What a breath of fresh air!!! I can be the person I am and like with him, if you know what I mean. I hope with this man or another you can build your own life. Please don't leave it too late, and let a good opportunity pass you by. We don't know what the future holds.

I think we were awesome kids and are pretty awesome now.
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Ah! My new motto -- life starts new every day.
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emjo, in a way we are lucky that we get to revisit the things about our parents that had such an impact on our lives. My mother's ways are not new. They are just more exaggerated than they were when I was younger. Now I can feel sympathy with the kid I was and admire that kid for having enough self esteem left to get up and face the world each day. Looking back, I was pretty remarkable.

My mother is not the stereotype narcissist. She never cared much what she looked like or accomplished anything on her own. She isolated herself with my father, who didn't demand much of her. One would never think of her as a narcissist to look at her. She looks like a humble country woman of humble means.

I believe that I am lucky that I came home if only it gave me understanding of where things went wrong. I married a man that was like my mother. That was a real awakening for me. Today I went out to lunch and met a nice man who was friendly and caring and knew that that was the type of man that I needed if I were to ever be in the market again. Life starts new every day. :)
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Jessie -one of mother's themes has been she only did it to help me. Some of the things she did to help me I could not write here. Others have been very destructive in my life. But, she only did it to help me. The central noble role ah, yes, I am very familiar with that, Interesting that that is showing up now in your mother. Mine does not have dementia but it has always been part of her BPD and narcissism. ((((((((((hugs))))))))))). It's their mind's way of rationalizing things I guess, Over 10 years ago, mother gave me tickets to the symphony in her city, so I could drive her to performances (after a the 5 hr. drive it took me to get there). Needless to say, I did not take advantage of them and told her to give them to someone else,
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The saga continues. I don't know what is going on in my mother's head. Today she told me she was going to give me $50 for Christmas so I could take her out to eat and feel the pride that comes from contributing something. She went on to say that she had taken me in when I had nowhere else to go and contributing something might make me feel more proud about myself.

Oh... okay. Poor me! It is funny how her stories evolve to put herself in a central noble role. I do hope she doesn't start telling this one around. It would be embarrassing.
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Welcome to my world, Jessie. Mother has been that way all my life and hers. It is the nature of narcissism. A couple of things in that article struck me particularly.

"Either develop complex and constricting coping mechanisms to maintain a relationship with me, at great cost to your own outlook, imagination, and values, or suffer ridicule, disapproval, or rejection."

I chose and continue to choose the latter, as I will not sacrifice my values. My sister, probably along with a genetic predisposition to the illness our mother has, has chosen the former.

There was one point in this article that bothers me.

"Difficult mothers should be distinguished from abusive mothers, whose children exhibit abnormalities in brain development that can impair the ability to regulate emotions, engage in social interaction, and organize memories. "

I find the above statement to be uninformed. I will disagree with anyone who says a narcissist is not abusive. They are emotionally, verbally and sometimes physically abusive. I don't know where the line between difficult and abusive is drawn by this author, but it is very clear to me that narcissistic mothers are abusive. It is also clear to me that at least some people brought up by abusive mothers do not suffer from the abnormalities in brain development described in the article. If the author is defining abusive mothers as those who chain their children to their beds in the basement, beat them, and deprive them of food and social interaction, I think the statement stands, but abuse can be much more subtle than that.

However, over all I found the article worthwhile.

I am glad that you are firm in your decision that when it gets too much you will place your mother in a facility. Good luck in the meanwhile, which will get more and more difficult. (((((((((((hugs))))))))))))
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Yep, for many, not all...it becomes more and more all about them. Their world shrinks, old friends, family, shrink away from them and we're the only ones left holding the bag. They become the sun and think the world revolves around them because we have become their world.

No answer, just empathy. My husbands one grandmother rarely asked for anything, but was a giver all her life even giving what little she could to others in the end in her kindness and sunny attitude...and lo and behold, when she need others they came out of the woodwork to help and comfort her because she had been so generous with her time and talents. The other grandmother? And my mom? ...no. They were, are depressed, sad, woe is me, poor me, nobody cares about me, why aren't others doing for me, I'm old, therefore others owe me to help me.

Doesn't work that way. You did what you did and will continue to do because the nagging and attitude isn't worth it. Such a shame. Next time, call her a cab.
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It is a very good question, Countrymouse. I've even gone as far as locating houses to buy in other cities. Why I stay is more for myself and how I would feel if I left. I know that this too shall pass. What I feel is good in this circumstance is to accept the way things are and work with it. Leaving would be easy, but it wouldn't make it best. Why I feel this way I can't explain, but I've found my feelings usually guide me in the right way. If I go against them I end up in a mess.
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Good for you, Debralee. For the outsider who sees this kind of lady in action - in at least two instances damaging people I love and respect enormously - but isn't on the receiving end, here's the thing: it would seem fair and reasonable to me for children in that position also to think "mother's future? Mother's problem." Since her behaviour is so incredibly alienating, why aren't you more alienated? I think, maybe, it's some very special strength on your part. You've got every reason to turn on your collective heels and walk away, but somehow you manage not to. There's, how? But there's also, why? What makes you continue to care?

This is genuine enquiry, by the way, not any kind of criticism.
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I know what you mean, Debralee. A bad thing for the children of difficult parents is that from the outside these parents can look like sweet, normal people. It is just a shell put on for public viewing. People don't see that the middle is empty or rotten. So it ends up with people thinking and saying, "What is wrong with you kids to be so bad to your wonderful parent?"

No, I'm not about to crack, everyone. No need to post "Caregivers who crack and do horrible things to parents" article. :) I'm avoiding my mother today. After a peaceful day yesterday, she is angry again today. So I'll do my own work and rake leaves. To venture close to her would be inviting abuse.
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I have the mommy damned-est. How to I handle it, boundaries galore, distancing and calling more than visiting. Mothers future, not sure, but definately not under my roof. My mother may be the grandmaster of manipulation, but I have become the grandmaster of putting my emotional wellbeing first.
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"What in heaven's name is behind her attitude?" A mental disorder.
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JessieBelle, I hope this won't make it worse. I'm just trying to get my head around that… I don't know what to call it… absolutely hateful thing to say. And I think what hollows me out is that that is what you would say to a child you take NO pride or joy in. And I can't imagine such a thing. What in heaven's name is behind her attitude?
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I thought about how it is to care for a difficult parent and realized that much of the problem is that there is not really a role reversal. Instead there is a taking on of two roles. We become the parent and the child, taking on the worst parts of both -- the responsibilities of the parent and the respect status of the child. Two days ago, I told my mother we needed to see about bringing in a housekeeper to help around the house. Often I work until about 3-4:00 getting things done that need doing. Then it is time to cook dinner. I am a working woman, so I have no time except evening to do my own work. My mother's response was, "Well, you got a roof over your head and food in your belly. What more do you want?"

That was the most disrespectful remark I can remember hearing in my life. Even a slave gets that much. I realize in her mind she still sees me as that 16 year old girl who should be grateful for shelter. She didn't see how it conflicted with the tasks of running the household and taking care of her. She has never been able to understand that I pay my own bills. It seems to be too important to her for me to understand that I owe her.

I later thought of the answer to the question of what more do I want. It would be love and respect. It is something that was always missing from the family. It isn't enough to just feed and house a child. You have to let them know they are loved and respected. The same is true for a caregiving adult child. (I could write a book myself.)
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I agree, very interesting indeed. Only I'm hesitating - the bit about how hard it is for the victim to recognise this behaviour in her mother struck me forcefully. Last thing I want to do is make her feel worse...
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JessieBelle, Very interesting article. I'm going to send it to several friends.
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StandingAlone, it sounds like you had Mother Dearest and I had Mother Damnedest. Mine is on her good behavior today, which is a relief. She is decorating for Christmas. I think I'll go shopping -- one of my favorite things to do. I was going to take her to buy a coat today, but decorating may have worn her out. I hope, I hope. I could use a mother-free day before the 12 days of Christmas set in.
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Ah, life with a narcissist. Gotta hate it. And JB, what you said about getting your mom to like someone by saying you didn't like them...oh, how true that is! Same here. I've always known that there was something seriously out of whack with my mom, but I had no idea what it was. I learned the word 'narcissism' here, on this site. When I read the description, the light went on. At last, a name for that crazy, mean spirited old bitch! I remember as a teen, trying to describe what being around her felt like to my friends...I told them it felt like having a giant spider with all 8 legs wrapped around me in a death grip, refusing to let go, feeding on me 24/7, sucking all the happiness and joy out of me until I felt as limp as as an overcooked noodle. These types are truly soul suckers without a bit of joy in them...unless they're laughing at your expense, of course. I wouldn't wish these types on anyone. I used to tell my buddies that the only reason God allowed my mom to adopt me was because I was the only person that he knew wouldn't murder her in her sleep one day.

She's in a NH now. Do I feel guilty about that? Not a bit of it. I visit. And after every visit I leave feeling depressed. My mom is determined to leave this world as miserable as she was living in it, and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, I can do about it. Nobody can do anything ENOUGH for these types and people need to recognize that and lose the guilt. I'm a big enough person to feel pity and compassion for her, I am warm and loving when I see her, I try and soothe her as best I can when I'm around, but do I love my mom? Maybe on some level because she's my mom. Do I LIKE her? Hell no. Never have, never will, and I don't feel a bit of guilt about it. When my mom dies, and God willing it'll be sooner rather than later, I'll grieve.... I'll grieve for what I NEVER had, not for what I lost, because frankly, I'm not losing too much of anything except someone who went out of their way, time and again without mercy, to make me as miserable as possible and derived great enjoyment from doing so. Hard to feel too sad about saying good bye to someone like that. I feel sorry for her, that she missed out on so much good by taking such great enjoyment in dishing out all that's bad. But it is what it is...and nothing I ever could have done, no amount of good I could have shown her, and I did try, ever changed a single thing. With these types, no matter what you do or how long you try, it's lose/lose any way you slice it. Accept that fact and guilt flies out the window...which is such a sweet, sweet relief.
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Jessie, you're mom is so much like mine! Mom is 71 and she has been more difficult since my father passed away 5yrs ago (he is now in peace). She has always been negative and self centered. I feel guilty because I find it difficult to love her.
Establish boundaries when you can!
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If I wanted my mother to like someone, all I would have to do is say I didn't like them. I know what you mean, gladimhere. Wouldn't it be nice to have a mother that was in the corner with you?
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Jess-
Same here, wonderful surprise this morning made me feel so good! Then the rest of the day became a downward spiral!
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And I have the opposite problem. Mom thinks everyone is so wonderful. The same people that have been treating me like, well you know what, for almost two and a half years. Just need to grit the teeth, keep my frustration and hurt internal. Don't get angry whatever you do, or you will be diagnosed with some sort of mental disorder. GRRR!
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I'm afraid it wouldn't work with my mother, who is inflexible and always right. It would be like running into a wall. The sad thing for her is that she is all alone. Even the daughter living with her avoids her. I guess it is the legacy of being difficult. I don't worry about ever being in her place, because she and I are as different as day and night. It is hard for me to believe sometimes that we could be related.
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Why not try a little honesty with her? It's works with my mother. She had a tantrum of family ignoring her and so I told her the truth.You are 94 and they do not want to be reminded that they too will get old. She laughed at my small nose one day and said if I get any fatter it will disappear so I bought a fake nose and wore it around her constantly for a week. She got the point despite her dementia and was embarrassed that I wore it when a neighbor dropped by.
There is no point is getting angry, harbouring old hurts or driving yourself into an early grave .Try laughing out loud when she rants, walk away when she aggravates you and remember one day you may be in her place.
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