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I am 40 and I moved "home" to care for my 80 year old mother a year ago, after I had lost my job and was homeless. Worst mistake ever. She has been abusive to me my entire life and has relied on me to take care of her since I was 3 years old. I am not kidding. My whole life has existed to serve HER- I wasn't allowed friends, she kept family away and wasn't allowed to date until my 20s and even then, she ruined my relationships by her constant interference.

She never worked and managed to blow through close to 300k in inheritances over the years, and that, as with everything else, has been MY fault. She has blamed me for everything (and I do mean everything) my entire life.

She won't see a doctor, won't accept outside help, I have no family, no friends and her constant demands cost me my marriage (she actually gloated with joy how she ended my marriage!).

She stays up all night talking to "jesus", praying to him to make me lose my job so that I know what it's like to suffer and also asking him to hurt me because I deserve it!!!

Now that I am financially getting back on my feet, she won't let me move out! She told me she will call the police and will not let me take any of my belongings, including my cat!!! She says that I will not abandon her because if I do, she will have no one and how will she get to the grocery store?

She rents an apartment and has no savings. She was denied medicaid because her life insurance was too big (5,000 is too much? really?).

If it wasn't for my cat, I would have ended it by now. She needs to know where I am at all times and I can't go anywhere alone except to work. She is always accusing me of meeting men in motels. I tried to go for a walk and she accused me of meeting men in the park. Disgusting.

I can't wait for her to die. I can't take anymore of this. I am a prisoner due to her threats and don't have ANY support! HELP!

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Gypsirose, you might need to get your son out of there too. If, without a chaperone/witness, she asks him do to any kind of intimate care, whether he does it or not, he could be accused of something that could ruin his life.

Good posts on Sermo lately (web board for physicians):
"So, if you're truly dealing with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, think of everything and everybody in that individual's life as representing a mirror which is experienced and responded to principally through the quality of the "reflection" that is returned to that individual. If things and people enable that individual to experience themselves positively, there is relative calm. If not, there is a need to disqualify or destroy the mirror. Added to that is the often inflated sense of self that is often necessary to offset the deep internal sense of inadequacy that is generally at the heart of such a disorder. This now means that others must not simply affirm that the individual is good, but generally that they are very special if not extraordinary."

"So, how do you protect yourself (assuming that this is a person who you feel must be in your life, for whatever reason)? First off, you recognize that this is a very stubborn and resistant disorder that has nothing whatsoever to do with you. This is a damaged individual whose psyche has erected an iron-clad set of defenses against a profound vulnerability. The very foundation of this defense lies in externalizing blame. So you need to have a thick skin and not take stuff personally. Protecting yourself also means not setting yourself up. As others have suggested, this is not someone who you can 'save'; to attempt to do so would likely be experienced as an injury and you would be excoriated for the attempt. This is also likely someone with whom you cannot reason or argue with the expectation that the outcome will be logical or fair. Most of all, you cannot go looking for empathy when you feel that this individual has harmed or wronged you. If you put your heart on the line, you do so absolutely at your own peril. Those with NPD are profoundly impaired in their capacity to experience empathy."

and

"It really has to do with proportion, the capacity to accept responsibility for one's own failings and the capacity for empathy. We're all capable of being wounded and most of us have particular areas of vulnerability that can be triggered and perhaps elicit an exaggerated response. But we are capable of acknowledging our own mistakes, capable of bearing the guilt that comes with that and capable of feeling empathy for others we may have hurt or wronged. The person with true NPD has an injury that is pervasive and never leaves them. The particular issues which may arise as injuries and trigger their rage are generally the tip of a very deep iceberg. Nothing but nothing is as important as protecting their incredibly fragile sense of personal worthiness."

Uniformly their advice is if to get away, and if you can't get away just keep things superficial and positive.

Carolyn Hax today has some stories too that will help put things in perpsective, especially for our OP here; there is one on a mom who succeeded in ensnaring one daughter, preying on her vulnerability and anxiety, and she ended up never leaving home and is now age 61 with mom now an invalid at 86. If you don't read her in the paper, try stltoday/lifestyles/relationships-and-special-occasions/columns/carolyn-hax/making-excuses-for-an-abusive-relationship/article_14249af2-2cd9-5beb-899c-b9ffdebf967b.html
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Sorry to say,Sound like you don't have any self esteem... 233619, I was in your shoes once,difference was you are dealing with your Mom, I did dealing with very abusive husband for 20 years for very mentally, physically, vocally. According to his eyes of me was " you are stupid Jap" If you are hearing like this day after day I really thought maybe I am?...... Nope, it is so wrong to be having this type of relationship with ANYONE,even your Mother. Almost every posters here said "get out this dark tunnel and see the light" you would be fine and get your new life going that I did when I was 42, now I'm 63 very happy for whatever I do and enjoyed my life as much as I could!!
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Not so very long ago children of 5 to 7 years old went out to work. I have even read of four-year-olds sewing gloves, for which they were considered particularly suited due to their tiny fingers and excellent eyesight. Nowadays many western kids are not allowed out by themselves until adolescence and some are still being pushed around in push chairs at the age of five or six. But this attitude towards kids is very recent. I know I went shopping by myself when I was seven, just to pick up milk at the corner store, but still no one thought anything of it.

Young kids are still used for hand sewing work in third world countries. Sequins, beads, embroidery - this fiddly work is mostly done by little kids.
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Wow. Just wow. I was not going to reply to any of this garbage, but this will be my last post. ATM's were in use back in 1980. At least they were in Connecticut. I was born, raised and am living in the United States. As for not being able to cook at age 3, I didnot make 7 course meals. If you are forced to make your "sick" (drunk) mother food and the instructions are being yelled at you from her bedroom, you learn very quickly, especially if you are starving and especially if you don't want the hell beat out of you. Let me change it to "made food" at age 3 because I could also make a sandwich and pour cereal. I guess you have no clue what abused kids go through. You have no right to tell me my childhood didn't happen.
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P.S. Brimstone, please take a few seconds and look at the very first answer given to Escape14.... just like others on this thread I had told her she needs to move out.
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Brimstone, why should I apologized for something that I have done research on and know for a fact is not wrong.
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Jeanne and Ba8alou, thanks for the insight into this issue. I understand the points you make and can see why a perception has developed that someone had responsibility well beyond the physical capacity for a child.

Brimstone, your post warrants no civil response.
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FREQFLYER & GARDEN ARTIST: Your replies provided absolutely no value; nothing you wrote to the poster was helpful or supportive- they were taunts. Someone reaches out for help and you both turned it into a childish game of "Liar, Liar!". The poster WAS an "outstanding" child- SHE SURVIVED! Ask yourself if you would have been able to.

Your tones (although condescendingly amusing) indicate common abusive tactics that challenge someone to "Justify, Argue, Defend & Explain" themselves. The poster is under no obligation to prove to YOU that her claims are real. Just because you don't believe something is possible (because you have no direct experience with it), does NOT mean that it is not true or possible. It's wonderful that you both knew healthy parental care and can feel free to deny the reality of anything that doesn't fit into your sheltered, narrow viewpoints. It must have been nice to grow up in Mayberry.

You have already had your baiting comments corrected by other forum members, yet you have not apologized when proven wrong. The term "mean girls" comes to mind. You were probably bullies as children. There is a term for what Escape14 is going through: Re-Victimization. Look it up.

ESCAPE14: Please heed the advice of the other posters here who truly have your best interests at heart. You need to get out as soon as you can. It is not healthy to live under those circumstances regardless of who you are living with.
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I agree , you need to get away from your mother,before it is to late. My mother depended on me since I was 12, I am 51 now. She has literally ruined all of my relationships. Her son and his family they don't help,he was off work on vacation for a week only came by once, she didn't say a thing to him,I came up to her house at 7:30am and she told me it is about time. I am always treated like this if not worse. I caregive 10 or more hours a day 7 days a week with no help. I became very sick for two weeks(stress) when I was back up there 2 days later a person from elderly abuse told me a report of me abusing her was filed, I have had enough. It is hard,but I have to think of myself and my son,who stays with her when I'm not there. He is 16. If your mother is saying she will turn you in turn the table beat her to it. Do to all the stress I have had 2 strokes, so please do something and soon. Ones health is not an excuse to be abusive.
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You need to leave. Your post was so sad but I am glad you have a cat. You can do this! The post above about what to do is great. Pretend that you are a warrior and you need to save your life. Everyday do something that will get you back your independence, do not ever stop working. When you wake up in the morning put on your imaginary warrior suit and get to finding a place besides your horrible mothers home.
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Yes you need therapy you need to grab your life back and get away from her!
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It's called being a "Parentified Child" Very common in the literature on mental illness. And the results are very much what Escape is feeling--responsibility for EVERYTHING. Tough cycle to break, but it can be done. CBT (Cog/Beh Therapy) works well for this.
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ATMs have been in use in the US since the early 1970s.

I have cousins who were seriously neglected by their mother. One morning while the 3-year-old was trying to cook oatmeal, the kitchen caught on fire. Everyone was rescued. The mother was put in a mental institution. The children went to foster care. That little boy did not see his sister again until she tracked him down when they were both adults. All those years he thought the fire was his fault, that the rest of the family must have died, and it was so horrible that no one would ever talk about it! Can you imagine?!!

Anyway, no three-year-old can take care of an adult, but can attempt to do things they are ordered to do, like put bread in the toaster or push a dust cloth around or bring mommy a glass of water or a can of coke, etc. A three-year-old can be made to feel responsible for taking care of things, even if she cannot actually accomplish a lot.
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"let me clarify: I have been cooking and cleaning and taking care of her since I was 3 years old."

"So yes, I was 3 years old, taking care of an able-bodied woman who trained her child to be her slave/ punching bag/ husband/ therapist/ maid and raising myself."

Somehow I'm finding that a 3 year old taking care of a grown adult woman is still an incredulous claim.
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On my gosh, who taught you how to cook and clean at 3 years old? The motor skills and learning at the age of 3, one doesn't learn by themselves, the child copies what the parent or adult is doing. You must had been an outstanding child to learn to do that at such a young age.

And to use an ATM at 7 years old, which would around 1980.... what country did you live in at that time?
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Here's your plan, in case you needed it spelled out any clearer:

-Set a date for leaving.
-Start packing and taking things with you when you leave for work. Get a large briefcase or bag of some sort and take it with you. Put the items in a storage unit if you have to for now.
-Find an apartment or small house you can afford to rent and put a deposit on it so the lease starts when you leave Mom's house.
-Keep your head low, do what Mom wants and don't listen to her rants. Just nod and smile, nod and smile....and do what my Mom used to do when arguing with my Dad: say "you may be right" and smile. Ends the argument. A fire can't grow without fuel. Let her rant and rave, just don't feed into it and drive yourself nuts. It's called self-preservation.
-The day that you leave, call Adult Protective Services from work or some other location than Mom's house. Explain to them that you are fearful for your mother's safety and that you cannot care for her because she is abusive to you. Ask them to intervene and do whatever is necessary for Mom. If they do a home visit and she chooses to act completely normal, then she's on her own. Ask APS to do a follow up call with you to let you know what happened so you know where Mom is and if you need to do anything with her house if she is placed in a nursing home or other facility.
-Move into your new home and start your new life. Do not contact Mom until the dust settles, then call her once a week or once a month - or not at all - your choice. Do not, under any circumstances, move back in with her. If she feels she needs assistance, tell her to call APS or go into a nursing home or assisted living. If she has been this co-dependent and abusive all your life, she is not going to change now.
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Escape; circle that date two months hence in red! Save every penny. Nod sympathetically while she tantrums; find a mantra to recite in your head. Psalms are nice, if you're religious, if not, just an affirmation "this has an expiration date" comes to mind and will do nicely. Do not react to her. Stay out of her way, practice meditation. Get a library card; spend non work hours in the library as much as possible. Drop by the local precinct and see the Community Policing officers and explain your situation to them; tell them frankly that you fear that your mother will falsely accuse you of theft if you try to leave and ask their advice. Find out what local organization manages the Council on Aging in your community and tell them about your situation and the fact that she will need a wellness check once you leave. Find yourself some counseling/therapy through your job, your insurance or through a University medical school/social work school. Do you have a primary care physician? Make sure that s/he is aware of your situation; there might be some suggestions forthcoming. Good Luck! Post back!
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Hi Garden, let me clarify: I have been cooking and cleaning and taking care of her since I was 3 years old. She alienated me from both sides of my family (isolated) and expected me to take care of her. I remember jamming a metal knife into the toaster to get the toast out at 3- she was "sick" (she was always "sick") and I had to cook for her. I started going to the bank with her ATM card and doing grocery shopping for her at 7. Alone. I was not allowed to have friends and most of the time, she made me stay home from school to keep her company. She would tell me all of her financial details, crying because she was scared that she wouldn't be able to pay the rent. I have no idea what a small child was supposed to do about her financial problems. Maybe if she got off her butt and got a job- oh, wait- she refused to work and lived off social security. Okay, now I'm really seeing how sick this whole situation is. Dear god...

So yes, I was 3 years old, taking care of an able-bodied woman who trained her child to be her slave/ punching bag/ husband/ therapist/ maid and raising myself. Not really unusual in a dysfunctional family. Funny thing is, she never grew up. She is 80 years old and still stuck emotionally and developmentally at 2, temper tantrums and all...
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I'm still puzzling over a statement that you made in your original post:

"She has been abusive to me my entire life and has relied on me to take care of her since I was 3 years old."

I don't know of many 3 year olds who can care for themselves, let alone a parent.
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My mother would have done that to a certain extent. She had a way of not letting people leave the house, if they came to visit for a few days. I did not allow that personally, though.

You can get out, if you want. Good luck.
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Thank you everyone for responding. I am sort of ashamed and the panicked tone of my post yesterday, but I was seriously cracking up. I am 40 and am living like a 5 year old there. And considering she has always acted like a 2 year old, I'm still the mature one! I never thought that moving back home to help would end up being some kind of oath signed in blood...

I had never thought of having the police there to supervise my escape. That is the route I will take, for my safety and so that I have witnesses. I have started from scratch by moving back home and can't afford to start over again if I just pack a cat and a bag. I have zero friends left, so leaving my cat with a friend isn't an option, shelters won't take animals and the shelters around here are dangerous, to say the least.

Strangely, I DO feel better- I have formulated a plan on what I need to be able to get out, marking my Get Out Date on my calendar. In two months, she will be left alone to do whatever she wants and I'm not getting sucked back into her chaos ever again.
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I think there is an echo in here ... pack your stuff, grab your cat, and leave.

Courts do not work on how sweet little ol' ladies look. They work on evidence. If you fear that your mother will physically interfere with your move, ask for a police escort.

Find a safe place to land. If you have to, find someone to keep your cat while you get on your feet. Get out, and get working on a more permanent situation for living.

You say, "she won't let me move out." True, she is trying to stop you, and she will be angry when you leave. But you leave everyday for work, right? You can physically leave the house. She doesn't have chain on you, or a gun. You CAN move out whether she "lets" you or not.

I am very, very sorry for the dysfunctional family life you have had. This is hard to overcome on your own. First get out, and then get some counselling to help you understand that your mother's disorder is Not Your Fault, and that mother's happiness is Not Your Responsibility.
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Can you leave when shes asleep? I am working toward leaving myself..Trust me..if I can leave..so can you!! God's got your back!!! Best- sandiw50
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If your 80 year old mother can't physically stop you from packing up your stuff and the cat, go for it. If she can, call the cops to keep the peace. There are places to go like a shelter, or maybe someone from work. Look for a room in a house you can rent if you can't yet afford a place all to yourself. If you haven't had counseling it might be a good idea to get some support in your break for freedom. Walk out and don't look back, at least for a good long time when you are stronger. Best of Luck.
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Pack your stuff, take the cat and leave. She has no proof that you stole anything from her, or that you hit her. It might help if you had a friend with you when you make your escape, or you could call the police yourself and ask for an officer to stand by because you're being threatened and you need to extract yourself from a dangerous situation. Good luck.
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Thank you for commenting- I need a reality check and a clearer perspective because I am so stressed out.

I typed this in haste (I'm at work, my only sanctuary since she never leaves the house)... I forgot to add that she'll call the cops and tell them I've stolen from her and that I hit her. I think I'm terrified because she always finds some way to make me into the monster and people believe this sweet old lady with the horrible daughter. When I moved in with my ex-husband 15 years ago, she threw things at me and tried to choke me. I guess I'm still a terrified little kid at my age.
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Get up and go. She can't call the cops to make you stay. Go one step ahead of her and ask the cops to stand by while you get your things. They will do this ONCE and expect you never to return. Just go.
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Unless you are being held hostage.... you can put your cat in an animal carrying crate, put all your clothes in a back pack, and walk out. Talk to someone at work, maybe you can bunk with them for a few days until you find your own place.

Your Mom will make do, she did just prior to you moving in with her a year ago.
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