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My mother is 98 and is actively dying from a heart condition. She has been emotionally abusive toward me since I was a child: heavy handed with criticism, shame and neglect. She was always so kind to my siblings: I couldn't help but feel unwanted, unloved and unworthy of happiness. I moved home to care for my father a couple years ago and after his death last year, I stayed to try to make amends with my mother. That amend never happened, and here I sit: in over my head providing end-of-life care to my abuser. My siblings have stepped-in, as have caregivers, but she will make-up things, as she has throughout my life, and try to create conflict/concern. She told my sister that she asked me for a drink of water and I responded by saying, "What do you want, now?" The stories are never ending. They don't believe her, but tensions/stress are running high. She'll eventually pass-away and I have no basis for forgiveness. I asked someone, once about what exactly is forgiveness. ie: I forgive you for treating me as if I was something less than human, when I was a child? I forgive you for not appreciating everything that I did for you when you were ill? I forgive you for all the lies you told about me? I was told that forgiveness didn't mean that everything is good. It means that "I forgive you, so get the hell away from me... that I won't give you another second of my time." If that is the case, I hope like 'hell" that I can forgive her.

Caring for your abuser is doubly difficult.

Forgiveness is for you, not for her. You can't force it. It's like waking up one day to the understanding that that your Mom is sick and will never get better. Don't trouble yourself with the "whys and wherefores" of her sickness. Ultimately, those questions don't matter. Time to MOVE on, figuratively and oft-times literally. You can forgive without placing yourself in the line of fire for further abuse. Remove yourself from the abusive situation. Your life matters, too.
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NY DIL,

I like that! ‘Move’ is a great four letter word!

Great response!!!
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I’m truly sorry that you’ve never experienced the mother you needed or deserved. Everyone should have a loving and supportive mother. The forgiveness you speak of isn’t for her, it’s for you. You forgive her for never being capable of being a good mother, it gives you release from holding on to the bitterness and resentment so you can stop carrying that with you. And forgiving doesn’t mean providing care. It helps you to let go and find a better, more positive life. I wish you peace in finding just that
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I've been struggling with forgiveness now for decades. My dad left us when I was eight (a very vulnerable age, I now realize), and my mum had to work and we were SO poor! My dad was abusive to me (he taught math, and used to ask me math questions that I found impossible to answer; I'd go to my bedroom in tears).

So he went to AA and all that, it didn't work for him but he tried to make amends anyway. I was terrified of him, or angry? Both? I couldn't forgive him then and I still can't.

Then I read something that really struck me. That he should ask forgiveness of ME (I suppose that's what the AA amends were supposed to be about). I've thought and thought about that concept. I've struggled with forgiveness over these last 50 years. I've always had a fear of abandonment, hence three failed marriages (long ones tho -- 10 years, 7, and 30). He ruined my life, which one might think is quite melodramatic thing to say, but he did. From the time I was eight years old. So why should I forgive him?

I've recently decided that I shouldn't and I won't. He did indeed wreck my life in terms of relationships, and made me difficult to live with. The only good thing to come out of it is my daughter, who married a perfectly lovely man (20+ years and stronger than ever) and I've two beautiful grandsons, whom I adore. (The thing that's difficult is that she lives two hours away from me, in Toronto, and I can't afford to live there.)

So with Covid, I can absolutely not go anywhere, and she comes to see me once a month now, or whenever she can. They're both in the gig economy - actors and musicians - so without aid from the feds -- Trudeau, don'tcha know -- I don't know what they'd do. But so far they're fine. (Thet get a grant called CERB (Canada Emergency Response Benefit), which each is $2000/month, so $4000/month, and my son-in-law got UI from the States which I find hilarious -- he worked there for a time ;=).

But I'm rambling.

SayBoo, I totally understand your problem. With forgiveness that is. I hope you find my solution of some help. Dad was the source of all my unhappiness at bottom, and I WON'T forgive him. I don't have to. And I don't think you have a single thing to forgive your mum for. She's been abusive to you since day one; you have NOTHING to forgive her for.

I hope you reply.

(((Hugs)))

Jingles

PS It's the first time I've written about this, so thank you. It clarified much in my mind.

PPS I was an avid reader of AgingCare maybe ten years ago? I remember some of you from then!!
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I'm not sure that I hear a question in your post, but here's another four letter word that goes along with forgiveness given your situation: MOVE.
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I prayed the entire ride over to the ‘end of life’ hospice facility where my brother was.

I honestly did not think I could forgive my brother for his hurtful behavior.

Three nurses told me my brother was in agony over hurting me. He couldn’t apologize himself to me but others expressed what he couldn’t.

I forgave him completely and I felt the weight of the world leave my shoulders.

As far as moms who stir the pot between siblings. Oh, my mom is a master at that.

I am immune to it now. Life will toughen us up. We learn what matters and what doesn’t.

I wish you all the best best in life. It’s a vicious cycle but the good part is that while you can’t change their behavior, you can change your reaction to it.

You can also break cycles of abuse and never treat others as you were treated.

I am proud to say that I did not pass on toxic behavior to my daughters!

Many hugs sent your way.
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Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves, not for the person we're forgiving. It's done to set us free from any negative things that have been done to us, so we can heal and be whole.

Hanging on to any bitterness or anger towards a person, is like drinking a glass of poison and expecting the other person to die. It just doesn't work that way. You are only hurting yourself by hanging on to any harsh feelings that you have towards your mom, even though they might be justified.

I am sorry that your mom wasn't the kind of mom that you needed. She never will be, and you have to be able to make peace with that. My mom wasn't the kind of mom I needed either(sadly we don't get to pick our families), nor was my father. I was sexually abused by my father for at least 11 years, and my mother chose to ignore it, and not protect me. I went many years, with anger, bitterness and even hatred in my heart for both. It wasn't until I started dealing with my abuse that I discovered that for me to really heal and be whole, I was going to have to forgive them. Being a Christian, I knew deep down for years that was something I was supposed to do, yet it took me a good while before I could actually do it, and mean it. And when I did, it was if a great weight had been lifted off my shoulders, and I knew then, that I was going to be ok. And I am. Now in my case, just because I forgave my parents, that didn't mean that I wanted anything to do with them, as being around them was not good for my mental health. And so I remained estranged from them. They are both dead now, and I am glad that I was able to forgive them while they were still alive. When we choose to forgive someone, it doesn't mean that we forget what they have done to us, it just means that we now can have peace and move forward in our lives, without carrying all that baggage. Hoping and praying that you can come to a place of peace in your journey with your mom.
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My mother has blown hot and cold all my life. It's amazing to me (and my therapist!) that I am able to function, be kind and loving and yet still have this abusive person in my life.

I cannot find the strength to forgive her, while she is alive. Forgiveness does not begin and end in this life. It can, and often does, take a long time past when the abuser is gone.

My OB molested and abused me for years and years. He died just as I was getting my head straight about things. After he died my mother said "WELL? Are you happy NOW?" No, his death changed nothing.

If I were a better person, maybe I could do a carte blanch of forgiveness--goodness knows we all have people we forgive or need to forgive. I'm 'better' but not 'cured' and accepting that has been so very hard.

I can control how much or how little I see mother. She is 90 and is OK health, so very likely she'll live 5+ years. I hate visiting her, I always cry on the drive home. She is one big button pusher. My DH keeps telling me to be the bigger person, but it's so very, very hard.

I KNOW my mother doesn't love me. After a bout of cancer last year (didn't see or talk to her for 10 months) I went to see her. What does she say to me "OH, so you didn't die. I thought you would. Well, it will come back".

Yeah, that visit lasted less than 5 minutes. The sob fest in the car lasted 20.
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Why is it always the one who has been abused the one that ends up doing the caring. You are lucky that siblings don't believe her and they do come and visit. While they are there, you should go out. Do something.

I think if I had been abused as a child, I may do the same thing. I was the oldest and a girl. I was also the one that Mom could talk into doing things and make feel guilty about not doing it. I think we are a certain personality that these type of people hone in on. And I think you, like others, just wants to know "why me" what did I do so wrong. It would be nice if you could ask Mom that question.

My GF was a twin, her sister died at birth. She never felt she was loved by her mother. She was a b***h to her. I am surprised my friend turned out the happy person she is. But she still wonders why. She was actually set to relatives for the Summer. But not so her sister born 8 yrs later.

She will be gone soon. Do what you can for her then you will have no regrets with that part. As said forgiveness is for you. You may never know the why so please don't allow that to take over your life. She may not know why you just seem to set her off. Don't you know people that do that to you? Just something about them you don't like. Just because you are her child doesn't mean she has to like you. You could analyze this for the rest of your life and never get an answer. So you just forgive the person for who they are and move forward.
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It's hard to care for someone who you think has been so abusive to you over the years. However, if you're going to continue caring for her, I think an attitude adjustment is in store. "What do you want, now?" is a rather confrontational response to her request. You don't have to jump at her every whim, but how you respond makes a big difference, what you say and how you say it.

Forgiveness is YOUR releasing your anger and resentment towards your mom. This doesn't excuse her abuse or require you to forget it. Forgiving doesn't require you to itemize all the reasons for forgiving. Merely say "I forgive you mom". Of course, you have to accept that assertion and convince yourself that you really do because it probably won't change her behavior.
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SayBoo, I am sorry you find yourself in this situation now, and that this comes after a lifetime of emotional abuse from your mother. I am sensing that there is so much that you want to say to her, but that you know it will be pointless to do so, as you might only face more abuse. Can I suggest that you instead write down what you would like to say, for your own personal benefit? In this way you will be able to get out all of the words, thoughts and feelings that are trapped inside you, and which are contributing to the frustration you are feeling right now. This approach has worked for me. You don’t have to say any of this to your mother, but by writing it down you will have “said” what you wanted to say, in your own words, and for your benefit and yours alone, without any resulting abuse or other comeback. What you do with the written version of your thoughts is up to you; you can destroy it, or save it to re read when you are feeling low, but it is not for public consumption, and certainly not for your mother to read. I hope it will relieve the burden a little for you. Sending you best wishes and support.
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Dear SayBoo, My heart goes out to you over your situation. Forgiveness is primarily for you and 2nd 3rd or 4th for your mother. Just as Jesus died on a cross in order to reconcile us to God. Jesus commands Christians to forgive others because He has forgiven us. A person who abuses another, may never admit that they were in the wrong. It's not impossible, but it is rather a rare thing. I highly recommend if it is possible for you to move out. As long as you live with her your situation will continue to escalate. Even in the best of situations, emotions of bitterness can rear it's ugly head in our minds. Not to mentions all kinds of other emotions. Increase your boundary lines as far as the things you will allow others to say or do to you. As long as you allow it, it will continue. Tell your family, that you need someone to take over being overseer of her care and that you can no longer continue as her caregiver. Stand your ground on that. I would suggest you get your new place all set up before you breath a word to anyone. Your ability to forgive her, will come sometime after you distance yourself from all this first and start working on healing yourself. Do not allow yourself to be a door mat or a whipping post for anyone. Will your mother or siblings be irate about this change, I would imagine they will. You are stronger than you think. Your caring for your daddy alone is proof of that. I find it interesting that your mother can treat you in this manner but doesn't object to you staying there and taking care of her. It's time she deal with her responsibilities in life or appoint someone else to do it for her. Certainly, your siblings need to step up to the plate. Certainly you have went far beyond the call of duty.
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