What do I do with my borderline personality, Narcissistic mother?

Asked by

She lives alone by her own choice but needs errands done, doctor visits, shopping etc done for her. You do these things and instead of a thank you, you get asked to do 5 more things on her list, and she is selfish, self centered, doesn't care what you need to do in your own life, is often mean, but can turn on a dime and be "Nice" for just a little while enough to draw you back in. If the temporary "nice" act doesn't work, then she pulls out her bag of tricks...which usually involves the "guilt" trips, or if that doesn't work, she talks bad about you to your siblings and such. Sometimes she does a bold faced lies to draw you in or to shame you back into her corner. She is so manipulative and abusive, I don't even know what is real or not anymore when it comes to her. It is a nightmare. She has always been like this. She just happens to be a little worse now that she has turned 80. It hurts to be around her, and it hurts to try to create some space because she feels like I am an "extension" of herself to be bullied and bossed around. Like she is entitled to do this I know I have a duty to care for my elderly mother but she really makes it excruciatingly difficult. . I feel burnt out by her and feel as if I have PTSD symptoms. I feel like I am sinking into quick sand. It is a no win situation. It breaks my heart. I want to help her, but she is literally making me ill in body mind and soul. Do we owe that to our parents? How do you stop the madness with out having to cut her off altogether. I really can't do that anyway cause I know she needs me but she is very abusive and unrelenting in her demands . She is all absorbing of my time, health and energy. I am burnt out now and just sad over this whole thing. My siblings are of minimal help. That is a given even though I told them how exhausted I am. I just can't keep up this pace anymore.

Answers 1 to 10 of 10
Top Answer
You set your boundaries and realize this is a person who CAN NOT AND WILL NOT CHANGE. This personality disorder is insidious and defensive and the level of denial is un- beatable. All you can do is detach and make yourself some free space out of the scope of the Black Hole that is the Narcissistic person. They are angry and selfish and sad and deeply confused and even a trained therapist has trouble handling them...Everything is the other persons fault.

Do not make yourself crazy by trying to "figure her out" or help her. This disorder is profoundly entrenched and near impossible to fix especially after a lifetime of it. Put your needs first get away, get help from outside sources,,maintain your balance and sense of sanity. Calling her on her crap will usually get and angry blaming response. You may love this person but you don't need to make yourself ill caring form them. Use social services and medical assistance where ever you can and remember you deserve to be treated with respect and love. You are not a machine, a doormat or a child who "owes" there parent something. Do what needs to be done, help where you must but stay out of the pull back into crazy.
I work in the mental health field and still feel emotionally drained dealing with my borderline personality, Narcissistic mother. It's been lifelong and before I learned about all of this (personally and professionally), I felt emotionally drained constantly. The books recommended earlier in this thread are excellent. I have dealt with my mother issues in therapy years ago and learned to let her go (via a type of death/loss of the dream of a mother I never had) and now respond to her only in very basic ways. I do not react by trying to argue with her. I simply say what I will or won't do for her when she issues her demands. So she pouts and gives me the cold, silent treatment...so be it. She has yelled and told me to go to hell. Whatever. She will be 93 in a couple of months. She has way outlived her welcome but clearly she is still as mean as she always was. In fact, she is worse because she has some dementia now and her confusion frightens her. When a aged borderline narcissist feels out of control of her world, that person gets worse. The best to anyone here who is dealing with a similar situation. It's not a joy ride. Find nurturing elsewhere in your life. Also, Alice Miller's "The Drama of the Gifted Child, is an excellent read.
I realize that we are a "sisterhood" and "brotherhood" of baby boomers who are unable to enjoy our own "golden years" due to the abuse of our parent(s). That does not make it much easier to endure and yet it's good to have a support group of "me too." I would like to ship all of these demented old people to an island and let them accuse one another of thievery and maljustice. I told my sister recently that it's a shame that our mother will die with no one really caring or missing the "her" that she became. Ours has been very much this way all her life but the dementia has tripled the behaviors.
First, get yourself some therapy to get them out of your head, Second, set boundaries for self-protection and the protection of your own family and not for changing them. Third, realize that you did not make them this way. Fourth, know that you can't control their illness. Fifth, accept the fact that you will never be able to fix them. Sixth, grasp the idea that the best you can do is to pick a healthy path for yourself. Seventh, hold on to the chosen path with the outlook that if they join you fine, and if they don't fine or else you will lose more than just your mind.
I would highly recommend that you have your Mom hire a paid caregiver to come in once a week. This will give your Mom someone else to interact with. A senior's world becomes so small as they age. Since you are in her sites you get all the grief and frustration that she would normally spread out among others. So get out of her way - even if it is for a short time. Paid caregivers charge about $19./hr where I live. It really helps pick up the slack when they come in to help Mom once and awhile.
Also, you need to start setting limits. Tell your Mom, "I can do this today, the other things will have to wait." My Mom, while appreciative of what I do, got into a bad habit of saving up all these "things" she needed doing when I came over. I never got to visit with her, it was just a series of "do this, I need that..." So I let her know that I was her daughter, not the unpaid help and that once and awhile I would just like to visit with her. That seemed to help.
Good luck to you...I hope these suggestions help a little...remember: you are always in control.
First, you did not cause your mother to be how she is. Second, you cannot control her. Third, you cannot fix her.

What you can do is choose a healthier path for yourself by setting boundaries with practical consequences which I recommend getting a trained therapist to help you with.

No you do not owe nor does anyone owe to their parent what you are sacrificing like a martyr. She only needs you to the extent that you are useful to her which is basic to that kind of personality.

Get, read and use first Stop Walking on Eggshells plus the Workbook as well as Recovering from the Borderline Parent plus Understanding the Borderline Mother. I've almost read these books either with my SIL or to my SIL if I didn't also loan them to my SIL. She could hardly believe how someone wrote so much about her and my wife's life. Now my SIL is like a mental health Princes Leah and I feel like a very old Yoda or maybe another Jedi trainer of not such high stature.
Karyn, No one earns the right to be self centered, no one.

I know how you feel. My mother is the same way. The more I do - the more is expected. My mother lives with me - She has her daily "vent" where she "whispers" how terrible I am - because I don't do enough. This still makes me crazy - but I have over the course of the last 15 years (yes thats right 15 years) learned this - I tell her what "errands" I will do for her on what day - doctors appointments are grouped together - so I'm not running around everyday - and I told her point blank that she was mean to me - and I remind her when she falls back into the ritual - it isnt easy - my siblings are out of state and according to my mother are so caring because they call her once a week and ask her to call them once a week (it's on my dime that she calls too) I've been there - try elder services in your area or the local social security office - they do offer errand running and companionship that might help ease your burden. However - You do have to tell her no - that it is not possible for you to cater to her whims. Its hard, you feel such guilt - but you have a life too.
The first step you have already taken. You have come to the realization that your mother intends to use you up and spit you out!
Crowe is correct & I might add that you educate yourself in negative/positive reenforcement tactics. The older they get the easier they are to outwit. Try not to take this personally....to a narcissist ALL people are TOOLS.
IF you are going to continue to care for her.....you need to find out how to handle her. So far she has handled you & before it destroys you the tables must be turned.
I'm praying for all the children of narcissists. GOD protect us from our loved ones!
I can relate to all of your posts. Life long my mother was a mean, selfish, manipulative narc b*tch. To outsiders she was sweetness and light, though she'd never offer anyone a helping hand and would often try to screw people over if she thought she could get away with it ... true narcs are superb actresses ... all the while treating me and my late father lower than dirt.

After three years in a nursing home with parkinsons, strokes and dementia, close to 90, she passed away last weekend. I haven't shed a tear and am finally able to sleep without hearing my blood pumping due to high blood pressure. I'm an only child and she had no friends so it falls on me to deal with everything but, as executor and POA, I pretty much had everything in place long ago.

I sold my home, quit my career and moved 200km to care for her for four years until the went into the NH and continued to run her errands, make sure her bills were paid and she had everything she needed. I've despised her life long and always avoided her if possible but I did my duty to the end. I have no regrets.

There is nothing you can do to change these people and you will never be free until you go complete no contact or they die.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support