I'm helping to care for a Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcicisstic, ungrateful mother. She has always been abusive to me (verbally and emotionally). I am a Christian woman (age 52) who is fulfilling my obligation alongside my brother - we both take turns. We take all meals, do all shopping etc. She is of sound mind - this is nothing new - she has her mind and will try to pit one of us against the other. I have overheard her talking to friends on phone about how I don't do enough. I have a husband who is great and 3 grown and flown kids. Just feeling low. I'm tired of being abused.

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I’d love to give you an atta girl for deciding that tolerating abuse is something you’ll no longer do. There are no circumstances that call on you or obligate you to accept bad treatment. It’s not Christian to take it and come back for more. Please read the book Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend. It’ll help you change your life for the better, and soon you’ll give yourself many atta girls for the changes you make.
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Christ told us to turn the other cheek.

He did not say "Stand there and let someone beat you to death".

There is a limit to how much abuse you should take--and that number is zero--but we often think we can make it all be ok if we just do 'this and such'.

I stepped out 100% from caring for or even visiting and abusive MIL. It has been so peaceful. DH is angry as he used me as a buffer--his mom would be yelling at me and he could do whatever job he'd gone to her house to do.

Now I don't go with him, he is seriously struggling with being 'alone' and has come to see that she is mentally very ill. Trying to self-preserve and still not be devastated by her comments is very hard for him.

YOU pick how much of a relationship you wish to have. DH is still trying to figure it out, for him. If he steps completely out, then everything falls on his sister, who is stressed to the gills. Some times I tell him that he's doing things for sis, and not his mom and that helps--but in the end, a bitter, angry woman who tells you she hates you and always has---well that's gonna hurt.
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There is a path for you wintergal. In caring for my ALZ husband(24/ assistance/relief due to COVID), wanting and needing appreciation in some form and not getting it, the phrase ' do something today that my future self will thank me for' and seeing that every day helped me. It lifted me to take action in a small way that helped my mind deal with taking care of myself at least as well as the care I was giving my husband. 'My' phrase came in the form of a Garfield comic strip! Maybe yours is out there waiting for you to see it...Take care of your needs and set your boundaries. "For there is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it, if only we're brave enough to be it" (Amanda Gorman) also has great resonance for me. I appreciate your efforts, wintergal, and hope that helps you in some way!
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If you are, as you say, just feeling low, I am happy to remind you to look ahead and remember that this too will pass, and that you and your brother are linking arms in a worthwhile project. Your mother perhaps enjoys complaining, and perhaps she and her friends are the sort of circle who would rather compare hardships than cheer one another up.


I cannot say "attagirl" to someone who is banging her head against a brick wall and finding that it hurts. Do you and your brother ever talk about alternative options? Does he feel the same as you do?
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Since she's of sound mind now and has always been mean, guess you could say she probably won't change. So maybe you and brother can figure out some ways to react differently to her abuse.

For one, when you hear her on the phone telling someone you don't do enough, pick up the extension. With your most polite voice/laughing a little, say this is Wintergal, how you doing? - I'm not sure if mom is trying to be funny or if I need to take her to get evaluated for Alzheimer's because she must have forgotten that I brought her 2 days worth of meals Tuesday and today I'm here with 4 sacks of groceries, (keep going with what you've been doing) - did a load of laundry, etc. And now I have to leave to go do the same things at my own house.

When she says things to stir the pot between you and brother, let her get just enough out so you have some idea where it's going. Then say, hold that thought just a second. Dial your brother and then tell her to continue. Tell her her story appeared to involve all three of you, so now we're all together to discuss it. Tell your brother ahead of time that you plan to do this ---- ask him to please stand united when talking with her and if there is some real issue between the two of you, you will deal with it away from mom. The other option, and both of you must do it - as soon as she starts in about brother, tell her to stop. And contine to say stop until she really does....or interrupt her with goodbye. goodbye until you can get out the door.

Each time she says something cruel or mean - you stop her immediately and remind her that she is hurting your feelings and ask her WHY would you want to hurt me with your words? I am trying to help you stay in your home by doing this/this/this, but if you would prefer to have total strangers at a facility help you, please say so now. Why would you say xxx to hurt me? She needs to hear, in your calm voice, that she hurts you - your brother, but she has a choice in who provides help for her. Is there someone else that she would like to have do these things?

She's been mean for so long and, in the past, people may have just walked away with hurt feelings that festered. Make your voice heard that it is painful to you. J
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bundleofjoy Feb 2021
dear my2cents,

hug! and hug to wintergal! :)

although i agree with trying to use techniques against verbal abuse...

i do want to point out 1 thing. you wrote:
"Make your voice heard that it is painful to you."

unfortunately, these people -- ENJOY hurting others.
they're sadistic. they're totally aware it hurts.
and if you admit you're hurt, they'll be quite happy about it.

i had no idea it's so common, but it really is:
mothers who are terrible with their daughters.

although wintergal says her mother is bad towards both her children, i'm guessing she might be worse towards the daughter.

in any case, what i'm saying is, abusive people like to hurt others.
they're very aware of what they're doing -- and, they can switch it on/off whenever they like.

this way, they control everything:
how you feel, whether you're allowed to have a good day today or not, your mood right now, your reactions (they try to provoke; they want a fight; and they'd love to see you get very upset).

some abusive people even study techniques, how to be verbally abusive.
while we abused people read about how to protect ourselves, some of these people read the same articles, to learn how to attack more. some abusers learn by watching other verbally abusive people.

these people won't stop.
reasoning with them (like "why do you do this to me?") won't stop it. using logos (logic), pathos (emotions), ethos (morals) to try to persuade them to stop, won't work.

dear winter, i think it's wonderful you're helping your mother.

i think it's a tricky situation. you're kind, you want to help. and the person you're helping is abusive (they enjoy it, get a high out of it).

some people feel good lifting others up.
some people feel great dragging people down.

i see no solution.
the abuse won't stop.
the only thing i see, is: low/no contact.
with low contact however, the abuse will continue. frequency is lower due to less opportunities.

another point, dear winter and my2:
be careful also: one can get used to getting abused. don't get used to it. once you're away from it (for example some days/weeks), it'll suddenly be much more shocking when you're abused. you're not used to it (and that's a good thing).

when you take away the abuse...
suddenly you'll find a lot more joy in your life.
you'll smile more. you'll wake up feeling better.

it's not easy.
we care, we want to help. (and some of us are abused, by our loved one).
it's "being behind the 8 ball".
being in a situation that seems impossible to get out of.

a facility is not the solution for everyone's circumstances.
hiring help doesn't always work.
some people on this forum are truly "behind the 8 ball". they're in a difficult situation to get out of (if you care, love and want to help your loved one).

sendhelp here wrote:
"Start now, by taking an abrupt break. Have someone else take your turn.
A real break. Seriously."

i totally agree.
if you can, do it.

i hope you find a way out.

a loved one told me:
get away, protect yourself, live your life.

the person didn't mean i should have zero contact with the
abusive person in my life. the person just meant: protect yourself,
live your life!

that's what i'll do.


bundle :)
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"She has always been abusive to me (verbally and emotionally)."

So, her behavior is nothing new. That doesn't make it easier to listen to or experience, but you are aware of it. This is who she is and likely always will be until she passes. Clearly not a likeable person, from your point of view. Given this is how she is, you know not to expect any kind of sudden awakening and change of heart! We can't change others and their behaviors, we can only change ourselves and how we react to them. We also can't make other people happy. Happiness comes from within. Be happy for yourself that you do the right things for your mother despite how she is and try to ignore her unpleasantness.

You and your brother do what you do because you feel it is the right thing to do. THAT says a lot about both of you! You are both GOOD people. Hard as it is to do, try to ignore the things she says and does. Her words are empty, just lies.

Short of exiting the helper role, the best you both can do for yourselves is spend as little time as possible with her. Bring meals to her and leave. Bring groceries, put away the items and leave. Have as little interaction with her as you can. She has her phone and her "friends", so let her spend her time grousing with them all she wants. You are not going to change that. Don't be concerned about what these "friends" think of you. Again, you know what you both do, and should take your thanks/pleasure from knowing you are doing the right things by helping her.

Be supportive of each other. Hopefully you are BOTH aware of her nefarious ways, maligning you with outsiders and each other. Don't let her pit you against each other. Even if one does more than the other, it doesn't matter.

My mother was never quite that bad. She did have a habit of "bad mouthing" others, especially her siblings, dad's family, our spouses and even her own friends! I used to think gee, if her friends ever knew the things she would say about them, she'd not have a friend in the world! It did bother me knowing what she said about others, but I would never tell them about it. It was getting to be tedious, having all this "knowledge" in my head, but I tried to put it aside. I, too, tried to help her when she was living in her own condo, even more after we had to take the car away. But, there were many times that she'd get under my skin, and I would just have to leave. I find her talk about others distasteful and her prejudices intolerable. I used to tell others that 4 hours was the MAXIMUM time I could spend with her, and that was ONLY when others were there. Once it was under 10 minutes!

If my mother were ever to say something like "I don't do enough.", I would say no, I don't, but I do my best and if my best isn't good enough for you or you don't like what I'm doing, I can leave and you can hire someone to take my place!

Spend that extra time on your husband and 3 kids instead. I'm sure they appreciate you, and they may express even more pleasure being able to spend MORE time with you! Also, as a bonus, less time spent with Momma the Grouch will likely take some pressure off of you and make you even more pleasurable to be around! Win-Win!
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God asks to do the best we can in the situation we find ourselves in. If you are doing all you can, then know you are doing all God wants you to do at this time. I feel certain that you and your brother both need to make plans for the future. Find yourself a good Bible Promise Book and you will find ample scripture by topics to help you through each day. The joy of the Lord is your strength.
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Where in the Bible does it say that you are obligated to care for your aging mother, let alone a verbally and emotionally abusive one? It does say to "honor your father and mother," but that is very different than being obligated. You can still honor her from afar. You have to do what is best for you and your mental health. And if that is stepping back and letting mom hire some outside help to come in assist her, then so be it. No one, I mean no one, deserves to be abused in any way, shape or form. The fact that you have allowed this abuse to go on for as long as you have is concerning to me. You deserve so much better. Please don't use the fact that you are a Christian, to justify putting up with her abuse. I believe that's called being a martyr, and I can only hope that that is not what you want to be. I too am a Christian, and both my parents were very abusive to me(won't get into now, but I have on this forum before)for many, many years. I chose for my own mental health's sake that I had to completely cut ties with them, if I was ever going to be the person that God called me to be. Yes, I forgave them both as that was part of my healing, but never did I ever feel "obligated" to care for them as they got older. It didn't hurt that I lived many states away by that point either. You have to do whatever you feel is right for yourself, and your family, but please don't blame the fact that you're a Christian, and are "obligated" as a reason to continue putting up with her abuse. You might need to seek some therapy to get to the bottom, of why you've allowed this abuse for so long. I wish you the very best going forward, and I'm sorry that I didn't really give you the "atta girl" you were probably looking for, but sometimes it's better to just get the truth instead. God bless you.
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Atta girl, if you are happy within your faith, happy within your life, happy within your SELF. If that's the case, you are doing it just right, and you are the one upon whom the sun does shine. If that's the case, read no further! You GOT this. As the young like to say "You're 'woke'".
If, however, you are feeling down more content, then there are things to consider. Are you the one who will sacrifice yourself for others even in the face of their being ungrateful? That is to say have you chosen for your own reasons/beliefs to be obligated to someone who never felt obligated to YOU in a loving way? If so, there are a few things to consider.
Yoy say your faith guides you in this, but faith also guides us to require no thanks. I am not a person of faith, so if Mom couldn't say "Gee, thanks! This is lovely", I couldn't do the visits.
There is another view on this, and my friend was given it by her psychologist when she had provided for a spoiled girlfriend for many years, then herself became ill; the girlfriend marched away. The shrink told my friend that SHE herself was "the one who broke the contract". She had volunteered herself as the "caregiver", she had promised to take care of everything, BUT now she needed care herself. Shame on her!

We tell the world who we are, what we need and how we can be treated every day. And the world is listening. If we are the one who gives care to others despite their bad behavior, enabling them to be cruel without any consequence, well, they WILL be cruel without consequence, and we will have enabled them to be so.
I find in life that most of what we do we do to makes US feel good about ourselves. We give without expecting return, for our own reasons. Some of us were taught as children, by narcissistic parents, that this is our role, and we go on with this role throughout our lives, hoping that eventually someone will tell us we are good, worthy, appreciated. Usually that doesn't happen. Only the help of a good psychologist can help us see our way out of this cycle of abuser and abusee, sometimes.
You have your faith, and your faith dictates, you believe, this obligation, which you fulfill. As to poor Mom, she's led a life of misery and unhappiness, she will be forever unable to be grateful. Others will believe you have done this for your own reasons (which you tell us you have). It is easy enough for ANY of us here to save our keyboards and just say "Wow, you are so great." But would that really help? Because it isn't us you really need to hear from. It's a Mom who you are waiting to tell you that you are a worthy child, she's proud of you, she loves you. And we can't make that happen.
Goodness is always to be admired. Kindness is always to be admired. So I can tell you that you are a good deal more good and kind than I myself would ever be capable of being. You have provided for need in another human being. That should bring you a good deal of inner peace, given your beliefs, and I hope that it does. If however, you find you are fulfilling your faith, and helping others, and are yourself unhappy, I would suggest a few visits with a therapist to form some healthy boundaries and some modes of action that can make you happier, while still true to the principles you espouse.
I wish you the best of luck. Do try to remember, your Mom has her habits. One of them is complaint. She is on the phone and really just talking. It's a habit. She's unhappy, and grateful just isn't her thing. It isn't what she does.
I hope my post to you doesn't sound mean, but will awaken you to seek out things to make YOU secure and happy within yourself, without need of a Mom's appreciation, a Mom who, I am sorry, likely doesn't have it within herself to change.
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"Atta a girl" for putting up with her. There are a number of members in your position that have learned to walked away or trying to set boundries. As long as your brother and you both understand that she is "pitting" you against each other, then thats a good thing.

Let her say whatever she wants to say to her friends. You and God know you are doing your best by her. Always boundries though. She may not like them but u need them for your own sanity. Narcissistic people only think of themselves. They have no empathy for others.

Those who are Christians are taught JOY ... Jesus comes first, then others, then yourself. But we can give too much of ourselves. Our husbands and children are part of those others. They should be priority. Even over Mom. Bible also says you leave your parents and cleave to your spouse.

At 92 there may come a time Mom needs more care than u can give. Do not take her into ur home. We don't need to physically care for a parent. Just find a place that they are safe and cared for.
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"Atta Girl" for reaching out!
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You don’t owe an abusive parent anything.

If you wish to be charitable, you can help her find another caregiver or suitable placement.

Have you spoken to a therapist to help sort out your feelings about caring for your abusive mother?

I know that you are a Christian and I fully respect your faith.

Just to clarify though, I am not speaking about a counselor such as a pastor at your church.

Speak to an objective professional therapist who is trained in psychology.

Best wishes to you and your family.
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I'm a Christian too. But no where did Jesus say to let people abuse you. Do what you can. Work with your brother. Don't completely reject her but do a lot less. Do it for your own sanity.
Helpful Answer (8)
lealonnie1 Feb 2021
Amen. It irritates me no end to hear about "Christians" doing "the right thing" by taking care of parents, etc. What about Jews? Do they not 'do the right thing'? Yet you NEVER hear a person say "I'm Jewish or Buddhist and therefore, doing the right thing taking abuse from my mother." I wonder why that is? Maybe b/c it makes no sense.
As soon as you know more, this will all be temporary.
We often need to get to the end of ourselves before making changes.
There is no guilt in that.
Start now, by taking an abrupt break. Have someone else take your turn.
A real break. Seriously.

You've got this!
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wintergal - atta girl statements to say that you're doing a good job at getting and accepting abuse? I think not.

Please please check out this thread for caregivers whose parents are narcissistic. You will find a lot of support there.�
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Wow - your mom is 92? Is she living independently? In her home or apartment?

Either way, does she have physical limitations making you and your brother have to do so much for her?

If she has always been abusive to you and you feel you are doing things for her out of obligation, then perhaps you can seriously cut back on the length of time your spend with her? Sounds like there is nothing positive about your time together. Meet her needs, excuse yourself, and leave.

I can see why you'd be feeling low. Providing care as consistently as you do is a big job, a lot of responsibility, etc. Even harder to someone that is as you describe your mom. Talk about a thankless "job"! Obviously, you already know that she will never appreciate you. So be it. Accept it and let her say whatever mean, unfounded things as she has already done. She's not going to change. Don't let her get under your skin and hurt you anymore. Easier said than done BUT you are doing a lot and deserve to feel good about it.

Hopefully you and your brother are on the same page and don't fall for her attempts to pit you against each other. Don't argue when she says anything negative. Don't engage. Just have a pat phrase or two ready to respond with and move on.

Glad you have your husband and 3 grown kids to enjoy.

If it's a bit too much with mom, maybe try to get a helper in there for a day or two a week so you can see her a little bit less. Try setting some boundaries. What are you NOT willing to do? What behaviors can you just NOT tolerate?

Take care of yourself!
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Nothingleft Feb 2021
My prayers are with you!! So sorry!! I know what your going through!!
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