How do I stop arguing with my aging mom who is depressed. I feel angry that this is a state of mind she seems to be choosing. She makes up stories about her (and our life) rewriting them to be depressing and/or critical of everyone in the family just so she can eother feel superior or depressed about her "awful" life. She came as an immigrant and worked hard no doubt. But she has lived and extraordinarily privileged life...with caring children and a husband she NEVER appreciated but who is still talking care of her. She is so narcissistic and conitnues to see life through her own lens. She can turn ANY event into death or negativity. For example, she sees a happy family with a new baby and dog, she tells them to keep an eye on the dog because it could kill the baby. My father takes her laundry upstairs and all she comments is that, "he always does that, waits for everything to be folded and then he takes it upstairs." Meanwhile she could never take them upstairs herself and would be insulted if he tried to help her fold the clothes and accuse him of belittling her. In other words you can't win with her. She is ALWAYS the victim. I feel like my I can't stop myself from correcting her delusional memories or accusations but all it does it make things worse and then I feel guilty. HELP!!!

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I am new to this site and asked a question the other day which had a few similarities to yours (my mom is generally upbeat and pleasant but is frequently rude, and goes through phases such as the one she is in now, where she focuses on one person with an intense meanness for a few weeks, without any clear provocation). The answers I got may help you to - learn to detach, etc.

It sounds like your mom is negative continuously, and that immediately reminded me of...teenagers! Most teens normally go through a stage where they behave like victimized, self righteous whiners. I have gone through that stage with 6 kids, and the youngest (16), could be a behavioral stunt-double for your mom. He is the ultimate drama queen right now. Not trying to make light of this - such negative energy drains everything from the people who have to co-exist with it. I spent a lot of time trying to change his outlook, manners, make his life better, etc and finally realized that I was enabling his moodiness and wearing myself out in the process. I then put a paper on the wall where I can see it which simply says "He does what he does". To me, that is a reminder that he is responsible for what he says, does and feels. I need to interact with him daily and continue to parent him, but when he rolls his eyes, acts rude, stomps off or complains about the universe, I now tell him how that made me feel and that I would rather not be around him until he can at least pretend to be polite. Arguing with him or with your mother does nothing - you can simply say "I don't agree" and drop it. Refuse to be drawn into an argument.

Complaining and negative responses can easily become habits. I would suggest you tell your mom that her 'ant' (automatic negative responses) have become so bad that people no longer want to be around her. Yes, she will use that as an opening to whine and moan, but she will hear you regardless. If she could learn that she CAN change her outlook, that would be ideal, but it isn't your job to lead her along that path. Give her resources (counselor and/or physician help to get started) and then just focus on YOU. My mother complains and gossips about others - occasionally I let her vent, but more often than not if she is simply basking in the deliciousness of negativity, I tell her that I would rather discuss or do something positive instead. Sometimes she agrees, other times she leaves in a huff or is obviously insulted, but those are her issues. She knows where the line is (unless I am her current target such as right now) and it is up to her to choose what to do about it.
I have experienced major depression, and it makes you irritable, venomous and just awful to others. She may well recognize what she is doing and hate herself for it. Let her know she needs to CHOOSE to get past this and that it is possible with the right tools. Then take a step back, refuse to get involved in her black cloud, and go take a walk in the sunshine of your life.
Helpful Answer (10)

QuechuaCare67 - Hi and welcome. There are some great websites about narcissistic parents. You can't post links here but if you google "daughtersofnarcissisticmothers" you will find it. I have a narcissistic mother who has been dxed with Borderline Personality Disorder, so I know it well. Personality Disorders, and narcissism are forms of mental illness. Some people are narcissistic from early on in life, and some became narcissistic as they age, and become unwell. Your mother will manipulate you through FOG - fear, guilt and obligation, as much as you allow it. It is essential for your protection to detach/emotionally distance yourself, and to establish boundaries - limits. You will find good information about both on the internet, and also here reading about various people's experiences. I agree with Annie as to drawng a line about what you will and will not talk about, or listen to. In order to "let go". I found I had to grieve the mother I never had, but needed, and accept my mother as she is, and learn to deal with her. You experience much loss when you grow up with a mentally ill mother. I found that I had been a caregiver, in some senses, from a very early age, and certainly did not have a safe or normal childhood, or family relationships ever. I have had to grieve those losses, accept the realities, and deal with the past traumas, and move on in my life. I still am the caregiver for my mother at a distance. My dad died years ago, and as in your family, was continually critcised by my mum, as was I. My sister was the "golden child" who could do no wrong. Narcissists tend to see in black and white, and label people.
Arguing does not help anything, and only upsets you. She will take attention anyway she can get it - arguing or otherwise. Narcissists want people to center on them, and often feel that they have it worse than anyone else, that they are special and require special treatrment - have a sense of entitlement. Being negative may draw you, and others in. She doesn't want to feel better, she doesn't want problems solved, she craves attention, Has she has always been narcissistic? If so it is a serious illnesss, and not treated easily. Most do not recognise that they have a problem as they see whatever it is as everyone else's problem.
You can only change you. Anger and resentment hurts you, nor her. Counselling may be helpful for you. I have gone off and on throughout my life to help me deal with my family. Certainly the support of others who understand, as you will get here for the most part. is really important, and also learning about it as you can from websites (as mentioned above) or from books - eg "Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone you Care About has Borderline Personality Disorder" by Paul T. Mason and Randi Kreger.
Try setting some limits and see if it helps you, and let us know how it works out.
(((((((((((((((((((((((((hugs)))))))))))))))))) Joan
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Hi, thank you so much for this thread. My Mom is a Narcissistic also. I was mystified, depressed, alone for a long time trying to figure all of this out. I got into therapy early in my 20's and periodically thoughtout my life go back. When I was growing up I thought that my Mom was weak!! She needed so much caregiving! How could she be strong? She was also an alcoholic. She is highly manipulative. She lives in an independent living facility very close to me which is helpful for me. I see her twice a week (i am in the "golden child" role) and my sister calls her every day (thank GOD for that - she is in the more negative role - we've figured out that we can really support each other now in adulthood...). Anyway, what is most painful is thinking that I didn't get enough love as a child... or any support at all during my 3 children's childhood and now am the primary "caregiver". There are moments when I feel like I have been caring for my Mom all my life. Mom refused to care for her Mother and then talks negatively about her. And yet here I am having to care for Mom because there is no one else. Oh well. I don't necessarily mind though at this point because I have support. She's 84. It's just I worry endlessly about nursing home care - the cost of that - that could be in the future. I just don't think I would be able to survive if she moved in with me. I don't think it would be fair to her either... Of course this is always a possibility if it comes down to survival. I feel I am so strong in my recovery if worse came to worse I could do this. I would insist on lots and lots of support. I think it takes a team to care for my Mom now and that is as healthy as I can hope for. Just always on my mind, you know? Oh I could write forever on this topic! LOL

Anyway, I LOVE the FOG (Fear, Guilt and Obligation) abbreviation. This is very helpful.

For me, strong, strong boundaries keep me from arguing with her now. I also tell her that her behavior is getting abusive when it is. Still. She's my Mom. I do care about her and want her to live her life with dignity. My Mom complains that no one helps her also. She is well taken care of in her facility. A bather comes and gives her a bath twice a week, at home nursing visits. I had to hire someone to grocery shop for her 2 hours a week - From Mom's view I could never "Get it right..."

Thanks again for this thread. One thing that helps me mitigate any projected shameful feelings is to simply state the truth back. So an example is, "you didn't call before you came by." response, "yes, that is true I didn't call". said with love of course, always aiming for an extra loving approach. after all, I think she is not well mentally of course.
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Man. All these stories sound just like mine. Worst part is that I find myself feeling as mean and caustic as my mother in trying to defend myself against her.

My mother has stirred up so much stuff amongst family members and never ever apologized to the point that those who can have distanced themselves tremendously. What a perfect world to have me step in and take care of her! Sons/DIL, grandkids -- none of them have any obligations now. Just me - the only living daughter whom she has only ever found useful for 'needs'. She is only happy when someone is completing a task she deems necessary. Then - it's only okay if you spend the very least of any monies necessary.

I work full time. We live in a small town which has no gym, no movies, nothing to really be a close distraction or respite for me. It's 16 miles into the largest town for any shopping etc. We do yard work - day and night. She likes pulling weeds and doesn't feel you are a valuable person unless you've been some sort of productive each and every day. SO - after my 8 hr day at the computer, I make sure there is dinner and I work until dark in the yard.

Anyway - I really do not want to be a negative Nelly.
I don't want to be a whiner. I am disappointed in myself because I can't do the job without feeling sorry for myself and rather hurt that none of the other family members are ever around to share the load.

I am so afraid I am becoming just like her, only my kids won't be there when it's my time to need help.
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ooops - hit the wrong button - she called a relative and told them that she needed help, and i wouldn't help her but was going on a holiday. The fact was that she had a 24/7 live in caregiver at the time. My relative called me and his tone of voice changed considerably when I told him this. Mother had given him the impression that she was all alone, I see your mother has that too - complains that no one helps her. Mother has very selective memory too - only what fits her purposes.

Venting does help, and also hearing the stories others tell. You do have to be careful to look after yourself. As others have said - they will suck the life out of you if you let them. Laughter is good too!

(((((((((((((hugs)))))))))))) Joan
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I relate to all of the above. My mom is so bored "of looking at 4 walls" "she wants to die" now that her male companion died. They were both negative and now I hear it all. I love her to death but she is exhausting me. When I try to find something she can do she always has an that she has macular degeneration she is losing her eyesight and it is worse because she can't do the things she used to. She has jumped me several times about the vacation my husband I have scheduled for Oct. ....why did we make it then...she is going to miss her nieces wedding....why did we schedule it then, she is going to miss going to the camper with us the last 2 weeks of the season and we have already missed so much because my husband got sick and had to have his gall bladder removed ( I planned that - lol). And since she hasn't had a vacation in years (in other words we aren't taking her with us) she is going on a 3 day rummage trip with a friend and her husband. I couldn't take her with us because if her and my husband didn't kill each other she would get us killed in mexico because she is so prejudice and doesn't keep her mouth shut. She has lost almost all of her friends because she gets mad at them and will not firgive them.... Emjo is so right....everything is black or wrhite and she can't see anything in between. If you don't agree with her you are can't try to explain another person's side because then you are taking sides against her and she gets mad at you. She makes every situation about her ....when my niece had cancer it was about her and how she had to take care of her for her while life...when her boyfriend was dying in the VA hospital she made an issue about his kids and wouldn't go see him at the end...made it all about her and how they kept her away....its so sad because each of these mothers have good qualities and you love them but some times you feel like pulling your hair out because there is no getting through to them to see any other side to a situation.
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Wow...who knew there were so many narcisstic mother's out there?! Good to know I'm not alone. Thanks to everyone for kind words, support and great advice! I was doing some of the things on my own...nice to know I had some good instincts. When things were at their worst I told her I would not allow her to vent about my father or her marriage to me....I also don't allow her to bad mouth my sisters - though they both deserve it for not helping out at all. So she know's not to talk about certain topics with me...I still however need to detach...

To answer some Q's she's always been depressed and narcissitic...she's just worse now. She was working full time until last year (she's 83!) and then her whole life changed when she fell and broke her pelvis. She literally walked and crawled around for 2 days before she told anyone (me) she had a "slight pain in her toe" (I live in NYC she and dad live in CT). My dad lives at home but she HIDES her condition and then blames him for not noticing (he also still works outside the home). She is pathologically afraid of being "dependent" (though she is the most co-dependet person I know) and LITERALLY thinks and will talk about how she is all alone in life. For example, I drove her to the hospital and once she tried to re-tell ME her sad story of how no one was helping her and she had to drive herself to the hosptial..etc. etc....

I heard stories my whole life about how she did everything all alone, how my dad ignored her etc. As an adult I have come to realize that ALL of these stories are her fiction. Everyone including my dad is kind and helpful...but all she ever does is see what people don't do, all she remembers is the one person in a situation who may have been unkind, she is determined to be the victim

We don't really "argue" now...what has changed is that I correct her version of the truth EVERY time. I can't stop myself....yesterday since she was feeling better she actually cooked. My dad said he was happy and she said don't get used to it, I cooked for everyone my whole life (she cooked for the family when we were young but hasn't done it for over 20 years). So I said, yea, that was 20 years ago...and dad has been doing it ever since.

Anyway, I could go on and on and on and feels good to vent...but at the same time it makes me feel guilty. I do love my mom...and worry about her...and do everything I can to help...without trying to upset my own life too much...still learning....

Thanks again to everyone....wishing you all HUGS and laughter in your lives!!!
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QuechuaCare67 - yes, lots of them, and I suspect, as daughters, we tend to come to places like this because of the additional problems we have dealing with them. You certainly are doing some things right, and have already set some healthy boundaries. Detaching is not easy. I found I had to accept my mother as she is, and give up any hopes of our relationship improving. Many of us carry that hope for a long time.
Another characterisitc of this disorder relates to sonething you wrote - they have a sense of abandonment. If I spoke about going on a trip, by mother would create a crisis. Once I -lanned to visit my oldest son in a city a few hours drive away from mother (I liv e at a distance from her)
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My mom is the SAME way. I thought having my mom back in her children's lives, closer to us, and watching her grandchildren grow, would make her happier. You just can't change some people. My mom is a very negative person and has ALWAYS been ever since I could remember. She does the same things today that she did 20 years ago, i.e., crying loudly in the middle of the night (even on my work nights) and asking God to take her life already, etc.! It's draining trying to change people like this. You might just have to give up on that in order to keep your sanity.
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P.S. It may be helpful to tell her there are certain subjects you will no longer talk about (or listen to). The past is the past, and perhaps she needs to know that whatever spin she wants to put on real or imagined past events, you want to focus only on the here and now.
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