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I've discussed in previous posts my Mom's lifelong negative and controlling personality traits, ocd, paranoia etc. now we've added a little dementia to the already difficult situation.

The past couple of weeks with the help of others advice on this site I have tried to use the "detach with love" approach. It has been helpful in discouraging some of her verbal abuse and negativity. Still I feel guilty remaining somewhat aloof so I have tried to reinforce and compliment her for good behavior. On the rare occasion she says something positive I will say something like "that is such a sweet thing to say" or "it was so kind of you to express that". I will compliment her on something she does such as "the house smells so clean after you polished the table".

The heart breaker is that almost instantly after any compliment she goes from Hyde to Jeckyll mode and goes back to criticizing, negative, complaining, just outright mean spirited.

I've paid close attention to be sure I am not imagining this, even asking my husband "have you noticed anything odd when I compliment mom"? He immediately said "yes, it makes her meaner".

I gave up many years ago trying to get her approval. It is all but impossible and not worth the effort it takes to do anything to her standards, in fact she will immediately raise the bar if I get anywhere near.

I just want to be fair, and kind when there is a reason to do so without rewarding negativity. I look for opportunities to praise her, but it is like that praise is a reminder to her to spoil the mood. Sometimes the look in her eye is so evil it literally creeps me out.

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I too have had to remain emotionally aloof and distant when dealing with my mother. Nothing I say or do makes her happy. The solutions to problems, become more problems. She wants me to become closer to her in our relationship. She mentions how she envy's an old friend of hers and how her children are so devoted to her. I put those emotional barriers up for a reason. I do not appreciate being used or taken advantage of with no respect or consideration for my feelings. It is impossible to be close or devoted to a person who is is extremely self indulgent, negative, complains, feels sorry for themselves and so on. My mother has caused many to distant themselves from her. She has always been like this and has never shown empathy or remorse for those she has affected. My love for her has been buried so deep down inside me, that I can no longer feel it toward her. I do want I can for her more out of obligation than love.
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Damn if you do, damn if you don't! Sounds like remaining aloof may be a more healthier approach than having your words of kindness thrown back in your face. A leopard never changes their spots. No sense in even trying. Detaching with love is for you not her.
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my husband wants to stay in bed and will not eat. We are at our wits end.
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This made me grin - a wry grin - but nonetheless a grin, My mother is the same - she looks at you very suspiciously when you give her positive feedback. Immediately, you can see the wheels turning, and soon it gets reversed into something negative. It is a lose-lose - no matter what. No point in even trying, It is very wearing to be around. Do what you have to in order to protect yourself. I could not possibly have my mother in my own home. The stress is too great. Take care.
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Wow! Thanks so much to jeannegibbs, ChristinaW and JessieBelle. All of your above answers are so applicable to my situation and have given such a helpful new perspective!

Jeanne you are so right about Mom's abnormal motivations and expectations. I am looking for rationality in an irrational person.

Christina you nailed it! I do set myself up over and over. I've been working on that. Often she asks a question and starts telling me why my answer is wrong before I get out two words of the answer. I have quit answering rather than set myself up by giving her the satisfaction of the "wrong answer". She just proceeds to answer her own question, delighted that she is right again!

Jessie I never realized until I saw your post, but my mother does suspect everyone of manipulation, probably because she is so very manipulative herself. Your first paragraph is exactly like my situation except Mom is mean more often than not. She will change any and every position rather than admit I am right. She lost weight after Dad passed away. She wanted new shoes a few weeks later, when we got to the store her usual size shoes were all too big. I suggested that maybe the weight loss had changed her shoe size. She informed me that one did not loose weight in one's feet and proceeded to buy shoes that were nearly a size too big. Now, months later she scoots along in them like a child playing dress up in her Momma's shoes rather than accept my suggestion, or admit they do not fit!
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This reminds me of my mother. She is not really mean most of the time, just self obsessed. One thing she does consistently is argue with me. If I take a position, she'll take the opposite. She just can't stand to agree with me about anything. She'll even switch her position just to oppose me if I agree with her.

Chances are that your mother has a keen ear for manipulation. Maybe she is thinking that someone is saying something nice just to get a good response, so she counters with the opposite. If that is the case, it may be best to talk on the positive side of neutral, so it doesn't trigger that manipulation button. Better yet, just ignore and go about your day. We don't have to spend a lot of time with people who make us feel bad even when we live in the same house. It isn't the best arrangement, but sometimes we have to do it to keep the stress off ourselves.
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I'm laughing, but I know it's not funny. You are still trying to get your Mother's
"approval", for her to smile lovingly at you and become June Cleaver. You are a sweet person and she isn't. We can see that, your husband sees it, so just count your blessings and quit setting yourself up for her crappola. If I were there right now I would give you a big hug and tell you how wonderful you are. And I would pretend my Mother did the same to me.
As my daughter says, " Mom, remember what I taught you?" And I say "People suck?" And she says Yes." Lol xo
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A therapist once told me that reason I wasn't having success with praising someone is that it made the person feel like I was sitting in judgment. Yes, this time the judgment was positive, but this person did not want me to judge him at all! Yikes!

I don't know if that fits your situation.

Go back to detachment mode. Your mother sounds like she has more mental issues than you are trained to handle, and our normal intuition is often way off in dealing with people who don't have normal motivations and expectations. You can't cure her. Save yourself. No need for feeling guilty. What you are doing is self-preservation.
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