How do I cope with my Mom when she is stubborn and mean and I am so angry at her?

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I am so filled with guilt over not being able to cope with my anger toward my mother and now she is elderly (80 years old) and needs some care giving from me. She lives by herself; I live 3 blocks away from her. I feel bad because we do not have a healthy relationship. I wish I could fix it, but she is a mean person and has been all of my life. Obviously, she is never going to change or admit that she needs to. She continues this nasty behavior and will not admit that she is at any fault. Her opinion is that I do not try hard enough or give her any "slack". She wishes my father were alive to see what I am doing to her. I love her but I don't like her. She is not a person I would choose to have for a friend. But I am stuck with her for a mother. She is very naggy and a know-it-all. Nothing anyone else or myself does makes sense to her or is enough to please her. If it isn't her idea or her way it is wrong. I myself am on medication and counseling for anxiety / depression caused by a job that I had to retire early from. So right now I am not the patient "I have to endure this--this is my Mother" person that I used to be although I am trying very hard. We have had some horrible arguments that always leave me apologizing; she bears no blame. I try so hard not to allow her to have the power over me to make me angry but it is not working as effectively as it used to. I tell myself she is old and I will be there some day and how do I know I won't do the same things? I tell myself she is my mother and deserves my respect and worry that I will get back some day what I am putting forth. For my own mental health, I have stopped seeing her every day although I do make sure I call as it is easier and less painful to stop a phone call than to storm out during a visit, because lately when we get together it is not good. We are both on the defensive and uptight. We don't get past the strain and end up angry with each other and lately it gets uglier every time. She wonders why I don't come over & visit so much & what do I say? I can't say because I can't stand to be around you? So I just make lame excuses that I know she doesn't believe or I try to say nothing and change the subject. She is my mother; I feel like is is wrong to want to alienate her from my life. I know I cannot change her, I can only change myself. The thing is, I am healthy enough to realize that I do not have to take abuse and I now stick up for myself. But this always causes a big argument with her and that leaves us both heart broken. I am torn in a catch 22 - I can't disown her but can't get along with her. I never thought I would be in this predicament. I can't believe that you can love someone so much yet despise them too. It is so painful.

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thanks so much for responses. All is helpful, especially the understanding of what I am going through. Tryingmybest, what wonderful advice..."would you rather be right or happy?" I want to be right, I want mom to be wrong. If I could be right once in awhile, it wouldn't matter so much. I get tired of always being the one who is wrong. When it is super obvious that I am right, she doesn't acknowledge it any way. So I never win. With your advice, I can win. I am giving a lot of thought to whether I would rather be right or happy. If I am so miserable, how do I psych myself up to not care about being right? Isn't it crazy that that is so important? But maybe if I "win" once in awhile, I won't be so defensive. JessieBelle, you are right. She knows my triggers. And I know she knows it, but I let her get the better of me this time. I do try to change subject or just figure out a way to get out of a bad situation. I know that I am doing it to myself when I let her pettiness get to me. I just can't always "let it go" and then I feel guilty when I don't. Most of our arguments are because we disagree about almost everything. I am an optimist; she is a pessimist. Most of the arguments start when we talk about something--anything, and we have a difference of opinion. She does not respect mine and thinks that I should think the same as her. And I want to be right for a change.
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First I want to say I really feel for you. I hear how hard you are trying to put aside your own emotions and understand where your Mom is coming from. I do the same thing but I'm beginning to realize how that can get in the way of safe. interaction with an abusive person. I'm not saying we should not have empathy, rather that it's important we put our well being first.

In the past when someone I loved abused me my first reaction was to try and understand their reasons. I often blamed myself or I gave them excuses. This just filled me with resentment (bordering on rage at times) and feelings of worthlessness. Now I am learning how to protect myself and still remain compassionate. Empathy has it's place and will help us forgive but I think it protection comes first.

What SingingSkies said is a wonderful tool to use. I used to feel like I needed to "set the record straight" all the time. Then someone said to me "would you rather be right or happy?" Now whenever I feel the need to force my opinion I try to keep this in mind. Rather than try to correct the person I will acknowledge that I heard what they said which is not really the same as agreeing but serves the same purpose. I'm not perfect and there are still times I let insults and accusations get under my skin but things are a lot better than they used to be.

Best of luck, this stuff is hard.
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A couple of thoughts. Your mom sounds depressed. Your profile says she has had a stroke and heart problems. Is there any vascular dementia from the stroke? Many patients post stroke are put on antidepressant medication during rehab as part of their recovery plan, was this ever suggested?

I'm asking these questions because , although you are quick to blame yourself , something has changed for the worse in your relationship and I wonder if it has to do with mom's deteriorating mental health. Something to think about and consult with her doctor about.

Do you have poa and Healthcare proxy so that you can have a two way conversation with her doctor? It also sounds as though she'd be entirely more happy in an Assisted living facility where she'd have more than" just " you for company.
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SingingSkies has passed on an approach that does work beautifully but it does take some guts to pull it off. I certainly could not do it when I was younger but it often works with my husband who can fly off the handle to easily. I will preface whatever i need to tell him with "Now don't get angry but..........." Kind of like throwing the lion a piece of steak while you escape from his cage!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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A friend of mine worked at a nursing home. She was the one who got along with the difficult patients - by agreeing with them. Sometimes sarcastically. I passed this on to a woman whose MIL was dying and she used it and had the best relationship ever in the last week of the MIL's life. This may not be possible in your situation - but is it? "You did this terrible thing" answered by "I know, Mom, you just don't get any respect. Isn't it awful?" She enjoyed coming up with creative responses and her MIL felt heard instead of ignored. Agreed, don't be the primary caregiver in this stressful situation.
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I suppose you could try to keep being your mom's caregiver, but I doubt it's going to work out and you're going to be the one suffering from it, and so wll mom. The nature of your dysfunctional relationship with mom would make that task extremely difficult for a young, physically and emotionally healthy person. You need to take care of yourself first. if you can restore both physical and mental health, re-assess and do some deep soul-searching before you attempt any of this. Your mom would probably do better under someone else's care, and you could spend the time you have left working on healing your relationship, while you can. That won't happen caregiving -- there won't be enough time for it.
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I am sorry that you are going through this. I saw my sister in your same situation. I would tell her "Do not go there." "Do not answer the phone 15 times a day." Etc.

But I think my sister was Co-dependent on Mother. My sister died suddenly (while driving to Mother's.) Mother is 95 and is fine. She is at the local nursing home and is the bell of the ball. She is clean, dressed, hair done, etc. But - if I am visiting over 2 days straight, she goes right back into cutting me down and being critical.

Good luck. I read Caring for your Difficult Older Parent. it was good.
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Who says you have to be the one to do the hands on caregiving? Get someone else to do that and talk to your mom once or twice a week.

hat are you doing for her now? What help does she need? You can help her but not spend a lot of time with her if it's too upsetting for both of you. Just because she believes you should do x, y, or z, that doesn't make it true or right. You have to do what is right for you and your own health (mental and physical). Your mom sounds like a hard person to deal with and I would imagine she has these issues with other relationships, is that right?
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FlowerChild, you can only do the best you can. Some people don't get along. My mother and I have a similar problem when we talk. Conversations start pleasantly enough, then go downhill. There is usually some trip point that I can tell when we've hit it, then I find some kind of distraction to get away before bad feelings begin. Many times I just let her talk and don't respond.

What kind of verbal battles do you and your mother have?
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