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Please help. My 85 year old mum who I love is healthy and sweet. We were getting along well until a few years ago when my father died and she moved in with my husband and me. With my cruel father at her side she was the perfect victim and I was the perfect rescuer.

Seeing her without him now my struggle with anger over the terrible things she let my dad get away with is a constant unwelcome guest in my heart. Neither of us is perfect but try as I might I have trouble not reacting when first my mother apologizes for past awful event then later insists that I overthink and am too sensitive that I had no call for been an angry child.

Irrational as I know it is just about anything she does feels manipulative. Despite my best efforts my distrust of her intentions poisons everything about the little time I have left with her.

My saintly husband grits his teeth while my mother and I often bicker. Grief for her and my husband, and self loathing wake me at night.

I talk to friends while staying conscious to not wear them out and pray and eat well and do yoga and walk my dogs and journal. I tried AlAnon for several months as well as counseling. Both helped only a little. Their answers to stay in the present to remember that my dear mother is toward the end of her life, make perfect sense. Unfortunately they do not help enough.

Living separately apart from her is not an option nor is it something I want.

If you have had anything near this same problem please let me know that I am not alone. If you have conquered these feelings I would also be grateful to read what worked for you.

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I live with my 91 year old Mother who is sweet but lives in la-la land, partly for letting her husband, my father, be disrespectful and mean for as long as I can remember.. She could not stop him. No one could. She did at times try to stand up to him and protect us, but she could not. This father set my sister and myself up for the patterns of being abused by men most of our lives. When I finally stood up to my bullying husband he filed for divorce, married another patsy and broke my children's hearts.

Your Mother did the best she could. The only way I have found to deal with all of this and find peace is first, admit and face the hurt, pain, disrespect, abuse and total injustice of the whole situation. Your mother was wrong or too weak or whatever to stand up to him, and he was the way he was and no one could change him. Somehow when my father died, I was able to forgive more completely and found peace.

TO FIND PEACE YOU MUST FORGIVE TOTALLY. This takes time and effort and the decision to forgive over and over again. It is a choice, not a feeling. Some damage may remain, but forgiveness brings peace and true healing and allows you to move on. I still work on this, but the deep hurts of my father's behavior have healed. You must forgive your mother for being so weak and letting your father get away with all that he did, and you must forgive him for being so mean. When I forgave my mother, I stopped feeling manipulated. When you let someone make you angry it feels like they are manipulating you. Before I forgave, I felt horribly controlled and manipulated.

Alcoholics Anonymous says forgiveness is something you do for yourself, and if you do not, the resentment and bitterness will destroy you. You do not condone or excuse the behavior. With the help of your Higher Power, you forgive by an act of your will so that you can heal and move on.

You are not alone. But if you continue to relive the hurts and allow the resentment to fester, you will FEEL very much alone. I hope this helps. It is a sad truth that many of us on this planet were injured by others in many ways. That is life. Love and protect yourself be forgiving and letting it go. You owe it to yourself and those you love to move one. You can do this.
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I think that you need to acknowledge the rage and you feel toward your mother for not protecting you from abuse. I don't know if you were abused by your father or you just had to witness his abuse of her, but she was a grown woman who excused his behaviour until the day he died, in fact by she is still excusing him after his death and trying to get you to do it too. Your therapists was probably right that you can never change her thinking at this point, but they were wrong not to offer you ways to deal with your own feelings. Maybe you need to find a different therapist with a focus on these issues.
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Today is Mothers Day. In honor of the occassion I decided to finally read this thread. Regarding my mother - I've been trying to "get over it" for quite some time now - thought maybe I'd find the magic solution here. Nope. There is another current thread regarding Mothers Day. That thread says instead of dwelling on the negitive think about...X, Y and Z and gives a list of typical Hallmark moments - the band-aid, learning to sew, etc. I decided not to post there cause I didn't want to rain on anyone's parade. See, the thing is - of the given list, and yes, I realize they are just suggested examples - I do not have a good memory of a single one - not one! So now when things are beyond difficult, dealing with my demented mother, I struggle to find a single memory of a loving moment to draw upon. I realize there must be some, has to be, right? What I can remember is a self-absorbed, mean, manipulative mother who started throwing me under the bus when I was around four years old - that's when my memories start. Over 50 years nothing has changed except for her to become even meaner and more self-absorbed - the manipulations are more transparent as dementia has seriously impacted her skill at it. Mom cant see she's lost her edge in this - or any - area but just keeps trying. This past October mom said some things to me that were beyond cruel. The dementia again, I suspect - keeping her from realizing she was going to far. And yes, I realize the dementia is partially to blame - but since this isn't really new behavior for my mom, she doesn't get to use that as her hall pass. Whether it was this new level of cruelty, maybe it was five years of looking after her, maybe it was my own mood that day - but this time it was different. It was like some one had thrown a bucket of water on me in slow motion. As I felt the water slowly trickle down me, it was literally followed by a tingling sensation sealing off every receptor I had in regards to my mother. I think she finally managed to kill any love, caring and concern I had for her. So now as I prepare to go visit my mother on Mothers Day, I feel nothing. Its like I'm going to visit a stranger - a person I've been assigned to visit on this day as a good deed. Other times when I visit - I still go once or twice a week - she will be asleep, these are my favorite visits, cause I can pretend she's a lovely, frail, old lady capable of caring for me. I'll look at her and wish things could have been different. I wish I could "get over it" and forgive her. But I can't. "Happy Mothers Day!
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You either have to let the past go, or it will eat you alive! Having her constantly in your house is a constant reminder, and your constant bickering will probably eventually drive a wedge between you and your husband. Find a way to get her out of your house so you and your husband have a chance at happiness. Your husband's "gritting his teeth" for what is going on in your house will probably cause him health issues. Death is a real possibility. Do something about this situation ASAP or you might not outlive your mother.
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Don't give up on therapy. As cwillie suggests, maybe you need a different therapist, or maybe you did to tell the current therapist what isn't working for you. But keep up the therapy.

Give AlAnon more time.

It sounds like how you've related to Mother is as her rescuer. And now she is no longer a victim and doesn't need a rescuer. Hmm. Where does that leave you? Can you forge a relationship of equal adults? You have very different views of past reality, so I doubt such a relationship could be based on your shared past. Can it be based on your shared present?
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I was angry with my mother as she lived with me for over ten years...I was bitter, angry, resentful and I didnt like her. After she got to the point she could not be left alone anymore, I placed her in an assisted living memory care/personal care home. It helped me regain my love and emparhy toward her and gave me a new sense of purpose toward her and a few others I seem to have adopted there now. I feel much better.
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CyndiT
I have same story as you along with so many others. To answer specifically in regards to how other family members sit back and do nothing when they are aware your mom is off her rocker. I don't know WHY I just know they ignore the issue. My mother's family were all still in Kansas while my immediate family lived in Texas, I have one sister. We went to visit mom's family every other summer for a few days but we were treated more like an annoyance than grandchildren or nieces. I got close to my mother's youngest sister via email and phone about 10 years before mom passed. She became very aware of my mother's abuse during our childhood until she died. I was 60. She witnessed herself how my mother spoke and acted towards me but NEVER said one word about it to my mom. After mom passed about three months later my mom's older sister called me out of the blue. Mom and my aunt had rarely spoken for several years and I just asked her if she had known that my mom was a narcissistic loon and she said "yes". End of conversation. In the following 6 months I got really ticked off that they had known all along that we were being abused and they never intervened. I suppose that they just looked the other way and since we lived 800 miles away they could justify not getting involved. Subsequently I decided to stop any and all communication with any of my relatives. They didn't care for 60 years and I do not care now. I don't want any reminders of my mother in my life especially family who didn't care enough to intervene. The bigger question for me is how did my father sit back and watch her and hear her abuse us day in and day out and not confront her? So the father I once adored is just as responsible to me as my mother who was perpetrating the abuse because he never stepped up to protect us. Both of my parents lay side by side in their crypts where they will remain until the end of time without ever being visited by this daughter. They deserve each other. My mother's hateful words no longer run like tapes through my head all day and all night. I retained no family photos hoping I will forget their faces and dead eyes. I will not give them the satisfaction of knowing how much they wounded me. And I will not be their victim for one more minute because I have a life to live now in peace with only God as my protector and to love me unconditionally. I wish you the best in your "recovery". I wish we had a "rehab" for abused children that only took three months and a few thousand bucks - but we don't. It is up to YOU to determine how long you think you should suffer. I say not ONE MINUTE MORE. It is easier than you think you just have to reclaim what should have been yours all along.
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Well just remember they are miserable people that can't even figure out that they are miserable. They elevate themselves by making you seem small. But you can choose to join them in their misery or break that cycle in the family. I knew more about who I was as a person at 16 than my mom knew about herself at 86. She somehow got stuck in the 1950's and never gained any insight about ANYTHING for the next 60 years. Life is supposed to be a journey and she missed the whole trip!!!!! I remember noticing when I was about six that before we even got to the car after church she was criticizing how much she hated the tie some man wore or how some child's ponytail was not centered or trying to guess why so and so didn't make it to church that Sunday. I remember thinking in 1960 - was she not listening to the pastor? Why did she even bother to get all dressed up, drive to church and hear or learn NOTHING. She sat in the same damn pew for 65 years and never paid attention to any of it. Gotta wonder . . .I often wonder where she ended up. If a narcissist never thinks they are wrong about anything then they must never ask God for forgiveness because they are always right and do not require forgiveness. Hope I don't have to share my corner of heaven with her.
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I recommend a wonderful book, I Thought We'd Never Speak Again, by Laura Davis, who is also co-author of the book, Courage to Heal. It was the best book that I have ever read on dealing with such relationships and the topic of forgiveness (and it is not what most people think it is). I've been through similar situation with my own 80-y/o mother who had a brain aneurysm 25 years ago and has various disabilities and dementia resulting from this. My "father" was abusive to her and to me and my three younger siblings our entire lives. Finally, at the age of 70, she left him, after an argument in their kitchen when he accused my mother of having affair with his best friend and emphatically believed (now I believe he had dementia and psychiatric problems), that my brother and I were not his biological children!! We insisted on DNA testing, and low and behold, I found out that he was not, in fact, MY biological father (he was the biological father of my three brothers!). Apparently, my mother had a relationship with someone before she married the "father" who raised me, and they kept this secret for 51 years!! The "father" who raised me was an alcoholic, physically abusive, and sexually abusive! How did I deal with this: When I was 14, I told my mother what was happening, and he was arrested and court ordered at that time to counseling. My mother separated from him for a period of time, but then went back to him. My brothers and I begged her not to go back. My brothers and I suffered by her decision to return to him and continue living in a dysfunctional home. He made efforts to change, but he was still a very angry man who was unable to have a healthy relationship with anyone in his family (even extended family). After my mother suffered her brain aneurysm, he seemed to get better; devoted his time to caring for her; and I thought things had improved. His health was poor; but both of them refused any sort of help from professionals. They lived 3 hours away from my brothers and me, and finally, they moved closer so we could help take care of them. Then, when they were 70, they had this huge argument that resulted in my mother leaving him. She lived with me initially; then we got her settled in a senior apartment complex; then I moved, and she moved into my basement apartment and started attending an adult day program (I work full time). Meanwhile, my brother cared for his father for three more years until our mother ended up divorcing him, and he ended up in a nursing home and died in 2010 after having a stroke and heart problems. I did have communication with the "father" who raised me after my mother left him, and somehow, we gained some closure and peace with each other. My parents could have made other choices in their lives, and I have worked constantly to forgive both of them. I am grateful to know that the "father" who raised me is NOT my biological father, because there is no genetic hx of his "sins" passing to my two wonderful sons. My sons are also grateful that he is not their biological grandfather. It is hard for me at times because there were some positive traits this "father" who raised me had, and I am grateful for the good times we did have, but the painful story of our lives is still there. By the grace of God, I survived (and thrived) despite the abuse. I have worked hard to overcome the dysfunctional family that I was born to. BTW, I found the identity of my birth father through I contacted him but his wife was so upset by my call that he asked me not to contact him anymore. He wrote me an email afterward, and I have to accept this. It was interesting because his son had recently died, and his ashes arrived on the day that I called him. He has another son, and a daughter, who I have chosen not to contact at this time. Life throws us curve balls, and we either dodge them, or catch them and deal with it the best we can. Ultimately, the goal is to find peace.
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Yes, Forgiveness is important but not easy. If you are dealing with PTSD issues I recommend a therapy called EMDR. I happened upon it in my search for a therapist and am glad I did. It helped me get out of my own way. Take your power back and remember everyone is on their own journey. I know cliche, but true.
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