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Hi, my mom has had several mental issues going on since I can remember. She is a hoarder, has anxiety, ocd, and I think she may be a hypocrite. Our roles have been reversed for years, and I feel burned out. I am codependent. I have tried my best to please her and help her in every way possible. Because I finally set one boundary, she told a nurse that I was mean like her abusive mother, and she even included me in the same category. This was a lie, and it broke my heart. I know I did my best to help her. How do I deal with emotional pain and guilt over trying to distance myself from this very unhealthy, one-sided, manipulative, relationship? I am all she has. I feel sick inside.

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Dear Karen,

Thank you for sharing your story with us. I can identify with so much of what you are going through. I know its hard to look out for yourself and to put in place healthy boundaries. I honestly never knew what boundaries were. I was a desperate pleaser. I think the reason I always got along better with women my mother's age is because I was trying to recreate the relationship I wanted with my own mother.

Golden23, thank you so much for recommending those books. I think the one that really hit me hard was "Will I Ever Be Good Enough?" Here I am trying to do everyone's bidding my whole life and I am the one left feeling hurt and alone. It has been hard to accept that I need to make some changes. My father's passing has brought forward how much I resented my mother and her need for drama, while I need peace.

Karen, glad to hear you have hope now. It will get better but like everything it just takes time. Thinking of you.
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I am feeling so thankful for finding this awesome support place. I appreciate all the compassionate and helpful input from everyone on here. I have hope now! THANKS TO ALL OF YOU!
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I am so sorry you have this to deal with. You will never please her. She doesn't want that - she wants attention. That is what narcissists thrive on. She installed your guilt "buttons" when you were a child and she knows how to push them. You have nothing to feel guilty about. It is false guilt instilled in you by your mother.

I am glad you recognize that you are codependent. There is information on the internet about daughters/children of narcissists. My mother has borderline personality disorder and narcissism and I have had much counselling in my life. I too have found social workers to be especially helpful. This book has been helpful to some, "Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Karyl McBride". Also "Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder by Randi Kreger and Paul T. Mason."

You need to learn to detach emotionally and to set boundaries. Your mother won't like it and her behaviours may escalate, but you have to keep getting healthier yourself. You need to grieve the lack of the mother you needed, and also to accept that your mother never will be that, nor will you ever get from her the love and approval every child needs from their parent(s) - no matter how hard you try. BTDT.

Here are some points on detaching:

Accept that others are responsible for their own choices.
Anger – deal with it in a healthy way.
Blame – don’t blame and don’t accept blame.
Consequences – face them and see that others experience consequences of their choices too.
Decide what you are willing to do and what you are not willing to do.
Detachment is not a feeling so much as a choice of behaviors, though the feelings should (will) follow the behaviors.
Detachment means you can maintain positive behaviors towards to others –kindness, compassion.
Don’t enable the unhealthy behaviors of others.
Focus on yourself and what is good for you.
Forgive, but don’t forget the need to protect yourself.
Grieve the relationship as it was, the hopes that you had, the mistreatment you received.
Refuse to be manipulated e.g., emotional blackmail
Respond, don’t react - be proactive.
Separate yourself - physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, socially from others behaviors/feelings.
Set boundaries.
Say “No”.
Space –create it between you and them.
Try not to take their behaviors personally.
Treat others and yourself with love and dignity.
You can only control /change yourself – your emotions, your behaviors –do not take responsibility for the others feelings or behaviors.
Realize it is a process and that you will make mistakes and get “sucked” in, but that you can learn from your mistakes.

Blessings to you and let us know how you are doing. ((((((((hugs)))))))
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Thank you. I really appreciate your input.
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You've received good advice from people. Some parents will always see their children as kids no matter how old they get. The parent will see themselves as the boss and if an adult child says no to something, then they are being disobedient. It can be very difficult when the roles are reversed, but the parent still wants to keep control. I don't know what the boundary was that you set. Apparently your mother saw that one "disobedience" as a switch that flipped you from good child to bad. This is not anything you did. Setting a boundary about what you will do is totally healthy.

From what you wrote, it sounds like you are going overboard to help your mother. What happened was not because of anything you did. It was probably more of a control issue that she has. I hope you still keep setting healthy boundaries between you and her. If she gets mad about them, it's not something you can control. You can only excuse yourself if she gets abusive.
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Thank you. I will look for one.
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A trained clinical social worker would understand your family dynamics and be able to help you. When it comes to types of therapists, I like them the best because of how they are trained.
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Thanks for your reply. I agree with you about finding support. I haven't had much luck finding anyone who knows anything about the effects on children, from these bizzare mental issues. Mom was in rehab from a fall. She was taking a high dose of ativan which could have caused her to fall. She wasn't hurt but laid there for 30+ hours. The nurse in the rehab facility asked her if she had been abused. Mom blossomed in that facility, with all the attention she got there. The therapists even got her walking better. No more shuffling. But she had to move out of there.
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What was the situation with the nurse? Did she come to your mother's house, was it in a clinic, etc.? Nurses who work with mentally ill patients know that what they say often does not match reality.

If you have done your best to help her in every way possible then you have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. What more can anyone do but their best?

You definitely need to keep distancing yourself from this toxic situation. Do not tolerate this abuse.

Are you seeing a therapist? If you are codependent and heart-broken about things you know are not true, I think you deserve the support of someone who understands these dynamics.
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