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I've never done anything right in my mother's eyes and have always been a disappointment to her. Now I'm responsible for her yard work and most transportation. I HATE going to visit her!

What can I do to stop personalizing all the negative things she says?

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When she says something awful, tell her "Why are you so insulting? I think I better go now" and leave. My husband did this and by the time he got home, his mother was calling to apologize. He set the boundary. His brother, on the other hand, continues to take more insults, argues with his mother for hours and by the time he goes home he is exhausted and depressed. The choice is yours. If she insults your yard work, quit the job, tell her to pay a landscaper. Don't cave in to the guilt card she plays against you. If she insults your driving, tell her she is insulting and from now on she can call a cab. When she claims she will move into a nursing home and be dead in six months, tell her she can do whatever she wants, and walk OUT. Hold your ground. Save your sanity.
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Call the local chamber of commerce to get the phone number of the VFW if you can't find the number for the Aux. Call them and get someone to contact. Ask the Chamber of Commerce (or the mayor if it's a really small town) about who can do lawns and rake leaves. Just start calling around and you'll figure it out. Or tell us the name of your mom's town and I'll figure it out and post on your wall. I love investigating. :)

Just because your mother asks you to do something, doesn't mean you have to do it, even if you can. You're not her slave! She's a meanie who's taught you to jump to her tune. It's time to set limits and you're off to a good start.

Good for you for not driving 30 miles to take her to an appt. You could even start with those folks to find people to help with the yard. As my parents taught me as a child, "We're all going to have to do things we don't like." So your mom doesn't like being in a wheelchair in the van? Too bad. That's her option at this point. Good luck and keep us posted.
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My mother does have some health issues. She fell and broke her thigh bone a few years ago. She was in rehab for about a month after that, but now walks with a limp. She had a lift added to one shoe to make up for the shortened bone in her thigh, but refuses to wear the shoes. Go figure! She also has adult onset diabetes for which she takes medication.

I live about 30 miles away and don't know anyone in her town so wouldn't know who to contact to help with the chores. However, I recently signed her up for driving help with the county aging department and they will send a van to pick her up and take her to medical appointments. All she has to do is call them 24 hours in advance and they'll make sure she gets where she needs to go. I made her use that service a few weeks ago when I refused to take off from work to take her myself. (Score 1 point for me!!!) She hated it because they made her sit in a wheelchair.

I know she belongs to the local VFW Aux., so I'm trying to find a name and address of someone within that organization that I can contact to see if those ladies might be able to help.

I hate to lie and tell her I'm not available to mow the lawn, rake leaves, etc. when I actually could do those things.

I don't know if she has dementia. I've spoken to the doctor about other things (I'm her medical and financial power of attorney), but nothing about that was ever mentioned. She only goes to the doctor when necessary and there is no way I could ever get her to agree to go to take any kind of mental assessment test.

Any suggestions?
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My parents were both very critical and negative. Often, people like that are full of fear, and they will attack the person closest to them precisely because they are so afraid of rejection. It's as if they constantly need to test the relationship and also project their own insecurities onto the other person. When I began caring for my father, he told all his friends and neighbors that I was only there because I didn't have a place to live. Blatantly false, but he saved face. He could never, ever admit that he needed help. Caring for him was a real trial. I became deeply depressed. The silver lining is that while he was dying, I was able to come to terms with the anger I felt at him for the way he treated me my whole life. I knew he would never apologize or thank me for what I was doing, but being able to show him the love he never showed me helped me a lot. The experience has also made me better able to counter my mother's negativity and count my own blessings.
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Sharynmarie, this is my mother exactly. Same thing with her treatment of dad when he was sick. She refuses to help herself. I have read and reread the narcissistic daughters site. It was a wake up call for me. I hope everyone with a difficult mom/dad will do a little reading and come to the same conclusions that you and I have. It changed my life and the way I deal with my mother.
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A little more info...when my father had progressed enough with the Alzheimer's...my mother expected him to still take of their yard work which was my father's passion. He could not follow through on it...she refused to get yard service until my father was placed in a care facility...what I am saying is that until it affected her as an elder, she was not willing to put the money out...she expected family to do it for her even though she could well afford a lawn service...this is just an example of how a person with a narcissistic personality disorder thinks.
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lovetoplay~My mother has a personality disorder....she is always right, everyone else is wrong, has to be the center of attention, verbally/emotionally abusive to family, a perfectionist in regards to everyone else...only she can make a mistake and it is ok, can't handle day to day responsibilities such as the washing machine quit working, or the car is not performing as it should....all these things threw my mom into a tailspin and she was a victim. She is/was sweet as pie to people outside the family, she has relationships with people she worked with who thought she was the kindest person they ever met. How she treated her family....my father and us...her children was a different story.

Set boundaries with your mother is very important. I know my mother well enough to know when the temperature in the room is changing....I would leave her house before it became explosive. I would end conversations on the phone the same way. If she accused me falsely, I would tell her the truth and leave. There were times I did not talk to her for a couple months at a time until she got the message. I suggest you google setting boundaries with a narcissistic parent, detaching with love, and also google the site daughtersofnarcissisticmothers. I this may be a lot of information that could overwhelm you, but learning to detach is very important. Hugs to you!!
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Severely limit the time you spend with her. Tell her she can hire a lawn service. Show her how to arrange transportation. Bow out.

You had to put up with this when you were a child. You do not now. She "calls it as she sees it." Time for you to be as blunt. "I'm sorry that I can't do anything right for you Mom, and I think it is time for you to find someone who can, or at least who is getting paid to hear your criticisms." "Our trips in the car always wind up with you criticizing me. I am not going to take that anymore. If you want, I'll help you find transportation. But I'm not driving you any more."

If you continue to put up with this, remind yourself that it is by your choice.
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I agree that you should avoid her, but if you want a way to depersonalize your response, try dysfunctional family bingo. Google it.

Get together with a few friends, tip a few glasses, and make a list of the typical unpleasant comments she always makes. You can put them on a bingo card, or print up a list. When you have to talk to her, every time she says something nasty, pull out your card and check it off! If she has any sense of humor, tell her what's going on. If not, then just keep track of how many items you checked off. That way, you can almost be happy when she gets in a zinger, because you earn a point!

It's just a way to reframe an unpleasant situation that is not going to change. It hurts, I know. Best wishes.
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Why would you want to stop personalizing her behavior? You do not have to take care of a toxic person. She can hire people to do the responsibilities you are doing. You owe nothing to nobody. but to yourself and those who are positive in your life.
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Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, blannie the fat comment is great. Never thought of that one.
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I'm with akasun - stay away from her. Tell her that her comments are hurtful and you're not going to accept them any more. The next time she starts in, cut the visit short and tell her you're not going to do her work any more. I don't understand why so many caregivers put up with so much trash talking from their parents. We're not helpless children any more! You don't have to take it - you're now an adult with grandchildren of your own. You need to protect yourself and your family from her toxic mouth. If she has dementia, my position would soften a bit, but I'd still say take yourself and your grandchildren out and away from her hateful comments. YOU DON'T HAVE TO PUT UP WITH IT! Let her hire some people who can run a marathon and aren't overweight to do her lawn and garden work if that's so important to her. I'd also tell her I was "too fat" to help her anymore, since she seems obsessed with weight.
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Hi, lovetoplay- You mention that "everyone else thinks she's the kindest, sweetest, person on the face of the earth" My suggestion is to arrange for some of these people to assist with her yard and transportation needs.

I'm guessing she is still relatively healthy and that being the case it is important for you to draw the line now on what you will and will not accept as far as her attitude and comments go.
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I really like Ana4ComfortCare's comment. She is right in my opinion.

I too have a very, very negative mother. What you are dealing with is not only the negative things she says now but the negative things she has said your entire life. It hurts your self esteem. Undermines your confidence.She, like my mother, will never change and she probably does have some sort of personality disorder.

My mother never has anything good to say, do or think. Everything is 100% about her and always has been. It took me a while and a lot of reading to understand that she is very narcissistic. Your mother may be as well.

I limit my contact with my mother, never tell her anything personal, and do almost nothing for her. I will be criticized if I do and if I don't. So I choose not to do much. I live, fortunately, in another state and haven't seen her in three years.

As for the yard work, she hires someone to do it. I can't and my brother won't. She can afford to have someone do it and we don't have to listen to what we did wrong. Same with everything she has done in her house. Nothing pleases her.

Last time I talked to her I asked her nicely how she was feeling. Now realize she is healthy, drives, has no eye problems, never had surgery for anything. No dementia, cancer, bad hips or knees, just nothing. Her answer, "I don't think I will live much longer". Well, geezzzz, she is 83.

Talk about negative.
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Does your mother have dementia or personality disorder? Sometimes knowing that they have some sort of diagnosis, helps you realize that some of the comments she says may not fully be coming from her... It may be the disease.
What has helped me in the past with difficult patients, is going into the situation with the scope of completing the task and getting out... The less interaction the lower the chances are there will not be room for confrontation. More or less... try to ignore the comments, get the "yard work" or whatever task you have to get done... and get out.
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I've tried the "would you say that to a friend" approach and it doesn't help. One day she was visiting here and our 13 yr old grandson was also here for the day. He was jumping on our trampoline. My mother said, "Mark needs to go on a diet! You can see his boobs moving up and down! He's way too fat!!!"

I told her that that was an awful thing to say about anyone, let alone her own great-grandson. Then I listed several of his positive traits (kind and considerate, althletic, etc.) My mom replied that she calls them as she sees them.

Just for the record, Mark is well within the weight guidelines for his height.

How do you deal with someone like that?
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She sounds toxic. Awful place for you to be. Can you give her feedback like: "I probably won't run a marathon but I'll able to do your yard work more easily." (that was a little snarky but I couldn't resist) Or when the comment is really pointed, not a sneak attack - "Would you say that to a friend? I'd appreciate it if you'd treat me with the same courtesy you'd show for a friend."

Think about things she has said in the past (sorry this will be painful) and plan standard responses to use for common themes of her attacks. Speak from your heart, not in retaliation. Give her feedback that will help her understand that she is beyond the boundaries of an Adult to Adult relationship.

Make sure she has what she needs to be safe, fed and warm then LIMIT THE TIME YOU SPEND WITH HER. When you do visit, make the conversations all about her, it may limit the openings she has to do sneak attacks if she has limited information about you and your activities.

Lastly, realize that there are some people you will never make happy no matter how hard you try. Use your time and energy elsewhere. Spend time with positive people. Give yourself positive self-talk, as you did in your most recent post, about your abilities.
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My mother knows everything about everything. I, of course, am stupid (even though I can fix things and have a grasp of subjects that she's never attempted herself). She is, generally, a negative person and does put things in a negative context, but in a sneaky way.

For instance, due to several foot surgeries, I've been unable to exercise as I had for many years and I've gained way too much weight, which I'm now starting to lose. Instead of telling me I'm fat and I need to exercise, she asks, "So, do you think you'll ever run a marathon?" She already knows that answer to her question.

I HATE having to visit her or take her anywhere because I always have to be on my guard so I don't say or do the "incorrect" thing. It's wearing me down!

One thing I should mention....everyone else thinks she's the kindest, sweetest, person on the face of the earth!
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Its very hard to not take negative comments personally. Does your mother say negative things about most situations/people in her life? Some people have a very negative world view, everything that comes out of their mouths is negative. The negative stuff they say to us/about us sticks to us and we are hurt. Think about the general tone of all the things she says. If it is all negative or mostly negative, then its her world view showing through. Realizing that my MIL has a negative mindset helped me to disregard the negative crap she throws my way verbally. Even her neutral or positive talk is framed in the negative. "You're not sewing anymore are you, I didn't think so." instead of asking "Do you still sew?" Its not about me, its her mindset and how she sees the world. She sees what is wrong, not what is positive and good. It is really emotionally draining to spend time with someone who is so negative. Too bad we don't have deflector shields for flying negatives. It made it easier to not take her negativity personally when I realized that its universally how she interacts with the world. its not just me.
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