I am in an unusual situation. I am a sales professional who lost my home in foreclosure and as I continue my job search was offered what seemed to be a "win win" situation for me and a good friend - move in with them and then his 82 year old mother who is effectively blind and has osteoporosis - would have some companionship and there would be another person at home if she needed something. My friend travels extensively for his job so I am often a lone with his mother, Lorraine. Lorraine is very independent and does an amazing amount of tasks throughout the day. My friend has put raised stickers on all the appliances so that she can use them. She is insistent on washing clothes and cooking and cleaning and refuses help from anyone - especially me.
Lorraine can't see ice on the pavement and if she falls she'd break into ten pieces so she is not supposed to go out of the garage area during the winter - but of course the first week (and while her son - my friend was at work) she was out there bringing the recycling bins back to the house in a snow storm as well as collecting the mail. My friend - her son - and I have both told her that I can do that and she shouldn't as she could really hurt herself - but it enrages her if she is prohibited from anything. A door lock to the garage got stuck and she blamed me for breaking it - I did not - it simply malfunctioned and she started screaming at me about 'taking advantage of my situation' and all sorts of terrible things that are absolutely not true - it was so upsetting and even made me cry. She yelled at me that I'd better be ready to pay the locksmith out of my pocket - and I was and called the locksmith. The lock was repaired- he said an internal piece simply wore out - no one's fault - and I paid him and as he was leaving she shoved me into the wall and screamed at the locksmith that "She's not the home owner! This is my house (it's not - it's her son's house actually) and that she wanted to pay the bill!." I tried to defend myself but that only seemed to incite her more. Some times she is as sweet as pie to me, and then she will lash out and say horrible things. She is making it a bit of hell to live here - but she honestly can't be here a lone. While she is quite independent and able to take care of her daily needs, she is also capable of leaving the flame on the stove going because she can't see it and of falling and not being able to get back to the house - although she wears an alarm around her neck to notify someone if she has fallen.
I would do anything to help her - I thought that would be my role - but almost immediately realized that she would not welcome any help so I stay out of her way - paying attention to whether or not she's left the flame on the stove or how long she has been outside with her dog etc. But when she lashes out - it's so abusive and it hurts my feelings even though I know I need to get tougher skin. Should I stand up for myself? Should I ignore it? Today I told her that she was being unfair in her criticism and that I wished she wouldn't be so mean to me but she never even came up for air in the tirade - she just kept screaming at me. Any advice? How do you deal with this kind of behavior? Walk away? It makes me feel terrible when it happens. Thanks so much!