I am the baby of 4 kids. For 20 years I've been caring for my mother. I'm 41 with 4 kids. 1 disabled kid and the youngest is 10. I'm also poor. My mom is manipulative. Though sickly, she seems to almost make up symptoms along the way. She refuses rehab yet she gives me hell about WORKING to get better. I am sick to hell of being called for the tiniest things or multiple pain med requests yet no effort to take regular meds and ANY rejection on my part is met with agitation, whining and a cut throat look and a guilt trip. Today I told her one of her friends told me I need to get out and care for myself too. Her reply: I don't know how you will do that. I can't even walk to the bathroom. WHAT???? She's weak but to what extent is she trying? Who says that? But this is her personality to ME ONLY. None of her other kids who don't even entertain caring for her. I stopped and wondered: Why is she so demanding of my time and life to care for her but she couldn't even stand to talk on the phone to her mother much less care for her? Why am I being held to a standard that she never remotely held herself too? Does anyone else wonder this if it applies to your parents?

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You get the brunt of mom's bad attitude because you are the one who is there all the time. I would venture to guess that if one of your siblings came to visit mom would be friendly and charming.

You don't have to subject yourself to her manipulations. You may ask yourself, "If I don't take of mom, who will?" Who indeed? If you were to take back your life and stop being a whipping post for your mom what would she do? Enter an assisted living facility maybe or hire in-home caregivers?

My point is that you are not chained to your mom. She doesn't want to do therapy because she has you to do the work for her. Why should she exert herself? And how can you possibly venture outside to do something for yourself when your mom may have to pee while you're gone??

You have choices. You can ask your siblings to step up and help. You can get your mom into an assisted living facility. You can back away from your perceived obligation to her and carve out a life of your own and just let the voicemail pick up her numerous messages.

No one has a gun to your head. You're not a hostage. After caring for your mom for 20 years it's time for you to do something else and let someone else pick up the slack. When we're in a bad situation of our own making but we refuse to do anything to change that situation eventually we give up the right to complain about it. I'm not saying that's where you're at but that's where you're headed. Making changes can be difficult and scary but if you're not happy change things so you can be happy. If you choose not to make any changes then you have a find a way to live with the way things are with your mom. She's not going to change, you have to be the one to make changes. You can't expect her behavior to improve. It won't. So do you want to accept that this is the way things are and learn to live with it or do you want to have a life of your own? The choice is up to you.
Helpful Answer (28)

FreeMe, I write this with compassion and not with sarcasm, as it might seem, but perhaps you can ask yourself why is it that only you are taking care of your mother when your other siblings have apparently refused to?

Take to heart what the posters have written so far. Eyerishlass elaborated on this phenomenon very eloquently. Follow hers, Mincemeat's and Barb's advice; it's very good and insightful. You're the one who'll have to make the changes, and it won't be easy. Many of us have been where you are.
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So, Free, what would your mom do if you dropped Dear? Or ended up in the hospital?

You need to make sure with narcissistic and manipulative parents, that they are being cared for, of they require care, by professionals who see through the smokescreen of Fear, Obligation and Guilt that they throw up.

Call your local Area Agency on Aging and ask for a needs assessment. Tell them and your siblings that you're not going to be able to help any longer due to your other family obligations.

Decide for yourself what you can do, say visit one afternoon a week. Others are going to have to do the rest, and it's not your job to cajole or pay anyone to do these tasks. It's your mom's responsibility to look after herself.
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My father was one of those "shadow siblings" who hardly contributed. If there was elderly housecleaning, my mother, aunt and I would go every couple of months and do a huge clean up for my father's father. My mother only had to care for her parents sporadically, and even then only a few months before they passed.

I identify with you because I am the youngest of 4 children, the older 3 were smart enough to flee before the fear, obligation and guilt took over. I was foolish enough and somehow slid into 30 years of doing their bidding.

You make such a valid point....that generation did little to support their parents, yet in turn expect total surrender of our lives, incomes, dreams, support their declining years.

There is a lot of sage advice to be had here. You need to start saying no and find a way to enjoy some of your own life. My life's largest regret was letting my parent's demands get ahead and demand more of my time than with my own children while they were growing up. Rediclulous, I know, but you do not realize it at the time when you are stress and in crisis mode. It is NOT too late for you ..... please prioritize your own family and good luck to you.
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What you are saying is correct however it is not that simple or this support group would not exist. Part of letting go of this caretaker life I have led is knowing that I'm not alone. That helps to get my life back. But to say or insinuate I shouldn't complain makes me wonder then, why would a support group exist? Some may be able to drop it like that. Honestly those are the ones who probably never cared to start. But others need some support along the way to help them to move on with their own lives. I have the right to vent. That's in part what the group is for.
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Eyerishlass wrote: "When we're in a bad situation of our own making but we refuse to do anything to change that situation eventually we give up the right to complain about it. I'm not saying that's where you're at but that's where you're headed."

I don't think you are in a situation of your own "making" but of your own choosing. Maybe the other siblings didn't put any effort into your mom, so you became the "go to" child. You "accepted" the position (at the time). It, unfortunately, has gotten out of hand but you are still in the caregiving position and you have not 'restructured' your job description.

But, your priorities should be in this order; you and your spouse (if applicable), your children (especially your disabled one) THEN your mother. You have taken on this responsibility (her) and are now stuck in quicksand. The harder you try to pull away, the harder she fights against it. She has made herself completely dependent on you (or so she wants you to think!) and you are wrapped tightly in her black widow grip.

You have "allowed" this situation to envelop your life and now you are rebelling. Good. That's the first step in CHANGING the situation. Mom is not going to change a thing (why would she?) so YOU are going to have to set some boundaries. Read up on doing that. Google it. It's tough to change a 20 year pattern of responses. But you see that it HAS to happen, for you to get your life back.

I think what Eyerishlass meant (my interpretation) is that you can't just sit back and say how terrible it is and expect it to change, without putting a great deal of effort into changing it yourself. You can't stay in the same circumstances (which is easy to do). Of course you can vent-we all do. But you also have to act.

I had a friend who complained about the same things over and over. I would give her my suggestions and thoughts but she ignored them. She just wanted to "vent"... daily (often multiple times daily!) without changing the source of her irritation. That's fruitless. It's also a huge struggle to remain friends.

Time to educate yourself on how to back away from mom and not "cave" under all that she WILL throw at you. And, yes, she'll let loose with everything she can to get you to stay her indentured servant. Who would want to loose that? But you will have to withstand mom's vicious verbal attacks and hold your ground, for this situation to change. Good thing is that YOU are in control of what you do.

Is it possible for you to see a therapist for great suggestions on how to accomplish this? Even one session could be helpful. Practice at home with your new responses. You don't have to be overbearing (which is probably how you feel) but be calm (practice in front of a mirror) and state your refusals to your mother in a soft voice. YOU are in charge of your responses. You can't control her but you can control YOU. She can't force you to do anything you don't want to do. IMO, I think you also have to speak with your siblings. Maybe they'll hear that you've had it but, chances are, they'll have to SEE that you've had it in order to take you seriously. This will take time.

This attitude change on your part is the ONLY way you're going to get this rotten situation changed. Good luck.
Helpful Answer (13)

Free me, I was in similar situation, we moved in to my mothers house to help her, I was running between her house and mine all hrs of day and night. This solution seemed like an answer, it was for awhile but then I realized how stupid it was, but that's water under the bridge. We had to deal with situation, my siblings stopped talking th me and very spoaradically her, that's a whole book in itself. It has been rough 14 yrs, we finally had to get aides to help, started out few hrs a day but when I was getting up 2-3 times a night with her and then had to work in am I waved the flag and we got 24 hr help. It improved, but she was still yelling my name as soon as I got one foot in the door. My husband had major unexpected heart surgery one yr ago, she pushed the limits when she refused to go to the Day center that she went to the one day I didn't have aides. She wanted me to choose, be with my husband who was in cardiac icy or stay with her. She lost, she ended up falling and I called 911, nothing wrong with her but I couldn't do this anymore. She ended up in nsg home, she thought for short term, I don't know what I thought. What a weight off my shoulders , it's been a yr, she still thinks I'm looking for help for home , but I see she's better there, she gets up and dressed, puts makeup on, goes for coffee in activities, has friends she talks to, etc. does she still tell me to go to hell, fight with me, tell me I'm no good? Yup but she did that at home too. Do I have guilt a lot of time, yes but my life is better. She still thinks she should come before my husband kids and job but that won't change. My point of all this is, she chose her life's path to some degree now you have to choose yours. It's so very hard but for most of the time even our relationship is better.
Helpful Answer (12)

Dear FreeMe,

I'm so sorry to hear what you are going through. It is tough. And there is so much on your plate. You have a right to express your frustrations. We are here to listen. I, too, find myself in your situation, so I do empathize and sympathize with everything you are saying.

I know you care a lot and feel like you can't just walk away from your own mother even though she is overbearing and driving you crazy. I hear that. I grew up in a culture where you didn't complain and you didn't rebel, you were obedient to whatever your parents wanted. Growing up as a pleaser is tough. We want validation and acknowledgment for our efforts. I only say this because I realize now what a terrible mistake I made by never advocating for myself.

I don't have to fix everyone and everything. Yes, I care. And yes, I want to do the right thing for all my loved ones. But I also don't want be angry and resentful about it. I have to agree with the others that we all need to make different choices when a situation is escalating. It is worth it to look at your options. Make the choice to save yourself and your own family.
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Thank you everyone.
SueC1957, I am venting certainly but venting does not mean I haven't taken any steps. Quite the opposite in fact. I Am currently mapping out the appropriate steps to take to free myself. However, I also NEVER complain. Venting is what is helping me to transition myself without going off on her. Coming here was to be a life line of sorts to strengthen me as I make moves to free myself as I've already begun doing. Trust me, complaints and venting have no bearing on my current efforts to get my life back. Support groups much like therapy give me more strength while in the process.
cdnreader hit the nail on the head.
Thanks everyone.
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The Golden Rule is "First your Marriage, then your Kids, then your Parents." I am an only child, my mother is 93. She uses guilt like a scalpel, calls whenever she needs my intervention in a "crisis," and constantly complains about her AL situation. It took an ultimatum from my wife and good advice on this forum to fight the battle and get her into AL and out of our happy home turned stress pit. Now we are free, she is secretly happy with friends her own age (I have spies everywhere), and I have used the Golden Rule above as my guide and motto for the past year and a half. You should too starting today. Be strong, we all know what you are going through.
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