to the care of my mother?

Mom is 83, healthy and narcissistic. She has left me out of everything to do with her business (POAs, executor of will, banking, etc.) I am not to be trusted because I asked Dad for money 25 years ago according to her (I did not). So from that day forward I was just another person she didn't like. The list is long.

My brother is very narcissistic also. He is the one who has made sure I heard all of the nasty comments mom has made about me. He just loves passing along the put downs. He has also told me "I am in charge because mom wants it that way" and "you WILL take care of mom, she is your responsibility". Haaaaaaaaaaaa to that.

My brother told me, "I will need you if she goes into the hospital or something and it is your responsibility to help". We no longer speak due to his nasty personality.

So I guess my question is, what would you all do with such nasty people.I barely talk to mom now and I haven't talked to my brother in almost a year. I am a decent person who doesn't want to not help my brother but I feel abused. Am I seeing this situation clearly. And don't tell me to have family meeting, no one will talk to me like an adult.

I guess I want to do the right thing but they don't deserve it. That is it in a nutshell.

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
What Assy (sorry!hee hee) said.

Personally, I'd tell your brother to piss off the next time he TELLS you you HAVE to take care of your mother and that you'll do it the next time there's a blizzard in hell...and I'd change my phone number while I was at it. The end and good riddance to both of them.
Helpful Answer (9)

What is your responsibility? Gosh, an easy question on AC for once! - the answer is: None At All.

But I don't think that's the whole story for you, is it? There are more threads to it. Why not try separating them out - personally I'm a great user of mind maps for this kind of tangled issue - so that you can see more clearly what's worrying you.


1. Your mother needs help. Sure! That's what your brother's so good at, isn't it? - lucky old mum.
2. Do you feel you still have some kind of vestigial debt to pay? Doesn't sound like it to me, but that doesn't mean you don't feel an obligation - people do, for all kinds of reasons. Examine it. See if it's based in anything real. If it is, post again and see what people think you might do about it. If it isn't, then that's easy too: you owe nothing.
3. Conversations in the future with your brother. There are a few things you need to practise - act them out, if you like; you could even get a friend to role play with you.
a) "Breathing" (this really works, btw - used it last weekend and didn't even see red!) - let the speaker rant on while you listen to your own heartbeat and concentrate on breathing normally. You will find that you can speak in your normal voice and will get much less agitated and stressed.
b) "Hanging up." This is where, the moment you feel that you are being spoken to in a way that makes you uncomfortable, you put down the receiver.
c) "Hanging up (advanced)." This is where, as above, you say 'calm down, or I will end this conversation' - and if brother doesn't calm down, you put down the receiver.
d) "Annotating." Keep a jotter and pen by your phone. Note down what your brother is saying. The act of concentrating on the notes will help you detach from the sensations of being personally insulted - it'll be as if he's speaking about somebody else. It also means you can take your time about rebutting his accusations, so you won't need to interrupt him, so it won't escalate instantly into a shouting/crying match.
e)"Taking control." Speak in a tone that is neutral, using simple instructions. E.g. "don't tell me what to do, please." "I decide what my obligations are, thank you." "Please speak more evenly, I can't understand you when you try to hector me." etc. The pleases and thank yous are important - they're not there to pacify your brother; being well-mannered will make you feel better.
f)"Asserting without arguing." Some useful phrases might include: "I don't agree."
"That is untrue." And, of course, the ever-versatile: "No." Which we're all still incredibly bad at saying!
g)"Taking power." Your brother will at some stage hang up on you. Ring him back immediately unless it wasn't a conversation of any value. Remember, you have nothing to fear. If you get the answering machine, leave a message saying "We need to finish our discussion. Call me back, please." The ball is then in his court and you leave it. I'll let you know what happens after that when I find out..!

These are only a few suggestions. None is as simple as changing your telephone number, but they do avoid the feeling of having had to run away like a frightened child. You're the sane adult in this scenario. You want to make THEM go away, if you can.
4. You say you don't want not to help your brother, because you are a nice person. I don't doubt that you are a nice person - you haven't firebombed the pair of them, for one thing. What sort of thing would you like to do to help? Is there anything you can think of that won't simply open the door to more abuse?
5. Imagine the worst. What is the worst thing that could happen? When you consider your various options, think through where they lead to. Sounds to me as if the worst that could happen is that your brother strong arms you into frequent, close contact with your mother: you will end up feeling bullied, resentful and weak; and it will affect every single aspect of your future life. What's the worst thing that could happen, by contrast, if they blow a massive fuse and cast you off forever? I'm guessing regret: but they have already given you so much to regret - and NONE of it your fault - about your relationship with them; wouldn't it be quite a good thing if a line was drawn under it, actually?

You help your family on your own terms, as you think right, or not at all. I normally try to see all sides and not be harsh about people I don't know, but your brother's already got right up my nose - I can't stand bullies. As for your mother, if you choose to help her, let it be because she is an old human being who needs help, and not because of any long-dead filial duty somebody says you owe her. It is perverse to behave like a loving daughter to a woman who was a hateful mother.

Chin up, indeed. You've every right to feel good about yourself. Keep us posted x
Helpful Answer (9)

"I guess I want to do the right thing but they don't deserve it."

Very well put.

Because you are a decent person with a sense of family loyalty, you probably won't manage not to feel a little guilty at times. Probably the only thing to do about that is expect it, then ride it out when it comes along.

But seeing as you are danged if you do and danged if you don't with these people, don't. It doesn't sound like your mother will welcome your help anyway. So, don't pick every time your brother calls. Pick up, say, 1 out of 3 calls. Take your time returning his messages. Maybe at the very end you make a couple of deathbed visits (but just ONE if there is any verbal or other abuse), and that's that. Protect yourself.
Helpful Answer (7)

I would put myself first and keep my distance from them.. There is no way I would let her live with me!!!! As your brother likes to tell you he's in charge, so let him continue...
Helpful Answer (6)

Personally, I don't believe there's any way to "fix" the relationship with mom or bro. Even if they seemed to go along with it, Palm would be sucked back in as her family seem to be users. If her description is accurate, she is a giver and they are takers, and that's not going to change because they don't have any intrinsic insight into their own behavior.

That said, Palm, I would recommend you find a way to be easy with this. No confrontations, no blow ups, but also no sign on your back saying "wipe footprints here" (a la being a doormat).

I wouldn't change my phone number, that's pretty juvenile and passive aggressive, and you don't seem like either of those to me. I would however get their email address and never, EVER answer their phone calls. Either respond to their emails or answer their voicemail telephone messages by email. Don't announce that you're going to do that, just do it. Try to minimize any inflammatory behavior. Don't even take the bait if they ask inflammatory questions. Answer calmly and sensibly as if they've asked a sensible question.

I think you may have posted this question in the first place because you have a condition I call "mirror-itis". OMGosh, what's that? Well, you see, I believe you when you say you're a good person. My experience is that good people have a tendency to do what they do because it's the right thing to do (sometimes IN SPITE of how they've been treated), because they have to look at themselves in the mirror and feel like they've done the right thing. Does this sound like you?

If so, keep in mind that you have been effectively estranged from them for the most part, and mostly by THEIR choice. They have, by intention, virtually cut you off and out. If you feel drawn, at some point, to help your mom, be sure you do it by turning the tables on them. Playing their own game, so to speak.

Tell them you will be glad to TAKE OVER AND MAKE THE DECISIONS from xx point forward. All they need do is pay for a lawyer to prepare an irrevocable trust in which you are the sole Trustee in charge and then you will take full responsibility (meaning YOU could decide to change your mind, but they can't change anything). You'll have to arrange this through an attorney but I believe they will all have to go along with you having a conservatorship, appointed by the court and not likely to be changed, except by a judge in the case that you foul up. You ought to tell them that you will not take over her care unless and until you are in charge of her finances and her person. Then, HOW you take care of her is up to you. But you will have her money to use for her care.

So often what happens in caretaking is the caretaker has all the work, no decision making power and no money with which to properly take care of the person. Even as the good person that you are, don't fall into that trap.

The ball will be in their court. If they refuse, they are choosing to take care of her themselves, the decision will have been made and you are under no further obligation.
Helpful Answer (6)

Oh, lovely, conceited as well! I'm warming to your brother more and more (sorry, sarcasm bad English habit I know…).

Now then. I don't want to tread on any sore toes here, so I need to be careful. My son and my younger daughter have this kind of needle between them. It pains me to say it (and I blame his father, obviously!) but my darling boy is a bit, um, robust in character, and it goes down very badly with my little girl (they're actually 29 and 26). Not long ago, a few months, they had a screaming row in his house - your mentioning the planned trip to Florida reminded me about this. It was awful: she was on the phone to me sobbing; he maintained a dignified (pompous boy!) silence that stretched into weeks. And about what? About a sandwich.

Now, I am not saying for one moment that you have anything out of proportion, not at all. What I'm trying to get to, is my observation that there are some relationships that seemingly are just NEVER going to come right, in spite of the best intentions of both sides. What I found really sad about my children's dispute was not that it was silly, but that I could see why each of them had reacted as they had. My son, who ended up - I know you'll believe this - trying to bully my daughter into liking a sandwich that she didn't want…

Can you imagine how bonkers I feel even typing that? Anyway.

… had started the day intending to make sure everyone he'd invited over had a lovely time. His new wife was out with friends, so all by himself he did the shopping, arranged the furniture, and invited his father, sister, best friend and another buddy over to watch a match on TV. My daughter accepted the invitation because she thought she'd been keeping too distant for too long from her brother, and that it would be lovely for her dad to see them getting along. And I'm sure it would have been, sigh…

My son was hurt that she didn't like the food he'd prepared. My daughter couldn't believe that he couldn't just let her make her own choice. They were very quickly yelling blue murder at each other in the kitchen (if my DIL had been there, this would have been nipped in the bud early on) and then daughter ran from the house and son had to be restrained by his best friend from chasing after and rugby tackling her in the street…

Not their finest hour.

The thing is, that I'm wondering if somewhere in there is a brother who loves you very much but is - let me remember how the best friend put it? Oh yes - "mate, you're being a tit." The best friend, by the way, was at the time my older daughter's boyfriend, so I heard the whole story from his POV via my older daughter. Dad, in case anybody's wondering, empathises with son but is scared stiff of upsetting daughter and has never been able to connect with her (I expect he hid in the bathroom).

The big difference for you, of course, is that your mother is the problem you're both trying to solve; and a very destructive problem she is too. You have no mediators to help you.

Looking far ahead, and imagining freely, how would you like things to be between your brother and you when your mother's no longer around?

You can let things lie. Nobody knows, let alone controls, what is going to happen: you can just let the situation go, let what will be, be.

You can take your own steps towards the kind of relationship you would like to have with your brother, in some hypothetical future, independently of dealing with him now. Counselling springs to mind, or any of the many methods of self-realisation, self-awareness, assertiveness training, etc etc - take your pick.

The thing is, you've tried being nice. You've tried being respectful. You've seen his point of view and tiptoed around him. You've been reasonable and constructive and all the right things… And then the moment he senses the slightest suggestion (which you didn't even make) that you don't have complete, blind and automatic faith in his doing everything perfectly - WHOOSH! He's towering over you, flexing his biceps.

But then he called you about the trip. He wanted - expected? even? - you to say "gurn, yeah, what was that all about! Aren't we a pair, eh?! Of COURSE we're on for the visit, can't wait…" But guess what, you were still sore and not about to get over it just like that. And your husband is dead right, he does owe you an apology. He was unreasonable, he was offensive, he rings you like nothing's happened, and then he flies off the handle when you don't instantly forgive him.

I do not know, and oh I would love to know, how you get your brother/my son to understand that you/my daughter are ENTITLED to respect and consideration, as well as love, and that unless/until you get them you cannot accept or even recognise the love. To understand, and consistently to act on that understanding.

The question for you is, do you care enough to keep working on it? Is it worth it? I can't answer that; but more importantly you don't have to make a final decision on it, certainly not now, maybe not ever. What do you think? I'd be really interested to hear your perspective.
Helpful Answer (5)

People who truly care about you might say you're a sucker for punishment. But any way you slice it the painful reality is that there will always be a place for them in your heart. Even though late at night you might rant & rave about their abuse, pretend they don't exist as a New Year's resolution, and sometimes pray for a blood transfusion so you can get them completely out of your system.

Of course that's not going to happen so try to stay out of that toxic loop. Avoid reaching out if you know it's going to erode your self-respect. You surely don't need to make downpayments for their acceptance.

Time doesn't heal all wounds. Some are so deep there's no other choice but learn to live with them. Your brother will definitely will dump Mom on you when her health begins to falter and she finally learns what humility is.
Helpful Answer (5)

"doesn't want to not help my brother but I feel abused". You have been and will continue to be abused. I agree with the others, don't answer the phone, block his number, whatever you need to do. If mom needs help and since he can and is wanted to do it all, let him. He should find a facility appropriate for your mom. Is he trying to tell you you have to do this because of the cost of care? If you take care of her will there be more money for him when mom passes? Is he withholding your mom's money that she needs for care to benefit himself in the long run? Does he think that splitting care duties and POA duties is a fair split of responsibility? If so, he will find another opportunity to abuse you and it is far from an even split of responsibility. Withholding moms money that she needs for care is financial exploitation and a crime. You may want to have Adult Protective Services check in on mom. You should not go to help mom. Just ask brother where he decides to place her so you can visit when you are ready and decide you want to. Just make sure to document, document, document; communicate with brother via email is best, but if it is phone calls, you can document what was said with day, time, length of call etc. Do not go there! If you did you would open yourself up to abuse by mom and brother on a daily basis.
Helpful Answer (4)

I would remain "out of the loop."
Helpful Answer (4)

Gladimhere, Mom at this moment is still in control of her money and takes care of her business. It is a very strange and ugly situation based on much narcissism and hatefulness. I want to come out of this with my head high and feel good about what I do and don't do. But I have a lot of anger and know if they abuse me, I will regret it for the rest of my life.

Thank you all for the comments. I need them today.
Helpful Answer (2)

See All Answers
This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter