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My mom is 84 and lives alone. She is a very difficult, negative person. She calls me everyday and demands that I answer the phone whenever she calls as if I have no life of my own. She complains about her health, her bills and my brother all the time. She is so negative and has always been this way. I am tired of her negativity and do not want to talk with her everyday. So I am laying down boundaries and she becomes abusive when I do. She just vomits out whatever she wants to say without any regard for me and my feelings. She has always been this way and me and my brother and sisters left her house early on in our teenage years because we could not stand her bipolar ways. I love my mom but my life and my metal health are important to me and I just don't want to be there every time she calls with some negative topic. I just can't be her emotional dumping bag anymore and when I speak what I feel, she interrupts me, hangs up the phone or whatever she has to do not to hear me or validate my feelings. My brother and sisters have distanced themselves from her because they don't like the way she is. She is miserable, tired and sick all the time and I don't want to become like her. If I constantly play the listener role what will become of me?

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How can someone 'demand' you answer the phone? Just don't answer the phone and unless she trots herself over to your house, she cannot 'demand' anything! Talk to her if & when YOU want to, and let her know that as soon as the talk gets toxic, you'll be hanging up. You'd be surprised at how quickly women like this 'get the hint' that we're serious when we ARE serious & stick to our guns with our intentions. Like with children, we have to be consistent, and end the conversation or visit EVERY TIME they start acting up, otherwise they know we're pushovers and the bad behavior continues. They know how far they can push us b/c we've TOLD them and SHOWN them, time and time again.

You don't need validation from us or from anyone else to set down your own boundaries with the woman and then stick TO them. This issue has obviously been going on for years now and only YOU can fix it, at least to some degree. I have a mother like yours who lives 4 miles away in Memory Care AL and regular AL since 2014. I set the rules on visits, phone calls and everything else otherwise my entire life would be usurped by her. And I am an only child so there's nobody else to share the burden with, so it's been especially important for me to set boundaries down & stick to them, or I'd be eating Xanax like Tic-Tac.

Take care of YOU and know that it's okay to do so. Mom isn't going to change, but she WILL get worse if dementia is an issue b/c what they were gets magnified with dementia. My mother was always angry & miserable, so now, she's angrIER and more miserable with advanced dementia.

What will 'become of you' is directly related to how strict you are with boundaries you set down for yourself NOW. Limit your exposure to the toxic fumes now so you won't be so poisoned down the road that you turn into a waste dump yourself!!!!

Good luck!
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luaneZ Nov 28, 2021
Well said. I worried I was becoming like mom. The negativity is all encompassing. I still worry because I fear dementia now for myself now but I'm slowing down and reflecting on my own words before I speak. Mom has no filter (never did) but I am actively trying to be more conscious of my words and choosing to be different than her. Boundaries and active choices are so important so we can learn from the experience of elder care instead of just being burdened by it.
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It's too late to 'save' either my mother or my MIL.

I tried, believe me, I tried, b/c I also have a big heart and feel too much. It's what empaths DO.

But we also have a hard time with boundaries and we always believe if we just do A, B or C we will have fixed the 'problem'.

LOTS of therapy has gotten me to the point where I know all my efforts have been pretty much wasted and I have to STOP expecting either of the moms to be 'nice' to me.

I see my mom maybe once a month. Maybe. She NEVER calls me, now that I no longer drive her to BINGO once a week. I have not seen nor spoken to MIL for 2 years and although DH is very angry about that--there's absolutely NOTHING he can do to make me go see her. He wants me there to deflect all the crazy and to take the anger.

This site has saved my emotional bacon more than once. I really thought, for years, that it was ALL ME--something was wrong with ME that these 2 women seemed to hate me so much.

I'll struggle with this forever--it's not something that can be easily 'gotten over'. It takes work and talk and being self caring.

My MIL never leaves her house and has no friends. My mom goes to the Sr Center one day a week and has one friend and that's it. You live to 92 and there's not many people your age.

And, yes, I worry that I will become just like my mother. It terrifies me.

I notice my kids ALL call screen me. If they don't want to talk to me, they don't pick up the phone. It can be done.

I don't worry about feeling 'sad' when the moms die. I think there will be an enormous sigh of relief and some grief over what SHOULD have been. They've made their choices and I am not responsible to make them happy.
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luaneZ Nov 28, 2021
I can sooo relate to your comment. I call block my mom otherwise I would start every morning hearing how I'm not her daughter anymore. I called her on Thanksgiving (my sister was on shift) and she yelled Happy Thanksgiving at me then hung up. I spend 36 hours a week with her and wear bose headphones so I can only see her mouth moving so she can speak her "truth". She has to rant and rage at me and she can no longer reason at all so I don't say anything anymore. I needed boundaries and I feel so much better giving myself permission to NOT listen.
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lindas12

We all need someone to listen sometimes. We all need to vent. It's part of the human condition. But in sharing and venting, responsible adults look for and find solutions to their problems. When your mom complains, ask her what she intends to do about her health, her bills, your brother and any other negative topic. What you'll discover (if you haven't already) is your mom doesn't want solutions; she just wants to complain and for you to listen. She has no concern about the emotional fallout for you.

You are not your mom's emotional barf bucket. Tell her how her nonstop negativity affects you. Tell her you will not listen any more. (She won't care, and she won't believe you, at least not at first). Then enforce the boundary you just made by consistently walking away or hanging up when the negativity starts. Yes, it's difficult. But so worth it.

I can assure you she'll be angry when she discovers you're no longer available to absorb her toxicity. (Yes, the negativity can literally make you sick). She may or may not stop, but at least you'll have done what you needed to do to shield yourself the constant barrage of negativity.

You asked what would happen if you continue to play the listener role. Think depression, inertia, anxiety, guilt, resentment and frustration, all of which blunt your own emotions and make you physically and emotionally ill. Nowhere is it written that to be a good daughter you must endure nonstop negative garbage. Your mother would have you believe it's your duty, but that's a lie.

When you start to refuse this role, you will start to feel better. Resist. Enforce. Only you can make it happen. (((Hugs)))
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bundleofjoy Nov 29, 2021
I LOVED EVERY SENTENCE YOU WROTE.

hug!!! :)
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Dear lindas12:
I think you and I are related. We must have the same mother. Well…maybe not physically, but at the very least, emotionally.
My mother has been abusive all her life. If she can’t control you with anger she feigns illness even to the point of saying, “I’m dying,” I can’t tell you how many times she’s told us of having a heart attack. She’s had none. She so pitiful that I’m convinced she’ll die of prostrate cancer someday.
My mom says she’s a Christian. She continually uses the one verse from the Bible she knows, “Honor your father and mother.” But she forgets about “(parents) don’t provoke your children to wrath.”
My father passed in 2008. Even after his death, when we were all she had, for the two years after his death she was so awful to us. I told her if she didn’t quit that she was going to die a lonely woman. And that NO ONE wanted that for her. I told her she needed to be nice and quit being the bitter hateful person she was. She was so abusive to us, lying to us so much, and railing on us continuously that my wife and I cut her off. We told her that if she didn’t stop acting the way she was that we wouldn’t see her or call her. She still didn’t stop, so we followed through and didn’t make contact for two years. We let her back in and she started again. Again, we cut her off for another year. That seemed to do the trick.
She is now 89 (today is her birthday) and lives alone, in another state. My wife and I retired and moved 3 years ago to be near grandchildren. I do call my mom every week, and she still tries her antics, but I just change the subject. If she still persists, I tell her to stop and if she doesn’t that I’ll hang up and call in a few days. And I have had to followed through, occasionally.
You can still love your mom, and should. But just because she’s your biological parent, that does not mean you have to put up with her abusive behavior. You wouldn’t allow a neighbor to treat you that way. You’d cut off associating with them. So why should she be allowed to cross those same boundaries because she’s related to her.
WARN HER and FOLLOW THROUGH, if she crosses the boundaries again.
BE BOLD!
Blessings,
Terry
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As with other responders, lindas12, I have endured similar behavior from my mother. I was not the golden child but the responsible one. She was a nasty, bitter, selfish, condescending woman throughout my entire life. B****ing all the time about her horrible life here in the States - she married my dad who was military and moved here for the "American Dream" but was not content with what she got. Shrill screaming, door slamming, ignoring for weeks at a time .. I began calling her the Dragon in my high school years and that wasn't nearly as bad as it was after my dad passed away. She was a shell of herself for a little over a year and then my brother (golden child) convinced her to make some big decisions which ultimately cut me out of her will. I wasn't even aware of this until after she died. She even documented some of the WHY in the will itself, in case anyone was wondering. She left everything to my brother. I know he lead her to that decision so of course he & I rarely speak. I did get a counselor not that long ago, to try to let go of my hatred of my mother & try to learn to trust people again. I think the counselor(s) saved me from becoming a version of the same bitter person she was. I have a wonderful, caring man in my life who strengthens me .. we are now going down yet another similar road with HIS mother and I spend a lot of stressed out, sleepless nights feeling like this Mom #2 is squeezing the life out of us both. She is only 74, in poor health but I am sure she will live many more years. I don't like the picture I see of our future with her. She doesn't have enough money for a managed care place but she really can't or WON'T take care of herself. I have been thinking that I need to run back to therapy but have been stubborn .. Reading all the responses this morning during yet another near-sleepless night has tears rolling down my cheeks as I type this. Thank you for starting this thread, I needed it, too. Nobody ever says caregiving is easy .. harder still for us soft-hearted folks who have been gifted with a huge, caring heart. I'm thinking about all of you but especially you, lindas12. I'm also a linda s, and I love New York 🤗 please stick to creating those boundaries and protecting yourself emotionally. Elder abuse goes BOTH ways and people need to be mindful of this .. I loved what one responder said about how you would never let your neighbor treat you this way. Be strong, but be kind - and by all cost don't let your life fall by the wayside! You matter and you deserve to be happy. I wish that for all of us and I'm cheering for you over here in Seattle ❤
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Debbio Nov 28, 2021
Oh, my! I am SO GLAD YOU SHARED. I needed to hear your message. Thank you so, so much!!!
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Consider yourself blessed and fortunate that you and your mother don't live together and you don't have to be her caregiver.
You can screen her calls and let them go to voicemail. Then call her back only if you wish to.
You don't have to go her house and don't have to have her at your place either. I totally believe that your mother is exactly as you say. You mention a brother that she complains about to you. Does he live with her? If he does then he's the one who really lives the hardship and misery these days. My mother is exactly like yours. Only by unfortunate circumstances, I am forced to live with her and be her caregiver. I would not hesitate to put her in a nursing home this very day if that was an option but it isn't. I own the home but haven't owned it for five years or more which is the requirement for the Medicaid look-back period. I don't have money. So if I walked away now, I lose everything. It means I lived as a nanny-slave for years and it would all have been for nothing.
Establish some strong boundaries and try to get your siblings to as well. If you all stand in solidarity with the boundaries, you will all be a lot happier.
DO NOT be her listener anymore. All of you must stop this. If she gets attention or something she wants through negativity and complaining then that is what she will do every time.
It's like with a child. If the adult gives in because the child is having a tantrum over something, that child is going to have a tantrum every time they're told 'no' on anything. Elderly people can be like children and have to be treated the same.
This means when she starts up with the negativity and instigating a fight with one of you (constant negativity and complaining usually goes hand in hand with fight instigating), shut that down quick. Everyone can either ignore her totally or Gray Rock her big-time. This means basic needs only. Since you're not her caregiver, you don't even have to have and contact with her if you don't want to. I totally understand if you decided to have zero contact with her.
My mother (who is the same age as yours) gets warned in advance not to "start" if I'm taking her somewhere. They all know what not starting means and you won't have to explain. If the negativity and wallowing in self-pity starts before a special occasion, she gets left at home. If any instigating starts up at a family function like a holiday, she gets ignored or taken home. No one indulges her BS anymore.
Stop indulging your mother's BS and you all will see an improvement.
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JoAnn29 Nov 25, 2021
"I own the home but haven't owned it for five years or more which is the requirement for the Medicaid look-back period."

How do you own the home but don't own it? Did Mom turn the home over to you within the 5 year lookback?
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Vickie, It's ok to not answer the phone. You aren't obligated to be her sounding board. Good job on developing boundaries--sounds like you want to shore them up a little more, which is the right thing for you. She rants because you've started to withhold the interaction she wants to get, so what you're doing is working.
IF you want to continue to interact with her do a ''Ooops, gotta run...'' every time the conversation starts to get negative.
You may want to seize control of the situation and just tell her you're super busy but will call her on the weekend to touch base, then limit the time you chat. When the conversation goes negative, hop off. Then it's on your terms. She may even start to refuse to call since she can't control you--all for the good. She eventually will call, because connection to her usual emotional dumping ground will be irresistable to her. ...and you just stay in control and set the schedule, and refuse to open the gates of the dump.
Without her being aware of her behaviors and wanting to move your relationship into something more respectful, it's unlikely that she will have some epiphany about how her negativity affects you.
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You explained what this woman is all about but why on earth are you allowing her to do this to you? She is abusing you with hate and selfishness and I would have told her off a long time ago and walked away. When there are people like this in your life, ask yourself if you deserve it? If not, leave them behind - sever ties. You owe them nothing. I assume you have spoken to her, set boundaries and done all the rest and it does not change. So she continues to harm you and destroy you and you put up with it. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE TOUGH AND STAND UP TO HER ONCE AND FOR ALL AND CLOSE THE CONTACT WITH HER AS OTHERS HAVE DONE. Do not let someone like this destroy you - they had their life, now it is your time. WALK AWAY AND DON'T LOOK BACK. I learned this hard fact too late in life and once I did this, my life changed for the better. Don't let someone do this to you - ever, never!
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Riley2166 Nov 28, 2021
Remember this - what you sow, you reap. If you do not remove yourself at once - you will be like her and if that happens, God have mercy on you. L E A V E.
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I'm really sorry that you've found yourself in this situation. I live with my mom who is 65, has had two strokes, and as a result has turned into one of the most miserable, nasty, bitter, unkind people on Earth. I understand that things like life experiences, age, sickness and fear can all contribute to someone's bad attitude, but it certainly isn't your responsibility to be a sponge to soak all of that up. You're lucky that you can distance yourself from her, and if I were you I'd cut myself off nearly entirely. It sounds harsh, but let her miss you for a while and then she might be more reluctant to be abusive when she does see/hear from you. I understand feeling obligated to just take the punishment of it all because she's your mom and you want to give her someone to talk/vent to, but your health is more important and you don't owe her your undivided attention. Stay strong, stick to your boundaries, and good luck.
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The minute the negativity starts, say, “Sorry, I have plans for today (do not give her any information about your plans), say I’ll call you back later(don’t say when), hang up and then do not return her phone calls until you are good and ready. If she starts up again, do this technique again and again. Soon, you will be making the calls at your convenience and her negativity will have an immediate undesirable payoff. Eventually, she will get it. No arguments, no confrontations, nothing. Just say you have to get off the phone in a cheerful voice and hang up.
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helenb63 Nov 29, 2021
All this about phone calls is great but what do you do when your deaf NPD mother (who refuses to use her hearing aids most of the time) won't actually *use* the phone (even though we bought her one for the hard of hearing), thereby forcing us to go round there whenever there has to be contact?!!
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