How can I better handle the stress of dealing with a critical elder?

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My mom is 72 and has lived with me for 2 years. She has limited mobility, but is able to take care of her own basic needs. As a child and young adult, she was verbally, emotionally, and sexually abused. Until her abuser died 18 years ago, you would never have known that she had been abused in any way. She was a good mother and role model. We were very close. Since her abuser died, she has become critical of EVERYTHING, and very demanding.

She has gone through therapy a couple of times and is on anti-depressant medication. She does not want to resume therapy, although she needs to. I have gone through therapy for my own sanity in being able to deal with her. For a long time, she would have several days in a row when she would be in a good mood - approachable, laughing, joking. Then she would have a day or two where she was just the exact opposite. Now, that has reversed. Even though physically she is not quite to the point of needing nursing home care, I feel like if something doesn't give soon, I'll be the one heading for a nursing home!!

I guess I'm not looking for a quick fix (but that would be nice!). Just blowing off a little steam.....

Answers 1 to 5 of 5
Top Answer
As I felt myself wrenching myself free from the control others had over me...I was mad as hell. I screamed. I shouted, I took it out on my husband...someone needed to pay.( But not Him, he is wonderful. Why did I do that?) For all of those years that it was a secret and endured, there was a wall of constraint. once I started tearing down those walls, I just got really MAD. And I was mad mostly at myself. there is a brain washing that abused children go through. We feel we are responsible for the abusers actions. That we made them hit us, we angered them enough to scream at us and bully us. They were unhappy and we were responsibe for their unhappiness. And now your mother sees a wasted life of capitulation. Her abuser never could have been made happy. She sees wasted effort. Now she has her freedom... big deal, she has limited mobility. How utterly FRUSTRATING! She did not get to rise to her potential because she gave her life to provide, protect, and endure the unendurable. You'd be mad too. I am mad for her. But the worst part is that she is mad at herself. I do not know when I will cut myself a break, but your mother was in her prime at a time that women were not allowed to find their happiness, and now she sees a different world. Give her a hug from me.
also, the distress I caused my family while going through this, causes me such pain. She still loves you.
To gvergrl: Thank you for your insight. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said "someone needed to pay." The abuser(s) are long gone, so they can't be made to pay. I'm here, now, and I know how easy it is to hurt the ones you love the most. I just get so....frustrated, and hurt that she would treat me that way when she spent all those years protecting me from what she went through.
I made so many excuses for my abusers.
But, ironically it was when I saw it leaching over into my own small family, that I revolted. I will protect my family from it happening to them, but before the rot progressed, I tried to protect them from knowing. What good would ill will have? Now they make up their own minds.
Talk to your mom. Ask her if she needs to get good and mad, and tell her you will get good and mad WITH her if she would like, but you refuse to get good and mad AT her. We abused people feel we deserve bad things. Maybe she wants you to dislike her because she feels she is not worth loving. It is a terrible conditioning, but it is a deep rooted one. Then ask if there is some way she would like to vent all of that misery in some positive way. Make her UNDERSTAND that you are there for her, that you love her, that you appreciate everything that she did for you. That she is a good mother and you love her, Period.
I know how hard this was on my husband, and I know it must be extreamly hard on you as well. We are all here to vent and find help. I hope that you do. It has been a huge help to me.
wow - you sound just like a lady named Anne who now posts as Secret Sister. You should go to her board and talk to her. She is always so willing to share her own stories with everyone that I am sure she can help you too.

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