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My mother is 71 years old, has diabetes and high blood pressure. She lives by herself, but not far from me. She makes me feel horrible. She criticizes me for everything from my looks to my life style. I try to stay away from her. I call her daily, and every time I'm about to call her I get an anxiety attack. Even right now writing this I'm covered in hives from just the thought of the situation. She has pushed everyone away and is completely alone. She disowned me twice since Christmas. I can't take it anymore.

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Marsha; If you feel responsible for your mother's happiness, you need to find a therapist. People are responsible for their own happiness. If your mom trained you up to think otherwise, you need help to see that it's not true.
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Welcome to panic attack city, I am also a resident and only child. My issue was trying to help my parents any way I could [parents are/were in their 90's], one year turned into two, next thing I knew it was seven years. Guess I should be lucky it wasn't hands-on care which I wouldn't have done well at all, so I stuck to the logical side of the care.

My parents lived by themselves, refused to move to a more elder friendly environment and Mom wouldn't allow caregivers in the house. Every time the phone rang I would jump out of my skin when I saw their Caller ID. My big panic was driving, I would start hyperventilating the day before I needed to drive my parents somewhere. No, they wouldn't hire a taxi, they wouldn't ride with strangers.

Since your Mom had disowned you, don't call her or answer the phone... lets things cool down for a couple of weeks. Then if she asked why you didn't call her or answered the say, just say "your disowned me". If she doesn't apologize and starts a fight with you, tell her your getting off the phone now, good-bye. And please don't call her every day, you already know she's not going to be kind to you on the phone.
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Marsha, one thing a therapist said to me that has stuck in my mind is that "when a parent makes choices it is up to the parent to take responsibility for those choices". It is your Mom's choice to verbally attack you.... is it fair, of course not.

Now think of her side of why she is angry. Your Mom is still quite young by today's standards and if she has her illnesses under control she can live another 20 years. Just about every one over 60 has high blood pressure, it's not a biggie if you take your prescribed medicine. Now diabetes is a bit more complicated so Mom has to either take her medicine or watch what she eats. There are millions of people with diabetes who live happy lives.

Ok, back to being angry.... why is your Mom angry? What is it in her life that she doesn't like so she is snapping at you? Since she is alone that means your Dad isn't with her anymore.... maybe, just maybe, you remind her of him personality wise.

As for trying to make Mom happy, not everyone can be Julie McCoy, Cruise Director, and maybe Mom doesn't want to be happy. Some people thrive on being snarly. Next time she is snapping at you, you look at your watch and say "oops, I got to be somewhere, bye Mom".
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Your mother has pushed everyone away, and now there's just you left for her to pick on. Why does she do this? And what's the difference between you and everyone else that you're still there? How far would she have to go to get rid of you too?

Pity her, maybe seek help for her; but look after yourself first. I echo FF and Babalou's excellent advice.
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Masha, big hug! This is a hard job and not easy to do if you beat yourself for doing the best you can.

Guilt is for when you know you've done something wrong. You haven't. Seek therapy for yourself and meds for your mom.
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Masha, I can't speak for you. But it seems to me that if you didn't love your mother you'd find it an easy thing to walk away. So I think you probably do, and I just wish it was a greater source of happiness for you instead of a burden.

Having said that, there is no law of man or nature that says you have to *like* her! I'm sorry her personality is so hard on you. Hugs x
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Maybe you can develop some rewards for yourself after contact with her. I hit the coffee shop and craft store after visiting. I limit how often I see her. After getting many many phone calls a day from her, I decided I would answer once a day and ignore the rest. Never gave her my cell number. Turned the house phone off. Keep finding ways to disconnect while ensuring her care is adequate. Just a few thoughts. You have lots of company on this website, that much is certain.
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Marsha, if you can find a copy, read The Dance Of Anger, by Hariet Lerner. Amazingly helpful book. She is lashing out because she can. You take it, and you react. Instead, put a large rubber band on your wrist before calling her (not a tight one, one of the big ones they use for cancer awareness or craft bracelets). When she starts in, snap the band lightly against your wrist, take a breath, and say softly to her, "if you can't be nice, I am going to hang up." Doesn't matter if she listened and then started in again, or kept ranting while you were talking. If the ranting doesn't cease, gently hang up. Keep doing that every time she does this. Don't answer her back or ask her to stop or explain why you think you can do this, just keep doing it every single time she starts in. Eventually, she will either stop talking to you altogether or she will learn.

The dance of anger has many helpful behavior modifications for you to try. And it can offer insight into this bad behavior on her part. This way, you are still trying, and she is not. She will make the choice to either grow and learn or not. You are making the choice to control your life, control the inputs into your life, and you are being positive. No guilt!

Right now, you want to control her behavior, in order to keep trying to be a "good" daughter to her. You can't control her. Only she can. You can control you. But you can do it in a positive way that is good for you.
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MashaJune89 - I could tell your story as mine, word for word. My trouble with my mother started more than 20 years ago before she was even 60. The calendar age of someone makes no difference whatsoever.

People who have always been self-absorbed and narcissistic do not face aging well at all. They get very angry and since you are the nearest, it will all be taken out on you.

I would be very surprised if mom will see a therapist, but it might be a good step toward having her evaluated by a geriatric psych. Remember, she won't go willingly because all her problems are external to her - it's your fault and the world's fault (but it's not!) Please make sure YOU go to YOUR appointments.

Your job is to make sure your mother is SAFE. Not happy, not entertained, not anything else. SAFE. This may mean you stop doing the care tasks yourself. I could not with my mother. #1, she was mean as a snake to me but would be more compliant with others. #2, I had to pull myself out of that toxic dump. I am 45 this year, but it took me about 42 of my years to realize that I only get one life, and I'm not going to let her pull me down with her sinking ship.

I made arrangements to see that she would be safe in an apartment first, then a care center. I took charge of her money and bills as POA, then later court appointed guardian/conservator. I still resent the hundreds and hundreds of hours every year that I have lost to this that could have been spent on my family, vacations, or rest. My mother may be flat on her back in hospice now, but her tentacle are still quite powerful.

My advice to you is see a therapist and grow a thick skin. Very thick.
Take up your own cause and stop being mom's doormat. This takes effort on your part.
Put some physical & geographic space between the two of you. For your own sanity. You cannot be on demand.

My experience has taught me that narcissistic type people don't do well with in-home help because they take a power trip firing the caregivers every day. Even when it's hurting them to do so. I would lean toward finding a place for mom where they can accommodate her as her needs increase, and they will. You don't want to have to own finding her another place to go every 6 months.

She may behave somewhat better for "authorities" than she would in her own home.

YOU deserve your own life, on your terms. You're a grown woman, not Cinderella.
We are here to support YOU.
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I'm so pleased you're seeing someone, Masha - please let us know how it goes. Do you already know the therapist you're seeing? Hope you've picked a good 'un! :)
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