How do you get emotionally tough enough not to keep getting emotionally hurt?

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I have been caregiving for over 10 years to various family members as they have needed help. I have maintained a balance to give care and not overstep and take over the independence of my parents. I have done everything for them financially, emotionally, and physically to support them and to help them maintain their independence. However, on every visit, I never know if I will be treated with kindness or the opposite.

How do you get to the place where no matter what behaivior is done, no matter what is said, you do not get hurt by it?

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When Mom lived with me, I allowed myself to become a doormat because I love her. I didn't set clear boundaries, so in time she began to feel as if she could do or say whatever she pleased. 3 1/2 years later, I decided to respect myself and take my life back.

If I'm visiting her, I leave the moment she starts badmouthing my long-dead father and/or bit____ng about my inadequacies as a caregiver; and as a son.

If she's visiting me, I have no problems putting her in a cab if I sense she's being disrespectful. So the boundaries are clear.

My point is that when you respect yourself, it shows. If every time you meet someone all s/he does is recriminate, humiliate, hurt you and abuse you, then there should be no place for them in your life. Doesn't matter whom, doesn't matter when, doesn't matter where.
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I don't know if it's possible to not feel hurt, especially as a caregiver caring for difficult and elderly parents. We set boundaries, we try to achieve a balance as you stated, we strive to not take over and step on our parents sense of independence....we do all these things to protect ourselves but our parents can still get in and hurt us.

I'm not sure it's possible to get to a place where no matter what is said or done by our parents we won't get hurt. We're emotional beings, we feel. This site is full of people who are trying to deal with an elderly parent who is hurtful. I don't think anyone has found a magic combination of personality traits that will render us immune to pain from our parents.
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Realize, at the deepest place in your heart that you can, that it is NOT you, it is THEM. Maybe there is something about their point of view that you can latch on to that will make the hurtfulness seem more understandable and easier to forgive. At the same time though, feel free to set limits gently but firmly; tell them they do not need to be mean to you, you want what is best for them, you want them to be happy with what you do for them, but you don't want to be yelled at or belittled if you have misunderstood something or they would prefer something be done differently. If you can use humor about it, so much the better, but sometimes they wo;t get it or might be offended too. You don't want to grow calluses on your heart, but you don't have to take every misguided comment to heart either; if they are clearly spouting crap at you, feel free to ignore it.
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Unless your parents have dementia, don't tolerate rudeness . I don't care how sick or old you are, they don't get to act like ass_____. (Excuse me there isn't a better word). They are still bound by society's rules. Call them them on their rudeness, walk out. Wave and say see ya till your in a better frame of mind.

How do you feel about yourself? What I am seeing is a loving, generous soul. Can you stop equating their crankiness with loss of love for you. It is hard to be old, nothing works, everything hurts, you can't do what you want, yadda, yadda. Don't take it personally, let the meanness and ingratitude roll off your back. It is more of a reflection on them then you.

How not to get hurt. Care more about your opinion then theirs. If not recieved with kindness, and it hurts leave. Be honest with them. I can't take your nastiness, goodbye. Instead of hurt you will feel good about yourself.
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I guess the other thing I do is, when I am going to be around Mom, I promise myself something nice just for me afterward, like going to look at the yarn store or take the dogs for a walk. Then I be sure to reward myself for having done an emotionally taxing task. Seems to help.
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If you are religiously inclined, attend services and read your literature. Talk to friends, journal and develop an interesting hobby that can be done during the wee hours (like needlepoint). Tell your dependent person that if they continue to say mean things to you, you will not come around and then stick to your guns even if they try to manipulate you into coming back. Envision a big glass shield between you and your dependent that keeps the mud they fling off of you.
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Set firm boundaries even if they have dementia. When they start their routine of badness, say this to them, one more negative word and I am walking out, then do it. Tell them you won't tolerate bad words. Tell them you will be back when you think they can be nice. Repeat as often as necessary. You are a person, you deserve to be treated properly. You might read Wayne Dyer's book Pulling Your Own Strings. It teaches about what to do when being disrespected.
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You draw the line in the sand when the rudeness starts. As soon as it starts you say "I have to go now" and you get your coat and go. Immediately.
My MIL is 87 and even with dementia, she can figure that out.
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Ljdh, I will give you my siblings. I have seen and heard so many cruel and hurtful things from them in the last three years it is unbelieveable! At first their behaviors hurt, did not understand how coming from the same parents siblings could be so different. With each new attack, I became stronger. I am to the point, now, that whatever they may come up with next will not be any sort of surprise, BRING IT ON!
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I'm not sure that any feeling person can get to a place where hurtful comments coming from someone you love don't bother you.

So, I suppose, you have to concentrate instead on what you're trying to achieve on any given day. Say you've gone to their house to deliver their groceries. If they thank you and invite you to stay and share a meal, great! - that's a good day. But if they are rude, and unkind, and complain unreasonably... well. You went there to deliver their groceries. You have delivered them. Mission accomplished. Go home and think about something else.

I have a favourite line of Hilaire Belloc's, when he was addressing children: "Your little hands were made to take the better things, and leave the worse ones…" Embrace your parents' kindnesses. Do your best to cut short and overlook the opposite. And be comforted: you are doing good work.
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