How do you handle people guilt tripping you to do more?


I am sole caregiver for my elderly narcissistic father, who was never there for my sister and I growing up, despite knowing we were abused by mother/uncle. Fast forward decades later, sister is lost to addiction and I've been care taking father. I do a great job, although I do allocate as much as I can to caregivers at his facility. I've done his finances for years so that he has enough to live comfortably despite the high cost of his facility.
But because he is narcissistic and nothing is ever enough, I get guilt tripped all the time by "well meaning" church folks, relatives and care givers who only see his super nice guy act, and not the full blown narcissism I'm getting behind the scenes. Honestly, I do more for him than almost any other adult children I see around the facility, most stay a half day or a few days and leave all the logistics to the staff. I help out a ton, but for sanity sake and health sake I have firm boundaries how far I'm willing to go (ie not spending weeks at a time for visits, or flying out every 6 weeks, as I'm neither rich, retired or have other siblings to help)

Anyone else have nosy relatives or staff in their lives that seem enjoy guilt tripping care givers from the side lines, either from some misplaced control issues or worse because they're hoping for a possible pay out? (had a cousin flat out ask my mom to start giving her money despite barely having a relationship). How do you handle this? I mostly try and be philosophical and keep a sense of humor, but sometimes it really gets to me.

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Mother guilt trips me, always has, always will. I have been in therapy for 20+ years, trying to cope with severe childhood abuse done by an older brother (now deceased) and the lack of concern about it from my mother--also she was basically just checked out all my life, we kids raised each other.

Last week I was helping mom and her one living friend came by. Wow, did she give me the stinkeye!! Mom hustled me out of her place so fast I had boot marks on my behind. This woman gets told a LOT of stories about us kids and our neglect of her.

Well, the truth will out. I take better care of mother than a lot of people would. I'm no saint, but I'm also no devil. I know she speaks ill of me to all her friends, and puts on a sicky sweet face to everyone not family.

And you know what? I've learned to LET IT GO. People who really know her, know she's trying to get sympathy.

One word: BOUNDARIES. I have walked away from MANY pointless confrontations.
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bettina, I have a (male) cousin like that. He is oozy with manipulation, like oh what a terrible childhood he had, and what about family love, blah blah blah. (He had all the chances in the world, honestly - better ones than I did.) Even grandad used to say he never came around unless he needed money! I've had to put my foot down between him and mom in a major way twice now, and have no other contact with him at all. (Basically I called him out for being a bullsh****r and manipulator, laid some family history truths on him, and told him the answer would always be NO.) So....whenever he can't get money out of the family, he goes and finds a new girlfriend with a good credit rating to help him get loans and mortgages. At least, that's what he's done both times I put my foot down! Creeper. I always want to warn the ladies off, but then I think, "Well, if you're dumb enough to fall for that b.s...."  Maybe tell your cousin it's time to find a sugar daddy, lol.

I've seen the evil side of my mother before (in her drinking days), and now again (now that she has dementia, which turns out to be the same personality as her drinking one). I know other people see a sweet old lady, but I'm the only one she shows the dragon underneath to. I get through it by venting and getting support here, and from my dearest friends. Having another friend in a similar boat with her mother helps, and having another friend who's caregiving her adult schizophrenic son helps. They are the two friends who understand the most, who I can say anything to without judgement. They know I'm not making it up! The same goes for this place. It's like a lifeline, in a way.

One of my other coping mechanisms is eating my feelings via chocolate ice cream, but that's not working out so well for me.  *pats growing belly*
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I'm not sure if you call it being philosophical or not, but, if anyone who doesn't walk in my shoes, tried to diss me or tell me what to do, I'd probably think they were crazy. I'm quite comfortable with my decisions and effort. It's laughable if others take issue with it. It hasn't ever happened, but, if it did, I'd likely laugh too.

I'd consider some long lost relative asking my senior mom for money, suspicious and insulting. I'd nip that in the bud real fast.

If your dad's expectations are unrealistic, accept it and set your own boundaries. Other people can run you ragged and then they don't even appreciate it. If he's placed somewhere that he has proper care, you've done a great thing. Sometimes, we have to be content with doing the right thing. Enough is enough. That should bring you peace. Take care of yourself.
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Mid; Were I given the stink eye in your situation, I'd like to think I'd say "Well, we'd LOVE to do more for mom but she and brother won't let us. She insists on living in these unsafe conditions."

And then I'd let mom and bro deal with the fallout.

But then, I'm not a nice person.
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What about when you are told you are doing God’s work from some one who doesn’t even know the person you are dealing with 24/7 ? I was taken a back by that one. I don’t think God hates me to do to this to my mother. I don’t think he hates her either. Dementia is destroying her mind and my life if I will let it. I fight that daily. Try to stay positive. I don’t think dementia is God’s will. I think it just happens.
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Dear Bettina,

It sounds like you have done right by your father and there is no reason to let others guilt trip you. I know its a lot easier said than done because I grew up as a desperate pleaser always willing to do everyone's bidding.

I am still susceptible to guilt from my mother. For as long as I could remember she would tell us how much she suffered being our mother. All her pain and sorrow and hardships. It was better to give birth to an egg than to us thankless children. I knew she had a rough childhood and then she got breast cancer in my early 20s. I have tried over and over again to provide financial support and do any or all her bidding. But I realize what a terrible mistake it has been to have no boundaries. Learning to say no is a skill. I was always afraid of her anger. I am trying harder now to say no and mean it. I can't be a doormat my whole life.
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bettina - mother was an expert at sucking people in and letting them know how much I failed to look after her, or did things that hurt her. I figured that eventually they would get to know her and find out the truth. I did not let it drive me to give her more attention, which was her purpose in this, nor did I feel guilty. One lady from her church reached out to mother, and gave me the sharp side of her tongue a couple of times passing on to me things mother had said about my maltreatment of her. I invited this lady for lunch, and gently told her a few truths about mother and her personality disorder. She ended up in tears confessing that her own mother was exactly like that, and she knew she needed to distance herself. She didn't see much more of mother. Another time, after I had spent much time and my own money getting more clothing for mother, as she has gone up a size or two, I visited her in her Alf. She was sitting with a bunch of ladies. As I went to go, one of them grabbed my arm, and said, very pointedly, "Are you getting your mother some clothing?" Mother looked a bit sheepish as she knew she had lots of new clothing. I answered very specifically that recently I had bought her 2 jackets, several pairs of slacks, 5 sweaters, socks, a dressing gown, etc etc. The lady looked at me in amazement and let go of my arm. They will continue to, basically, slander you to get the sympathy effect they are looking for. It is all about them getting attention. I largely got over letting it hurt me. I am a distance caregiver too, and only visit a few times a year, and don't stay long, but busy myself with the various errands. If the staff or other residents don't like it, it is their problem. I keep in contact with the staff by phone. I might be inclined to agree with someone who is passing on the nonsense, and with a smile say, "Yes it is awful, isn't it?" or something, and watch their jaws drop. If you don't react, they lose their power.

However, once I nearly lost it, and was ready to walk away. We had done a lot of work moving mother out of her apartment and into a geri psych hospital, and after nearly a year, moving her from the hospital into an ALF where we had set up her room. We followed the instructions of the staff at the hospital as to what to take over the night before and what to leave till the morning, but when mother arrived at the ALF the first thing I was met with from her was that I should have taken the whatever the night before. I answered that no one was perfect and that was the end of it. If she has said anything else, I think I would have left. I was tired and stressed and it got to me.

Emotionally distance yourself as much as you can, and don't visit as often, or for as long, and remember that what others think of you is none of your business. This kind will chew you up, spit you out, step in the mess and blame you for it.
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@Dorianne, oh yes, the choc ice cream coping! There were a few bad years with frequent hospitalizations and a lotta drama, that I gained too many pounds, using junk food to cope. The cousin, is a horrible piece of work, very superficially charming but money obsessed to the point of starting a fight with her sisters over a pittance of an inheritance. And of course she is heavily involved with the church. Ugh those fake church types are the worst.

@cdnreader, I would consider myself a desperate people pleaser that's in recovery. Life is sooo much easier with boundaries. I still have trouble saying no to my Dad, the guilt trippers brow beat me because he'll play victim if I don't do what he wants. I'm a broken record and know that some regard me as lazy and greedy. I shouldn't let it get to me, but I'll admit it does bug me. Especially when the truth is the polar opposite. Just because I chose to have a life and refuse to be his doormat, does not make any less of a dutiful daughter. Especially given the crapola childhood I had.

The lovely slander stink eye. Yep lotsa fun. The creepy thing is I have a hunch that narcissistic parents do this because they know what shits they are and are worried themselves about being abandoned. I think they slander us partly to eliminate the shame should we get sick of their demands and just quit visiting. Also, I think they need to play victim constantly for the attention. My father often complains about his friends to me. I think it's his weird way of bonding. I've talked him out of starting disastrous confrontations with friends and caregivers based on his neediness and paranoia. Ironically, he is probably then turning around and bad mouthing me to the same people!! Cue hair pulling frustration.

@Countrymouse. Here's a few: despite my having come out every few months at considerable expense and visiting every single Xmas for over decade being told by several "what a nice surprise to see you out here this Xmas, glad to see you finally decided to make it out." While performing endless tasks (the only break I get is when he has a nap or thankfully goes to bed early) hearing "bet you love having all this time to rest on vacation out here". Caregiver patting my Dad's back stating "I know, I know" while glaring hatefully at me and telling him "I'll come back later so I can hear all about it".

I'd been with him for nearly a week and yet this time I've been chided multiple times how "its' a shame you can't stay longer, your Dad is really missing you." With the tones of scolding guilt. He calls me everyday, often with an unnecessary crisis, and sometimes if I don't respond until the following day, he gets a caregiver or church person involved to "intervene". I've learned to manage all this by ignoring the provocations and having five minute calls and delegating/automating the multiple orders for medical supplies etc but sometimes this just gets to me. The constant judgement from people who ignore the fact that I've done a kick ass job helping him. The other thing is I don't see many other kids helping their parents out that much. Most of the other residents always talk about how their kids are "so busy" and "can only come for a day". A lot of adult children show up tapping their feet and looking at their watches waiting to leave. So what gives??

Oy, what a vent!  Sorry about the length :/
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You don't actually say what they're doing or saying that you interpret as guilt-tripping. So I don't know whether someone is confronting you and demanding to know why you're not around more frequently, or just saying "oh what a pity you can't stay longer, he so loves your visits."

What got to you this time that needed a good vent (as we all do)?
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Well, I'm just blunt about it: "You don't know what you are talking about. Please take your ignorance elsewhere." Don't try to defend yourself or explain, etc.. They in fact do not know what they are talking about and lack the common decency to hold their tongues. I've found that a no nonsense pushback works quite well.
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