Follow
Share

How can I handle my mother's constant nagging for my attention because she is 'lonely'? I myself am a mother, grandmother, work at home with medical transcription and volunteer at my grandson's school. My life is as I wish it. I had not planned on having to 'be there' for an emotionally needy elderly mother whose constant complaints of 'being lonely and depressed' are starting to make me depressed. My mother was not there for my siblings and myself growing up after I turned age 9, because she had a 'break' with sanity. She packed up the kids (five of us) and dropped us off at the juvenile shelter because she said "we were driving her crazy". This happened after she divorced our father. I and my siblings spent years in foster care and often, I felt we were scattered to the winds. My mother did not really come back into my life until I was married with a child. Then, I suppose, I would have no real need of her. Over the years, I lost three of my siblings to Huntington's Chorea and my surviving older sister, will have nothing to do with our mother for what she did to us as a family. I have tried to forgive and forget and have some sort of relationship with my mother, but it has always felt one-sided, on my part. My mother is a very cold, selfish person whose outlook on life seems to be, "what about me?". She has never tried to cultivate a relationship with my daughter, now grown, and my grandson. She seems oblivious to the fact that relationships take work. You have to earn someone's love and care. She seems to think because I am the surviving child who WILL talk to her, that I am her responsibility. She even moved closer to my home (less than one mile away) into a retirement apartment facility, in an effort to be close to me, and for, as she puts it, "in case she needs me". When I do set aside a day to spend with her, she sits there like a bump on a log and wants to be catered to, as if she is a desired guest. Her selfishness and cold nature have made all others in the family ignore her, and it has gotten worse over the years, where no one wants to be with her, as there are no redeeming qualities in her, as a human being. My sister and daughter are amazed that I would want anything to do with her. Sadly, I think I have tried to make this mother-daughter relationship work between my mother and my self, but again, it all feels so one-sided. I have begun to avoid her more and more in an attempt to keep my life as normal as it is. I am so tired of entreating HER to go out and make friends. One of our last conversations on the subject were my asking how it was going regarding attempting to make friends in her apartment complex. She snapped at me, and I mean snapped, when she said,...." I HAVE tried!!!!! I don't like any of them, and none of them like me!!!!!" This apartment complex has over 300 units. All the residents are in her age range. I.e., late 70s to early 90s. I am left with the feeling that she really doesn't want a friend, she wants me, and my time. My resentment over the past with what she did to our family, and the present, with how or why she feels I should be obligated to 'be there' for her, when she was not there for any of us, is getting worse. How can I keep my positive happy life from being destroyed by her constant nagging for my time and attention, when again, as I said, is not enriching at all, as she sits there like a bump on a log and barely ever says more than a paragraph worth of anything. Most of the words out of her mouth are in part, her mantra, which seems to be "I'm lonely, I'm depressed, DO for me!!!!!!"

Please help!

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Wow, I am convinced my Mother has a personality disorder. Almost everythig you have said about your Mom is exactly like mine. She didn't divorce my Dad or abandon us but the pity party is the same. Mom has no friends and never has, is very selfish, it is always 100% about her. Never even tries to meet me half way. I think if you read about personality disorders you will see your Mom. I have. It is better when you distance yourself from her. Like your Mom, my Mom has never "been there" for me. She wanted nothing to do with my wedding, left me with twin babies (she couldn't miss her sleep) and stopped visiting 12 years ago (at 68). She also never protected me from a verbally abusive father. The similarities are interesting. I am sorry for your pain, I know how it feels.
Helpful Answer (7)
Report

My goodness, so many ppl with the same problems..
My mother developed depression and anxiety in her early 40s and my father catered to her every whim til the day he died which was 5 years ago.
When dad got cancer, he wanted to move out of the house which was harder for him to upkeep but mom wanted to stay in her home, so they stayed....
After dad passed, she stayed there another year, grew dependent on the neighbors to the point that when they went on holidays, she had a breakdown. She had to go to a psychiatric hospital until she was somewhat better, then refused to go back to her house. She went to an assisted living facility for seniors because she couldn't stand the thought of going back home. I had to pack up her house, clean it, sell it and sell the remaining contents. I had help from my brother and SIL for that thank goodness.
Fast forward a couple of years, she did things that were against the rules and downright dangerous to other residents living there, therefore got herself kicked out of that residence and they moved her closer to us.
Since dad died, she has latched onto me and expects me to do as my father did, cater to her every need. She is relentless and it is nothing for her to call me 20-30 times a week if not more...needs me to do this, wants me to do that, pick this up, pick that up....it's worse now that she lives closer.
I work full time, babysit my granddaughter and a house that needs tending as well....and I'm 55 and starting to get so depressed over this.
I finally created some boundaries after going home after a short visit....she called and complained that my visit was so short that it was a joke.
I just waited til I wasn't upset anymore and called her back and told her I couldn't continue anymore at that pace...I'm only 18 years younger than she is and I'm getting tired. I will no longer talk to her every day. I will call her every 2nd or 3rd day. I told her she has 2 other children that she neglects to call, then complains that they don't call her.
She's trying to make me feel guilty the last couple of days by leaving messages on my phone that I HAVE to go and attend to her computer, her phone, her bills.....all of which are not emergencies.
I'm so tired, seeing her name on my phone is literally making me sick, anxious....and I feel guilty, cause that's not the way I should feel about my mother.
Felt good to read other responses on here, gives me some new ideas to try with her and also, I feel a little less guilty. Thanks everyone...I will be back :)
Helpful Answer (7)
Report

Liza - reading your post made me smile and stress - this is so my mom!!! What works for me is loving boundaries and i say "mom - i'm not going to get into this - i love you, bye" and hang up if we are on the phone, or leave if i am at her house. If she is at mine - i get up and leave the room. Since she wants to go off on me - this all pi$$es her off greatly and then i get a ten page - capitalized, underlined, exclamation point letter. Which i do not acknowledge. She used to do the drop by "with something for Luke" (my son). I stopped answering the door - if i didn't agree, i'm not answering the door, even though she knows i am home. If i am in the yard, i don't stop what i'm doing "thank you, i'll give it to him, see you".

I do the above so my mom and her attempts to encroach on boundaries are not successful. I do spend a lot of time with her in person and on the phone. Positive interaction. We enjoy each others company. But when she starts the manipulation - i nip it in the bud.

Good luck to you. Easter is coming up - it reminds me of a Christmas dinner a few years ago when my mom took the opportunity of crying and venting on both my sister and myself - right in the middle of dinner. my sister and i agreed ahead of time what we would do. mom started the water works and the complaints about us. We said "we're sorry you feel that way, we love you" and changed the topic. After a few times of this we were direct "we aren't getting into that now" and changed the subject. Finally after she kept on we said "why don't we give you a few minutes to pull yourself together" and we all took our plates to the other room and left her at the dining room table alone. This shocked her. She sat in the dining room all alone and cried and felt sorry for herself. Then as we washed up she mumbled to herself about "being all alone at Christmas" etc. My sister and i cheerfully ignored the comments, our husbands and kids played together, and we only exchanged polite comments with mom.

When everyone left, she stayed and tried again. I cut her off - and told her that while we loved her, we were not going to ruin holidays and that if she couldn't behave, she wouldn't be invited.

Got another ten page letter after that day and she didn't speak to me for months, but we have not had a bad holiday dinner in 3 years. She still tries on other occasions - it is just part of her messed up personality. BUT, my sister and i no longer engage. Much less stressful.
Helpful Answer (6)
Report

Hi,
I'm late but just found this site. Your mother sounds very similar to my grandmother, emotion wise anyway. I am her only grandchild, and I have a son of my own as well as a house, a dog, and a full time job. My grandmother lives alone but relies on me for emotional support on a daily basis. She is always lonely, depressed, nobody calls her, nobody goes to see her, she needs things done and no one does them for her, etc......it's all about her. Sometimes, actually most of the time, I just want a break from it because it wears me down (and makes me feel guilty), and I struggle with depression on my own a bit (not that she would care about that). Throughout my childhood, I unfortunately did not have much of a relationship with her, because of her nagging and always making me feel guilty. Plus she had very little to zero concern over my emotions or how I was feeling. All that mattered was that I did what she told me I should do. In fact, I got a new job recently (my last job almost gave me a nervous breakdown) and she had the hardest time with it because she can't call me at work now with every little thing. For months she kept asking if I would go back if they asked me. Never mind how miserable I was at the old job, as long as it works out for her needs. I feel for you because I know exactly what you are going through. I've tried to her her to go to the senior center but she doesn't like those people. Sigh.
I do feel a responsibility to her though because she did babysit my son when he was younger (he's a teenager now), so I feel I owe it to her to do what I can, but I want my life back and I want to stop being her emotional crutch. She tells me often enough she wants to die, she is lonely, miserable, etc...and it's so hard to provide emotional support on a continual basis when she gave me none growing up.
Helpful Answer (5)
Report

This is a very difficult situation for you, but one thing to remember: Your Mother is responsible for her own happiness.
I commend you for having a relationship with her after she abandoned you and your siblings when you were children. It does sound like she has issues and possibly even a personality disorder. You may want to do some research about Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Unfortunately, she will only get worse as she ages and you need to ask yourself if you are prepared to be her caregiver. Good luck.
Helpful Answer (4)
Report

I believe that this is a common problem with aging single parents as I too have struggled with a complicated relationship with my Mom. From your post their personalities are very similar. Ultimately your Mother is responsible/and needs to be accountable for her own happiness. From your post it appears that this is a life long personality problem rather than something tramatic that caused her bad behaviour. I think it is important to set boundaries as to avoid taking on her problems. Also if your siblings do not want to be involved I would suggest setting up a support system through a different avenue as to avoid caregiver BURNOUT...this can happen when you are the only person helping. I found the book 'Coping with your Difficult Aging Parent' helpful. Good luck and stay healthy.
Helpful Answer (4)
Report

BOUNDARIES, Boundaries, boundaries!
Narcissists use other people as tools and only when some kind of emotional transaction will come out in their favor. E.g., more of your attention, more of your time. This is how you can tell a narcissist has "let you in" - when they stop behaving and start taking advantage in a most selfish and demanding way.

Set your priorities for your own life and live them.
My own NPD mother comes after my family. Part of prioritizing my family is also prioritizing my job obligations. No work, no pay, no food.

No, she doesn't like it, to which I say "Tough cookies lady."

The priorities for my mom in her old age and dementia are her safety and well being. Not happiness. Not contentment. Not being entertained. She is in a nice-enough place that keeps her safe from herself and the world, feeds her, cleans her, dresses her, sees to her every medical need, and tries to keep her in activities that are good for her mind. I have no guilt about this situation.

When I go visit, which is not as often as I wish, because she can't stand me. I get called all kinds of names, blamed for everything wrong in her life, and it gets her very agitated. But when I am there, I can see that she is well cared for. According to her though, it's a h*ll hole and everybody is trying to kill her. She has some real doozy stories.

Narcissism and dementia together in one person, plus other medical and psychiatric problems make for a really devastating and destructive cocktail. It affects everyone that person ever meets in one way or another.

My goal was to get out alive and have a peaceful home with my own family and break this curse on the family.
Helpful Answer (4)
Report

Well, since she worked until she was in her 50's, does she have any money saved up or invested that could help pay for some caregivers to come to the house and give you a break?

I am surprised to hear that your husband treats your mom better than he treats her. That is odd. What's going on there?

Needy people will drain the life out of you! Has she always been a needy, dependent person or has she just become that way since retiring? It is not healthy for her or for you to continue this emotional dance with your mom of letting her suffocate you with her neediness. Part of the feelings of hopelessness comes from believing that this emotional dance with your mom cannot be stopped. Well, she can't be stopped from trying to continue this dance, but you can stop dancing by establishing some boundaries.

Sounds like you need to do some research online about boundaries and establishing some boundaries with your mom. If I were you I would definitely recent my husband treating my mom better than he does me.

So, let me see if I can recreate some of your history from what you shared. Your mom and dad divorced when you were 2. 17 years later when you became 19, you married your husband. At that same time, your mother was in her 50's, had to retire and thus moved in with you and your husband. She's been with ya'll for 27 years since you were 19 and you are now 46. That tells me doing the math that she was likely in her 30's when you were born, and thus is likely to be in her late 70's now. Well, she could still be living with you for the next 15-20 years depending on how long she lives. Do you want her to continue living in your house or do you want to look into some other possible living arrangements for her? Not all people her age end up living with their adult children. Not all parents live with their adult children from the time they get married at 19 through when their adult child becomes 46 and they are in their 70's.

It is sad that people who have known you your whole life don't even know who you really are. They don't really know you then? Who does know who you really are after being so suffocated by your mother all of these years? Sounds to me that a therapist might help you very much to work on your self-esteem and work on boundaries with your mother.

I think possibly, you may have missed something early in those early days of your marriage with having had such an absorbing, dependent, needy mom right there in the house. I call that early something in the early days, months and years of a marriage, the creating of the marriage identity time in which you define yourselves as a couple unique from everyone and anyone else. That is extremely hard to work on when you don't have the total privacy of a couple alone in their own home. Likewise, it is hard for a young person from their teenage years on up to develop a sense of identity separate from their parents without some privacy that is respected by their parents.

Yes, you need and have my prayers, but you need to let go of your hopelessness by setting up boundaries in order to stop dancing with your mom in this emotional dance of her needy, absorbing, neediness. I with you well in your journey.
Helpful Answer (4)
Report

@kimber and jeannegibbs - thank you for the encouragement. I just found this site this morning, things are looking better already:). Her wrestling for control is relentless. Ive thought about why all of her behaviors are really on steroids recently, say within the last 5 years. I think its because when we are young daughters -we are compliant and dutiful . Then we have children and the kids act as buffers (symbiotic relationship - she needs you, you need help with kids). But when the kids are grown and flown (mine are 22, 19, 17) the manipulations become more obvious. My father died a year ago. Her dependent,NPD personality has undergone metamorphosis (think Incredible Hulk/Bill Bixby). Thank you again for the encouragement
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

Let your mom know that's it's up to her if she wants to be miserable and lonely. If she doesn't want to be that way, that's her choice too, you are not going to be her source of entertainment and happiness. If she starts on the lonely thing, nip it in the bud and walk away. When she figures it out that you are not going to be what she wants when she snapped her fingers, she might figure out a way to be happier.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

See All Answers
This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter