My mom is almost bedridden. She has a spinal disease, severe depression, and fusses constantly. I know she is upset that she can't do what she used to. I have always called her everyday and gone to see her once or twice a week since I had triplets a few years ago But, here is the problem. She is mad at me (again) and is now telling people what bad daughter I am (and my dad is bad, too - he is her primary caretaker). Things will be fine for maybe a week, and then something will happen. If I go and do something with a friend (which I don't do very much at all) or I come to town and don't stop to visit EVERY time (I live about 15 miles away), she gets her feelings hurt and lets me have it on the phone, if she will even answer. I can't go into every detail, but she is not being reasonable. My dad thinks the same thing. I have asked her to do things, but she usually says she doesn't feel like it, or I don't ask her because I know she will get mad and it will turn into a fight. She has let her appearance go - never used to be like this. She says people will understand. I feel guilty 90% of the time because I feel like a child being scolded. I am 44, have 3 young kids, work a full-time job that has gone very badly this year, fight depression (on meds), and deal with a selfish husband. I feel that my world is closing in on me. I have an appt. with a counselor (been to one before) to give me coping ideas, but all I want to do, now is sleep. My kids are suffering I know - my husband yells all the time. He is not supportive of me. I am on depression meds, too. I guess what I want to know is, am I a bad daughter? Should I visit everytime I go to town? Should I demand she go out with my kids and me every week? I can't take much more, mentally. She let me have it yesterday, while I was at work, telling me how she loved her mother and ALWAYS did things for her and went places with her. Please help. I need all the advice I can get. Could it be dementia?

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You are not a bad daughter. You are doing far more than many could do in your position. I'm so glad you are seeking counseling and help for your depression. Please learn some detaching skills so that your mother's behavior doesn't eat you up. You'll need to learn how to ignore what she says to others and do what you can. You may be surprised to learn that most other people can see through her.
Could it be dementia (your mother)? Yes, it sounds very much like it could be. She really should be evaluated, if your dad can get her there. He sounds like he has his hands full as well. Please take care of yourself and do what you can do for your mother without feeling guilty for not doing more.
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Daisy, you are a wonderful and caring daughter. I echo what ladee said about how you cannot MAKE another person happy. I think when those of us who have been trained to feel guilty by our mothers for not doing enough, being enough it is difficult to break away from it. Just keep in mind that you deserve to be happy too. I live a distance of 100 miles or so from my mother; so that makes it easier to keep a distance from her.

If you can, detach slowly and even try to stay away. Personally, I found that in the past when I saw my mother more frequently, I think I became a sort of enabler for her to continue her dysfunctional behavior toward me in the form of trying to make me feel guilty when there is nothing to feel guilty about. It is a form of control and I gradually detached. I'm still working on it though. I just vented on here the other day; so it obviously is something I am still working on.

Like your mother, my mother let's me have it over the phone - for nothing. She hung up on me the other day and this has always been the case if you don't say exactly the right thing to her or try to explain something to her and she just won't listen. So, I thought to my self "what else is new" - I was counseled not to call her back if she hangs up on me. And, I don't anymore.

What helped me was being there for my father as he was her caretaker as well as your Dad is for your mother. He was the kindest man I ever knew and she made his life a living hell. Again, though, I had to realize I could not "fix it" or their life together. As therapists told me "they have danced this dance all their married life and there is no changing it". But, it did help my father for me to be a sounding board for him. Making him happy by being there for him, was a joy for me as it was not "expected" as with my mother.
There was never any demands or guilt. That is the big difference. So, I do know the love of a truly wonderful parent - do know they exist.

You have children depending on you - and you are exhausted - do take care of yourself and as ladee said just keep telling yourself, "I am a good daughter, mother, wife and woman" - her words are right on and don't allow your mother's demands to poison your life or any happiness you can find by being their for your family. Remember - you are worth it. Blessings and hugs.
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First of all, kudos to you for getting help... having someone to talk to and give you new coping skills will be a wonderful thing for you.... and if you already know you are going to be fussed at no matter what you do, then taking time for you, your family and friends is absolutely neccessary.... you are not a bad daughter, sounds like you are an exceptional daughter that has tried so hard to please her that you have ended up depressed and seeking counseling... probably one of the first things you will learn, is that you can not MAKE another person happy... that her problems are her problems, and you will learn how to detatch with love... or at least some acceptance...
We know how you feel, we do understand, and we do not think you are a bad daughter... only a good daughter would try as hard as you have to please her....and end up almost loosing your mental health over it.... please keep those appt. with your counselor.... if we already knew how to do all this we wouldn't need help, and many of us are on antidepressants.... so no shame there.. this is a very hard job under the best of circumstances... please come back and let us know how you are doing.... tell yourself everytime you feel the walls caving in, I am a good daughter, mother, wife and woman.... hugs to you....
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Going to tell you exactly as it is--it's manipulation and mothers are masters at it. I used to hear a comedian say years ago her mother was the "east coast distributor of guilt.'' A little humor here. Seriously, though--I am in my mid 60s and only in the last few weeks did I decide it is time after years of hurt, tears, manipulation, mental and physical abuse (as a child) to pull the plug on this relationship and don't look back. I am with the post above who decided that I've had enough and any feelings of affection and/or responsibilities as a daughter have gone out the window. I've gone above and beyond only to have it fly into my face every time. I only hope I never hurt my own children in the way I have been hurt. In fact, I am hopeful I never have to speak with her again. She is in her 90s and as far as age playing into it, NOT. This behavior has been the same since I can remember, even as a little child. If anything, she is more manipulative, mean spirited and hurtful than ever and I've had enough. Your first responsibility has to be to your children. I would say your husband, but you've already indicated that you don't have much support there. The relationship with my mother was even impacting my husband and I said 'enough.' You may find that your marriage will benefit when you begin taking care of yourself--and without feelings of selfishness or guilt on your part. Your conscience can be clear. Trust me on this--no matter what you do for your mother, it won't be enough and it won't be done right. I offered to do everything I could to help my mother but clearly, she did not trust me to handle much of anything for her--sad to think your own mom wouldn't trust you, the one who would never hurt her. If she calls, ignore it--but if you can be there even on the periphery to help your father, then do that, for his sake (grocery shopping, maybe or doing an errand or two for him and just phoning him from time to time to let him know you are there for him) and if financially feasible, a chat with him toward having her live in a facility down the line if/when it begins to be too much for him to care for her. You aren't going to change her behavior, but you can change yours. This is what I opted to do and I am glad to be past it. Repeat this mantra: "I've done all I can do. I am not a bad person.". I also lean on my faith alot in difficult times. You, like Judym above and me, will get to this place too.
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Thanks for the advice. I feel better about things, although I am still sad at how things are between me and Mom. I wish, terribly, that things could be different. I want to help her, but I know that because I can't be there all the time, that it will never be enough, no matter what I do. I want her to be happy, but this is something I can't fix, I know.
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My mother used to manipulate me through guilt and she still tries. My anger and resentment took over a few years ago, and sort of wiped out my feelings for her. So although I act caring and concerned, I could give a crap less, but I wouldn't run over a rattlesnake either, so I'm going through the motions of being a caring daughter. I don't let her guilt me into anything. I don't let her demand me around. She still weasles around my limits, sometimes, and we have had our showdowns. I feel for you. Being overwhelmed, and not having much support is a bummer. I've put up a wall, and maybe I'm a big bitch for doing it, but I don't feel my mother's emotional claws digging into me, and I feel better for it. I hope you can find a comfortable place in your relationship with your mother. xx
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Hi Daisy. Just reading these posts today. It makes me think of myself and my daughter. My mother, dementia and heart problems, lives with me. My daughter has borderline personality disorder. I love her dearly, but, like some of the mothers on the previous posts, she gets angry with me for no reason, she attempts to make me feel guilty, hangs up on me, calls me terrible names, etc. It took me years to finally GET IT. It's hard, but I must always remember that she doesn't mean it. She is terribly unhappy. Depression, and personality disorders often manifest in uncontrolled anger. Who gets to be the sounding board other than the ones they love the most? The one who will never leave them. I never take her rants personally, as I know she loves me very much, but just gets out of control with sadness and frustration because her life isn't good, and every step forward is countered with three steps backward. I think unconditional love (not necessarily enabling) is the kindest and most needed thing in life we can give these people. They may be hateful and hurtful, but if we can return it with love (not when they're raging, but always later, to let them know they are still loved) it will be a win/win situation because unconditional love alway is. It helps you to feel better about something that you can't fix.
I wish you the very best with feeling good inside about what you are doing. (If you can't talk to your Mom, just send her a nice loving card. Just keep it up, even if she doesn't respond. You will know that you love and care, and she will know that too.)
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Bless your hearts!
PunchNJudy and Daisy seem to be talking my story!
As bad as it is, it feels a bit lighter to know I am not alone in this boat!
PunchNJudy--I am over 60 too, and recently chose to detach from my dysfunctional manipulative family.
It came to a head when I suckered, yet again, for Mom's manipulations....she begged me to take her and her dying spouse in. Looking back, I now recognize some warning signals I should have been able to see, but failed to.
We took her in for 6 years; 3 months of it, was hospicing her spouse, too.
Despite all my sibs having larger homes and more income, we figured it was Mom's dearest wish, and we tried to help her--at that pivotal time, NONE of them stepped forward to offer her shelter, as far as we knew [not until later did one brother claim we didn't need to do that, she could have stayed with them--dispite their previous statments that they'd never have her in their home].
Mom's expectations were unrealistic: she sat in her room amongst piles of junk, making "plans in a vacuum" [planning things without consulting anyone else she wanted to involve] and it just went downhill.
One sister just encouraged her with "Mom should spend all her money on whatever she wants, she deserves it!" [from 1000 miles away].
Mom rapidly started showing her repeated life patterns of behaviors.....
I had managed to stay far away from her most of my life--thinking she might have mellowed...[HA!]
I do not, in truth, understand exactly how I fell for her games at this point in life; it was always hard to see her "train" coming down the tracks.
We got abused mentally, emotionally and physically; our son left home never to return, because he is disabled and unable to tolerate Mom's epic tirades...he refused to even come visit for a holiday dinner--he is still wary because the whole place still carries that negative energy--her residual damages just keep "gifting" to us, even 9 months later.
Our rented house got damaged, the yard overloaded with her unrealistic purchases and the remains of them..we have been threatened with eviction because we have been unable to clean up her leftover messes, fast enough.
She wanted us [me specifically] to build her a house, but she blocked any and all progress towards that, at every turn....she wanted me to build it of junk she collected, by hand, despite my being disabled...and even when one brother told her none of us were capable of building her a house, she still expected it, and acted-out accordingly.
Mom did her level best to cut me from the herd--as a child, I had no words or awareness to understand what she was doing, just knew I needed, terribly, to get away before she killed me.
While I managed to keep away from home from about age 14, I should have been able to figure her behaviors out, but failed-
--we were all enculterated by her to accept her behaviors as "normal", even though that left [mostly the girls] easy prey to predators.
It was not until she lived with us, it became clear what she was doing--yet, my sibs didn't seem to understand, or at least, refused to believe, what she was doing--not that they will sit still to hear any of it.
When I identified her behaviors to her, it made things worse.
I tried as much therapeutic communication techniques as I could manage, but those failed.
She told everyone we were stealing from her, abusing her, treating her terribly.
Mom has a lifelong history of bipolar and dissociative personality type of behaviors,
but managed to go all her life avoiding diagnosis, mostly by avoiding going to Docs and isolating from most people: she rid herself of my Dad, and rid herself of my sibs' Dad, as well
--with each partner, she picked progressively more dysfunctional men
--she only stayed with the one who would argue and battle with her, who she could mainuplate more easily.
She was hospitalized once for suicide attempt, but all of us [as far as I know] were never allowed to know her diagnosis--back then, no one was actively looking for "bipolar"--they only saw that missed the mark.
She was treated for suicide attempt only--stomach pumped, monitored for a bit, then released.
She has been very adept at guillt-tripping others, as well as twisting every little detail into what it is not.
She can disassemble a targeted person's mind and emotions within minutes or hours, utterly destroying the person's ability to think farther than getting to the toilet to throw up or pee--she could probably convince Sigmund Freud of anything she chose, since she is capable of sustaining stories/facades for years. She has a diabolically cleaver ability to abuse so subtly, people keep coming back for more.
She cannot be fixed.
She has refused counseling, refused any and all meaningful help of any kind, unless it was an overt emergency, and then only long enough to get away from the hospital.
Only when a move is imposed on her by another family member, would she go with it--that has been each time she has been moved from a mega-hoarded home scene. During those times, she behaves very inappropriate, yet my sibs do not seem to notice--they call it her "moods".
She will be that way for the rest of her life.
ALL I can do is forgive her,
she did the best she knew how to do, operating from her inner fears and history of abuse from her family--that went back at least 3 generations that I know of.
She did the best she could to change that for her kids, but was not able to avoid doing it too, to some of us worse than others.
She did the best she could.
Sometimes she was very sweet.
I choose to believe that her "sweet person" was her more genuine self.
She just rarely let me see it, unless she had an audience, and little, then.
SO, I choooose to remove myself from any more of her influence.
It has taken over 60 years to understand
[after watching Oprah's various programs about it, reading extensively, and getting counseling],
that I can forgive her, YET, stay distant.
NO ONE is obligated to keep returning for more abuse, guilt-tripping, or anything else dysfunctional.
Each of us have a right to Live, to have JOY & decent health.
Anyone who destroys your dreams, joy, and health, who refuses to change their behaviors, therefore requires that we disengage from their field of influence.
You have a right and obligation to yourself [and your own immediate family], to your wellness and wholeness as a human being,
to do what you need to protect yourself.
That may mean disconnecting lines of communication.
I had to turn off our landline phone because we were broke--which meant, her and my siblings that had sided with her behaviors, had to use email
[a form of putting their thoughts in writing--therefore a "paper trail"!],
or messaging on Facebook
--getting them ot put anything in writing, goes against their games--because verbal contact is "plausible deniability" that they mine for manipulative value at every turn--they avoid putting their "comments" in writing, like the plague.
We got a VOIP phone, but, in the 3 months grace period of the phone company referring callers to that new number, NONE of them called during that time.
And only one attempted any tiny useful contact, months later....that one, was advising us of something that needed taken care of.
We interacted as little as possible, told him our new number, and kept ONLY to the subject at hand in the fewest number of words.
I figured he would tell the others our new number
--but none of them have called.
The sister who took Mom to her house, told me a few times that Mom's cellphone was turned on, that I could call her...
THAT was a hook.
Mom has my cellphone number programmed into hers, and knows how to use it. So she could call....but she won't.
She will only call me when she is drunk or in one of her other personalities, or when she wants money--that has been her pattern clear back to my childhood, when my Dad was the only one reliably sending child support.
So it will be a big suirprise if she ever calls.
They don't open the e-cards I send,
so to them, I appear as the one who shut the door first...their game.
I just stopped taking their bated hooks.
They mostly have not looked at the ecards.
When they have emailed a few things, I either didn't answer the useless questions, or, made polite, generic answer in the fewest words.
That's as good as it gets, at least for now.
Not holding my breath that ANY of them will realize what Mom has done.
They refuse to believe that Mom was the abuser here.
I refuse to sit still and let them target me with foul language and false accusations.
NO ONE is required to do that.
Forgiving does not mean continuing to allow abuse to hit you.
Forgiving DOES mean letting go of the painful tapes that keep repeating in one's head, letting go and letting God take care of things.
Grabbing some joy for yourself. Grabbing Life again.
Getting your health back.
Focus on what you can be thankful for; each time the bad thoughts haunt your mind, remember to divert your thoughts back to Thankfulness for what you Do have. Even if it needs sticky notes on every mirror and hard surface to keep reminding you!
The more you replace the pain with Thankfulness and Gratitude, the easier it gets to distance from that pain, to shut it off.
Focus on Love.
People who have been hurt badly by their parents and families, must learn to love ourselves, to "parent" and nurture ourselves,
because our parents were broken and unable to do that for us.
Our siblings were similarly damaged, whether they know it or not, so they cannot be the siblings we yearn for, either.
But we can forgive them in absentia, and get on with our lives.
I am just sad it took me more than 60 years to figure that out.
I have a lifetime to catch up with, and not much time left!
Anyone who has walked a similar path, now has a job: that is, to help others learn to recognize these things sooner than we have.
I am honored to have met a younger family who has recognized these things far younger than I did: I am so proud of them making far healthier choices, far younger than we have, and let them know it, often.
It takes lots of cheerleading to help people keep taking those steps to better life choices.
Those of us who have been through this, can educate and encourage others. You can , too. We each periodically need others to remind us how and when to get back on, or keep on a better track.
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