My mom has dementia, diagnosed in early 2019. She's at a stage where I see both confusion/memory loss/decreasing executive functioning and increasing needs. At the same time, there are other times when she seems to have clarity and seems more capable. And she STILL lies, manipulates and belittles me. Her lifelong personality is still 100% there.

I've gotten better with boundaries, although I still need more work. What I really want to figure out how to do is to protect myself emotionally from her. Even when she is not in my presence, I feel myself holding grudges and being angry-- that is what I want to stop. I don't get why I can't just let it go?

There are so many examples, but I'll give a recent one to put this in context, because it's not really a big thing, and something I feel I should have been able to brush off quickly. But a day later and I'm still resentful.

My mom needs to see an ophthalmologist because at a recent optometrist exam for new reading glasses the exam showed (blood?) spots behind her retina. Her primary care made a referral and yesterday I called to make an appointment.

Got the appointment made for 10:00 AM next Wed, but I did not have her insurance info so I said I would call back with the info. I called my mom to let her know about the appointment- and that I needed her insurance info. She told me to come over and get her insurance cards. I said I would be over a little later, and she says in a cutting tone- YOU ARE SO LAZY!

I immediately said- I'm not lazy, I'm not dressed, then I said YOU bring them over to me! She laughed like I was being the @%^-hole and said she would. I live like 200 feet away. She came over and gave them to me, looked at my clothes and said sarcastically- You look nice. I responded these are my cleaning clothes.

How does one call someone lazy when they are literally in the middle of doing a favor for THEM?? It will also be necessary for me to drive her to this appointment. Then the dig about my clothes? Why does she cut me down like this? I can't fathom saying those things to my son, ever.

I swear if there was a surgical brain procedure that could sever the area of my brain that reacts to her I would get it. Since that's not possible, what can I do to prevent getting so triggered?

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Your mom is a teacher for you to learn how to not give away your power. Will you finally learn from her? I have lived with this my whole life and I just kept my distance. Now she lives with me in her not so golden years and not much has changed with her, but it is changing with me. Do you ever let her know the things she says to you bothers you? I am setting boundaries, something I was never really great at my whole life. Living as a people pleaser and mom taking full advantage of that. It’s time for me to step up to the plate in my life. Last week my mother told me that I was “the most horrible daughter in the world, that god was going to punish me, I was going to hell and she was going to call the police on me and tell them I was abusing her ND then she tried to hit me” her words did not sting me as they once would as I realized she was frustrated and she was basically having a temper tantrum. But those words did do something for me instead. They woke me out of a life long coma of abuse. And I asked myself why I would want to be around someone that treats me like this? Why would I continue to take the abuse from her? It made me stand up and proclaim that I will never allow anyone to ever treat me like this again. My mother does not like this new improved aide of me and she is moving out December 1st. I am doing inner work to address my feelings and understand that I am allowed to have them, they help me learn who gets a spot in my life and who does not. It was about time I stood up for myself and my mother being such a rude, mean and demanding person, while I have been trying to help her has been just the kick in the stomach I needed to see my fairytale ways of pleasing mom for her acceptance and love would never be a road to a happy life for me.🙏🏼🧚🏼‍♂️💕 choose you first. And there is nothing wrong with your feelings, lean in and embrace them you get to have them
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DadsGurl Nov 2020
This is so powerful and inspiring. I admire your courage and strength-hang in there. You ARE worthy and do DESERVE better! You give hope to those of us who feel, or in my case, felt, trapped in a
hopeless situation. May God bless you and give you strength throughout your transformation🙏
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Ignore your anger? Hell, ignore your mother! Some people are born mean and hateful. It seems this website is full of daughters with this conflict with mean mothers. You can't love a mom like this so stop trying. They manipulate daughters because they keep trying to get approval and it never happens. It is a sick game and they love it because of the power it gives them. Such fun to hurt another person. You might read up on narcissistic people. So many women have this problem. Stop trying to win her love or approval you will never get it. These people cannot love anyone. Good news is you don't need it. Never give away your power. Stop doing so much for her. Limit direct contact. I would suggest just once you give her a not nice response and see her reaction. Don't let loose with anger but indifference is the key. Like "I really don't care what you do. You are too much trouble and I've had enough." That's not a specific threat of any kind but I am sure she will be shocked. You might enjoy it. I am getting tired of all this love and forgiveness on this site. We need to stop other people from this abuse. They are evil and they know what they are doing.
I had an extremely abusive mother physically and mentally. She was hell to live with. She was mentally- ill bipolar diagnosis before I was born. I felt sorry for her because she was so tormented. As a child I took care of her as best I could. There wasn't much I could do. She used me for a companion sometimes because she had no friends. Those were the better times but didn't last long. At 17 I left because she was too dangerous toward me. I never went back. I have PTSD from my childhood but now less nightmares than I used to have. Many years have passed and I worked hard to make a good life for myself and I did. I would not let her ruin my entire life. She was more extreme than most of these mothers so that made it easy for me to leave. Besides she kept telling me to get out of "her house" and locking me out. I am glad I left and I am glad that I never became a mean hateful person. I don't want to go on about myself so much and I wish you the best to break the hold she has on you. She has harmed you in ways you might not be aware. Please never take abuse from people. Get away from them! Make yourself happy. Love yourself.l
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Davenport Nov 2020
RIGHT ON!!!!!!!!!!!!
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My wife endured this for years. Like my wife you will eventually not be able to take and will need to put her in a home.

This is a mental game.. I suggest reading a book by DR Amen about your brain. He has some great mental exersizes in his books to overcome these things.

It is important to focus on what is important and what is yor mission here. Is your mission to let your Mother get to you or to help her?

Also keep telling yourself it is not personal she would be doing this to anyone in your place.

Also hold her accountable as much as you can.

Discuss with your clergy and or a thereapist to get support.

BUT you need to start facing the truth. This WILL NOT get better. This is not a short term thing she will get over, then back to normal. If you are not mapping out a plan of how and when to move her to outside care your setting yourself up for bigger problems. If you have no plan and suddenly one day you just break, you cant take it anymore then it gets really difficult.

About your son...
I think it is important to learn from this. Start planning to put yourself in a position to NEVER have this dependancy on your children. WE are living longer and longer. We will become a HUGE burden on our children if we duplicate what our parents have done.

I made it clear to my children under NO circumstances am I going to put this kind of burden on them. BUT this takes planning.
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EastandWest Nov 2020
Me, too. I'm not going to put my sons through this either. One lives on the other side of the country.
My stepmother was like this. She’s a narcissist. Very clearly. She’s never gonna change. But. My stepmother actually mellowed with her dementia. Maybe yours will too. It also helped that I didn’t love nor need any emotional approval from my stepmother. She didn’t raise me. So I was able to laugh at her attempts to trigger me and just pretend she was being funny (that was always her excuse for her comments. She was just kidding!) One day she looked at me and said “I can’t make you mad, can I ?” I laughed and said “Nope”. She STOPPED!
Now I watched her torture her daughter like this. Just like your mom. Here’s the problem. You are still that little girl inside and you want your mother’s love and approval!!! THAT’S why you’re so emotionally triggered. No matter what your adult brain says, there’s that emotional little girl deep inside that wants to be loved and accepted by her mother. I have this emotional problem with my dad who pretty much abandoned me. Unless you can heal the little girl inside YOURSELF, or your mother changes her ways with the dementia so she doesn’t trigger you anymore, you will just have to take many deep breaths and hang on. Lots of therapy might help, but I know neither of us has time for that process. So try to remind yourself that SHE has the mental problem, and you need to realize that and let her issues not be your issues.
Prayers for you!
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Here's mine: I'm sitting in the darkened audience, an observer of a play. I don't get on the stage; I won't let anyone or anything force/drag me onto the stage. I smile to myself, in a loving, protective, caring way. Bless you; trust your instincts; don't allow yourself to be bullied. All my love and support, EP.
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Beatty Nov 2020
I've been reading about the drama triangle (devloped by Dr Karpman)...

"I don't get on the stage".

Oh I like this! It is genius.
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Sigh.. I remember feeling this resentment you mention.

That 'awful' scan I MADE her have (the Doc asked for). Countless examples...

The 'yucky' dental x-ray I MADE her have (Dentist needed) was the crunch. Hot day & refused to walk the 10 steps to the car, insisted I drove to the door - but was no room for the car. So half collapsed & somehow I got her in my car. Was so frazzled I reversed into a car (beautiful new sports car) 😬.

I realised I couldn't continue like this. Also that what I was calling resentment was anger. I wondered if the anger was trying to wake me up - to take action.

It worked (eventually). I quit.

Her appointments are her own to arrange now. By taxi or with home care Aides. She still lives her *semi-independence* life but I don't prop it up in any way.

So that's how I delt with it. I let go.
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Momsonlychild Nov 2020
Your words really hit home for me just now. I made the final decision this week to place my mom in a memory care facility. I’m not an angry person at all but when my mom grabs/hits me(many bruises)throws things at me, curses and refuses to listen when I’m trying to protect her from falling (she will fling herself onto something or refuse to move) these feelings of anger really come into my head. My mom abused me as a child and I think it triggers those feelings. After caring for her for almost 7 years I had to realize I just can’t any longer. It’s a gut wrenching decision but one I had to make. Thanks for your insight.
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Your Mom and you have formed a pattern of response. It is a matter of breaking the pattern. You are halfway there, because you RECOGNIZE the pattern. So it is now a matter of "practice can make perfect". Keep yourself a diary, and each time you go wrong, write the correct response. "You look nice" gets a "Thanks, Mom, so do you" as though you completely misunderstood the sarcasm. When you get it right, congratulate yourself. Your mind forms brain "paths" very easily. Soon enough you will be giving yourself more high fives. Good luck. I so well remember when I sought help for dealing with my own "caregiver mode" that was impossible to turn off and overwhelming my life in all relationships. That's just how I did it. It would be:
Daughter: "Mom, can you come and flea treat the cats with me"
Me: "Oh, Hon, sorry, I can't. I just have too much on the plate"
Her: (indignant) "Well! So I guess you have too much to help your daughter. I called you because you are the ONLY ONE who is capable of helping with this!"
Me: "I'm so sorry. Guess what I am telling you now is that I am NOT capable of handling it. Good luck."
Eventually they get it. They aren't going to get an argument. They are just not going to get the response they want. And their own brain gives another path a try.
It is simple recognition (and you GOT THAT!) and then action (you can do this).
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NeedHelpWithMom Nov 2020
And when that doesn’t work you she can block her mom’s number and take a nap, go out for coffee, etc! Hahaha

Hopefully your suggestion will work. Sometimes nothing worked with my mom. She has no dementia.

Mom had a mean streak at times, was a perfectionist and could be stubborn as a mule when she desired but was sharp as a tack according to her neurologist.

It is truly exasperating and exhausting to deal with these situations. I can empathize with the OP.
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Here is a trick that worked for me. When my mom was talking to me I imagined that her words came out of her mouth and went over the top of my head and not in my ears. It may sound silly but it worked more often than not.
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haileybug Nov 2020

I absolutely love your sound advice.
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Just thinking about your line about being a brain surgeon. Hahaha, I bet a lot of people feel as you do.

It’s impossible not to be frustrated because of your close living quarters. It’s totally different for someone who doesn’t live near their parent and experience the day in and day out torture.

Naturally a person won’t get as frustrated if they only see their parent once or twice a year.

I find it’s when the stress becomes chronic from frequent visits or living with their parents that it escalates into being unbearable to cope with.

I’m glad that you are setting boundaries. That helps. Overbearing behavior is so annoying. It’s a personality trait. Short of your fantasy of performing the lobotomy on your mom, I have no idea what the answer is other than therapy for you to learn coping techniques.

Honestly, I feel after years of dealing with tough situations we sort of become desensitized to it. One day you may find yourself numb to it all.

It’s tempting to be sarcastic and suggest the following listed below:

Wear earplugs

Skip town

Tell her that you have made an appointment with a brain surgeon for her to fine tune her personality!

I apologize for my sarcasm. I realize it’s a real problem and it’s driving you crazy.

So sorry that you have this aggravation in your life. Best wishes to you.
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EP I used to think there was something wrong with me because I couldn't laugh off, or at least brush off, my sister's behaviour towards me. Then one day, because it had only just happened, I described an insulting incident to my Texan psychotherapist friend during a phone call. Nothing technical, she just said

"God! What a cow!"

[you have to do the accent yourself, you understand]

and I have felt so much better about it ever since. It's not me being pathetic. It's my sister being a b!tch.

It's not your reaction. It's your mother's being a... well. Supply your own word for it.

Also. I have to point out. How can someone who can't be arsed to pick up a card and read it over the phone, call the other person lazy for not coming round to her house?

Buy her a magnifying glass. Then she can make her own dam' eye appointments.
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NeedHelpWithMom Nov 2020
My favorite response! This answer truly puts it in perspective.

You need to share this answer with anyone suffering with these struggles.

Once my therapist told me that my mom was great at manipulation and was a burden for me to cope with.

I was upset that he said that at first, until I realized he was speaking the truth. That’s when my perspective started to change on my situation.

Again, this is a fabulous response to this question.
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