How do I keep my mother from being emotionally codependent on me?


My mother has always been emotionally dependent on other people all of her life. Since my stepfather's death, she has decided I was to be her emotional savior. I do not want to handle her emotional baggage considering she is the one who creates the problems. I have suggested therapy, but she is suspicious of Mental Health Professionals. She refuses to say anything to my sisters about her problems, she doesn't want to worry them needlessly. Yet, I am the one who has spent years in and out of counseling and hospitalizations for depression and suicide attempts. She is totally insensitive to my emotional wellbeing. I am now strong and free from the demons from my past. I welcome any suggestions to help me keep my inner strength I worked so hard to achieve and not get caught up in her emotional entrapment.

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I'm not sure you need to get through to her, Debralee. You need to firmly take charge of your own behavior. If she "gets it," fine. If not, oh well. You still need to do what you need to do.

Of course you don't want to hurt your mother emotionally or otherwise. But recognize that you cannot control her reactions. If she decides to be "hurt" over you setting reasonable boundaries, you really cannot let that stop you from setting reasonable boundaries.

You might limit the number of calls, the duration of calls, or the topics you will discuss. You might set off-limit times to call or off-limit topics. You might get up and leave the room if she persists in a topic you don't want to discuss (again and again). There are lots of ways to protect yourself from her toxic emotions. Once you decide on something, stick to it!

Your step-father's behavior and your mother's willingness to accept it was Not Your Fault. You do not need to do pennance for it. It is too bad that your mother does not trust mental health care professionals, but that does not saddle you with a requirement to be her counselor.

You sound like a very strong, capable person. You can do this! Just don't get sidetracked by Mother's feelings, including "hurt" feelings.

Good luck!
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Thank you for the advice. I hope I can get through to her. The last thing I want to due is hurt her emotionally. My stepfather was a very verbal and emotional abusive toward her when he was alive and left her without any empathy towards other peoples feelings.
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Of course, you can't do anything to change HER. When she calls, set a timer for 5 minutes and let her talk. Afterwards, just tell her that you're sorry she feels that way, or that "this" has happened, but you need to go now. Tell her you love her and wish her well. I found myself in a similar situation, not with my mother, and was eventually able to just keep listening, but disengaging. I tried to help them out, but no advice was ever accepted or acted on. It was all "Yes, but...", or just reiterating the same thing over and over again. I would just say, gee, I can't talk right now. Good luck.
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First you need to start with telling your sisters what's going on. You girls need to put your heads together and come up with a plan to have you NOT get sucked down the drain emotionally. If you spoil her now, then you're going to pay for it later as you well know. Get your siblings on board. I don't care if your mother says she 'doesn't want to bother them', that's bull.
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