Unable to live with my aging mother, is it my own fault?

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I moved to the US from Eastern Europe, got married, and recently found a rewarding, decently paying job. Also, a few years ago it became obvious that my mother needs care (she's 62). Living back where she's from makes her unhappy, but here she doesn't speak the language and has a hard time bonding with people, because her interests are often different from those of others to the point where no conversation is possible.

Every time she comes, in about a month or so we start fighting. She pushes all the buttons even though I told myself I won't let her shake me like that. She accuses me of not loving her, not caring for her interests and needs, distancing myself, and not giving a damn about the memory of my deceased relatives. Although she lives with me and my husband in a nice apartment for free, and only pays for food (mine and hers) because she insisted on it, she feels like I don't care about her. I can't leave the house without explaining where I'm going, I can't talk about my interests because she turns judgmental and demeaning, she depends on me to make financial decisions, to buy things, to accompany her on all her appointments and errands because she doesn't speak English. She accuses me of not being "happy enough" to do her English homework with her. She accuses me of wanting to get rid of her, and that she feels like she annoys me.

I feel like I'm losing a battle that I can't win in principle. I don't mean to keep her out of my life, but I can't open to her either, because she's so fearful and accusing. I stopped seeing friends and going out, because I feel like I'm leaving her being every time, bored and alone. I force myself to listen to what interests her, although it can be emotionally devastating because she often resorts to retelling me the world news and how many people die around the world, and why. I try talking about other things, but it frequently ends in monologues, when she just looks back at me, then starts arguing.

I feel awful about myself. I'm 25 and I can't think about death and dying all the time. I also can't take her with me everywhere and not have any personal time. I feel bad about having a hard time maintaining conversation with her, but our interests are very different, and I'm having difficulty engaging in what she cares about (history). She attacks me for it, and I withdraw even further away.

I used to love and care for her deeply, but now I don't have these feelings anymore. I feel fear and irritation, and I hate myself for having these feelings, especially when she threatens to leave and die alone.

I'm exhausted. I can't imagine what would happen in the future, when we both get older. I don't want kids because of the explosive fights we have. I feel like I'm not good enough to her, but I'm tired of being a therapist that can only agree, and never give advice. We have different views on life and she's far more religious than me (also a point of accusations).

I don't know how to help her beyond what I've been doing. She told me she doesn't trust me, thinks I'm selfish and vain, and conspire with my husband to get rid of her.

Although I'm going through the process of getting her a permanent resident card, in reality I just want her to leave. Is bringing her to live with me a big mistake? Will I be responsible for her troubles forever? I can't take the passive aggressive treatment anymore.

Thanks for reading this...

A. T.

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Do you have a church of your homeland's nationality nearby? Perhaps there are people there with your Mother's same interests. You might check with social services. Is your Mother ill at such a young age or just wanting to live in the same area as you?

I think it would probably do you some good to talk with a therapist before this living arrangment goes much further. It would help to get your feelings sorted out and find out if this situation can be worked out or if it is best to find a better situation for both you and your mother. How does you husband feel about the fact your Mother is living with you. You are both so young at this point.

Good luck and God bless!
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atcat, why don't you go online and look to see if there are any groups that meet on a regular basis who also speak your mom's language. And, your mother is young enough that you shouldn't have to be babysitting her for heavens sake. You and her have gone right back to you being the little girl, and she's the mommy that knows best. Don't get sucked in. If she needs someone to watch her when you go out, then find someone and don't take any flack over it. Your house, your rules. You are not the little girl anymore, you're a grown woman that can make her own decisions. Take back the power you gave up the minute she walked into YOUR home, and set some rules in place. She has entirely too much time on her hands in my opinion. Need to get her busy somehow, even when, (not if) she has a hissy fit about it. Good luck.
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My dear girl--there are so many people on here that will bombard you with stories about their own angst with their mothers, me included. I cut ties 6 mos. ago when she went into an assisted living facility and funny how she has had no desire to get in touch with me either, since all her needs are being met now. I only heard from her when she needed something anyway or to complain about anything and everything when she still lived with my brother and sister in law. That ended badly as does everything for this walking monument to manipulation and the "east coast distributor of guilt." She has alienated every living soul, both friend and/or family, and burned her bridges.

You are WAY too young to be giving up your life and there seems to be no end to your mother's selfishness, in sucking the life out of you any chance she gets. Is this situation temporary for you? If not, then you will have to set parameters, but I am upset to think that you, at 25, will essentially be giving up your life and future, your privacy and the intimacy you need to share with your husband, just the two of you. She, at 62, can be around many more years and your life will have been compromised and guess what, she won't have a clue of what she robbed you of. There are lots of other posts on this site dealing with this subject and you would be surprised how many are going through what you are, except WE are mostly closer to the age of your mother, and dealing with our own health issues while being manipulated by narcissistic mothers in their 80s and 90s. See? It doesn't get better. When they are uncaring, selfish, and non-nurturing mothers, it doesn't improve as they age, it worsens. Your mother needs to be in her own place. Is she in this country permanently? You are not responsible for every nuance of your mother's happiness, health and well-being. This is not what a good parent expects from her child. Don't you dare feel guilty for the feelings you are experiencing, either. We all have discussed this mentality of "entitlement" on this board and everyone will tell you that you must firmly explain to your mother that while she is living with you, it is not acceptable behavior for her to orchestrate every moment of your life, criticizing your every move, your comings and goings, and certainly not expecting you to entertain her. Perhaps your husband can talk to her privately and explain to her that he and you are going to have to find a more suitable living arrangement for her, either here or in her mother country, and that you will do whatever is necessary to see that it occurs. You will take so much and then you will finally say "I'm done. Enough." I said it last Spring and I'm a much calmer, healthier and happier person for it. Good luck and let us know how it goes.
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Atcat87, lots of very good advice from the previous posters. If you are having these feeling now, imagine if you can how it will be if this situation becomes permanent. Does your mother really want to come to this country, to this culture? Would she be better off in her mother country, with some financial help from you and your husband? I suspect she is one of this self centered people who never will be happy because she doesn't understand that her happiness basically lies in her hands, not anyone else's. Please don't go along with any nonsense about how you are responsible for her life - it is like trying to drain the Pacific with a teacup - just won't work. If she actually needs to be in the US, then if humanly possible, let it be under her own roof, not yours, or you 'll destroy your marriage, your health and happiness and in the end she will continue to be as she is.
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Some things might be your fault, and some things might be your mother's fault, but mostly it is just the nature of the situation.

Here are some things that are NOT reasonable for your mother to expect:
1. Explaining where you are going every time you leave the house. You are no longer 9 years old!
2. Taking her everywhere you go.
3. Stop seeing friends and going out.
4.Constantly listening to her negative whining.
Here are some things that might be reasonable for her to expect help with:
1. Her English homework, if she is studying English as a Second Language.
2. Her finances, if she has trouble with that.
3. Getting a permanent resident card.

Make your own lists. A loving daughter gives her mother appropriate help. She does not become a doormat.

I see that your mother has heart problems and has had a stroke -- is that right? That could mean anything from total incapacitation to minor problems. What are her specific medical impairments? Being clear about that should help you make your reasonable/not reasonable list.

Your mother is only 62. If you can only live with her now for about a month before it becomes overwhelming, what is the situation going to be like in five years? Ten? Thirty? Now is the time to get this arranged in a way you can tolerate and so that you can provide help that is reasonable. And be sure to involve your husband in any decisions you are making about living arrangements!
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atcat87, listening to you was like hearing my own story with my mother. It is a very tense situation. I also do not tell her anything about myself, because it gives her ammunition to use against me. The thing that we get in the most arguments about is that she will say something to me that is belittling, and often I take the bait and defend myself. Then she accuses me of being mean to her and not caring if she lives or dies. It is unfair that parents should bait their children like this. I told mine that she does it to me because she feels bad about herself, so needs to make me feel even lesser about myself. This is not a new trait for her. She has done it as long as I can remember. She's 86 now and I'm 60. It was hard to grow any self esteem living with this mother.

I've learned that it is pointless to try to change someone who does these types of things. In the case of my mother, everything is about her. And if someone else is not about her, then they are wrong or bad. A good example is that I had to take my rabbit to the veterinarian today. The rabbit was in pain and needed help. The vet could fit me in, but only if I got there fast. So I packed up the rabbit and headed out the door. When I was on my way out, my mother said she needed some extra medicine (which she shouldn't have). I told her I was in a hurry, so didn't have time. She yelled, "You care more about that damn rabbit than you do about me. I could be dead when you get back!" So I headed out the door, feeling even more stressed than before.

She was still alive when I got home and had forgotten about the medicine. The truth was is that she just couldn't stand that something else was getting attention other than her. I feel much like you do when it comes to love. I stay here out of obligation, but the love ran out a long time ago. I often wonder if I do love her and it is just hidden away so I don't get hurt more.

It may be that your mother is feeling not so good about herself and is feeling vulnerable in her current situation. She may be worried about having to depend on you and your husband because you might abandon her. So she fights at you to prevent the thing she fears, unfortunately driving you to do the thing she fears most. I do not know why people do this. It would be nice if we could just sit down and say, Mom, if you can do this and that, then we will be here for you. Things can work out if people will let them. Your mother is still young, so maybe she can learn to fit into your life. If she cannot, it will put stress on you and your marriage. You are too young to let her clip your wings just yet, so you might need to find other accommodations for her. I hope that you can work things out so that everyone's needs are met.
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atcat87, don't talk with her about it anymore. You have nothing to apologize for. "Mother, I think this is one of those issues where we simply have different values and beliefs. I wouldn't dream of telling you how to donate to charity. I wish you would respect my adult right to make decisions based on my beliefs, but if you choose not to, that is your business. I'm not going to listen to you rant about it, however." And leave the room.

You have to train your mother to treat you differently, and train yourself to just walk away from hurtful tirades. Don't give her the power to hurt you deeply.
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Thank you! We have a church that she can get to without my help, and she goes there now and then and complains that it's too hard to make friends with people there, that they don't accept her easily. I'm not a church goer, but I've been there a few times and it seems like you do need to put some consistent effort into getting to know people to feel at home there. Just like anywhere, it takes time to make friends, and she tends to hang out with people for a while, and if she finds a "flaw" in them, she stops seeking them out and keeping in touch. Of course, everyone has "flaws."

Mom has a serious case of cardiomyopathy, so she's dependent on a huge host of meds that have harsh side effects, and I feel for her and ask how she feels and how I can help several times a day, especially when she's in distress. I was willing to accompany her to all the doctors to make it better once she has SSN, but now it looks like that might be going nowhere...

And thanks for the advice, I will find a therapist and talk to them about my own feelings. I'm a loner, and although I care about her wellbeing and want her to be entertained and happy, I can't display the kind of obsession with her every mood and whim she wants. She said I disgust her. Well, I guess if that's how it is she must not want me around either.
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Thank you all who offered your advice and blessings. I just had a conversation with her regarding her last outburst. My dad is married and his wife (mom of my two half-siblings) is walking one of those cancer walks. I gave her 20 dollars and was an idiot enough to let it slip to my mom. My mom hates the woman and sad that donating like that is the most selfish and vain thing to do. I was deeply upset because I gave the money because the opportunity came up, and my aunt (my mom's sister) died from that kind of cancer. I wanted to walk myself next year. That would be my way of honoring her life. My mom said that if I wanted to give money I should've done that anonymously, or better still, observed the church holidays. I feel helpless because if I was a believer, I would've done that, but since I'm agnostic, I don't do it, and do it in a different way. I think there's just envy there. She hurt me deeply and I refused to say sorry, and she won't that either, saying that she can see right through my selfishness and "self-aggrandizing." I don't feel like talking about it with her ever anymore.
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PunchNJudy, rovana,

Thank you. This sentence just made me think "bingo":
"I suspect she is one of this self centered people who never will be happy because she doesn't understand that her happiness basically lies in her hands, not anyone else's."

She has difficulty moving around and has many ailments that are more characteristic of someone much older. However, she has her own apartment back home and she's all set financially (and me and my husband are happy to send her money). She also misses her cat. We can't have cats because my cat allergies are severe. We had many conversations about what pets she can have (the answer is none, since she dislikes rodents, rabbits, ferrets, dogs, birds and reptiles). It always comes back to getting a cat. During one such talk I snapped because of how many times we talked about one and the same thing, and the verdict was that I'm a mean person, out to get her.

Basically it's my fault. I shouldn't try to make it better for her, because I feel like it's my duty. Maybe by bringing her here I'm robbing her of a life she can handle better. She goes through rapid mood changes and have pressured me to bring her to the states for years, and now that she has it, she can't handle it. Also, when I said that if she gets seriously ill and doesn't have anyone to care for her, she would have to come live with us, because I can't abandon my life in the states to come and be by her bedside for who knows how many years. The part about me not willing to leave the states triggered a hailstorm.
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