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My mother is quite negative and she is pretty obsessed with me so she visits regularly. She also spends a lot of the time staring at me even if we go out. How do I safeguard my energy so I am not so worn out and depressed afterwards? Or how do I get her to stop staring at me ...

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My mother is what I call an Energy Vampire, like yours, I'm sure, and no picnic to interact with. Even after a phone call I feel exhausted. During a phone call, I clean.......just ask my DH. He knows who I'm talking to based on what I have in my hand......if it's a chamois and a bottle of Orange Glo, it's mother! UGH. Anyway, you can't change HER and the fact that she stares at you..........you can only change YOU and how you interact with HER. The staring is a game; she knows it unnerves you, so that's why she does it. It breaks you down and sets you up for the manipulation to follow. Visits that last 'several hours' have to stop. How do you do that? YOU call the shots. You make up stories and situations and events you're involved in, real or invented, that make it IMPOSSIBLE for you to accept a visit from her this day. "Gee mother, I'd so LOVE to see you, but that day and time just doesn't work for me because I have XYZ planned for that day and time." Then YOU say when and where the visit will take place. In my experience, it's better for me to go over there and then I can LEAVE when the toxic fumes begin to suffocate me. If she is in your house, you can't leave.....and she'll make it impossible to kick her out because then The Victim Personality will take over with FOG (fear obligation & guilt) preventing you from kicking her arse to the curb. So this is why YOU call the shots; to level the playing field a bit and to give YOU the upper hand, for a change. She doesn't want that...........she wants to be The Boss. Which is too bad, really, because things are about to change if you want to snatch your life back and protect your energy.

When you do visit her, imagine a protective shield of good energy all around you. Hold up an invisible shield which wards off all the toxic arrows that are hurled at you, one after the other. Smile and nod, practice using phrases like, "Gee that's unfortunate." "I'm so sorry to hear that." "What do YOU plan to do about that situation?" Non-committal words and phrases that don't warrant a comeback from her, which keeps the verbal game going. You want to KILL OFF the verbal war, not perpetuate it.

Gray rock is another good technique to use, Google it. Basically, you act like a gray rock; no emotion, no response, no nothing. You just sit there expressionless. These women are trying to get their SUPPLY from us, which keeps them fueled and pumped up, ready to go in for the kill. If you give her no supply, she runs out of fuel, that's the gist of the technique. I can tell you that with my covert passive aggressive narcissistic mother, she will push and prod and poke and use SO MANY WORDS that eventually, I break my gray rock stance and say something. Which starts the whole mess up AGAIN. And so the insanity continues.

Read this article: https://lifelessons.co/personal-development/covertpassiveaggressivenarcissist/

I was able to glean a few GOOD tips from it, and to recognize my mother in most of the 25 personality traits that were discussed. Sigh.

Also, as far as the rest of your family goes, what you say & do with your mother is YOUR business, not THEIRS. Do not speak to your other family members about what is going on with your mother. If yours is anything like mine, she's the queen of being The Good Mother in other people's eyes, yet the queen of mean to ME. So therefore, other's don't 'get it' and they never will. The less said to them, the better. Otherwise, mother will use them as her flying monkeys and paint YOU to be the bad guy. Keep others OUT of this; that is my suggestion based on 63 years of experience (unfortunately) with a mother like this.

You have my sympathy. Take my advice and cut your visits DOWN and cut the duration of them down by A LOT by calling the shots YOURSELF. There is no other way with these women then to set firm boundaries down and then stick to them like GLUE. Otherwise, they'll walk all over you like a dirty doormat. That's their goal.

Best of luck!
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Wishful77 Jun 23, 2020
You sound like you really have a similar situation! Believe me, any time I've tried to do anything for myself -it always becomes about her. She has scheduled visits and phone calls and yes all unbearable. I definitely wouldn't dare say anything to other family members it would all come back on me and then she would guilt trip me to death. She loves the control over me even though I am married and my husband feels it too. It's a hard enough one to explain because she aims all of her obsession at me and boy is it suffocating - this has been all my life, I think she is under the impression I exist to provide her happiness.
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You wrote "I think she is under the impression I exist to provide her happiness." the big question is do YOU think you exist to provide her happiness? It doesn't matter what your Mom thinks it matters what you think.

I had a similar relationship with my Mom through much of my adult life and I was miserable. It took a lot of counseling and other support for me to break that dynamic. Mom was NOT happy with me changing and resorted to all the manipulative tactics... rage, guilt trips, insults, self pity. She was relentless and there were times when I succumbed to her machinations, usually when she appealed the "savior" side of me. I kept at it though. When I realized I was back in the "quicksand" I would detach and re-set my boundaries. Over the years it got easier but I had to stay vigilant. Mom never changed.

When my parents reached their 80s they began needing more and more help and I had to decide what I was willing and able to do for them. That was a difficult process. Once again I was confusing what my parents wanted with what they actually needed. It was much harder to set boundaries with Mom, especially after Dad passed, but I'm doing it.

I hope you can find a way to free yourself from the your Moms web. I hope it is easier for you than it has been for me. One piece of advice... seek out people who enforce your self worth and hightail it away from those who judge.
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Wishful77 Jun 24, 2020
Thanks for your reply, I hope you are keeping your spirit up. It's a weird dynamic in my family , there are several narcissists and my father is emotionally absent and happy to pawn my mother off on me. As she is getting older she is much harder to manage and she puts on a doddery act for me that she doesn't do for the others - if we go out in public it's like she purposefully forgets how to act as a normal human being. I do believe she parentifies me.
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When your mother is walking up to your house, come outside with your bag and car keys in hand and pass her on the way to your car and say "sorry mom, gotta run, it's urgent." Then take off --- fast.
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Wishful77 Jun 25, 2020
LOL thanks sneeze1234, though if I took this approach she'd ring the police or something !( I'm not kidding) She gets overly panicked about me for no reason
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With the exception of your husband, you do not owe anyone in your family an explanation. The more you explain yourself the more explanations will be expected of you. "Do not complain. Do not explain." The only person whose in your corner is your husband, and he feels smothered by your mother too, so try to look at it less as you safeguarding your energy and more as you safeguarding your marriage.

Get busy. You do not need to say more than "Sorry, mom, I have plans" or "Sorry, mom, hubby and I have plans". And then you let her know when it's good for her to come visit. Maybe having her over for Sunday luncheon or something that is tolerable for you and hubby.

You do not need to answer all of her phone calls or text messages. That's what voicemail is for. It's also a good idea to stop answering your phone after a certain time so that you have time to yourself without interruption.

If you work, you also can use work as an excuse: "Mom, the pandemic has put more work on my plate at the office. I'll call you tomorrow and we will schedule a visit."

It's about phrasing things in the positive rather than telling her "no". And it's also about you acting like the adult you are.
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Wishful77 Jun 24, 2020
Thanks NYDaughterInLaw , being positive rather than telling her no is a good point.
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My mother is like this. But I made a commitment to her and I will keep it. Less from love than from a sense of obligation. What works for me is to set boundaries: 2-3 hours maximum and realize that I WILL be tired afterwards and allow for that. My husband knows I will need a nap and probably will be useless the rest of the day. So we don’t plan anything else. The other thing that helps (though can be easy to say and hard to do) is just distancing yourself. I whisper to myself “let it flow like water off a duck’s back...water off a duck’s back.” It’s taken me two years to figure out what works for me. Just keep trying different things and don’t take it personally.
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Wishful77 Jun 28, 2020
Thanks YellowSubmarine - I always need a nap afterwards too !
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Space the visits out farther apart and cut them a little shorter each time. Start small and increase each time so it is not a big change.

Who is everyone? As an adult we have the right to tell others they don't get to dictate how we live. If "everyone" starts in on you, shut them done immediately. This topic is not up for discussion. Sounds to me like you have others in your life that still think of you as a child and can be dictated to as such. Enlighten them that it is not longer the case.
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Wishful77 Jun 24, 2020
Thanks for your reply lkdrymom. I've tried doing that with the spacing out but she resists every time!
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Alva has given you good advice. If your family takes exception to it, to you putting boundaries in place then that is a sign of disfunction in your family.

Your home is your sanctuary. You do not have to admit anyone into it, if they do not show you respect.

My mother was banned from my home for 4 years. She had a house key and I changed the locks. She was snooping through my mail, listening to my answering machine, and taking various possession of mine that she decided I did not deserve to have.

Sure I got push back from other people, family and family friends. But I also got peace in my own home. I have recently allowed her back across my threshold, but only when my grandson, her great grandson is here. Even then last time I caught her flipping through my mail, so this may end.

Only you can say no to your mother.
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Mysteryshopper Jun 25, 2020
My mother does these types of things also. In particular, she LOVES to read my calendar - and then pretend that she didn't. I figured it out when, following her visit, I'd get a random email about some out-of-the-blue topic. In wondering why she had sent it to me, I'd realize that the topic could indeed be loosely traced back to something she probably saw while here - the calendar seemed to be the culprit. When she arrives at my home, calendar now gets put in an upstairs bedroom under a pile of mail - which I also don't want her to see (random email forthcoming about the mail as well). My mom denies, denies, denies and is perfect in all ways so talking to her does no good and leads to tears, etc. We were never close due to her oddities (undiagnosed mental health situations) which Dad would explain away and nothing ever changed. I'm sure reading my calendar was a way for her to think she knows me better than she really does, but it is a violation nevertheless.
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You will have now to set up boundaries. If you do not there really is no answer, you are a slave to what she wants. Please tell your mother that her visits to you are not working for you. And that you need a bit of a vacation from her. Limit how often and how long you speak on the phone. Tell her how often she can visit you. And tell her that at the point her visit becomes uncomfortable for you, you will ask her to leave.
You may need the help of a Licensed Social Worker, or a visit with a psychologist in order to form a plan for moving forward for what YOU need for YOUR one life. Your mother will, of course, fight you very hard on this. Remain calm, and remain gentle, but tell her that her visits are not adding happiness to your life, and until they do they will have to be curtailed.
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Wishful77 Jun 23, 2020
Thanks Alva. I really wish I could say those things to her, but the type of family I come from there would be ructions with everyone coming down hard on me and then she would play the victim as usual.
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Just wondering how old you are and how old is Mom.? Are you married? Kids? Work? I ask because if you are married, kids and work you don't have time for visitors. You are entitled to downtime. If Mom just shows up, you may just want to start asking that she call before she comes. Be honest, you are not always in the mood to visit. You can tell a little white and say, "thats not just you Mom its anyone". Ask her to please call before she plans to visit because you may have something else planned. Little by little try not to be there. If she is in the habit of calling first, don't answer the phone. You were in the shower, outside, ect when the phone rang. Maybe just plan one day a week that you get together. Make it lunch out. Meet there and then go ur separate ways. Go on vacation. Tell her you will call her when u get home. If she calls you, don't pick up.


In the beginning of my marriage my MIL felt it was OK to visit early in the morning, why not she's been up since 7am. Not me, I worked and weekends were my time to sleep in and just lay around in my PJs. This one time I was getting my daughter ready for Sunday School (bath and all) and my Mom was picking her up by 9:30. My Mil comes to visit at 9am. I explained I couldn't talk because I was getting my 4 yr old ready for SS. "Can I help" she asked. I said no, just have the one kid. I told her then, mornings are not good for me. She left but made sure she told me she went home and cried. I would have said the same thing to my Mom no problem. Another time she woke up my husband (her son), after he had worked night shift, to tell him she didn't like the way he rearranged the furniture. He told her it was none of her business. That was pretty much the last time she entered our house without being invited. And the next time the front doornob needed replacing, she was not given a key.

Does this "family" do anything for you? If you needed help of any kind, would they offer it? If the answer is no, then I wouldn't worry about them. Tell them you are an adult with responsibilities of your own. That you can't be Moms entertainment.
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Wishful77 Jun 24, 2020
Thanks JoAnn, I'm tired of being her entertainment. I'm glad you were able to set your MIL in place. My mother does similar things, she is so unbelievably intrusive to the point that it's smothering.
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So sorry that you have to go through this. You sound like a wonderful, loving, respectable daughter. Do not ALLOW yourself to become a victim. Yes, I said ALLOW. Role reversal is difficult but necessary. I think most of us lucky enough to still have a parent MUST retrain our behaviors. We, the children, NEED to become the parent. It's so sad but so necessary in order to continue showing the love and respect our parents deserve, otherwise we become bitter and resentful. Look at her as a child you love and adore and treat her accordingly. No, it is not demeaning or disrespectful. You cannot allow a child to rule your life. You need interact as if she is now your daughter and treat her with the love and respect you would show your own child - never as a lesser person. You always have to set the rules with love. It will be hard but harmonious. Know she is getting older - no matter what her age. Be prepared there is always a relative that won't agree. Of course, they are not the one going through this. They can't understand so please cut them some slack and just respectfully listen. Don't take the guilt. You will be doing what is best for your mom. You will be acting like a responsible adult. Just as a child finds comfort in having boundaries, your mother's life will be a little less stressful for her. This is a fact of life. Your mom is so lucky to have such a loving, kind, giving daughter. Give her what she needs and your life will be better. Remember -no guilt because you are being selfless!!
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Wishful77 Jun 25, 2020
Thanks so much khumble
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