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My MIL (dementia) verbally attacks me pretty much all the time when we are alone. She is nice to others and they will never know or understand how abusive she is to me. I never really understood verbal abuse till now. Even though I know the truth.............hearing the opposite over and over can break down anyone.
My question is about confidence. I am a widow of 3 years. My husband gave me so very much confidence and I loved being married to him. He had my back! :) After he died, I lost confidence in myself and struggled with an identity crisis as many widows do. Anyway, I was finally able to gain some of myself back. But now, my MIL's verbal abuse is knocking the chair right out from under me. There is no one in the room so I suffer her truly bitter and cut throat comments etc alone. When someone else comes over, they think she is nice. By then, I a timid little mouse in the corner. I have confided in some good friends but in the end............at night and alone, I feel my confidence sinking.

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PamelaR -
You're singing my song. Antidepressants and pain medication can make a real difference. The bad thing about antidepressants is that it can take a long time to find one that works. One good thing is that there are so many different ones to try. The other is that eventually you will find one that helps.
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Hi, Maria! My mother is also nice to everyone but me. Her verbal abuse had me feeling like I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I finally forced her to see her doctor about increasing the amount of Prozac she takes. The fight we had over that was the worst, but it was worth it because the doctor doubled her dosage. It hasn't cured the problem entirely, but it sure has made things better. Mom doesn't get upset as easily, she isn't nearly as mean to me, and she doesn't yell at my dog as much, either! So, if your MIL isn't on an anti-depressant, please talk to her doctor about getting her on one. If she's already on one, talk to the doc about increasing the dosage. I pray that God will bless you and see you through this trial.
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Marialake, I don't have any answers for you on how to deal with this, the following posts after yours are the absolute best. Those are words of wisdom I'm going to need to try and remember. My own mother is the one that slit my throat verbally and at the time I didn't know dementia had set it, didn't know about it, all I knew was she tore me apart and I never regained my love for her before she passed away. I've never really felt close to her *who leaves a hospital without naming the baby?* On my parents headstones I chose to NOT have my name engraved, I've always felt like the throw away (only)child and she gave me words that cut to the bone. After that she kept asking if I loved her. Of course I loved her, but I was so hurt and uneducated at the time. Please get help, as stated above, remove yourself from the room when she starts in.
God Bless You.
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Marialake, given you MIL's dementia, she may be at the point where she cannot be reasoned with. That would only serve to escalate the situation. I'm glad that she is on some meds that calm her down. Without those, it sounds like you would be at a breaking point where your MIL would really need a NH for her care and your own sanity. As others have suggested, I like the idea of going to see a therapist also.
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Marialake, the medications were prescribed for MIL to make her life more tolerable so don't be afraid to use them. You don't need to snow her. Just enough to take the edge off her. Don't threaten her with NH, that's not fair. if she needs it or you can no longer cope just do it. Both you and MIL are grieving the loss of your life partners and she could be blaming you for her son's death. not true not fair but she is no longer rational and every time she sees you it reminds her that you were part of him. Has she always been unpleasant towards you?. Not out right abusive but someone you felt uncomfortable around.
Tell her upfront that you will continue to care for her but will not tolerate further abuse and everytime she starts in you will leave the room no matter what you are doing for her. You have a very good support system so don't be afraid to use them and get away when you can.
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Marialake: Do not feel bad about the medications when she becomes mean and agressive. I was ready to put my Mom into a NH because I could no longer that the verbal abuse and lack of sleep. Those medications are ALL that made it possible for her to come home and me to continue caring for her. They are a God send!
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i dont comprehend the verbal abuse thing. arent there a million age old retorts for verbal abuse? go ta hell, hug my nutz, etc? i thought that kind of thing could be easily deflected.
too much emotion, underreactiveness by all parties involved.
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Maria, you need help, consider talking to experts. Also, why are you the one taking care of your MIL, if she have other children, then they should be taking care of her. Caregiving is an enormous task and you will be overwhelmed. Aside from this, you are experiencing a big amount of stress with the verbal abuse. There are caregiver support organization that can help you. Check out this list, it is complete with the organization's website and contact details, you might be able to seek help from them: infolongtermcare.org/senior-caregiver-support/elderly-caregiver-support-organization/. Hope this helps...
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I expect that your confidence will improve dramatically once you get her out of your house for good.

"Doing the right thing" also means protecting your own health, physical and mental. Don't give that up for an abuser.
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Thanks so much everybody! I really appreciate your comments. I will update my profile............my FIL died late October and so I only have MIL here at this time. My own mother is healthy and prefers to live alone and she is very supportive. I got hospice about ten days ago and it is wonderful. (My big fear is that I will lose it after 60 days) but for now it is absolutely wonderful. I am trying some healthy "self talk" and leaving the room any time MIL is verbally abusive. Also, I have decided to give her sedating drugs when she gets aggressive. At first that made me feel guilty but after all, what quality of life is she having when she is screaming etc? I am in a better place emotionally now. Thanks to all :) !!!
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Limiting time around people who are verbally abusive can help us protect our confidence. Just spend the bare minimum with her, if that is possible. Leave, even if for a minute, when she starts in. Even if you have to come right back to help her move out of her chair or something, knowing you can get away can help. Listening to, writing down, or saying affirmations about confidence can help us, too. I've started listening to my (used) ipod while I cook or clean to help me disconnect and protect my sense of self. I listen to favorite music or affirmations.

There is a great exercise in the book Children of the Self-Absorbed where you imagine a barrier between you and the other person who is verbally abusive. The barrier can be anything that makes you feel protected - steel doors, a wall of pillows, anything. I usually imagine a giant book (since I love to read).

Talking to a counselor or pastor can help. Remind yourself that people think what they think and feel what they feel and that it has nothing to do with you. Just because someone thinks something doesn't make it true. Just because someone says something doesn't make it true, either. People say hurtful things unthinkingly and often can't express their fears or feelings maturely. Verbal abusers rarely admit they do these things. Confronting her might not make her admit what she is doing.

I like what someone else said about come backs and quips, but I've rarely been good at that.

Look for books and articles in the library or online about building your confidence and protecting yourself from others' opinions and verbal abuse. It takes effort and work but it can only really be done by you. You may have to work on this every day. But you can do it.
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Marialake: I too believe in God and when I began this journey, I was the person who was sick and my parents cared for me. I felt that I needed to care for them in return. My father was really ill for about one year and died of emphysema. My mother was depressed and locked herself away and was later diagnosed with dementia. I have been caring for her for about 8 years but I never thought it would be this long or this difficult.

I have totally given up having a life of my own to care for my mother and she can cut me to the bone with her remarks! I am literally the ONLY person who does ANYTHING around this house and that is no lie, but she will say things to me about how "I never do anything around here, I just want everyone to think that I am so high and mighty" and the comments just keep going. I have had to pay for repairs to HER house, I have paid for landscaping, painting inside and outside, furniture, rugs, pictures....literally everything has been taken care of by ME.

Now mind you I have a Nasty sister who lives with us and she literally does NOTHING!!! Her mission in life has been to make me and my life miserable!!! I am not kidding about that, it is a living hell!!! She takes care of her personal items, her bedroom, laundry and bathroom and never lifts a finger to do ONE THING AT ALL AROUND THE HOUSE, EVER, EVER, EVER!

This being said, that is why I am devastated when my mother berates me for no reason. I feel like saying, FORGET IT, PACKING UP MY BELONGINGS AND WALKING AWAY more times than I can say. People will tell you "Oh don't take it personally, it is only the disease talking!" To that I say baloney!!! When someone talks nasty to you and cuts you to the bone, it hurts no matter what!!!

The thing is, it really is the disease and it keeps getting worse. I began saying to my mother, "I am not having this conversation with you!" I walk away! I leave the room. If your MIL can understand anything, I would honestly say to her, "I do not appreciate your tone of voice or the things you say to me, if this is going to be your behavior then you can sit here alone." I would leave.

Honestly I do not understand why you have taken both in laws into your home while your mother lives alone. I don't know if this was the only way you could keep the house or does the house belong to them???

You cannot continue to let this woman say these horrible things to you and hurt your feelings. You cannot let what this woman says to you hurt you so much. She is literally losing her mind and she is beating the crap out of you with her wrath! You do not have to take it!

Honestly, I never would have let my in laws move into my house while they are this ill. They need to be living in a facility somewhere and you need to get your life back. If you just took this on to be a Godly person, I would immediately begin looking at an alternative. YOU WILL LOSE YOUR MIND WITH TWO INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE THIS ILL!!! I HONESTLY BELIEVE GOD WILL UNDERSTAND! SO WILL YOUR HUSBAND.
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Marialake, I am so sorry that you are subjected to this. I remember one boss I had who was quite nutty, and even just seeing her 9 to 5, it threw me off balance.

How about this. When she says something, stop dead. Turn and look at her. Ask, "Did you just say such and such?" repeating her words. If she denies it, say, "I'm glad to hear that, because my husband's mother was too much of a lady to say something like that." If she admits what she said, then say, "If that's how you feel about me, you certainly don't want me to cook dinner for you." And walk away. Go to your office for a while. When you come back, you can pretend it didn't happen, but call her on it every time. She may not stop doing it. You, however, are telling yourself that you are a person who deserves to be treated well.

A gentler version would be to repeat her words, and say, "Is that what you really think about me? Or are you feeling unhappy today?"

It would be a sin on her soul if she hurt you so badly and destroyed your confidence. By responding, and protecting yourself, you are doing her a service, too. God bless you.
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Amen, JG.
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Consider getting some counselling. You deserve all the help you can get!
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In a nutshell, verbal abuse says everything in the world about the character of the verbal abuser and absolutely nothing about the one abused. Keep that in mind and let it roll right off. Look at that woman and think 'You poor, sorry bitch that you feel such a need to try and inflict pain on others. What a miserable person with a shrunken soul you must be' and let it roll right on off.

Also, get a tape recorder and record that mess without her knowing it. Play it back for her when you're alone. Then tell her that you'll play it for everyone that walks through your door so they'll REALLY get to know her. Then threaten to boot her into a nursing home. That should shut her up. lololololol
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I hated it too that my mom's remarks could ruin my day, no matter how determined I would be to stay upbeat and keep it in perspective. I got better at it over time but also had to emotionally detach a little and keep expectations low. Before that, I would sometimes feel like it was just poison dripping into my life and spirit. Never quite got to the let it roll off my back like water on a duck, but I got better. Three years later and there are still layers of forgiveness and acceptance to dive into, but I feel a little better and can go a little farther down that good path all the time.
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Sounds like you are still mourning the loss of your husband and may be depressed from such a loss. Anything negative directed at you is going to affect you. Consider counseling and a bereavement group. Your healing may help better with your coping skills.
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I have no idea if this would work - I'm pretty much thinking on the keyboard - but: tape conversations. Little back to them. Imagine she is talking to another person. The idea is to get an external perspective on this. What is she trying to do? Logically (I know, she's demented, bear with me) she can't be intending to alienate the person who stands between her and long-term institutional care; so she is getting at something else. Either that, or you can just examine the plain craziness of what she's saying and see it for what it is.

You could play the recordings back to her.

You could let others listen to them, and get their opinions and advice.

What I'm thinking is that if you were able to review what passes between the two of you when you're alone, you could analyse it more critically. Listen item by item and rebut each one. I should have thought it would be a racing certainty that, at the very least, you will see that you are absolutely not at fault, which might be a reassuring thing to bear in mind. But you might also see, perhaps, what's setting her off and get some new ideas about how to divert her.

it seems very wrong that you are in the situation where you are still grieving over the loss of your husband, and yet are still having to cope with your MIL. Double whammy. I applaud your sense of duty (if that weren't there you'd just tear everything up and start again, rather than go through this horror), and your ability to continue to care; but… are you sure it's worth it? Can you reasonably expect yourself to stay the course?

I suppose my evil twin is also thinking "two can play at that game." Except that you would have truth on your side. But, on the other hand, except that a decent person like you wouldn't dream of it..!

Don't you dare apologise for anything. No. Start claiming credit, and demanding recognition. You are the stronger person - because you're still there, and still caring.

Do I remember correctly that your FIL died not long ago? Has MIL's abuse worsened since then?
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She is living with me because I really want to do the right thing and I am able to care for her and work at the same time (our office is in my basement). Also, to keep it brief.................the "five year look back". Her property is adjacent to my business.
It is already better with hospice (as of this week) but emotionally, remains yucky. I do have help from my own wonderful children (married with little children) but I was just asking about the confidence thing because I've noticed how quiet and "wallflower-like" she makes me. I feel like I have to apologize for breathing. Just talking about feelings here.
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I hear you, Marialake. I don't know the answer, because I put up a lot with the verbal battery, too. Most people would be surprised at what we put up with. The words can certainly nibble away at our self image, like a mouse nibbles a cracker. Pretty soon we can start seeing ourselves through their eyes and become this common thing not worthy of much. The only answer I have found for myself is to reach out to other people so I can see myself through more healthy eyes. I still pay attention to what my mother says, but I temper it with realizing that her mind is not healthy... and she has always been a bit of a doo-doo head. Your MIL's mind is not healthy. She is distressed and taking it out on you.

I read in your profile that you are a Christian. I have to borrow words from Joel Osteen -- that you are a child of the most high God. Maybe reminding yourself of that each time she says bad things will help you to show yourself and her compassion. Personally I think you're remarkable, helping your MIL and FIL after losing your husband. I read that you work from home, so know it is a good situation for all of you as long as you can make it work. God bless you for your compassion, Marialake. Don't let the mouse nibble at your cracker on the inside. You are better than all that.
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Hi Maria, it is REALLY time to reassess things. Remind MIL to be kind and leave the room (and task) when she is abusive. With dementia, that may not produce a change of behavior, but still it may make YOU feel better. It is probably time to consider an assisted living memory care facility or a nursing home. With either of those options, you can be a caring DIL who visits and departs if the abuse starts up. I had my Mom in a memory care center and she was easy going and we were really quite close. BUT the 24/7 care required in dementia is too much for any one person to handle IMHO. I visited for several hours every day and spent lots of quality time with my Mom. I took her out on short excursions, etc. I would never have had the energy to do that along with all of her daily care if she were in my home. Consifer a move for her sake and truly for yours!
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Marialake, My first question is why are you taking care of your mother-in-law? If there were other children, I would think it would be their responsibility. You are still recovering from the shock of your husband's death. I think you should consider placing her in an Assisted Living Center where she will be with people her own age to keep her company. You can then begin to start your new life which is way over due.
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