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I make a promised phone call every week. I live too far away to visit more than a few times a year. My mother is dwelling (again) on the holidays. She has a memory of being a wonderful hostess, wife, and mother, when in truth it was a tense time saturated with alcohol (she drank a lot). The days were not wonderful, they were something to get through. My mother is in her early 90's and I'm no spring chicken any more either. I'm just tired of years of hearing how hard it was for her (when it wasn't) and how much she did for dad and me(she didn't). Our conversations about the holidays are one-sided in the past few years about the holidays. I tried non-committal answers per some advice, but she persists in getting validation. Today's phone call didn't go well; she demanded to know why I didn't speak about wonderful memories about "her holidays" in the home I grew up in. I just said that I couldn't. She tore into me verbally (that's nothing new) and I'm just getting too worn down to deal with it. So, do I lie and say it was all wonderful, or do I stick to my truthful perspective? If I tell her she was wonderful, then she uses it in another conversation to say that she was too good for my dad and me. Dad has been dead for years so I cannot ask him to intervene, and I'm about the only live family member left. We are just in this vicious circle about "memories" and no others to offer perspective. How would some of you out there respond? Help!

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I agree that you shouldn't lie. I'd call less until after the holidays. And I like Countrymouse's idea of "needing to go" the minute she starts in on her perfect memories. Cut the call short.
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I agree with absolutely everybody, which leaves me with a bit of a scrambled head, but then so does the subject at hand.

Onlyone, to me it depends on how much longer you think you can take it. You call your mother once a week (I wish my brother would do that!), and from years of experience of calling my mother daily before we moved in together I remember well how difficult it is to keep in mind that you're not having a real conversation with a thinking adult - you're giving your mother a cuddle down the line. So, what she wants to talk about is how brilliant/terrible everything was, according to whether she's in the mood for praise or pity respectively. Well. You could cater for her appetite, just humour her. But if this is going to go on much longer, you won't be able to keep it up. I don't know what the answer is. I like the agree to disagree solution, but the trouble is that that works best with rational adults engaging in a mutually respectful discussion - which is not what you're doing.

You wouldn't consider ringing her less often, and only when you're in a really good humour so that she can't get on your nerves? Keep it shorter, and more to practical points? I wonder if your safest boundary might be to stop right at the point where she enters on Lala Land territory - oh! Sorry! Got to go my lover's just arrived - ! Or whatever will leave her speechless.

To me, when you call her you're setting out to do something nice for your mother (I'm guessing you're not calling her for your own amusement). And that means that challenging her, or setting her right, or even simply standing your ground, kind of defeats your object. It's not like you're ever going to hear her change her mind. What's the point?
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Thank you all for your inputs on how to respond to my mother's "push for validation" on memories from years ago. I also talked to 2 friends who know my mother. They and many of you advised to maintain my perspective rather than telling a lie. Also, to mention that we may have to "agree to disagree" on conversation topics. I've tried to avoid these confrontations over the years to allow the chance that she would pass on peacefully without having to deal with bitter arguments, but the other day when she asked point-blank and could not be distracted -- I "slipped up" and fell for her trap. She has not been diagnosed with dementia.
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Just agree with any delusion that makes them happy. They are close to death, let them die smiling. You can't debate with dementia, any correction you offer only sparks anger. You win by agreeing. MD's do it all the time.
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This is why I went to therapy. I'm serious. It really helps to work this stuff out.
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Yes, like Emjo says, it is better not to lie. And YET...lol, when I told my mother years ago that my husband and I would be out of town visiting his family for the holidays, it gave me a nice few days of peace. The hard part was explaining how we got back into town, since the weather was so bad that the airports were shut down! (gulp) So, yes, if you don't need to lie, then don't.
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((((((holly)))) - my mother has told me that I was a happy child. This is her delusion and one she shares with others. I was cheerful a lot of the time, but not happy. Who could be happy in her house??? I disagreed with her and told her I was not, Her answer "Yes, you were!"

I would not lie. In similar circumstances I have told mother that we would just have to agree to disagree. You could tell her you don't want to discuss it anymore, you could change the subject, or tell her you have to go and hang up.

Be true to yourself. She won't like it but - what's new. I agree that reducing or eliminating calls should be an option for you. Also agreed that she is still manipulating you - using FOG - fear, guilt, obligation.
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I'd suggest telling a few fibs around this time of year, to explain why you won't be able to call until after the holidays. If it would ease your conscience, then send a card or two to placate her.
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My mom and I have totally different views of my childhood Christmases. To discuss was futile so I just shifted the talk to joyful Christmases with my own family and she'd move on to the kids and their antics. But no, all these years later, I still wouldn't be able to tell her they were wonderful.
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Both alcoholics and narcissists rewrite history to make themselves look good. This has not happened with my parents (Actually my parents created wonderful holidays and my mom thinks she didn't do enough, which is crazy). However I have an ex who is both alcoholic and narcissistic and he makes himself out to be the hero and the saint, and makes everyone else look to be failures and cruel (the complete opposite of reality).

Alcohol creates its own dementia (alcohol induced dementia) and that could be part of the problem. The other part could be that she is narcissistic and thinks she is perfect and everyone else is at fault. That isn't something you can fix. But to be honest, if it was me, I would not agree with her little fantasies. I would answer honestly and if she doesn't like it, oh well. There is no way you should have to lie and pretend that she is wonderful while she abuses and berates you. And there is no reason you should have to say anything that isn't truthful and is against your heart and soul. She is still manipulating you as she did when you were younger. The difference is now you have a choice...you do not have to take it. Stay true to yourself, stay honest, and if it means you have to cut off contact for your mental well being, then do so. Reduce or eliminate your calls. Save yourself.

Angel
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When you say she has delusions of past Christmases, are you saying she has dementia? Or are you saying she does not have brain damage, knows full well what happened over the years and is purposefully taunting you with lies?

If she really believes what she's saying, then there is nothing to really argue about. This means she cannot accept anything other than what is in her mind. You may have had a terrible time with her over the years, but if she has dementia, I don't see how you can work it out with her at this point. I would consult a therapist to work on it. Confronting her or making her see your pain is not an option. She isn't capable of seeing things your way or giving you validation, IMO. I would try to give up on that idea if she is not mentally capable of doing this.

If she does not have dementia and she does know what she did to you and your dad, then you can explain it to her and see what she has to say. She may disagree, blame you, deny it or change the subject. How likely is it that she is going to say, I was wrong, you were right; Please forgive me; I love you and will do anything to make things right with you before I die? I doubt it's going to happen. But, if it makes you sad and angry to listen to her, then I would ignore what she says and change the subject. Just ask how she's doing and end the call before she goes on about it.

I'm sorry you have to deal with this, but perhaps it can be mended nonetheless. Alcoholics often have a very distorted view of life and they often lie too, so I get where you're coming from. Sadly, we can't change others, just ourselves. I wish you the best.
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