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Help! How do you keep from exploding. And if you don’t speak-up how do you keep from being eaten alive from the inside out? I’ve been on this Care sight for years, I’ve read tons of books and have seen a psychologist. I’ve heard all the recommendations about “taking care of myself”, I get it. I’m doing everything I can to save myself. BUT, I feel as if I’ve got a cement block tied to my ankle every day of my life, every minute of my life. Never, ever have I done so much for such abuse in return. With everyday that goes by my 90 year old mother gets nastier, more domineering, spiteful and divisive. She’s jealous and resentful of my friendships and has always attempted to create friction amongst her children.


She lives very well, independently and largely on my dime. I’ve bitten my tongue raw, internalized the stress and now I feel it’s affecting my health. It’s only gotten worse since the pandemic. I learned a while ago that when I express any frustration whatsoever it’s met with retaliation. I’m tired or venting to my friends, and it’s obvious they’re tired of hearing it. They listen and say, gee I’m sorry. I don’t know where to turn. I have six siblings who won’t deal with her and use her personality as their excuse. I’ve given up on thinking there’s any support there.


Can anyone tell me, an I wrong for not speaking up and then suffering the retaliation?

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You are putting up with someone who is abusive and punishing. Everyone else has recognized reality and moved away from this person. You have chosen, even after therapy and the help of all NOT to take yourself out of this horrible person's orbit. People are only recognizing that this, indeed is your choice. Finally there is nothing left but to say "I am so sorry" (and truly I am).
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EEMFLA Sep 29, 2020
Thank you for your reply. As the sole caregiver to someone who lives alone and is not currently medically eligible for financial assistance to be placed in a care facility, or financially equipped to do it on her own, perhaps I’m overlooking how I remove myself from “her orbit”.
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Why is your 90 year old mother "living very well, independently and largely on (your) dime"? SHE should be paying for HER CARE, NOT YOU. Does your Mother live in her own apartment or house OR does she live with you but is able to take care of her own physical needs--toileting, bathing, eating, dressing? Could you give a little more information so that we can give appropriate suggestions?

And NO, you are not wrong for speaking up, BUT you do NOT need to "suffer the retaliation". Stand up for yourself and set some boundaries. Can you walk away when your Mother starts to get nasty? You need to put yourself first.
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EEMFLA Sep 29, 2020
Thanks DeeAnna, I do need to toughen up. I’ve always tried to be respectful of others and especially my elders, and not fight fire with fire. But since that approach is failing me, it’s time to try a new tactic. Just an FYI, by living independently I meant, living alone. Sorry, I see that was confusing terminology. Thanks again for your reply.
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Please, for the sake of your own health and sanity, tell your mother that you are no longer going to care for her and why.

Leave.

Block her phone number. No one deserves this level of abuse.

Please read the book "Boundaries" by Townsend and Cloud. Read up on Fear, Obligation and Guilt, also known as F.O.G. Read about children of narcissistic parents.

Your siblings have figured this out. I think you should too.

Either your mother can pay for her own care or she can get public assistsnce like Medicaid to deal with that. This is NOT your job.
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Amazedin2020 Oct 1, 2020
Wow! Thank you for the resources! I am in a similar situation and I am glad I checked the discussion board today. When I told my father I was done; he said he needed help. He’s 90 and ailing and she is plain nasty and ailing. Both narcissistic. I may choose not to leave, but with the emotional arsenal you provided; I don’t see how I can lose. This is good news. Thanks again!
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In a previous post, you mention that your therapist gave "textbook" answers? Was leaving onebof those answers?
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With a woman like this, you are going to 'suffer the retaliation' one way or another. Whether you stay, pay her way, continue to be her doormat, or whether you say ENOUGH and vamoose on out of there. Right? One way or another, You Lose. But, if you leave, you lose LESS. Less financially, certainly, and a lot less emotionally. The cost is way too high to continuously subject yourself to this level of abuse, so ask yourself why you're doing this? Your siblings recognize her toxic personality as a deal-breaker for them, and they've bowed out, leaving you to do everything. Which doesn't mean you 'have to' do anything, you are choosing to.

And, what about YOUR retirement? If mother is living largely off of YOUR money, what happens to the savings you should be accruing to use yourself for later on in life? Women like this live to be 100 because they use others to release their stress on. WE are the ones to die young because of it.

Wise up before it's too late. Realize why your siblings are doing what they're doing, and either remove yourself from the situation entirely or set down some VERY strict boundaries as to what you will and will not do for her. And then stick to those rules like GLUE. One tiny little crack in the armor and BAM, she'll slither back in like a snake. It's how they roll.

Good luck!
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Amazedin2020 Oct 1, 2020
Thank you for your post. I am not the complainant, but my situation is eerily similar, if not exactly. This has helped me tremendously to know how to preserve MY peace. My siblings preserve their peace by not being here, so, what do I do with my choice? This empowered me, thank you!
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I guess you have been told you are not going to change her so you need to change how you deal with her. Since siblings do not have anything to do with her, I will assume she has been like this all her life. Your siblings have chose to set boundries and back off from her. But there always seems to be one child that even though abused, comes back for more. The one who has some empathy? Maybe looking for something from Mom that they never got. "If I show her I love her and do for her maybe she will finally love and appreciate me". Does Mom fit the meaning of Narcissist, if she does she will never show love. Its all about them. You need to back away. Call her once a day to see if everything is fine. When she starts in tell her "I am hanging up Mom" and hang up. Visit when you feel you can deal with her. Just because she is your Mom doesn't mean that you can't tell her "You know Mom you are the nastiest most unappreciative person I know. Do you realize you wouldn't be where you are if it weren't for me. Your other children don't care. I care and all you do it complain."

Your problem is you have allowed it to fester. Which is not good. You need to tell her how you feel. Mother or not. I would also tell her if she doesn't change her ways, you will be backing off and maybe eventually pulling the financial aid too. She will die a very lonely old lady. Tell her there are HUD apts that charge rent by scale. She has 1000 in income she pays 30% of that for rent. Low income apts too. You can do this in a calm, even manor. No need to raise your voice. Sit in front of her and look her straight in the eyes. If she gets mad she gets mad. She can't do anything to you. By paying her way you are the one holding the bag and this is what she needs to realize. That without you footing the bill she would not be living the way she is. She is lucky to have one of her children care and look how she treats him. I see no problem in a little threat with some people. Sometimes you can get thru others you can't. Once you say this to her, then you can set boundries. When and what you will do for her. When she gets nasty, hang up the phone or walk out. No one says u must pick up her calls or we can't walk away. Blocking is so nice because you don't know they have tried to call. Its time you took the bull by the horn. Start out saying "I have let ur abuse go on for too long..."
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Why is it that you can’t learn what others have and back out of this toxic mess? Your siblings have learned, your friends seem to see it clearly, you know this isn’t going to change unless it’s to get worse, you’re in no way taking care of yourself. I truly hope you will remove the cement block and start enjoying life. Keep your money and your time for what will bring you joy, I wish you a better choice and life
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I am so sorry that you have had nothing but misery with your mom.

It sounds as if you are hanging on by a thread. Watch out, threads break!

I see that you did reach out to a professional. That’s great. Do you mind sharing what was said? One thing my therapist said to me that really helped was, “I may say things that you don’t want to hear. Listen anyway or leave!”

I did listen. Guess what? Those things were exactly what I needed to hear and shocked me into changing my outlook. I urge you to consider what your therapist said as being useful.

Take a breather! I didn’t even breathe properly when I was completely stressed. I wasn’t even aware of it until my therapist told me that I would speak without breathing and then all of a sudden gasp for air. The breathing exercises that he taught me helps tremendously under stress.

What helps the most is to start being open to positive change. Your mom has lived most of her life, right? You said yourself, very well too, right? Isn’t your life worth just as much?

Be open to start living your life well. Your mom abused you. You don’t deserve that. She is being manipulative because she is getting away with it. Guess who told me that? Yep, my therapist informed me that he saw a pattern of manipulation from my mom.

My therapist wasn’t a person that was quick to judge. He knew mom’s behavior wasn’t due to having a bad day, it was a solid pattern that had formed.

It was up to me to change. She wasn’t going to change. Make sense? I don’t have all the answers to anyone’s problems but I did deal with a mom who caused me misery and I can empathize with you.

You need more than empathy from us on the forum. The only thing that will stop the misery is to not allow your mom to have you jumping through a million hoops!

Tell her that her free ride is over and that you are going on a journey of your own.

The more knowledge you have the more that you will grow. Be open to what can help you.

Best wishes to you.
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EEMFLA Sep 29, 2020
Thanks for your reply. Yes, I need to take a different approach. Treating others with respect and as I wish to be treated is not working in this situation, perhaps it did at one point. It sounds as if you got much more from your therapist than I did. In fact, I stopped seeing her realizing she wasn’t helping or offering actionable suggestions. I’ve been looking for someone who specializes in caregivers, or some closely related field without much luck. Did your therapist have experience in a specific discipline? Thanks.
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Get a therapist. . . . For some reason(s), all the books and whatever else / education and support you've acquired isn't working / isn't enough.

You might need medication.
And learn how to get your anger out.
Clearly, you need help you are not allowing yourself to get. Why not?

It is one aspect to read and understand, it is quite another to actually go through the feelings / steps that feel foreign and uncomfortable.
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babziellia Sep 29, 2020
Sounds like nasty mom is the one who needs medication and therapy.

My mom went from subtle controlling and manipulation to full-on nasty after her stroke. I insisted on psychiatric eval and dr put her on meds. WORLD of difference.
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Simple - its time she moved into a facility and you got your life back - too bad if she doesn't want to go, your health is more important that her wants. (Not needs, WANTS). If siblings won't take their turn then professionals will. Don't whinge you cannot look after you - just take the action you feel guilty about taking and get your life back.
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EEMFLA Sep 29, 2020
I’d love to hear suggestions about how one places someone in assisted living who according to the state requirements is not physically or financially eligible?
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Your siblings have figured it out....why not ask them how they do it.

I'm sure you feel you can just walk way. Ok back away slowly. What would happen if you cut back 10% on everything....time spent, money spent. And once you are comfortable with that, do it again.

No one is saying abandon this person, but we are saying SAVE YOURSELF.

I like the suggestion of telling your mom exactly how she is behaving. So often we see grown adults terrified of telling a parent NO or telling them that their behavior is unacceptable. What are the repercussions? What can she really do to you that you can't escape?
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Does your mom live with you or you with her?
How is she living independently, but on your dime? Do you mean that she's physically and mentally cognizant and independent, but not financially? Is she doing her ADLs or are you? What are you paying for?

In re finances, your sibs should be sharing that burden. Also, if yall live together, she should be paying YOU monthly for her share of the cost; a social worker can give you guidelines. If you're living in her house, I think it's time for you to leave this situ and get free.

Please speak up for yourself. We really teach people how to treat us by what we tolerate.

Without any more details of your situ and based only on what you've shared, I recommend walking away NOW.
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"She lives very well, independently and largely on my dime."

???

Does not compute. Either independently, or on your dime. Not both.

Who is it you have difficulty speaking up to? Your mother? Your six siblings (who are apparently only too aware of what you're dealing with, so it seems unlikely)?

Express frustration to whom?
Retaliation from whom, and in what shape?

Where do you come in the birth order, by the way?
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My MIL is no longer a part of my life. We got a 'divorce' and it has been WONDERFUL to not have to deal with, see or talk to her.

Dh now has to go all alone to visit her and he comes home and lays on the bed with a pillow over his head. If he was capable of crying, I think he would.

After 45 years of h*ll with this harridan, I just HAD it, one Sunday afternoon. She was in full hysteria mode and screaming at ME, when I was asked a question, and I'd try to answer her, she'd scream at me to shut up! (DH was there, ignoring it as best he could.)

Something snapped.

While she was screaming at me, I grabbed a Diet Coke, patted her on the shoulder and said "I'm giving you the best gift you ever got. I'm leaving and I will never see you again. If that doesn't make you happy, I don't know what will." I exited and slammed the back door for emphasis.

Walked to my sister's (about 1/2 mile) and by the time I got there I was laughing pretty hard.

Dh was NOT amused, to say the least. He picked me up and said that his mother doesn't want me to sing at her funeral now.

Like I was going to in the first place.

Please don't go 45 years in fear/obligation/guilt to keep a relationship alive that has long since died.
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Countrymouse Sep 29, 2020
What, not even ding dong the witch is dead?
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When dementia enters the situation, the past, even a whole lifetime of hurts and torments and embarrassments and insults, is over.

Her abuse, her rage, her nasty rhetoric, her divisive, vindictive, domineering spew?Meaningless. Whoever and whatever your mother was, gone.

Her motive? Nonexistent.

Whatever her brain, whatever her previous motive, whatever her techniques, her weaknesses or strengths as a human being in her own past?

Not here, not now, and TOTALLY, NOT YOURS.
GONE, with the onset of the disease that steals meaningful thought and reason. She CANNOT retaliate, divide, dominate. Those are “skills” of someone who is cunning, planning, intent, execution. She has none of those.

Your description is so clearly and succinctly etched that it rises in your anguish from the written page.

Now, to achieving a sense of comfort and peace.
IF she is able, NOW, to live “independently”, SO BE IT. If you are in her presence, you are diminishing her human responsibility to herself. More important, the best way, maybe the ONLY WAY to safely and effectively deal with a malignant narcissist, IS AVOIDANCE.

IF she is NOT able to live independently, and you are SERIOUS about “taking care of (your)self”, THE TREATMENT IS STILL THE SAME. Find a good trustworthy (saintly) lawyer, give her the lawyer’s card, and walk.

Something within you, probably innate human decency, has compelled you to remain within her circle of influence and control. When you have been told to take care of yourself this thinking may have influenced you to remain rather than escape.

Spend some time ABSORBING REAL SUPPORT. It sounds as though your world IS providing sources of honest concern for you and for the problem you’re dealing with. GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO LISTEN.
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Isthisrealyreal Sep 29, 2020
Sorry Anne I have to disagree. People with dementia can be cunning, manipulating, divisive and just plain jerks, just to name a few of their more charming traits. What their personality was is only magnified in dementia.
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EE; Tell us why you can't step back, stop showing up and stop giving her money?

In what way is she not eligible for Assisted Living? If she doesn't need AL, then she doesn't need your help.

In what way is she not "financially eligible"? Is she not eligible for Medicaid?
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BarbBrooklyn Sep 29, 2020
It seems simple enough to call Adult Protective Services in her County, report that she is a vulnerable elder with no outside support and that no family is available to help due to her mental issues.

Can you do that?

And if not, why not?

Past the early stages, an elder with dementia should not be living alone. Are you willing to abandon your wife and children to move in with her? Are you willing to move her in with you?

This shoild be an exercise in getting your mother what she NEEDS. If she can no longer rationally see that she needs more care than she has, the only way to force the situation is by stepping back, getting the authorities involved and waiting for the event that puts her in the hospital. When that happens, you let the discharge planners know that she lives alone and has no help.
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EE, responding to ur reply to TaylorUK

Assisted living is private pay and not usually covered by Medicaid. They run 5k or more where I live. How much are you putting out on Mom now? She must have SS? Maybe a small pension. There are also Board and Care places that are cheaper with less residents. We don't have them where I live, but there are member that have placed a parent or two. Maybe they will chime in.

Then there is Long Term Care also call a Skilled Nursing Facility. Medicaid will pay for this if Mom hits the criteria. It is all based on her finances. Yours do not enter the picture. In my State, Medicaid will pay for an AL if you have private paid for at least two years in an AL facility.

I think you need a vacation. Maybe someone can check on Mom for you. Beach resorts are great this time of year. You need to figure out why you allow her to abuse you. Mother or not, she is not entitled to do so and should have been put in her place long ago. I was the "good" daughter. The Caregiver but my parents appreciated it. I would have never done for them if I was abused everyday by them. After being on this forum, I found I set boundries from the beginning. I worked both f/t and p/t thru most of my parents Senior years so they had to work around my schedule when it came to appts and such. When Mom quit driving, we picked one day a week to shop and run errands. If Mom needed anything in between, I picked it up when I could.
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EEMFLA:

I'm sorry if my responses have not seemed kind. You appear to think that you are obligated to care for your abusive parent. I think that THAT'S the first thing that you need to get out of your head.

I'm sorry that you are going through such anguish; I always recommend that folks in your position watch the movie "Now Voyager". Bette Davis, Claude Rains and a bunch of other great actors. It really illuminates the whole "one kid doing the caregiving to the detriment of their life" thing.
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I say in a loving way: What you Allow, Continues.
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Someone said you can’t change the behavior of another person, but you can change your reaction to the
at behavior. You don’t give many details but sounds like it’s time to step back and minimize communication with your mom.

And Freud said the definition of insanity is repeating an action over and over and expecting a different outcome. Your Mom isn’t going to change so you can only change the way you react to her nastiness. What would you do if she want related to you?

Vent your frustrations here, find a support group, find a therapist. Stop using your friends for venting unless they ask, give a quick update and change the subject.
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EEMFLA, Paul Theroux not long ago wrote a book called Motherland. I have to say I absolutely hated this book, but he is a very highly regarded writer, and his theme was the impact on her children of their mother (this is why I hated it, you see): the mother being a vicious, scheming, malicious, poisonous sadist according to him/the narrator; and a woman frustrated and overburdened by wife-and-motherhood and not handling it very well, if you ask me.

Anyway.

The reason I mention it is that I wonder what feelings it might arouse in you. In your replies to people's answers, you constantly refer to your belief (which I wholly share) in treating others with respect and how that is not working for you.

This leads me to believe that what has perhaps become distorted, terribly distorted, is your definition of what constitutes respect, and where its limits are, and how you can behave kindly - but simultaneously with *self*-respect - when those limits are seriously exceeded.

Why do you constantly bite your tongue? Let's take an example: your mother says something spiteful to you, and hurts your feelings. If your impulse is to swear at her in retaliation and say something equally hurtful back at her, then yes - bite your tongue. Don't do that! But that doesn't mean there is anything wrong at all - quite the opposite - in challenging what your mother says and, in a dignified and fair way, even rebuking her.

Do say more about what's happening and what you think. Don't give up. It might be too late to make your mother more comfortable (behaviour like this often stems from internalised rage and pain), but it's not too late for you.
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We are in a similar situation. MIL, 93, is difficult in the same ways. DH has always done all he can to help her, but has physical limitations of his own and is, frankly, fed up after 70 years of being the only person in the family who can "handle"her. She refers to me as "that thing", and has tried for 10 years to get DH to get rid of me, turn other family members against me, and me againat them. She has been verbally abusive to me, and lied about it to other family members. She has a large extended family all living nearby, but responsibiluty for her lies with us, after the death of DHs only sibling this year. With the exception of one of her grandsons, abput whom she has nothing good to say, most family members want nothing to do with her. She is remarkably healthy and capable of managing in her own house. I do her shopping and manage her medical appointments, DH manages her money, and she spends the night at our house usually several times a week, sometimes for weeks on end, sometimes not for weeks on end (we live next door -- the whole family lives on the farm).

It is exhausting, and I am also caring for 4 grandchildren all day 5 days a week. My strategy has been to accept that she is our responsibility, has a right to basic care, and that she is who she is and we aren't going to change her. Beyond that, I have just taken myself out of reach of her nonsense. She is choosing to be bitter, spiteful, and unhappy. I am choosing not to allow her to wreck my day. When she starts in ripping someone apart, DH and I leave the room. When she starts in on one of us, we leave the house. We don't engage or try to respond in any way with any of that. We support each other. Over time, she has actually learned to put the brakes on some if her behaviors. And when she pitches a screaming fit, we just turn our backs and walk away. When she announces she's never speaking to us again, we smile and say have it your way. We step away from her attempts to manipulate us and make her responsible for her own choices. It is a lot of work, it is stressful and aggravating, but after many years,it has evolved from all-consuming and distressing to tolerable. That's about the best we can expect, so we accept what we cannot change and look for joy and satisfaction in the rest of life.
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It took me years to come to realize that I don’t have to put up with abuse from my mother. Years! Despite her dementia she’s is still as mean and manipulative and lying as she always has been. I manage her finances and put her in an AL. I blocked her phone calls. The facility can call me with updates or concerns. The last time I spoke with her and she started in with me I firmly but nicely told her she had to stop her behavior and she needs to be more grateful. Haven’t had contact with her since. And I won’t visit. I oversee her care, talk to her doctor and nurses, make good decisions about her finances, she has clothes and a nice safe place to live. She is clean and fed. I have done my part - more than she ever did for me as a child. I don’t need to take abuse as well. I didn’t cause her misery I don’t need it in my life. And complaining about it to others doesn’t help. See an elder care attorney and get some advice. If you are okay with her living on your dime then hire extra help and start speaking up for yourself. Remove yourself from her day to day. Otherwise find her another place to live with 24 hour oversight. You don’t need this abuse to continue. We are too old for this! We need to enjoy our lives and stop letting our parents continue to cause us misery.
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imtheparentnow Oct 1, 2020
Yes yes yes to this a million times! Good for you Mepowers! I wholeheartedly agree with you on all that you said. Thank you for saying it!
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Many communities offer several levels of care-low medium and high=full on nursing care 24/7. Anyone who has money in the bank could be given a spot at independent care-ie. small apartment- with access to laundry services, housekeeping, and dining. Loads of active people, at the first community where my sister lived, took advantage of this kind of setup-no worries about maintenance of the building, yard work, etc. Then as needs might change down the road-only move down the hall or to other section of the community. Check with the Medicare .gov website for inspections and evaluations of community-most important when care needs are higher to have a place with a solid reputation of care is essential-hopefully you wont be moving multiple times for each phase of life. I too have had to create boundaries and stick to it-inspite of my mother piling on the guilt trips over the years. I can be helpful to her on my terms. I can walk away too. Helping mom is more like a job I can and will do but don't take it home with me at the end of the day. After being stabbed a million times emotionally by my mother-my shield is up to full capacity.
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I arranged for a psych consult for my difficult, unhappy 91-yr-old father who was verbally abusing me over the phone but also yelling at caregivers in his assisted living. He does not have dementia. Psychiatric practitioner at first found him charming and delightful, which he can be, but after staff reports about increased belligerence and acting up - and not sleeping well through the night - she prescribed a very low dose of atypical antipsychotics. He’s SO much better! Not overly sedated but just calmer, more like the nice him even in the face of physical limitations and frustrations of old age.
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Set boundaries, limit calls and visits. When you do visit make it short and sweet and get the heck out of there. Let mom pay for her own living expenses and apply for medicaid if needed. You are welcoming abuse. I have a similar problem with my mother and have learned to back off. I still maintain her health issues, order supplies, order meds, fill pill sorters, etc. I even changed her insurance so she can have a visiting physician come to her senior apartment. You can take care of her from a distance. Mom has a sitter 4 hours everyday. Now when I check in once a week she seems happy to see me. I also choose to enjoy and help care for my six grandchildren. Enjoy your life.
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I would get right in her face and tell her that I have put up with her s#*t for long enough and if she can't start treating you halfway decent, you will call for someone to collect the body when it starts to stink. Don't yell, just use a very stern voice, then turn around and leave. Then don't go over until she calls and can be nice. And continues to be nice.
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chillinwithscb Oct 1, 2020
A bit over the top, but I agree that it's better to talk than to not.
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Dont speak up, it will only cause you more pain
From vast experience, I would
purchase CBD oil for her.
1000 mg strength. Half dropper under tongue or in a beverage.
Make sure it is flavored , lemon etc.
It works wonders on this sort of behavior. No chance of overdose as well. Believe me it WORKS
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chillinwithscb Oct 1, 2020
IMO, Speak your mind. Keeping quiet is no way to live. Be honest and open while also respectful.
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It sounds like this is a part of her psychology, with you saying that she has always tried to create strife among you and your siblings. This attitude does get worse with age. I believe that I would do as others have advised and limit my visits. You could hire a caregiver to go in each day awhile, to check on her and cover the things you do for her., visit her once a week for a short time. As for the CDB oil, I wouldn’t discount it, it may be worth a try. I have found that it helps me with numerous things that cause pain even the shingles I got!
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She is 91 and you are an independent adult. Whatever guilt or control she has over you is done when you started to pay for her care. Yes, she is your mother, but you must recognize that when she is gone it will be YOU who lives. What kind of life do you expect to have after this? What will your next chapter look like? Beat up and left licking your wounds from her verbal/emotional abuse? Or are you going to recognize your own worth. Who gives a da** if she's jealous of your friendships, they are YOUR friendships not hers.

You MUST set up boundaries with yourself and her. Limit your visits, limit your calls, start to wean yourself out of this cycle of codependency because that is exactly what you are doing. You are enabling her to control you and emotionally manipulate you. She can't live her life through you, she had her chance, it's over. It's time for YOU to start living and making your own choices and mistakes and solutions.
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