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My 84 year-old mother is 4 miles from my home in an AL facility that is beyond lovely. She won't make friends, won't interact if she doesn't have to, and views everyone else around her as "old". She is suffering from terminal cancer, but on good days is fairly mobile (walker) and self-sufficient to an extent. She is also very self-involved, and expects to be waited on and entertained...BY ME. She expects me to bring her to "visit" every weekend, even though I visit her and do for her nearly daily (I also work full-time). I do all finances, medical, shopping, laundry, etc., etc. I'm pooped! I want a life too!

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By saying just as you posted your question... be prepared for the onslaught that is going to happen afterward, do not expect her to be agreeable, full of acceptance or even give you her blessings.... You can make that statement to her, you do not need her permission to not be a slave.... it will feel awful inside, and you will drive yourself crazy rehearsing it, but do it anyway.. having courage means we do it anyway..... and you might want to say this on your way out the door.... that way you don't have to endure the onslaught of what is coming next... if you are not present for her to manipulate, then she is left with her own feelings... there is no PC way to do this.... if you don't make a stand for you, no one else will.... prayers for you to get what you need out of that conversation... hugs across the miles to you...
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Actually Jeanne, I think I'm on my way out of the tunnel. After going to dinner with mom yesterday and spending the evening together, she called today to tell me she wanted me to pick her up and bring her to my home for a few hours to get her out of "the home". I politely said no, I had plans today and would not be up. She didn't like it, but I did it. Yes, the guilt was there and still is, but I got to spend some "me" time on a Sunday. Thank you all for allowing me to vent. Tomorrow I will be having a longer talk with her to get my point across. New ground rules from now on.
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Exhausted, the words in your subject line sound perfectly nice to me. Have you tried them with Mother?

I might try a slight tweak to the wording. "I love you very much, and I regret that I cannot be your sole social outlet. I need to have some space, and I need to have a life of my own, as well as a life as your daughter." That wording makes it clearer that you are not asking for her permission and that this is not negotiable. Making it sound like a request (please give me) may sound "nicer" but it is kinder, I think, to be more direct. I love you, and I also need my own life. This is not an either/or ... it is a both/and situation.

Saying it isn't enough, of course. Do it. Cut back on the number of weekend visits to twice a month or once a month. Maybe add in a Sunday dinner or two, sometimes at your house and sometimes at a restaurant.

Does the AL offer a laundry service? Could any of the tasks you do be hired out? Can you simplify some of the others? Working full time and taking on so many additional tasks for someone else is hard!

What is your mother's prognosis? She has terminal cancer. Obviously no one can know for sure, but do her doctors feel she may have several years ahead of her, or is it more likely to end within the year? I think this might influence your decisions somewhat.

Are there other relatives or close friends who could do some of the daily visiting? Could you gently nudge them in that direction? "Gladys, Mom loves daily visitors but I'm not going to be able to see her next Wednesday. Is there any chance you could stop in and play some cards with her?" Do NOT expect others to jump in and help on their own, but many are happy to once they know what they can do.

Could some of your daily visits be by phone?

Experiment and see whether it works better to have shortened visits daily, or longer visits less often.

You work to support yourself. You work to keep your mother's finances and health in good shape. You work to maintain your own household. If you don't also have a life, what on earth do you and your mother talk about 7 days a week? If you have a life of your own, you will have more interesting things to share with your mother. You can tell her how dumb you feel trying to learn to play bridge and ask her about things she's tried that made her feel dumb. You can give her a blow-by-blow commentary on your gardening efforts, and then show her your garden when she visits a couple times a month. You can tell her about the book you are reading and maybe even offer to share it if she still reads.

You must love your mother very much to sacrifice so much for her. Make sure that she knows how much you love her even as you make changes to also have a life of your own.

Good luck ... and let us know how things progress.
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Thank you jeannegibbs - I have said things in the past along these lines, but I'm going to say it again, and this time mean it. My mother has no idea of the time I spend doing her banking, driving 30 miles one-way on my lunch hour to return safety deposit box keys, meet with financial planners, do her taxes, along with doing the virtually endless litney of daily "chores" she lists -- because she "needs" things -- daily. Its ludicrous. At this point, I've told her -- if I have to go to the store or bank for myself, I'll do for her. No special trips. I was solely responsible for selling her home -- she could no longer live there alone, and cleaning out 60 years of clutter while I now store all of her "good" clutter in a storage unit. I have given my life over to her for the past year and she still wants more. My very lucky brother lives out-of-state, and calls her every day -- why every day?? -- because I called him and asked him to. Now she can't stop telling me about how "wonderful" he is because he calls her every day, and she "knows if he were closer he would do everything for her". Un-friggin-believeable!
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Hi exhausted ((((((((hugs))))))). and I understand. I am going to repeat something I wrote before which is that there is probably no benefit in trying to "talk over" these things and arrive at a solution with someone with your mum's personality. If fact, by doing so you alert her to changes you want to make, and she will be even more prepared to play games. Let us just call this a temporary setback - not a failure. Goodness, no. We all have them. It is not easy to break the patterns of a lifetime. Have you seen the website daughtersofnarcissisticmothers? Just google that phrase and learn about narcissism. I found it helped to validate my feelings and experience, and gave me ideas of how to deal with my situation. Don't think it is easy to deal with. It may be simple, but not easy, as at the same time we are dealing with ourselves and a lifetime of "training" to be the servant child. You are not back at square on, because you do see what happened and that your mum was playing the "me first" game, and that you fell for it. They are completely ruthless when it comes to other peoples time and energy. Why do you continue to let this woman rule your life? I think, at least in part, because you have been trained, and also through FOG - fear, obligation and guilt, to do so. Getting past that means dealing with the FEAR of displeasing her, of her anger, the sense of OBLIGATION - narcissists have a sense of entitlement that others should put them first, that they should get preferential treatment, and have no awareness, it seems, that they have unrealistic expectations of other, and then the GUILT. You have had "guilt buttons" planted in you from birth. Although you are doing absolutely nothing that would cause any normal person to see you of guilty of anything, except, perhaps, not looking after yourself enough, your mum will try to instill guilt in you if you are not at her every beck and call. It might help if you were to think about why you did not say "No" -the thoughts and feelings that come up when you consider saying "No". Some of it is habit, I think, but also fear, obligation and guilt, All of these can be overcome, but it does take some work and determination on your part - and I am sure you will be successful. ;) I am so glad you ahve come nack and shared. Let us be your cheerleaders along the way to a heathier life. Without the support of girlfriends and a few male friends, I would have been much worse off. more (((((hugs))))))
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Those of us who have self-centered parents often grow up, and teach ourselves to NOT be like that. To be more generous with time, resources, attention. Then, when the parent demands more and more, we are surprised that our giving is never enough to satisfy them. We are just the yang to their yin. They are reflexively self-centered; we get reflexively giving until we feel too burned out to give more. Learning to live with the consequences of being called out on our worst fear -- "You aren't being nice enough to me!" -- is the only way through. To recognize that it isn't true. And that all the "nice" in the world wouldn't fill the holes in their hearts anyway.
That's when our healing can begin.
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exhausted Good for you for saying :No:. I have been there, and, when I decided that I could not keep up what mother expected of me, after a few abortive attempts, didn't even try to explain or reason. With a narcissist, there is no reasoning. They will twist thing to make you feel more guilty and more sorry for them, I simply started to do things they way they worked for me. Narcissists crave attention and control, and will go to great lengths to get it. Good for you for setting nedw ground rules. She won't like it, and she may be quite vocal about that, even to the point of telling others how you are letting her down, Don't let that sway you - it is manipulation., Narcissistic parents tend to have a "golden child" who can do no wrong, even if they don't step up and help at all. My sister is that. You are the "servant" child -I call it the cinderella child" and you will never satisfy her, there will always be more. I have stopped doing anything except dealing with her at arms length as much as possible, and only addressing the issues which I think are important -which are a very few of the ones she complains about. Look after you, and your health. My health has suffered over the past few years. from the demands of caregiving my mother -even at a distance. You have to be relentless in looking after yourself. ((((((hugs))))))
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Exhausted, good luck with those 'ground rules', you can try, but it seems that if she hasn't listened and heard anything you said before, she isn't going to hear you this time either... see sweetie, the deal is, no matter how nice you try to go about this, the bottom line will always be that she wants what she wants when she wants it.... this is just a suggestion, maybe instead of talking to her, spend that energy coming up with a plan you can start with... just like telling her no this weekend....you did great... the whole thing is about you following thru with it... if you tell her no, then be prepared to deal with whatever she sends out into the universe....but don't back down... and if you only start with telling her no for the weekends, then you can move to something else next time.... but always make sure you are going to follow thru... if you don't , then you are back to square one....when she calls you at work, let it go to voicemail, you know if something is wrong, the facility will contact you....you many even tell her it will be going to voicemail, you are doing that for YOU, not her, to empower yourself to take your life back... don't do it to 'convince' her, nothing you say or do will convince her....ever... I know that is hard to understand, but it is what it is... and possibly you can get some counseling to help you understand the guilt and how she is allowed to live in your soul rent free with that guilt.... you've already started this journey by telling her how you were going to do the banking....give yourself some credit for acting on your own needs, and you survived..... atta girl, you survived, and it will get easier.... please come back and vent all you need to... even tho this is a process for you to get healthy with this, she is still going to send you into orbit with her demands.... but you will also be able to have some plans in place for when this happens, and coming here and talking it out will always help... so blessing sent your way for being a loving daughter, that has also learned, you are very important to the bigger picture of life, and you do get to have your alone time, or social time or what ever else that you need.... hugs across the miles to you again, we can't get too many hugs when we are on the journey of telling mom NO....
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((((exhausted)))) try switching your thoughts to staying away firstly because you needed the break - thinking of you as well as of her. It is like waitng for the other shoe to drop perpetually, and a good technique for keeping us hanging on their every word. Crises happpen and nothing is mentioned or acknowledged or dealt with. I so relate to your statement that criticizing people came easily to her. I don't confront verbally any more as it does not seem to change anything, but what I do is place boundaries - like not answering phone calls till I have screened them, not being at her beck and call but assessing for myself whether she, for example, NEEDs the depends or is just jerking my chain and wanting to be the center of attention. By getting you mad enough to fly off at her, in her eyes she has won., . A narcissistic person will jerk your chain as much as you allow it. You cannot talk them out of it, You have to establish your own boundaries, and usually need the support of others to do that successfully. Looks kike your husband is supportive, which is great. Do find sites online about narsissistic mothers and learn how their minds work. Understanding helps so much. I will help my mother too, but I will not be her servant, and I will have a life of my own. Happy Mother's Day to you (((((hugs))))) Joan
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Just once I would like to have a visit/phone call where something wasn't "asked" of me or needing to be done. Now let the guilt flow.
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