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I am on disability & my husband is also ill. I have 2 siblings who don't help as much. My mother makes me feel guilty after I have been helping her most of the day & I attempt to go home to rest or make dinner for my husband. She will say let him wait. She says things of this nature even though she has care at home. She tells me not to call any friends. She will even tell me not to go to physical therapy that is much needed. If I attempt to make plans with my husband to go to church, she will try to sabotage the day.


I visit her least two to three times a day and call her every two hours when I am not with her. If I don't call her by a certain time, she becomes mad at me. She criticizes me by saying I should get a job, even though I am an attorney who was hurt in WTC Bombing and had to go on disability due to 2 spinal fusions in my neck. I am now getting increased pain in my neck. She will say very hurtful things to provoke my anger. When I do get angry, she always smiles. But then I become very guilty. No matter how much I do I always feel guilty. I always feel badly. I know that I'm doing more than enough, but I always feel badly. I never feel good about what I am doing for her. Of course, when I do lose it, I feel badly about that. Is there a book about patience when the elderly parent/patient becomes too demanding?


Why do you go and call so often? You have trained her that you will be at her beck and call. That needs to stop. Why are you worried that she will get mad? What can she do to you? You are an adult. You have all the power. She needs you, not the other way around. She doesn't call the shots, you do.

Next time she tries to boss you around, push back and tell her no. If she gets ugly, pick up and leave. Retrain her to treat you better. And if she can't then you spend less time with her. It really is that simple.
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Sespo1997 Jan 28, 2019
Well, whenever I have to try to just to serve myself and tell her that I must go, she gets very mad. Sometime she screams where others hear her. Then they think that I'm doing something bad. They don't know that she's the one who is abusing me. Often, she just embarrasses me in front of the caregivers, even new ones. If they don't know me then they think I'm the bad one. It's awful. Especially when I'm trying to train them. I'm giving my precious time to show someone how to make the progress the way she likes and to do the laundry the way she likes it and yet she's treating me like I'm not even her daughter. To avoid her bad behavior, I suppose I just comply. But I'm just training hard to treat me worse and worse.
Once I had the courage to attempt to leave when she was acting very badly and in front of someone new. When I said I would be going, she called out no please don't. But when I stayed, that just gave her more time to be abusive again. I should've just walked out. And then go back the next day.

I like the word. "Retrain." That is what I have to do because right now I am just "reinforcing "her bad behavior. Thank you very much for your comments
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A book of magic, a magic book, that will reveal to you the simple answer to maintaining sweetness of temper and lightness of heart in the face of overwhelming emotional abuse...

No. I think not.

But if you are interested in trying a radical, transformative solution; and seeing as your mother has 24/7 care at home and therefore is completely safe; may I recommend that you prescribe for yourself a complete break of nine days, starting from Friday evening? From Friday, when you go home after seeing your mother, you do not visit or call her until the following Sunday evening. You take a planned, deliberate and total break.

Tell her care team that you are doing this. If you can detach and be cool enough, you can tell her, too, calmly and as a matter of fact, making it a statement and not a request, but you don't have to risk doing this if you fear it will change your plan. You need to get out of the line of fire; because until you do that you have no hope of being able to hear yourself think.

Your situation is about power. Your mother demands that you give it to her, and you comply; perhaps out of habit, long-established and deeply ingrained, and certainly, I agree with other posters, out of Fear Obligation and Guilt - in your case I would guess especially Fear. You have been deeply shocked and traumatised, and you continue to undergo daily attack.

But your mother is the one who is old, frail and mentally frail; and you are the one who is in fact a free agent: where you go and what you do from day to day is for you to decide.

Not all of your mother's intentions are necessarily bad or even selfish. Some of it, I don't doubt, is about her own fear of losing you, maybe even of your coming to harm away from her, and her own fears around life in general. The reason you need to detach completely, for a fixed period, is that her perspective is crazy and you need to recover your own.

You mention physical therapy; do you have or have you considered psychological and emotional therapy as well?
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lkdrymom Jan 28, 2019
I like the idea of a 9 day break.
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I would recommend boundaries. Figure out what day you will be with her and how long you will stay. Your first obligation is to you and your husband. Say that you will visit on only on Tuesday and will will be there from 2pm until 4pm and stick to it. If she has a fit, let her and make sure she knows that is all the time she is going to get. Remind her that she cannot have all your time.
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I am not sure you need patience as much as you need boundaries with practical, concrete consequences for when they are broken.

It sounds to me like she is manipulating you with Fear, Obligation and Guilt also known as emotional FOG.

You could google "emotional FOG or emotional blackmail" or you could get Susan Forward's book, Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You 

Has your mother always been manipulative like this? If so, then she has groomed you since childhood to just take this.
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Sespo1997 Jan 28, 2019
Dear Cmagnum: yes, my mother was always been like this. She's been very manipulative of all of her children, but more so of me. I was the so-called single daughter who was obligated to take care of the parent. In the Italian-American culture, this was very common. I was married when I was very young, but ironically my then husband was very abusive. I was able to end the marriage and luckily with no children. But, I was single for so long because I had subsequently become injured in the bombing. Now, I am not even married one year to a very kind man and she selfishly resents this marriage. I will buy Susan Forward's book because this is more than just helping and honoring an aging parent. This is major FOG!
Thank you for helping me realize this!
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There IS a book, but not about patience. It's a book called "Boundaries", by Cloud and Townsend.

Read the book. And as CM says, look into seeing a therapist or counselor who can help you maintain a bit of healthy detatchment from your mom, so that your health and marriage don't suffer.
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Sespo1997 Jan 28, 2019
Dear BarbBrooklyn: Thank you for suggesting that book. Actually, this was happening before I had gotten married and I was in physical therapy for my lower back. The therapist then have recommended the same book which I had gotten. Unfortunately because of the demands of my mom, I never had the time to read it. Now is the time to do so again!
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Because I can empathize with you, I think I can understand the reason why you feel guilty and bad.
It is not because of what you don’t do because to your point, you feel you do more than enough. It is because you’re conditioned to think that you never do enough and that your should devote yourself completely and tend to every need of your mom. Even if this requirement has never been said out loud, if you search deep inside I think you’ll find it is true.

Many people conditioned to think and feel this way, come to the realization that something is out of balance as soon as they become adults and more so when they have their own family; yet for others like you and me, it takes much longer, but it should happen when we switch roles with our parent(s) and become the ones responsible for their wellbeing. At some point in the journey we realize we are in a new position, we mature as daughters or sons. We also realize that at this point in their life the way our parent(s) behave is not proper of a healthy person in their mind or body, so we need to place ourselves in sort of a higher level, kind of like how a parent feels towards their children. Which is the reason why, for example, when a child throws a tantrum because they aren’t getting something they want, the parents don’t feel guilty for not giving the child all he or she is asking for. The parent is not failing as a parent, it is the child’s unreasonable demands that cannot, and should not be met.

Well, now you are the adult, almost like the parent, and you know the difference between a need and a want, or worse, an ‘I want it right now!’, therefore you shouldn’t get upset or feel guilty for not giving your mom all she asks for, when she asks for it. You know how the order of things should be, you know when you’ve done all you could and should, therefore a ‘want’ doesn’t need to be met, unless it is a ‘need’, and guilt has no role to play.

However always remember that this change in your way to handle the situation does not mean you love her any less. A mother always deserves our respect, love and consideration, ALWAYS, but in a case like yours you need to change the dynamic so you can indeed keep respecting her, treating her with consideration and with love; because if you continue doing what you’re doing you’ll end up resenting her so much that when she is not with you anymore then your guilt will multiply itself, not because of what you didn’t do for her, but because of how much anger and resentment you harbored in your heart. So it is critical that you learn to manage the situation soon.

Maybe you’ve been so overwhelmed with all you have in your plate that you haven’t realized that your role in your relationship with your mother has changed and that she has also changed as a result of aging and illness.
It is time for your own wellbeing and to better help your mom, to realize that you are in that parent-like level, which doesn’t mean treating her like a child because she is not a child, just that you have the right and duty to discern what is right and needed, without guilt.

In a nutshell, I think guilt can have only two possible origins: A well founded one and one fueled by psychological and emotional conflicts.
When the reason is the first, corrective actions are necessary and should be enough to get rid of the guilt and to do what is right; but when the origin is psychological and emotional it is much more difficult to deal with and it requires a lot of self awareness, courage, maturity and love, love towards yourself and also towards others. I think it is imperative that you get started with the journey of working on your guilt, understanding why it is there, realizing that objectively, the reason why you feel guilty is not really valid, and of course if you find that there is in fact something you need to correct, then do so. I started that process a while ago, it is not easy, but it is absolutely possible.

A hug to you and may God bless you!
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StillDealing Jan 28, 2019
Dear Rosses003- I really appreciated your well written and thoughtful response. However, you say a mother ALWAYS deserves an adult child's respect, love and consideration. Unfortunately, not always. Some mothers (like my own) neither respect, love or have consideration for their own child/children. I had to quit trying to love or respect my own mother in order to preserve my own health and sanity, and I had to do it at a very young age. I realized she didn't love me, never would, and only saw me as a means to her own (disordered) ends. Please consider that love, respect and consideration should only be given when its mutual. No one deserves love, respect or consideration just because they have a title of 'mother'. Love, respect and consideration is earned, even from your children. Otherwise, they are just possessions.
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Send your guilt packing. You have nothing to feel guilty about.
If you just take an excerpt from the first part of your comments...
I attempt to go home and make dinner for my husband and she says make him wait....She tells me not to call my friends....She tells you not to care for yourself....when you make plans she tries to sabotage the day...
If you, as a lawyer were talking to a woman that was saying these things about her spouse would you suspect abuse? Either physical or emotional?
As difficult as it is it is time you told her that you will not tolerate this behavior and it is going to stop now.
Cut your visit to once a day for the first week then every other day then once a week. Work out a phone schedule one call a day should be plenty. Do not answer your phone if it is her. If she manages to use one of the caregivers phones tell her you are not accepting her calls right now and hang up.
When I was dealing with my Husband at difficult times I recited the Serenity Prayer.
God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I can not change, the Courage to change the things I can and the Wisdom to know the difference.
As simple as it is it does help!
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Sespo1997 Jan 28, 2019
Dear Grandma1954: With your help and with the help of all the responsive posts, I can see that this is really physical and emotional abuse. It is also physical in that when I clearly tell her I can't do something, she still insists I do it. It is emotional abuse, because when I tell her I can't do it, she actually ridicules me. I am now appalled by her "smiles" when she sees me get upset. I wasn't aware until a particular caregiver said that she has seen me try to remain calm but she also sees my mother insisting and continuing with bad behavior until I then explode. When I break down & scream back, my mom smiles. She then points her finger at me, saying "There you go again." It's as if I'm providing entertainment for her. This is so sickening.

I like suggestion of reducing the number of visits per day and then the number of calls per day. Actually, I had started that tonight!

I was able to break the cycle for the first time. After having seen her twice today with multiple calls and assuring her that I would see her tomorrow, she called at the end of the day and said that there was a certain problem. When I had reassured her that there wasn't a problem, we can deal it tomorrow, she started to scream. I had to hang up on her. Maybe that was because I was leaving the kidney doctor for my husband and early tomorrow morning I'm going for a biopsy to rule out cancer. At a certain point I just couldn't afford to "lose it" with her. She kept calling. I Iet the calls go into voicemail. Then she had the caregiver call and she put my mother on. I told my mother that there's nothing to worry about & again gave her all the reassurances that there wasn't a problem. But, she still was screaming. I realized she didn't want any reassurances. Rather she wanted me to get into the "game" with her and start screaming back or she wanted me to leave my home and not have dinner and run over to her house for the third time. At that point, I texted my sister to call her. So, that was a first. Have to work on changing my reaction to her behavior.
By the way, I love the Serenity Prayer. Have to say it more often!
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Sespo;  I think you need to think about the fact that your mother may be (and may always have been) mentally ill.  Has she ALWAYS been unreasonable?  Always enjoyed seeing you upset?  Did she ever laud you for your own accomplishments (not just as an extension of herself)?

You can ABSOLUTELY stay away for 9 days.  The medical professionals know how to get in touch with you if there is a real emergency.

Please take care of your husband and your own well-being, just for a bit, okay?

(((((hugs)))))))
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Why do you visit so often and then call. You r letting this woman run ur life. Have a feeling she has been doing this all ur life. She has 24/7care so she isn't lonely. Yes, set boundries. You don't have to tell her ur taking DH to Church or anywhere. Have a feeling siblings are smart ones. Your husband is ur priority as is your health. When she starts, say goodbye.
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7again Jan 28, 2019
I am not familiar with the word "ur." You use it quite often, so I assume it is not a typo. Would you please explain your meaning?
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Sespo, you have received excellent ideas for you to set boundaries and have your own life back. It seems that your mother has groomed you for a long time to meet her needs, not thinking about yours. Setting boundaries and a new schedule with her are the best approach. If she does not treat you with respect, then you will need to remove yourself from the situation. Any caregiver that you train should be met with separately to explain the situation. Since your mother has care 24/7, you should limit your visits to a few days a week and calls on the days you're not there. Ask your siblings to call and/or visit to give you a break. Take your life back and don't feel guilty about it. Your mother can't make you feel guilty or sabotage if you don't give her the power to do it. Hold firm and regain your peace of mind and tend to your own needs. I've been down this road and it took a long time to undo the lifetime of manipulation from my mother, but it's well worth the effort. I do what I can for her, which is never enough in her mind, but it will have to do. When she passes, there will be no guilt or unresolved issues about her. Make peace with it now so you and your husband don't suffer from your mother's antics any longer. Thoughts and prayers for you!
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