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I have been easily manipulated my entire life. Spent much of my time trying to make those around me happier than I ever could make myself. I appreciate time by myself, but don’t get more than an hour or so at a time a couple times a year.
If something isn’t important to my mother then it isn’t important. If something isn’t valuable to her then it has no value.
There is just too much stuff I could elaborate on but I just couldn’t explain it.

Houseseeker 2, sorry to hear how your mother is dominating your life in your own home. I have first hand experience of this. My mother has lived with us for 10 years. For the first 5 years she did nothing - no cleaning, cooking or any other housework, spending her time shopping for herself and being mean about me to anyone who would listen. After becoming quite ill with exhaustion and anxiety, I gradually took back control of my life, planning out each week what I needed to do (essential house management stuff as well as me-time) and gave her a few weekly responsibilities to do around the house. She didn’t like it but I was firm about this. Last year my father was very ill and died after 3 months (they both divorced and remarried decades ago so she wasn’t particularly concerned but I was devastated). At this point I ordered several months worth of ready meals of the sorts of things I knew she liked, and told her she could feed herself what she liked and when she liked, freeing me up so I didn’t always have to be at home in time to do meals at exactly the same time each day, or spending time cooking when I had no appetite myself due to being bereaved. She didn’t like this either but again I was firm. I had become a prisoner in my own home, hardly ever able to go out without being criticised for not taking her with me. One year later we are sticking to this arrangement. I know that what stopped me doing this years ago was emotional blackmail and guilt. I also used to worry about what she might say about me to other people, but I’ve realised there’s nothing I can do about this either. I would suggest you try and follow some of these ideas - you are entitled to a life of your own and if your mother is living with you she needs to fit in with you, not crush your life to suit her own needs. You deserve a life of your own.
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Reply to Chriscat83
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Dear Houseseeker2,
I use to be just like you well into adulthood. It wasn't until my mid-30's (I'm almost 58 now) that I LEARNED how to say "no" and try to do that without feeling the need to give an explanation (unless you really want to or feel the situation warrants one) because that weakens it. I can tell you firsthand it is so freeing and liberating. There's a saying - "When in Rome do as the Romans do" - so that means when she is living in your home, she needs to abide by the rules you set. As others here have said, it's all about boundaries - you need them, we all need them - kind of like your personal space in some ways. Is it easy? NO - but, with practice it gets easier. Try it with small issues and move on from there. I have always been interested in what makes people tick and enjoyed reading self-improvement books. In those books, the author or authors would tell you everything about the topic except the "how" to part. The best book I ever read was "Boundaries" by Cloud and Townsend. Their writing is excellent and covers every type of relationship there is. This tells me we need boundaries in all areas of our life and in all types of relationships including family. It's the first book that gave practical ways to implement "boundary setting". You will be "happier" and you will feel like the adult you're supposed to have become. At this stage in my life, I've been thinking about how much time I have wasted trying to be a "people pleaser" - not one of those people are even in my life today which makes it all the more of a waste. I was brought up to be a peacemaker especially with my half sister who was 15 years older than myself and from my mom's first marriage. I never lived with her - thankfully, but when she would come to visit, I was expected to be the little adult while she was the big child - that meant keeping the peace at all costs. She was the one I learned how to set boundaries with to the point I had to cut all ties with her as there was no reasoning or healthy discussions with her - she was what you may hear people call "toxic". Just reading your brief description of her in your "question" makes me wonder if she has a personality disorder like NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder - you can look it up online and take a quiz to see if that describes your mother). Please realize at 87 your mom is not going to change therefore, you need to be the one to make the changes as to how you react or respond. Will she like it? No but, you need to hold your ground and she will be thrown off balance because she is so accustomed to you going along with everything she wants. It's like a mobile toy you put above a baby's crib - if you take just one of the parts and move it, the other parts get out of balance. Another explanation for her behavior is simply that as some people age, they can become like children again or some just never grew up to begin with. Wishing you the best!
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Reply to NobodyGetsIt
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NavyVet90 Jul 9, 2020
Oh, NPD and ASPD is the worst! My father had both. I spent a life time walking on eggshells and biting my tongue. I was the dutiful daughter trying to keep the peace but nothing was good enough. I didn't get control over boundaries until he was in LTC. Visits never lasted more than 5 minutes. As soon as he started yelling and swearing at me in 2 languages no less, I'd just say I don't have to listen to this and would just leave. No one has to put up with abuse, but especially not family in a caregiver role. He was 96 and they said he didn't have dementia. I was like I know, that was his core personality! He finally passed recently so i am now working to let go of the anger and salvage what's left of my life. The extreme stress of the past few years have taken its toll on my health. I'm 64. Wish I had cut all ties/contact years ago.
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Why are you letting your mother have all the power? Why haven’t you learned to say ‘no’? Saying what you want is NOT heartless! Go to Care Topics, on the top right hand side of the page. ‘Boundaries’ isn’t on the alphabetic list, so search for it by typing 'boundaries' on top of the magnifying glass at the top. There is a huge amount of information about this on the site. Please start your own ‘therapy’ by reading the site – free and at home!
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Reply to MargaretMcKen
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Counter question: Why are you allowing a heartless, domineering 87 year old mother to live in your home?
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Reply to ZippyZee
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You are not heartless to enjoy some time to yourself or to do things to your liking!
You can only continue to be mistreated if you allow it. Pick a few things to do your way and some time to yourself and DO it.
Your mother is probably in “self-preservation mode”. She has probably lost a lot of her freedom and control to whatever health situations has brought her to live with you. Her manipulation of you helps her feel like she is in control. Don’t feel like you have to tell her every move you make! If she can be alone for short periods of time, for example, say “ I will be back in an hour” and LEAVE. No need to explain- or say “ I’m running an errand” and LEAVE for a break. If she pitches a fit say “hey, i just said I’ll be back in an hour”. Let her KNOW you have a life too because trust me people in self preservation mode have NO concern for others- it just isn’t on their brain. Remind her if needed.
If she can’t be alone for a short time then hire help to sit with her. They work for YOU and and she doesn’t get a say. If she can go to adult day care occasionally, DO IT.
Get some time for yourself and don’t fall for the guilt trip that either you or she has laid on yourself already. It really is up to YOU. (FYI, SHE pays for the sitter, daycare, etc if at all possible!)
enjoy yourself!
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Reply to Telley
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Why not find a facility for your mother? You said you retired last year. Why not retire and do things you enjoy. Travel, volunteer, find a hobby. Your mother could easily live to 100. You don’t need to be her caretaker for the rest of her life. Learn to live yours. Now.
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Reply to elaine1962
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Houseseeker2 that you recognize this about yourself is step 1. At any age we can make changes toward a happier life, one that aligns with our needs and desires. Besides training yourself to make those changes, however small at first, you've got to "move the Mountain (mother)" as well. Each morning decide what one thing you need for the day, write it down as a reminder and tell your mother what that is ("Today I am going for a walk. I should be back in 30 minutes."; "Today I need an hour to read this book. We can talk about it once I'm done, if you'd like"; "Today I'm working outside, clearing the flower beds, they've needed it for sometime and I'm doing it today.") It's going to be like training a toddler at first -- "no, I'm not doing that"; "20 more minutes and I can help with that," "I'm working on this, when I'm done we can talk about it". Exhausting. In the end, it's up to you -- you have to decide your time and wishes are important.
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Reply to ArtMom58
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I assume that you've now noticed how often the word "boundaries" is used!

Here's another idea that works with my NPD/BPD mom: whenever you refuse to do her bidding, use a completely bland look and neutral voice. I believe this is called "Grey Rock", and I can confirm that it works. No drama, no excitement, just "No, I'm not going to do that", "Sorry, I can't do that", etc. It's beautiful when you get it, because you get to stand your ground, and she doesn't have the satisfaction of making you angry, flustered, etc. A big WIN for YOU!

Be prepared to leave the house for awhile if she tantrums. Just make sure she's safe alone for awhile, of course. After doing this for awhile, my guess is that she'll get it.
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Reply to Clarlady
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Identifying your own attitude is a good step forward. Change is in your hands but having allowed yourself to be manipulated for so long will mean you have some work to do - to get everyone else to accept a change.
Write yourself a job plan and some rules. Things you are happy to do and things you are NOT going to do, any more. Tell them what your plans are. Be firm. Factor in things for you, times for you and find solutions for covering your absence where necessary. Treat it like a new lease of life when you have energy and a detox when you don't! So many of us have been there! Look after yourself - you are worth it and DON'T be guilt tripped!
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Reply to wiseowl
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I try to remind people (mothers and care takers especially) of something I heard a long time ago that has really stuck with me... "You can't pour from an empty pitcher." Meaning if you don't take care of yourself first, eventually you won't have anything left to give to the ones you are caring for. Selfcare is not selfish! It is literally for the ones you love, you will be a better caretaker if you have given yourself what you need to thrive.
Being a people pleaser myself, I totally understand what you are going through, the guilt of having to tell someone no, the internal struggle to make yourself happy and feeling like you are hurting someone else in the process, it's agonizing BUT it does get easier! Just keep one thing in mind, from the sound of it your mother wouldn't give a second thought of hurting you for her own comfort and you need to remember that. When our parents age, the roles swap, you are now the "mother" and she sounds like the spoiled brat of a "child" and your new role is to make the best decisions for her health and well being which may include YOU getting time alone and HER NOT getting her way. Set boundaries and reminding her that it is your home and she will have to live by your rules and way of life or you can find her a place that she can live life her way. Stand your ground and get relief from her whenever you can, in fact make a weekly date with yourself to get away.
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Reply to Aldersgate
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