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Not coping

(6 Posts)
Whatutalkinboutwillis Sun 07-Jun-15 10:34:21

Could really do with some advice. Will try keep it short.

My relationship with my mother really belongs on stately homes thread. There is a long history of a poor relationship that I just can't fix. She has hurt me with her actions over and over again, is a persistant liar and is controlling and over bearing. Our history is a thread of its own but I hope you get the idea.

My father is a lot older than her and is very ill. Nearing the end of his life now. She herself has also been ill but insists on keeping my dad at home. Carers were arranged but she stopped them coming as they were "common".

So now she constantly complains she has to do everything herself. Is vile about anyone who tries to help (behind their back). Has alienated everybody throughout her life.

I go there once/twice a week with my kids. I have 2 young children and without fail every time I leave i cry the whole way home. I am a nervous wreck every time I am there. I could go every single day and it would not be enough. I live 45 miles away from them and have a job. I do my best but it's never enough. It's sad to say but the past is just too much for me to forget and she re wrights history in her own head regarding any situation where she may have been in the wrong.

I am tense and nervous in her company and sick and tired of being put on a guilt trip constantly. I get texts every day sometimes emails too telling me how bad her life is but how she will cope as she has no choice.

Sorry this has turned into a rant it's just something I can't admit to in real life but I feel like I'm sinking down this black hole with no end in site.

whataboutbob Mon 08-Jun-15 13:08:14

Had to laugh about carers being common! I'm sure if you sent Kate Middleton round she'd still find fault.
She really sounds impossible and I'd say you are doing more than enough . It seems like she is confronting you with all her difficulties, but forbidding you from doing anything and so ensuring you constantly feel guilty. At this stage I suspect it should be more about you protecting yourself, than about you helping her. I have been there with the guilt monster, and my Dad was nowhere near as manipulative as your mum sounds, so I know it's not easy. Initially I had 20 months of counselling (not an instant fix) but I will also say that bizarelly, the less you do the less guilty you feel. So my advice FWIW, is to pull back a little, be firm, maybe set time limits on phone calls an ignore emails for a few days. The less the contact, the less the bad feelings in my experience.

twentyten Mon 08-Jun-15 22:33:07

Hi op. It sounds really tough- Bob gives some great advice. Protect yourself and your family. Lots of advice and empathy on this board- you are not alone. Good luck

Whatutalkinboutwillis Tue 09-Jun-15 09:08:59

Thanks for taking the time to reply to me.

I know I need to distance myself it's just so hard to do. I know what I get and the way I get treated when I do. I need to take a grip on the situation and stop allowing myself to be guilt tripped but don't know how to do it.

twentyten Tue 09-Jun-15 10:48:39

Hi.Counselling can be really help in enabling you to reframe the conversations.Many on this board have found this the only way to protect themselves particularly when the back story is massive.

Needmoresleep Thu 11-Jun-15 11:45:21

OP, your post really really resonated. I would second counselling. You need to be in control and part of that is understanding what buttons your mother pushes and why you react as you do.

I was "lucky" in that a few months before the mother problems really kicked off, I was being made very unhappy in a voluntary context by someone who was behaving very strangely and, essentially, picking on me. Friends were happy to agree she was rather odd, but the issue was why I reacted as I did. And the way I reacted seemed to single me out for more such treatment. The lightbulb moment was realising that I reacted to the manipulation and criticism in the same way as I would react to my mother. Taking the criticism passively, getting very upset, trying to please etc.

Then a bit of Googling around Grandiosity, Narcissism, and also Eric Berne's Transactional Analysis parent adult child model.

Its not going to get easier. The relationship model used at the moment where your mother is the parent and you are the child is wearing you down. One thing about elderly parents is that we start caring for them, and though we will aim for as much adult to adult interaction, and indeed still want to be the child, there will be many times,. if things are to be sustainable, when you will need to take on the parent role and make the decisions.

So step back, and focus on you. You need to work out what is going on and how you can constructively assert yourself. You need to decide what boundaries you need and how to defend them. You also need to learn that you are not responsible for things you cannot control.

I ended up going with the flow when my dad was terminally ill. My mother was getting exhausted, and became willing to at least hear me out, when I suggested I attend a MacMillan nurse visit, though my dad then died suddenly in his sleep before things got any worse. I wanted to do this for my dad, and he took comfort from me being there, even though it was exhausting.

Thereafter:
1. I decided that I, as an individual, wanted to do "the right thing" and that this was an individual decision regardless of the behviour of others, past or present.

2. I decided that my boundaries were at the point where either my husband or my children would start feeling resentful (time or money or emotions).

3. I started not accepting some elements of my mother's behaviour. Quietly and firmly. For example I stopped her when she came out with a load of nasty criticism in front of the children. She was genuinely quite shocked. Now I generally ignore it, and more normally takes the form of her telling anyone who will listen how dreadful I am, rather than being aimed at me directly. (Though it is still upsetting!) I also ignore her criticism of others (and "common" is only the starting point..) though now note that a sign that her dementia is getting worse is that she is losing the ability to differentiate between family, who she can be openly rude to, and others, who she is generally polite to, at least to their faces.

4. I finally worked out that I could not do anything about things I could not influence. I did a little behind her back, like speak to the Inland Revenue to explain why they had not received a tax return in four years,. and then fax over a rough estimate of her income so they could call her in and "do" a tax return with her. But I gave up ringing round when she did not answer the phone. She would not tell me where a key was kept, so not much I could do. I visited her reasonably regularly, but did not eat in her flat as it was too filthy, or rather I picked up M&S food on the way for us both. Only when she had a fall, and she agreed to a POA, was I able or willing to sort things out.

FWIW, I'm glad I have stuck with it. There was a temptation to walk away. And reestablishing the relationship on a more sustainable basis was pretty brutal. Our relationship is better now than it has ever been, and as more people are involved in my mother's care, I have had some useful external recognition that the behaviour that upsets me so much, is unreasonable. Plus I am less likely to see myself through my mother's critical eyes.

In the short term, decide what you are willing to do and stick to it. When my dad was ill I was driving 100+ miles each way and only staying for a short time, as the atmosphere was so awful. She was not letting me help anyway. If need be, make something up. Say you fell and hurt your back and the doctor said you should not drive longer distances. The one that always worked for my mother was that DH was unhappy. She thought it normal that husbands would demand priority over my time.

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