Social Question

jazmina88's avatar

Poisonous family...do you feel guilty if you put some distance there?

Asked by jazmina88 (11637points) June 25th, 2010

My sweet ole mom is 91 and I live 10 minutes away, but she is so manipulative and self-centered, I get really upset with the games. I can not reward the negative behavior and try to discuss it, and how it affects me to no avail. She has others to watch her, but I feel like I need to back off for self-preservation. I feel horrible.
She tells me she’s bed ridden when she is not. and I usually see her every couple of weeks. she wants much more of me. I call every day. I feel like I have done everything for her and now I have nothing left. What do I do?

I usually dont cry, but now 2 days in a row….i’m a weepin willow.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

26 Answers

LisaSimpson1's avatar

Gee- sounds things are hard on you. Maybe you’re worried because your mom is old. I mean she is your mother after all. If she is what you say she is, now and before. Stay by her just a little longer, if you feel like it. Other than that maybe there’s something you want to tell her. Something important.

gemiwing's avatar

Just because they’re older, doesn’t give them the right to emotionally harm anyone.
just a reminder for both of us.

I feel bad when I pull away, then I give in and am quickly reminded why I need my distance.

You’re calling every day, you see her twice a month- it’s okay. You’re doing what you’re capable of. One could argue that you could do more- but that would hurt you. If doing more would hurt you then you are not capable of it. Perhaps make a schedule where you call her three times a week- M,W,F type deal.

Try to make sure the voice in your head is yours and no one else’s.

jazmina88's avatar

both of you are right. hope there is more input…....this is tearing me up.

partyparty's avatar

Hope you don’t think I am being harsh, but she is 91 for goodness sake!!
She is probably lonely, and in need of some of your company. You only see her once a fortnight and she is only ten minutes away?
I understand about the emotional blackmail, I have been there myself, and I am sure she is very needy of you, and you don’t feel you can put yourself in three or four places at once. Ignore the emotional blackmail, ignore her being manipulative… she wants YOU.
She won’t be around forever and I know it is a very difficult situation for you to be in, but give of yourself in a kind and caring manner. If you don’t you may regret it one day.
I really sympathise with your situation, but please don’t leave yourself open to regrets once she has gone. :-)

Pandora's avatar

I have to say I had the same thoughts as @partyparty as I read your thread. She may be manipulative because she doesn’t need strangers to care for her, she wants someone familiar, who she loves. My mother in law is the same way. Yes she is manipulative but I recognize that there are a lot of things she can not do because of her age. I even think she may be a little bi polar. True I do not live nearby her but when we do go and visit I try to help her as much as possible while I’m there.
Her daughter feels the same way but she never looks and realizes how much her mom still does for her.
No one knows what will happen once we get old. Our view of the world or family may change. My mom drives my siblings crazy and they get annoid when I go home and mom acts differently with me. I agree that she can drive a person nuts. Even over the phone she can get to me. But I remind myself that she is getting old and that part of the process of getting old is dealing with loss. Not everyone can take it well. You loose friends, family, your health, your in pain more, your mind isn’t as sharp as it once was. You look at how your once were and morn that loss everyday.
So when my mom complains that my siblings won’t take her shopping. I have to remember what she is really saying is, ” I once was a fully functioning person who could meet all my needs alone”.
When she says no one is caring for me when I am sick. “What she means is they aren’t giving her the extra love and care she once gave us when we were sick”.
When she says no one loves her, she means, she’s lonely and tired and wants us to remind her she is loved and never will be alone.
Yes, its can wear you out. But we have to remember that we all will have to face this demon when we age. Only death can relieve a person. So treat her as you wish someone will treat you some day.

gemiwing's avatar

@jazmina88 Some resources I’ve found helpful-
Family Caregiver Alliance Email-based support network called Caregiver Online Group.
Health Boards group for caregivers.
Daily Strength message board for Dementia.
Daily Strength message board for caregivers of all types.

jazmina88's avatar

@gemiwing Thanks my love. It’s hard. I lived 3 blocks from my aunt and uncle and watched them die. I have 2 other sisters but I was the one blackmailed to stay here. My dog is 16 and needs care, I only have a couple of months with her. My Mom and I are close with great dysfunction I have health issues and depression keeping me in and I’m trying to fix me. I have put her first for most of my life and I’m wearing thin.My middle sister has a room for her in a mansion but that is not good enough for her. She does want ME, but the emotional abuse when I get there makes me hide. I dont play mind games. That’s where I’m caving. I cant take those anymore. They’ve got me to the depression I’m fighting.

gemiwing's avatar

@jazmina88 I hear you. Camels and straws, you know? Don’t forget how strong you are- look at all that you’re dealing with right now. All that weight could topple a skyscraper. I would recommend looking at those groups- getting some of that weight off your shoulders and talking to others who really understand. It’s hard taking care of an aging parent, it’s even harder when they are toxic. ((hugs))

BoBo1946's avatar

@jazmina88 you know your mother better than we do! Putting my feet in another man’s shoes is not easy! Bottomline, you have to live with yourself and find your own happiness, and if putting distance from your relatives makes you a better person, don’t feel guilty. If this helps your relationship with your mother when you see her, it is a good thing.

Good luck…

Cruiser's avatar

You describe your mom as sweet and old probably very appropriate for a daughter to call her mom so there must be something very special about her for your to think of her as sweet. Despite her ornery disposition the fact remains is she is in the final stretch of her life. How much longer she remains lucid no one know but at 91 years old there may not me many good days or years left and now is the time to spend time with her while she still has days that are functional at the worst and “sweet” at their best. Just think about in the not so distance future when you will be visiting her grave site 10 minutes away in how those last days were spent with you and her.

partyparty's avatar

@Pandora @Cruiser Words from the heart. Totally agree with your sentiments. I don’t think we are being harsh, just realistic.

Aster's avatar

My parents were Extremely demanding ; I visited them almost every single day and not Once did I feel appreciated. They were 15 minutes away, called me Daily with a List of what they wanted (they didn’t “need” a thing). When I’d get home the phone would usually be ringing. There was a lot of anger there; they resented their dependence and infirmities and took it out on me, the only person visiting for the most part. Three years of this. The last year I cut it down to once a week. I wouldn’t say he was manipulative as much as gruff. So I have a clear conscience for what That’s worth. It’s been 13 years ago and I’m still recuperating. I’m never free; my daughter is giving me fits now.
Smile when you don’t want to smile; bring flowers; say I love you.
Just do it. You’ll be glad someday soon you did .

wundayatta's avatar

I’m used to parents who are just the opposite. “Live your own life, dear. We’ll take care of ourselves.” The expectation seems to be the other way around. The parents are there for the kids, not the kids for the parents—even at the end of life. They would rather die than be a burden.

So this kind of behavior seems unconscionable to me. It is manipulative and mean and nasty and I don’t see why you will thank yourself after she is dead for suffering her “attentions” any more than you have to. You do, after all, have your own life and your own health concerns and probably a bunch of other things going on.

On the other hand, you have the guilt. If you have the guilt, I don’t see how anyone here, even if they wanted to, could absolve you of it. Of course most people here seem to think you should follow the guilt and do everything you can for your mother.

I guess I don’t think old age absolves you of being a nice person. Yes, I understand that Alzheimers can rob you of a decent disposition—or give you one. Other forms of dementia may also make negative changes to a person’s character.

Then there’s family history. What if there was emotional or physical abuse. Do you still owe an abusive parent this kind of waiting on, hand and foot? I suppose we do it as an example to our own children, so they will take care of us as we take care of our own parents, but what, really, do we teach them, if we knuckle under to abusive parents?

Our parents may have worked hard every day of their lives, and worked especially hard to care for us at what may have felt like a great sacrifice. Maybe they feel that entitles them to being treated like kings and queens by their children.

My feeling is that love and respect has to be earned, even by parents. Oops. Well, that’s my own little problem. I’ve never experienced unconditional love from my parents, so I don’t believe it really exists. My parents always treated me like if I didn’t perform, they wouldn’t be there. So I guess that’s what they expect for themselves. Perhaps there’s hope for me. My wife has put up with an awful lot. I’m almost beginning to think I’m worth it. A large part of me still thinks she should have shoveled my ass right out the door a long time ago.

Even if there is unconditional love, I don’t think that entitles a parent to take advantage of it by abusing the lover. I still think you are owed respect and kindness, even if she is lonely and bored. She still has responsibility for making new friends and taking advantage of whatever it is she has to take advantage of. If you continue to wait on her, like others suggest, it is hard for me to imagine that you will remember it fondly later. It seems more likely that you will remember it resentfully.

I think your first duty is to yourself. Isn’t that what your mother is doing? If you aren’t happy, you can’t be a good daughter, I don’t believe. I think you should preserve yourself and you shouldn’t feel horrible about it. You’re depressed and one of the things that depression does to you is it makes you feel worthless. Maybe it’s making you feel like you aren’t worth taking care of. Only your mother is.

Give yourself a break. Maybe get another relative to stand in. Or hire a caretaker. Or leave her on her own, knowing she’ll do all the guilt manipulation she can when you get back. Be ready to tell her you love her, but don’t feel like you have to defend yourself in any way, shape or form to her accusations—even if she complains to others in the family. If you do love her, and you do love yourself, then what you do is good enough. If you don’t love yourself, then, by all means, continue to do things that hurt you. There is a strange delight in sticking a knife in your own stomach and twisting and twisting. I’ve been there. I don’t want to go back.

CMaz's avatar

Love her the HONEST and best way you can.

When she is gone, you are going to hate yourself. Realizing too late, you could have made a difference.

You can only do what you can. Let go of the guilt.

janbb's avatar

Been there, got the t-shirt. My Mom was exactly as you describe yours – manipulative and deceitful form the get-go. I had her near me for many years; after my father died, I was able to have her moved across the country near to my brother who was willling to take her on. Best thing I ever did for myself. If she is being cared for o.k., I would do what you need to do for your conscience, but not give in to her manipulation and lies. Do not think you are going to change her by talking to her at this age, it ain’t going to the happen. I empathize with you; my mother tied me up in knots for years.

P.S. As I’m sure you know, you can only take care of another person if you first take care of yourself.

CMaz's avatar

Thanks @BoBo1946 . :-)

My sister is going through the same thing and living down the street. I see her making, and getting use to, trying to find excuses to avoid our mother. Good “intelligent” excuses.

When all she has to do is stop by and/or send the kids over now and then to just say hello.
But that would mean getting involved (bothered). She getting comfortable not doing such.

BoBo1946's avatar

@ChazMaz hey, my mom is 87! She has very bad dementia. Her doctor said she has Alzheimers, but her doctor diagnosed this two years ago, and mother has no changes in her memory. Mother’s memory is very good, long -term…but, she has no idea what she had for breakfast. So, this past summer the family decided to put her in an assisted care facility. What an ordeal. Like your sister, I only spend time with her when it is necessary, as she is very demanding and she will repeat the same conversation over and over. I don’ t feel guilty about not seeing much because this past year she wore me out. Bet i went to the emergency room in 2009, at least, 25 times. Too long a story to mention why, but finally, we got her situation and happy. She loves where she at now. Also, if i visited her everyday, she would not remember my visit from yesterday. And, she is 40 minutes from my house. It has finally worked out real well for the whole family.

There are lots of reasons why family don’t get along and i’ve always thought, you should do what is best for all concerned. Your sister is making it work for her and your mom. Think that is a good thing and she should never feel guilty about it.

tinyfaery's avatar

My mother died at 63, rather suddenly, and I hadn’t seen her for months. We had a very tumultuous relationship and being near her caused me so much anxiety that I went to see her very infrequently.

Despite what others have said, I do not hate myself and I do not feel guilty, and you are doing way more than I ever did.

Whatever your choice, you have to live with it. If you died in 3 months will you be satisfied that you catered to the wishes of your mother or will you wish you had followed your own desires?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t get why her being old is enough of an excuse for her behavior. My mother has been manipulative and critical for as long as I can remember and as she gets older, it’s only worse – the reason is not her age, it’s her. So, while I understand (given the culture she grew up in) why she never had any hobbies (man’s servant) and why she clings to her children (now only me, as my brother died) for dear life (as she also traumatizes me), I don’t have to be okay with her abuse and neither do you. You have a life to live, we all make choices as to how to live our lives – putting some distances between you and poison makes sense, mother or not…if she remembered what a proper mother should be like, you wouldn’t be in this situation.

Aster's avatar

There’s a lot of distance between me and my daughter and I feel terrible about it In A Way. I do not miss her at all. She has a Lot of issues, mental and emotional. Drugs, too. She drives everyone I know, male- female- young- old- NUTS. I don’t need perfection, just a little sanity and common sense. And I don’t like to be treated as if I “won’t realize” something is either missing or damaged. If she moved near me I would just crack. And she’s always on the move. Frankly, I’m worried.

MerMaidBlu's avatar

I watched a similar thing happen to my mother and her parents. We lived in the same town as they did and when they needed a ride to the doctor or someone to help them with something my mom was always the one they wanted help from. It put her through a lot of emotional strain and it took away from things she had going on in her life and her childhood was also strained to a great deal because of certain “mind games” they played on their kids. However, after my grandmother’s death I noticed something when my grandpa would call to get help…they trusted my mom and felt her the most responsible and best suited for the help they needed. They also saw my mother as the only one out of their seven children that actually had a brain in her head. Though they never showed it-they appreciated every single thing my mom did for them and placed a trust in her they didn’t want anyone else to have.

Another thing-we had a long driveway and when my mom needed space from we put a rope up by the road so they wouldn’t drive up to the house and we unhooked the phone :) just a thought. Everyone needs space especially from stressful situations so don’t take guilt from it but don’t try to burn any bridges. Some of the hardest people to be around have almost always had valuable things to teach me whether I knew it at the time or not.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

We sometimes have to make what seems to others as harsh choices to restore or maintain some peace in our lives. No one else has the insight or the right to judge us for these decisions. We have to deal with all the consequences, not just the good ones. That is usually the case with life decisions.

jazmina88's avatar

yes, she is sweet to most but plays with people…..I feel like her cat toy. She says she will skip out on family gatherings to get us to beg and worry. Takes offense on everything said or not…..she’s a queen manipulator. I tell her i love her all the time, but it’s out of duty.
I’m quiet to respect her and to try to hide the anger for taking my life and freedom and self-respect. isnt that love?

but I am at my breaking point…..she could live to be 100 and any of us could die at any time. My other sister and I both have some weird health issues. we are a family of controlling women, and I tend to be the agreeable yes woman. to my detriment. My therapist calls Mom dragon lady. Too bad I dont have money to go see him.

Yes< i tried to call twice today.and I will go the extra mile. but the emotional abuse has eaten me alive.

mattbrowne's avatar

How about putting some temporary distance while trying to find the antidote to the poison?

Aster's avatar

@mattbrowne I believe there are some poisons for which there is no antidote. The distance hurts; the togetherness is unbearable. I choose distance and it hurts.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther