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narcissistic mother + brain injury stepfather = bad adult daughter

Discussion in 'Family, Home & Health' started by PreRaphaelite, Jan 20, 2019.

  1. PreRaphaelite
    Brilliant_Rock

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    by PreRaphaelite » Jan 20, 2019
    I am done. I’m a bad daughter now.

    It didn’t have to be this way. It was all going to be fine. At nearly 50, I was finally able to understand my difficult relationship with my mother and make changes to stop the cycle. This was happening naturally, over a few months last year, and major changes were being implemented that would let me have reasonable boundaries and the gentle, consistent strength to enforce them. I was going to be able to salvage a healthy mother/daughter relationship, with effort, but I was optimistic.

    It doesn’t look that way now.

    Backstory, the short version. Over the last year, my mothers husband (her fifth) began a sudden decline. Well, he is 85, so I assumed an inevitable downsizing of their lifestyle would begin, and I tried to support mom without repeating the same patterns that caused conflict (me running to her aid and feeling responsible for her happiness... the typical narcissist/codependent dance).

    I helped during all that time, several times driving across the state to assist, even going to far as to rescue my stepfather when he began soiling himself. We were all mortified but one does these things for family and hopes when the time comes we will also be so cared for, no matter how embarrassing. During the year of his failing health, ambulances were called, his heart stopped once or twice, and eventually he was on oxygen 24/7 and very fragile. They live in a huge house with steep stairs and I pleaded with my mother to move into a one-story condo or at least, to adapt the downstairs for her husband’s needs. She refused. I said, look he could fall down those stairs and have a head injury! She insisted I was wrong. I “didn’t know what I was talking about.” I was “paranoid.”

    And then he fell down the stairs, just as I warned, and yet another ambulance. It took six months for him to recover. Finally I decided that was the last visit I would make to their house. I had a lovely convo with my stepfather and he thanked me sincerely for helping. As I was leaving, my mother launched into some silly deranged attempt to fight. I told her I loved her and drove away, crying. That day I was so rattled by the whole thing that I wound up crashing my car, the first and only accident I’ve ever been in, in my whole life.

    I had distanced myself from her, delaying text responses, failing to call back promptly, and changing the way I respond when she tries to start fights. It was difficult but I began withdrawing.

    Then, last week, he collapsed and hit his head, and once the cat scan was done they said he had suffered frontal lobe subdural hemorrhage and hematoma. He was in a coma briefly, but thereafter sedated heavily to prevent him seizing and self-harming. After much drama, he is now in rehab and conscious. It will be several weeks before he can go home, but when he does, he will not be able to handle the stairs. Naturally, she refuses to make any changes.

    I’ve been trying to help but my boundaries are hard-won so I’m not going to break them. I will not go back to their house. I will not reschedule my work hours, and I will not put my own life on hold again to suit hers. Meanwhile, she continues playing games and arguing and - amazingly- crying out for help and then biting the hand that feeds, as it were, by being rude and aggressive with me. Tonight was my final straw. The details are tedious but suffice to say she was impossible and irrational and rude and our phone conversation ended when, after she realized I wasn’t coming over, she abruptly hung up on me.

    That’s it. I’m done.

    I have two brothers, both wealthy. I have spoken to both of them, and neither feels any responsibility. I told them both that I have quit, resigned my place, and if they care about their mother they need to ‘man up’ and get involved. Because when she needs someone, she will no longer have me.

    I am a bad daughter now.
     
    


    


  2. foxinsox
    Ideal_Rock

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    by foxinsox » Jan 20, 2019
    No you’re not. That’s her speaking. You’re being smart and putting your own oxygen mask on before helping others. I don’t have experience of a relationship like you’re describing but you sound like you are doing the thoroughly sensible and realistically only thing possible. Sending you support and backing you up thoughts. I’m sorry your mother is being a bad mother.
     
  3. MeowMeow
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    by MeowMeow » Jan 21, 2019
    You are not. You have just reached the end of your rope. I usually avoid threads like these because I am not a great advice giver but this one speaks to me. I have had to go very low contact with an abusive family member of my own. The only time I ever speak to them anymore is if forced by one of the others I am on the phone with since they all live together. And then I pretty much immediately find an excuse to hang up. Even if I am not finished talking to the other member of the family. I will not be forced into speaking to someone who is just trying to win me back so they can treat me badly some more.
    It doesn't make me a bad family member to quit speaking to the person who abuses me. And it doesn't make you a bad daughter either. We need to help ourselves first sometimes. And being in contact with people who hurt us isn't good for our own well being. She made her bed and she will have to lie in it. What would you tell someone else who is in your place? Would you tell them to keep associating with someone who hurts them?

    Take care of yourself. You can always reevaluate later if you find you change your mind
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2019
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  4. Bron357
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    by Bron357 » Jan 21, 2019
    Sending hugs.
    I too have a difficult relationship with my mother and it really hurts.
    Years and years of trying to be the “good daughter” but with no thanks and the sister (who lives overseas past 25 years) is the favourite.
    I’ll say it, you can’t win, you really can’t.
    If you have your boundaries set, hang onto them for dear life, she won’t change, not now, not ever.
    There will be escalating drama, medical emergencies, she’ll tell you whatever it takes (truth or lie) to get you running back and back under control.
    Don’t go, don’t listen, her dramas are her problem - I feel for your poor step dad but he can’t be the “lure” she uses to drag you back.
    Sending you lots and lots more hugs.
    It’s hard and sad and really awful, mothers are supposed to love you and care about you, except the narcissistic ones, they only care about themselves.
    You are NOT a bad daughter, your mother is SELFISH and SELF CENTRED.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2019
    


    


  5. JPie
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    by JPie » Jan 21, 2019
    Sometimes people are incredibly flawed and difficult to deal with, and you had the bad luck to have someone like that for your mom. You’re not alone, and you’re not a bad daughter for walking away. You already tried to have a relationship while maintaining boundaries for your own mental health, and if she can’t respect that then you have every right to protect your mental well-being. You have no obligation to take her abuse.
     
  6. MissyBeaucoup
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    by MissyBeaucoup » Jan 21, 2019
    This kind of problem is not talked about much, especially with mothers. I have had to go “no contact” with several abusive family members too. The guilt has been horrible for me, but that is actually part of the injury. If you read up on narcissism and echoism, I think you will find some confirmation that you have to be strong to protect yourself. If you can get access to counseling, I hope you will take advantage of a few sessions. You did absolutely the right thing in giving notice to your brothers. I wish you all the best as you cope with a difficult situation. It is not your fault and you have been the best daughter that you were allowed to be.
     
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  7. PreRaphaelite
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    by PreRaphaelite » Jan 21, 2019
    Thank you all so much for writing support. I wanted to immediately delete my original post because it felt like a bad thing to tell the truth, even under a pseudonym, but being honest is better than pretending things are ok.

    That’s what the therapist told me last year. I was able to get counseling, two or three sessions, and then I read the books that were recommended, and found my mind blown to read someone else on the other side of the world describing exactly what my life had been for so many years. I’ve turned to YouTube videos to follow up from there and it’s been a good resource for daily support and inspiration. Also, my partner is kind hearted, and knows how difficult things are, and his presence is a steadying force.

    I never imagined speaking out on PS, but once I clicked that button I worried that I would lose friends because I’m not all sunshine and rainbows. But you made me feel heard, not judged. It’s such a relief. Thank you all for supporting me, I just cannot tell you in words how much it means. I’m so grateful. This is me sending love and hugs right back to you all.
     
  8. Austina
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    by Austina » Jan 21, 2019
    You are NOT a bad daughter. By the sound of it, you’ve done more than could reasonably be expected, especially bearing in mind, you’re not the only ‘child’. I’m afraid I’ve seen this often, one ‘child’ carrying the load, and the others happy to sit back and not get involved because they’re busy/live too far away/have other commitments blah blah blah.

    When push come to shove, and the parent doesn’t want to hear the truth, they turn on you, and expect you just to take the sh*t. DON’T, you have the right to walk away and protect your sanity. That kind of relationship is unhealthy.

    The old saying “you can chose your friends, but not your family” is never more true that these situations.

    It’s easy to think that everyone else has the perfect child/parent relationship, if my experience is anything to go by, it’s more common than you think to walk away to protect yourself.
     
  9. partgypsy
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    by partgypsy » Jan 22, 2019
    It sounds like you have been carrying quite a load. I give you permission to put it down.
    I don't honestly think your mother is in any kind of emotional/resource space to have a calm reasonable conversation with you, so drop that expectation as well. It's not going to happen, and it's probably not going to get better. Both from your histories, and she is overwhelmed and unable to process.
    I do have one suggestion. Contact your two brothers, and calmly, without emotion, implement a plan with the three of you, to have a downstairs bathroom (or whatever stepfather needs) on the first floor. We went through something similar with ex's grandparents, living in a 2 story house with no downstairs bathroom. First the grandfather, and then the grandmother were limited in mobility and eventually bedridden, and this entire time, living on the first floor using bedpans. For the amount of time we TALKED about putting in a bathroom, it would have been DONE. Yes, your mom will argue and interfere, but other than information about what they need, involve her at little as possible and you and your brother implement this. Say yes Mom, and keep going. Good luck. Keep the emotion out of it.
     
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  10. PreRaphaelite
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    by PreRaphaelite » Jan 22, 2019
    Thank you. It sounds silly but reading that I now have permission to walk away made me break down completely. I had not realized that it really is the only option... I kept thinking I would be carrying it forever. Thank you for those words.

    And to everyone who responded, thank you for supporting some random internet lost soul. This forum has helped me more than I ever imagined it could.

    I spoke to my younger brother at length today and learned that the 'next steps' I warned him about have begun, and he is starting to understand what I meant. Mom's phone calls, emails, and texts to him are escalating and he gets it now. He seemed to hear me for the first time, after my predictions started coming true. Unfortunately, he is not willing or able to pick up the reigns at all. Fortunately, he restated that our bond is solid and he and I will still have each other as she gets worse over time, and that he understands why I'm quitting. But he's not taking the job.

    We also discussed the stereotypical gender-based standards (e.g. often, sons just send a check to pay the doctor bills, and daughters are the ones who actually mop up the feces) and how that will not work in our case, because I will not be there with the mop again.

    My older brother is still in denial and refuses to talk about mom. When the time comes, he'll probably just send mom's caregivers (whoever they are) a check. But that is between them, and I won't be there to know whether he does or not.

    I've set mom's ring tone & text tone to 'silent', restricted her on facebook, and made a gmail filter to archive her messages so I won't see them unless I search for them. Now I have set myself the challenge of 'no contact' and I'm hoping for the best. My partner knows this will be a tough time for me, and he is steady as a rock, supportive and calm.

    I'm very lucky to have realized the truth of this scenario and our bad relationship; it would have been years more before I faced it and even more time before I made the choice to walk away. Yes, I'd call it Lucky. And I'm grateful for this forum's support and wish peace and love for everyone here. Thanks everybody. You make a real difference. <3
     
    


    


  11. cmd2014
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    by cmd2014 » Jan 22, 2019
    I am also giving you permission to put down the responsibility of making your brothers pick up the slack. They will or they won't. You can't make them. And their decision to help or not help does not in any way impact what you need to do. This isn't a case of "if they won't, then I will." This is a case of "This is the limit of what I can and/or am willing to offer. I hope that others can help you too, but that doesn't change what I am able to give."

    It is also honestly up to the hospital staff to figure out what arrangements will need to be made for your stepfather's care before they discharge him. Typically someone is assessed by physiotherapy and occupational therapy and neuropsychology (if possible) before being discharged home so that the hospital can understand what he is/is not capable of doing for himself and what supports will be need to be put into place wherever he is discharged to in order for him to be safe and adequately cared for. And if he cannot be managed at home *given what your stepmother can offer,* he may have to be paneled to a care facility of some sort. They (along with the hospital social worker) will work that out with your mother and any adult children he may have. You do NOT need to be involved.

    Take care of yourself. Sometimes these types of family crises are actually opportunities in disguise.
     
  12. PreRaphaelite
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    by PreRaphaelite » Jan 22, 2019
    Thank you for that.

    (forgot to mention, there is a downstairs bathroom with shower, and I've done all I can to list ways to baby-proof the house for his return... hiding the car keys so he doesn't try to drive, setting up the dining room as his new bedroom, etc, but she refuses all suggestions so there's nothing else to be done. She will likely be told all these things all over again by whoever does the home-health walkthrough, and of course she'll act like she's never heard of these ideas before but they are Brilliant. Pfffft.)

    The medical professionals will do the best for him that can be done and I will carry my fond memories of him with me. I don't even want to remember him in his current state, and really, he would understand my choice totally. He was a proud person, independent and clever, and would not have wanted to be seen like this. He can no longer know me on sight anyway, and that's so sad. He doesn't recognize anyone anymore.

    You're also right that I can't make my brothers pick up the slack; that idea is now gone. I've just done the 'due diligence' for mom and now I'm leaving. I never thought it would come to this, but after some time, it will be okay again, I hope. I'm not sure how long it will take.

    Sigh.
     
  13. JPie
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    by JPie » Jan 22, 2019
    I'm really glad that you're taking the comments in this thread to heart and that it's helping. You're a good daughter and you've tried your best. Please continue to take care of yourself and be strong in maintaining those boundaries.
     
  14. seaurchin
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    by seaurchin » Jan 22, 2019
    Problem family members, sigh.

    Also, just want to add that you might want to place a call to Adult Protective Services since this home safety issue has already slipped by the hospital safety net once and resulted in two serious, easily preventable falls. It's likely he should not be returned to her care. You can can call anonymously but they won't tell her who called anyway (in the US).

    Best wishes to you.
     
  15. PreRaphaelite
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    by PreRaphaelite » Jan 22, 2019
    Wow I never thought of that. Excellent point. Maybe they can make a difference. I will remember that, thank you.
     
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  16. partgypsy
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    by partgypsy » Jan 23, 2019
    I agree entirely with cmd. You are a good daughter and daughter in law, but you have been put in an impossible situation and you need to take care of yourself.
     
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  17. Jimmianne
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    by Jimmianne » Jan 24, 2019
    Don’t say you are a bad daughter. I put up with my mother’s narcissistic personality my whole life, then one Christmas I had had enough and for the first time in my life did not spend the holiday with her. She died 2 weeks after Christmas.
    It is kind of funny in a black humor sort of way. I tried so hard to be a good daughter and then ruined my track record, never to have a chance to make things right. I feel guilty to this day, but instead I should be focusing on how hard I tried, how much b.s. I put up with over the years and how it is not my fault. I suggest you do the same. We should not feel guilty for finally taking care of ourselves. I know it’s hard. All the best to you.
     
  18. PreRaphaelite
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    by PreRaphaelite » Jan 24, 2019
    I’m sorry to hear that so many others have had similar relationships with their mothers. I don’t really understand the dynamic of wanting to hurt someone, but they seem to want that, and sometimes enjoy it apparently.

    I finally told myself that she just didn’t like me. And we can’t make ourselves like everyone, but perhaps it is natural to see family members are people can cannot ‘unfriend’ when the truth is, we can, and sometimes should.

    I’ve mentally put myself I’m my mother’s shoes so many times over the years, in order to understand and as a first step in helping. Now, I’m doing it again and realizing that she doesn’t like people she cannot control, and especially not her children as they never do what she wants them to. It must be very difficult to feel that way and never to be able to say, “I’m sorry but I don’t want to be your mother anymore, I wish you luck but I am moving on.” Society doesn’t look kindly on that kind of thing, and perhaps she doesn’t feel comfortable with doing it. So she takes the only other way out.

    Instead of firing me, she behaves in a way that forces me to quit.
     
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  19. lambskin
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    by lambskin » Jan 24, 2019
    Ditto to all comments above. It will be interesting to see what your brothers do (and don't do).
     
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  20. Jimmianne
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    by Jimmianne » Jan 24, 2019
    :confused2:I don’t think it’s that they don’t like us. I don’t think they think about us much at all unless they need something from us.

    I think my mother was deeply affected by HER mother, probably some weird thing passed down through the generations. [I’m adopted, so looks like I dodged that bullet]. The awful thing is, even if they are twisted, they are our mothers and we love them on some levels.

    I can’t remember if you said you were getting some counseling, but it wouldn’t hurt.
    A counselor once said a great thing to me. I was agonizing over not being able to cope with my Mom and he said “Are you a professional therapist? If not, what makes you think you should have the tools to deal with her?”.
     
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  21. Mamabean
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    by Mamabean » Jan 25, 2019
    I just wanted to tell you that I understand because my mom is very difficult. My heart goes out to you because I also went through all the guilt and feeling like a bad daughter...but realized it was her not me and put down boundaries...which was very hard..but I found it freeing in a way. You have given an extraordinary effort..going way beyond what a lot of children of difficult parents do. I’m so happy you have a partner who supports you in this. I wish I could give you a huge hug..You’ve been a great daughter..but you’ve done enough. You need to enjoy life. It’s your turn. :kiss2:
     
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  22. PreRaphaelite
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    by PreRaphaelite » Jan 25, 2019
    Thank you so much. I accept all ‘virtual’ hugs and hug everyone right back. It’s heartening to know that there is so much support for my decision, especially when I carry self-doubt sometimes.

    A friend told me yesterday that I should meditate on her being gone, and how it will someday be the reality, so project myself to that point in the future using my imagination, and to write out questions I have for her about our family history, our family stories, recipes, and whatnot. Then if I have to interact with her again in real life, I can use these questions as a redirect and diversion tactic - and the side benefit is gaining knowledge that will be lost when she is gone.

    I’ll cherry pick the positive happy stories to share with my niece and nephews as they are unlikely to see their grandmother again and have few memories of her. I don’t have children so when I myself am gone someday, this will have been my secret gift to them. The pain stops here, with me, and they will be unscarred and free. I think in sports it is known as ‘running interference’ and that’ll be my contribution.
     
  23. MissyBeaucoup
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    by MissyBeaucoup » Jan 26, 2019
    Since your mom is a narcissist, putting yourself in her shoes and putting her needs first is what she taught you to do. Now it is up to you to nurture yourself. This is your time to develop the self-care, like good boundaries and limits on self-sacrifice, that other people gained naturally. I am still working on this myself.

    It’s sad that your mother wasn’t able to be a good mom, and that it came to this. But it’s not your fault. It’s the parent’s job to establish healthy relationships. You have been a very good daughter and gone above and beyond. It sounds like your brothers have similar feelings but are more self-protective.

    Bless you for running interference and collecting the happy stories to share with your niece and nephews. That’s a great idea. I think we’d all like to believe we inherited some good qualities. I hope you will live free too, and claim your goodness and blessings. You are such a thoughtful and kind person. Be well, @InsecureSweetGirl
     
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  24. PreRaphaelite
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    by PreRaphaelite » Feb 1, 2019
    Thanks for the ongoing support. This forum has been such a help to me, especially since I can share things here that I can't put on facebook. (I use social media for work/networking and I can't really bring up unpleasantness there in fear of not getting new job contracts ..... even well-meaning business connections will withhold new job offers, thinking that I can't work right now due to caregiving for a brain injury patient, so to prevent that, I have said nothing on social media about the situation).

    Sometimes with all the drama, the world feels like it's falling down around me. This is the kind of scenario that makes a person want their mother, no? Or friends... but I really can't talk to people around me as my close friends are currently coping with brain tumors, divorces, cancers, house fires, pets dying, and everything else, all at the same time. We all seem to be experiencing sudden shifts in life, and I suppose those of us who are able to adapt to the new realities will be the ones who have a better chance at happiness. At least that seems to be the common wisdom?

    Anyway, thank you all for the support. Wishing you all love and laughter!
     
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  25. AV_
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    by AV_ » Feb 1, 2019
    Insecure - never good
    Sweet - much good that'd do you
    Girl - rarely kindly said beyond childhood

    It is nothing much, a name, until it is.
     
  26. PreRaphaelite
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    by PreRaphaelite » Apr 28, 2019
    Thank you for your feedback. I am now changing my screen name.
     
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