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My mom...sigh


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It's been a while since I've posted anything about her or things she does - not that things haven't happened. Egads, if I wrote a book just from the last year and a half people would think it was fiction. We had a somewhat lovely incident in May which was lots of fun, but I got through it knowing she was about to leave for a month - that really did give me strength. But now she's home and this is what happened the first day we saw her...

Dd18 just graduated and is headed to cold-weather territory for college. On her list of must-buy items is winter boots - really, really good ones. This is right up my mom's alley as she loves buying clothes/shoes (she has 3 very large bedroom closets and a hallway closet filled to the max with her clothes). So she, dd and I were in the kitchen area discussing brands and features, my mom on her phone, dd and I on my computer. My mom was busy telling her phone to look up boot businesses in our area and finding only stores catering to farm/ranch people while dd and I narrowed down our search to 3, then 2, then 1 pair dd wanted. Easy peasy, right? I talked between dd and my mom and it appeared to me that my mom was aware that dd had found boots and would order them now so as to try on at home and return/exchange if necessary. Order placed, dd all smiles...and my mom got mad. Really mad. Why?

Because she wanted to pay for them. She wanted to do the actual transaction so my dd would think of my mom every time she put on the boots. Instead my mom would have to write me a check and NOW what is she going to give dd for graduation???

I thought my mom was kidding. Nope. Not only is she seriously ticked at my dd (who is kindness itself...truly one of the most decent people I know who would never do anything to offend/upset anyone), my mom wants me to cancel the order so she can then place the order herself.

I am...dumbfounded. Dd knows the boots are from my mom. She is appreciative. She will think of my mom when she wears the boots. It was fun for dd to place the order as she picked out color/style. But it's all about my mom, I suppose - not the gift nor the receiver, just my mom.

Unless I'm missing something in which case I shall leave it up to you all to enlighten me as to how anyone who was sitting right there and would have ordered the boots in the same way could possibly be angry and demanding the order be canceled (it may be too late for that).

May I confess that when my mom said she was visiting a friend for an entire month I rather hoped that such a lengthy visit was because she was looking for property???

Edited by BakersDozen
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I've been listening to HG Tudor on u-tube.    He's claims to be a formally diagnosed sociopathic narcissist.   He has a perspective on why narcissists do what they do, that psychDs - even those who specialize in narcissism - don't have.     He also has a very dry wit.  He claims he professionally advises clients on how to protect themselves from other narcissists. (doing so does give him supply).  He's been focusing a lot lately on the narcissist's need for control to feed their supply (and how ugly things can get when they lose that control of their supply).

That sounds like your mother - she's angry because she isn't in control.  Because to her, handing over a check isn't a 'gift' that will be looked at, and used regularly. A check is one and done.  She sees it as she will NOT be remembered when the item purchased with it is used.  By not buying the boots herself - she is one more step removed from the gift - just a check.  Now she's stuck with,, what is she going to buy so your daughter will remember her on a frequent basis - *now*?.  again - this is all about control and her supply.

frankly - I'd refuse to cancel the order.  But then - I regularly angered my narcissist because I refused to play her mind games.  I wasn't willing to sell my soul to try to make her happy.

For a psychD's perspective, I really like doctorramani.  (thank you to which ever boardie it was that rec'd her.)

 

does she actually wear all those clothes?  Or just enjoy the adrenalin rush of shopping and spending?

Edited by gardenmom5
trying to clarify . .
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I wouldn't cancel the order.  She can give you a check or you can just pay for it yourself (assuming that you have the funds).

I know that you know this, but you are not responsible for your Mom's reactions or emotions. 

And I agree with Kristen that it's about control. 

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Posted (edited)
25 minutes ago, gardenmom5 said:

That sounds like your mother - she's angry because she isn't in control.  Because to her, handing over a check isn't a 'gift' that will be looked at and she will be remembered every time it is used.  By not buying the boots herself - she is one more step away from the gift - just a check.  Now she's stuck with,, what is she going to buy so your daughter will remember her on a frequent basis

Yep. My mom doesn't see gifts as being about the other person rather about elevating herself. It really is sad because this was really a fun time and because of the payment method my mom is turning it into something ugly.

 

 

25 minutes ago, gardenmom5 said:

does she actually wear all those clothes?  Or just enjoy the adrenalin rush of shopping and spending?

No, she doesn't wear them all. My mom is a person of extremes - definitely acquiring a lot of stuff, often what seems to me to be the same thing. As I was unpacking her boxes when she moved here I counted 16 white button-down blouses. One closet is just pants. She could wear a different winter coat every day for 2 weeks - I'm not kidding. Hats...she makes the Caps For Sale peddler look like nothing. I remember as a kid opening her drawer of lipstick - she literally had every shade of L'Oreal. She loves to shop (especially with other people's money) and she adores indulging herself.

My mom could stock 3 full kitchens with her stuff - no kidding. The joke was that she has so many whisks, every single family member from her kids to their spouses and their kids would get one when my mom dies someday. To put that into perspective: 4 kids, 3 spouses, 16 grandkids. Those are just the whisks.

So yes, she loves to shop for anything and everything and always in excess of what any one person could need/use. It's lovely stuff - she doesn't skimp when buying things for herself. It's just so.much.stuff. She's always been this way.

 

Edited by BakersDozen
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36 minutes ago, BakersDozen said:

  My mom is a person of extremes - definitely acquiring a lot of stuff, often what seems to me to be the same thing.  . . . . . . She loves to shop (especially with other people's money) and she adores indulging herself.

 
So yes, she loves to shop for anything and everything and always in excess of what any one person could need/use. It's lovely stuff - she doesn't skimp when buying things for herself. It's just so.much.stuff. She's always been this way.

 

This going to sound counter-intuitive.  She's not "indulging" herself, she's trying to buy herself emotional security.    People frequently see narcissists as arrogant braggarts/control freaks.  In reality, they're very insecure, ,and trying to hide it while they attempt to convince others of their worth.  People who feel good about themselves - already know their own worth, and they don't feel a need to control those around them.

Her shopping is a form of hoarding.   It has been found to respond to anti-depressants.   

My mil was also a compulsive shopper.  Other reasons were the adrenaline rush.  And the control of having it all  (need a giff of the seagulls from finding Nemo). but the emotional security was first. Her brother once sent her to the store for a needed screw bit.  She came back with six.  He turned to the others helping on the project and asked them if they knew why she bought six?    "That's all they had".   

 At least she never discovered online shopping or QVC.

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Some people need to sabotage. If it wasn't this hissy fit, it would have been a hissy fit about something else. Sometimes people are afraid of happiness because it ends, so they end it themselves so no one can do it to them. You weren't going to get away with a thoroughly nice time. She was going to need to wreck it in some way, a way that made it someone else's fault.

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I’m going to be the outlier here.  With the caveat that none of the people I’m talking about are in any way toxic or narcissistic, so this could be a situation that’s one way in healthy relationships and different in your situation.

Any of my grandparents would have been disappointed if they went shopping with me for something that they were going to buy for me and I paid for it myself.  That wouldn’t have felt like them buying me X, which they had planned to do.  They would have handled it more gracefully than it seems your mom did, but they would have been disappointed.  If you knew in advance that your mom planned to buy DD boots (and it’s not clear from your post whether or not you did) you should have asked how she wanted to handle the transaction.  
 

And I’m adding the caveat again, that I’m talking about normal, healthy family relationships and your mom sounds completely exhausting and trying to care for her feelings the way a person in a non-toxic relationship would care for the feelings of an elder may not be possible and that is absolutely not your fault.  

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I think that your dd should write a really nice thank you note for the boots (without mentioning the kerfuffle at all) and then just move on.

And I agree with the previous response that your mom sounds like she's insecure.  Now, she's asking for love and validation in socially unacceptable ways, but I think that she probably has low self worth and this is how she handles it -- by making everyone else as miserable as she is.

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7 minutes ago, Junie said:

I think that your dd should write a really nice thank you note for the boots (without mentioning the kerfuffle at all) and then just move on.

And I agree with the previous response that your mom sounds like she's insecure.  Now, she's asking for love and validation in socially unacceptable ways, but I think that she probably has low self worth and this is how she handles it -- by making everyone else as miserable as she is.

Yes. She reminds me of my former MIL.  She was all about control and she used money to control people EVEN WHEN said people did not really need or want her money.  I can’t tell you how many times she has purchased a ‘gift’ for me with so many strings I wanted to scream and shove it back in her face.  
 

Did you know she wanted to buy the boots before you ordered and paid for them?

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1 hour ago, Danae said:

I’m going to be the outlier here.  With the caveat that none of the people I’m talking about are in any way toxic or narcissistic, so this could be a situation that’s one way in healthy relationships and different in your situation.

Any of my grandparents would have been disappointed if they went shopping with me for something that they were going to buy for me and I paid for it myself.  That wouldn’t have felt like them buying me X, which they had planned to do.  They would have handled it more gracefully than it seems your mom did, but they would have been disappointed.  If you knew in advance that your mom planned to buy DD boots (and it’s not clear from your post whether or not you did) you should have asked how she wanted to handle the transaction.  
 

And I’m adding the caveat again, that I’m talking about normal, healthy family relationships and your mom sounds completely exhausting and trying to care for her feelings the way a person in a non-toxic relationship would care for the feelings of an elder may not be possible and that is absolutely not your fault.  

I could see my mom being disappointed if it went down like that IF mom had previously said she wanted to pay.  

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If you take out the history, I'd be understanding of your mom in this situation.  If I loved to shop and give gifts I might already feel bad that I was being told exactly what to give.  If I were sitting in the room expecting to pay and then it was done I would feel bad.  (I'd like to think I'd contain my disappointment.)

I do think of people fondly when I see or use a gift.  We make a point of remembering if something was purchased with gift money and have the same feelings.  Maybe your mom doesn't realize that's possible.

I'd consider sending her the link to buy them and just send one pair back.

Does she have money?  Could she buy something unexpected as a surprise?  Maybe one of those trendy cold weather coats?

Again, without the history I'm understanding.  With the history I understand your frustration.

(hugs)

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6 hours ago, Rosie_0801 said:

Some people need to sabotage. If it wasn't this hissy fit, it would have been a hissy fit about something else. Sometimes people are afraid of happiness because it ends, so they end it themselves so no one can do it to them. You weren't going to get away with a thoroughly nice time. She was going to need to wreck it in some way, a way that made it someone else's fault.

This

Rosie - we really need to be able to like your posts . . . .

 

2 hours ago, Scarlett said:

Yes. She reminds me of my former MIL.  She was all about control and she used money to control people EVEN WHEN said people did not really need or want her money.  I can’t tell you how many times she has purchased a ‘gift’ for me with so many strings I wanted to scream and shove it back in her face.  
 

 

yep - he who has the money has the power.  . . . and gifts are not gifts, they are balls and chains.

I recall being at her house, and being offered refreshment.  . . . I mistakenly accepted, then I found out she was screeching about it to my mother.  So, afterwards, I would refuse - no matter how many times she offered - because apparently, accepting was the wrong thing to do.  Well, not accepting just made her show her anger to my face.  It also dumped everything back in her lap.   and that was just with refreshment, actual items that cost money it was worse.

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4 hours ago, Scarlett said:

Did you know she wanted to buy the boots before you ordered and paid for them?

Dd and I knew my mom wanted to get dd boots, but as my mom was sitting right there and we were actively discussing/showing her the boots dd had chosen, it didn't honestly occur to me that my mom needed to put her own cc in. I saw it more as the experience of being together and doing something fun for dd. Neither dd nor I meant any offense (I've told my mom that) and dd was thrilled with the prospect of ordering/receiving the boots.

 

 

4 hours ago, happi duck said:

Does she have money?  Could she buy something unexpected as a surprise?  Maybe one of those trendy cold weather coats?

Oh, yes, she has money. Lots and lots of money. She could buy something unexpected but one reason dd and I were really happy about my mom actually asking dd what she wanted is because my mom, while she'll drop tens of thousands on herself in a NY minute, will purchase something at a thrift store that is stained/broken and give it to our dc. I'm not kidding. Dd got a pillow cover (like for an arm pillow on a couch) which was obviously stained from my mom once. Another dd got a hairbrush that looked like it had been used on animals. Another dd got my mom's used underwear (she was not at all thrilled about that, let me tell you). She is...strange.

 

 

5 hours ago, Junie said:

I think that your dd should write a really nice thank you note for the boots (without mentioning the kerfuffle at all) and then just move on.

Dd contacted my mom last night and thanked her again. Then this morning when the kerfuffle continued from my mom's end (sigh), dd again contacted her and said perhaps they could go to a local small business and dd will choose wool socks.

 

5 hours ago, KungFuPanda said:

It sounds like she got her wish in a roundabout way. Your daughter will always remember her stupid little fit over the order when she wears those boots.

This is one of the things I pointed out to my mom when I responded to her lengthy message this morning. I didn't use the word "stupid" and edited out other words I initially used. But yes, this was conveyed to her.

 

6 hours ago, Danae said:

If you knew in advance that your mom planned to buy DD boots (and it’s not clear from your post whether or not you did) you should have asked how she wanted to handle the transaction.  

I also conveyed that to my mom and expressed that if we could go back in time, I would gladly let her handle the transaction. It was not done intentionally by either dd or myself, it just happened as it happened.

 

6 hours ago, Danae said:

your mom sounds completely exhausting

She is...mentally and emotionally exhausting and high maintenance.

So part of my mom's response this morning was that she wanted the credit card points which is understandable, but the boots cost $74 and my mom spends many, many times that on herself in a month so is $74 worth this issue, really??? My mom has informed me that I am giving our dd the boots since I paid for them, which is fine with me.

To put my mom into perspective for those who have not followed my posts, this is a woman who demanded that my oldest dd call my mom as soon as dd went into labor (who does that??) and when my dd did not answer her phone for ONE morning (because she was in labor and not about to call anyone), my mom called repeatedly then left a voice message telling dd that my mom would never contact dd again as that is obviously what dd wants. My mom turned my dd's experience into her own self-centered, demanding, petty response issue. This is who my mom is. And she's back. sigh

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4 minutes ago, BakersDozen said:

Dd and I knew my mom wanted to get dd boots, but as my mom was sitting right there and we were actively discussing/showing her the boots dd had chosen, it didn't honestly occur to me that my mom needed to put her own cc in. I saw it more as the experience of being together and doing something fun for dd. Neither dd nor I meant any offense (I've told my mom that) and dd was thrilled with the prospect of ordering/receiving the boots.

 

 

Oh, yes, she has money. Lots and lots of money. She could buy something unexpected but one reason dd and I were really happy about my mom actually asking dd what she wanted is because my mom, while she'll drop tens of thousands on herself in a NY minute, will purchase something at a thrift store that is stained/broken and give it to our dc. I'm not kidding. Dd got a pillow cover (like for an arm pillow on a couch) which was obviously stained from my mom once. Another dd got a hairbrush that looked like it had been used on animals. Another dd got my mom's used underwear (she was not at all thrilled about that, let me tell you). She is...strange.

 

 

Dd contacted my mom last night and thanked her again. Then this morning when the kerfuffle continued from my mom's end (sigh), dd again contacted her and said perhaps they could go to a local small business and dd will choose wool socks.

 

This is one of the things I pointed out to my mom when I responded to her lengthy message this morning. I didn't use the word "stupid" and edited out other words I initially used. But yes, this was conveyed to her.

 

I also conveyed that to my mom and expressed that if we could go back in time, I would gladly let her handle the transaction. It was not done intentionally by either dd or myself, it just happened as it happened.

 

She is...mentally and emotionally exhausting and high maintenance.

So part of my mom's response this morning was that she wanted the credit card points which is understandable, but the boots cost $74 and my mom spends many, many times that on herself in a month so is $74 worth this issue, really??? My mom has informed me that I am giving our dd the boots since I paid for them, which is fine with me.

To put my mom into perspective for those who have not followed my posts, this is a woman who demanded that my oldest dd call my mom as soon as dd went into labor (who does that??) and when my dd did not answer her phone for ONE morning (because she was in labor and not about to call anyone), my mom called repeatedly then left a voice message telling dd that my mom would never contact dd again as that is obviously what dd wants. My mom turned my dd's experience into her own self-centered, demanding, petty response issue. This is who my mom is. And she's back. sigh

You can't try to see your mom through the lens of a "normal person".  You just can't.  You did not cause her fit.  A "normal" adult would participate and speak up about the credit card in a nice way at the time.  And would pivot with a check and a smile.  And would not react like a toddler at a bit of disappointment.  

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22 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

You can't try to see your mom through the lens of a "normal person".  You just can't.  You did not cause her fit.  A "normal" adult would participate and speak up about the credit card in a nice way at the time.  And would pivot with a check and a smile.  And would not react like a toddler at a bit of disappointment.  

I wrote this down and put it in my personal drawer by the computer. I'm used to dealing with normal people even though issues/conflicts may be significant. So I find myself bewildered each time something happens with her and find myself wondering if I'm missing something. If I do something wrong, I'll own up to that and try to make it right, but I often don't see why something is an issue at all or what I/we did wrong!

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38 minutes ago, BakersDozen said:

Dd contacted my mom last night and thanked her again. Then this morning when the kerfuffle continued from my mom's end (sigh), dd again contacted her and said perhaps they could go to a local small business and dd will choose wool socks.

 

This is one of the things I pointed out to my mom when I responded to her lengthy message this morning. I didn't use the word "stupid" and edited out other words I initially used. But yes, this was conveyed to her.

 

I also conveyed that to my mom and expressed that if we could go back in time, I would gladly let her handle the transaction. It was not done intentionally by either dd or myself, it just happened as it happened.

 

She is...mentally and emotionally exhausting and high maintenance.

So part of my mom's response this morning was that she wanted the credit card points which is understandable, but the boots cost $74 and my mom spends many, many times that on herself in a month so is $74 worth this issue, really??? My mom has informed me that I am giving our dd the boots since I paid for them, which is fine with me.

 

Ok - your mother has you jumping through hoops to salve her hissy fit.  What mother does that?   You are jumping through those hoops, and you are now exampling (re: teaching) your dd she must jump through those hoops to salve the hissy fits of a 70ish year old woman - a woman who has done this your whole life.  So - it's not like she's doing this because of developing dementia.

It's time for boundaries, if not for you - then for your dd. (and other children.)  You cannot expect her to act like a mature adult when she's never been a dependable mature adult.  This isn't about points on her CC (just an excuse, to try to gain leverage and manipulate you) - this is about her control, and adulation for her generosity in buying the boots.

the bending over backwards to make her happy when she is unreasonable - is easily transferred to bending over backwards for a boyfriend/friend/acquaintance when they are making unreasonable demands.

Please read Townsend and Cloud: Boundaries when to say yes, how to say no.

 

Edited by gardenmom5
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27 minutes ago, gardenmom5 said:

Ok - your mother has you jumping through hoops to salve her hissy fit.  What mother does that?   You are jumping through those hoops, and you are now exampling (re: teaching) your dd she must jump through those hoops to salve the hissy fits of a 70ish year old woman - a woman who has done this your whole life.  So - it's not like she's doing this because of developing dementia.

It's time for boundaries, if not for you - then for your dd. (and other children.)  You cannot expect her to act like a mature adult when she's never been a dependable mature adult.  This isn't about points on her CC (just an excuse, to try to gain leverage and manipulate you) - this is about her control, and adulation for her generosity in buying the boots.

the bending over backwards to make her happy when she is unreasonable - is easily transferred to bending over backwards for a boyfriend/friend/acquaintance when they are making unreasonable demands.

Please read Townsend and Cloud: Boundaries when to say yes, how to say no.

 

I think that’s  a very good post, gardenmom. 

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47 minutes ago, gardenmom5 said:

Ok - your mother has you jumping through hoops to salve her hissy fit.  What mother does that?   You are jumping through those hoops, and you are now exampling (re: teaching) your dd she must jump through those hoops to salve the hissy fits of a 70ish year old woman - a woman who has done this your whole life.  So - it's not like she's doing this because of developing dementia.

This is hard because I feel that of all 4 of the siblings, I'm the one who doesn't jump through her hoops or try to appease her. She despises me because I've stood up to her and not taken her crud. My siblings placate her, shrug their shoulders, and then live their lives safely away from her (I didn't shrug my shoulders even when she didn't live by us). But that being said, I don't want to step into her world of ugliness, especially in how she responds to situations/people. So my responses to her are firm but not nasty (I have to do a lot of editing first, though...). She thrives on an argument and the more angry she knows she can make someone, the happier she is. So in this situation the responses I have sent to her have 1) acknowledged her disappointment in wanting to actually pay for the boots; 2) conveyed dd's happiness at having the boots at all regardless of who paid; 3) pointed out that my mom's attitude/behavior is taking away from the gift giving event; 4) expressed that my mom is making this about her and in ways that are rather superficial (credit card points, for example) rather than making this about my dd; 5) highlighted what I could have done differently (made double/triple sure my mom knew dd was making the order to see if that was OK) and what she could have done differently (expressed her disappointment in a better way without demanding the order be canceled and putting the pressure on dd for something dd didn't know she was doing wrong).

I hope...I really, really hope...I don't bend over backward to make her happy, especially when she is unreasonable. Her hatred toward me is, I believe, because I do not yield to her. But I am trying to not be on her level and engage in the ugly altercation she so desires.

This is so dang hard - how to be above reproach in our responses, how to recognize what our part in things is, and what I/we should not be blamed for. I do want our dc to see me/us handling my mom in ways which are not wrong on our end yet do not encourage the wrongdoing on her end, either.

Which is why I flee to the Hive to present situations that make me say, "Huh?? What did I miss here?!?!"

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Not to pile on, but it sounds like you and your daughter are both feeding the drama and making this episode last longer. Your mother has you both making the effort to appease her when she should be apologizing to your daughter.  

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@BakersDozen I am so sorry you are dealing be with this. Your mom and mine sound exactly the same. I have gotten to the not appeasing point too and she goes back and forth with hating me or not depending on how she feels about the kids that day, I have her only grandchildren. So far in the last month she unbeknownst to me changed a catered dinner for my dd’s college graduation to food she wanted, has thrown a fit because she gave me two choices for a Christmas present and I picked one (but it was apparently not the one she wanted me to pick 50/50 shot and I chose wrong) and just yesterday because she couldn’t bully me into a medical choice she wanted me to make threatened to shoot herself if anything bad happened.

then we will have a nice visit and expect all to be forgotten. 
hugs to you @BakersDozen

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Is there a way to stand up to her *in the moment*?

Like, quietly saying, “That is really unkind.”  Or, “This reaction is excessive.”  Or, “It seems like you need some time to yourself.”

Or, taking her aside to say, “Is this how you want your granddaughter to remember you one day?”

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20 minutes ago, saraha said:

@BakersDozen I am so sorry you are dealing be with this. Your mom and mine sound exactly the same. I have gotten to the not appeasing point too and she goes back and forth with hating me or not depending on how she feels about the kids that day, I have her only grandchildren. So far in the last month she unbeknownst to me changed a catered dinner for my dd’s college graduation to food she wanted, has thrown a fit because she gave me two choices for a Christmas present and I picked one (but it was apparently not the one she wanted me to pick 50/50 shot and I chose wrong) and just yesterday because she couldn’t bully me into a medical choice she wanted me to make threatened to shoot herself if anything bad happened.

then we will have a nice visit and expect all to be forgotten. 
hugs to you @BakersDozen

I'm sorry for all of you experiencing this.  My mother was like this, too.  It was exhausting.  We became estranged and it was so freeing for me but I realize that's not for everyone.  She still went after me and my kids sometimes, but it was still much much better than when we were in contact.  She was a constant threat to me when she was alive.  

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Narcissists are weird about gifts. The ones they give. The ones they get. They ones they have to return. The ones that will only clutter their home.

It's a narcissist thing.

Edited by Alicia64
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I'm blessed not to have a narcissist in my life, but just out of curiosity, what would happen if you just named it?  If you said "That's a narcissistic reaction and I'm bowing out" what would they do?  I KNOW it wouldn't work, but I do wonder how they would go about doubling down while being called out so directly.

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2 hours ago, BakersDozen said:

This is hard because I feel that of all 4 of the siblings, I'm the one who doesn't jump through her hoops or try to appease her. She despises me because I've stood up to her and not taken her crud. My siblings placate her, shrug their shoulders, and then live their lives safely away from her (I didn't shrug my shoulders even when she didn't live by us). 

I hope...I really, really hope...I don't bend over backward to make her happy, especially when she is unreasonable. Her hatred toward me is, I believe, because I do not yield to her. But I am trying to not be on her level and engage in the ugly altercation she so desires.

This is so dang hard - how to be above reproach in our responses, how to recognize what our part in things is, and what I/we should not be blamed for. I do want our dc to see me/us handling my mom in ways which are not wrong on our end yet do not encourage the wrongdoing on her end, either.

Which is why I flee to the Hive to present situations that make me say, "Huh?? What did I miss here?!?!"

Okay, your siblings are treating her the way one ought to treat a narcissist. They are giving her the pretence she wants to see, then going and doing what they want. The reason they are getting away with that so well is that you are choosing to take the hits for them. They are doing the right thing. 

You can't possibly be above reproach with her. A narcissist will ALWAYS shift the goal posts if it looks like they are going to get what they said they wanted. They want to have the power to hurt people more than they want to be happy.

What you are missing is that you are still trying to deal with her honourably. Don't. She doesn't like it. Avoid her as much as possible and stop caring about her moods.

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3 minutes ago, KungFuPanda said:

I'm blessed not to have a narcissist in my life, but just out of curiosity, what would happen if you just named it?  If you said "That's a narcissistic reaction and I'm bowing out" what would they do?  I KNOW it wouldn't work, but I do wonder how they would go about doubling down while being called out so directly.

At best, they'll tell you you need therapy because you're mentally ill.

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1 hour ago, Carol in Cal. said:

Is there a way to stand up to her *in the moment*?

I usually will try - if she uses foul language/slurs to describe people (politicians, mostly) or if she is openly ugly. Sometimes it's a matter of receiving a message from her after the fact which is actually a bit easier to deal with. A bit easier only.

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1 hour ago, Kassia said:

She was a constant threat to me when she was alive. 

This makes everything in me cry because this isn't how it should be. Ever. But this is exactly how it is with my mom and I hate feeling this way.

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3 minutes ago, Rosie_0801 said:

At best, they'll tell you you need therapy because you're mentally ill.

My mom does just this. She'll say things like, "I never know which daughter of mine will "show up" and interact with me." Or that I'm the bad guy. Or whatever. Which would really mess with me save for that she's done this with so many people over so many years, I think I'm not the one who's nuts.

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26 minutes ago, BakersDozen said:

My mom does just this. She'll say things like, "I never know which daughter of mine will "show up" and interact with me." Or that I'm the bad guy. Or whatever. Which would really mess with me save for that she's done this with so many people over so many years, I think I'm not the one who's nuts.

No, you're not nuts.
You're being Hufflepuff in a Slytherin game. 

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1 hour ago, Carol in Cal. said:

Is there a way to stand up to her *in the moment*?

Like, quietly saying, “That is really unkind.”  Or, “This reaction is excessive.”  Or, “It seems like you need some time to yourself.”

Or, taking her aside to say, “Is this how you want your granddaughter to remember you one day?”

Don't.  Never confront the narcissist - it will always backfire badly on you.  Your suggestions will likely trigger narcissistic rage.

 

43 minutes ago, KungFuPanda said:

I'm blessed not to have a narcissist in my life, but just out of curiosity, what would happen if you just named it?  If you said "That's a narcissistic reaction and I'm bowing out" what would they do?  I KNOW it wouldn't work, but I do wonder how they would go about doubling down while being called out so directly.

See doctor Ramani's post above.  They will get angry, and if you think an upset two year old can throw a tantrum . . . . . 

40 minutes ago, Rosie_0801 said:

Okay, your siblings are treating her the way one ought to treat a narcissist. They are giving her the pretence she wants to see, then going and doing what they want. The reason they are getting away with that so well is that you are choosing to take the hits for them. They are doing the right thing. 

You can't possibly be above reproach with her. A narcissist will ALWAYS shift the goal posts if it looks like they are going to get what they said they wanted. They want to have the power to hurt people more than they want to be happy.

What you are missing is that you are still trying to deal with her honourably. Don't. She doesn't like it. Avoid her as much as possible and stop caring about her moods.

I can't agree with this enough.  ALWAYS!!!!!  NOTHING is ever good enough for them.  Ever.  Nothing.   You can't win playing by their rules - the only way to win, is to refuse to play.  

they must always come out on top - always.

e.g. If grandmother told us to do something - and it worked. She took full credit for how wonderful she was.  If it didn't work - she censured us for not listening to her.  If I ignored her and did what i wanted (even if it was 180 degrees opposite of what she told me), and it works - she took full credit for how wonderful she was.   

 

7 minutes ago, Rosie_0801 said:

No, you're not nuts.
You're being Hufflepuff in a Slytherin game. 

Time to be Gryffindor and catch the snitch.

-oh, and narcissists *always* make you think *you* are the crazy person.  I remember the feeling the day I learned - it wasn't me. I wasn't crazy, etc. it was all *her*.  It's a mix of emotions - one of which is relief, because you finally know for sure, you're NOT crazy.

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56 minutes ago, BakersDozen said:

I usually will try - if she uses foul language/slurs to describe people (politicians, mostly) or if she is openly ugly. Sometimes it's a matter of receiving a message from her after the fact which is actually a bit easier to deal with. A bit easier only.

 

53 minutes ago, BakersDozen said:

My mom does just this. She'll say things like, "I never know which daughter of mine will "show up" and interact with me." Or that I'm the bad guy. Or whatever. Which would really mess with me save for that she's done this with so many people over so many years, I think I'm not the one who's nuts.

For both situations - boundaries.  You can't reason with her, and you are playing into her hands by trying.  You are giving her narcissistic supply/drama.

If you want to give her a chance - change the subject.  Don't argue, don't try to reason  (narcissists love drama . . . ), just change the subject.  If that doesn't work - say goodbye and LEAVE.  Don't make a big deal out of it, just do it.  (I do this now when I actually talk with my brother.)

Narcissists hate boundaries because it infringes on their power.  I started implementing boundaries with my grandmother on phone calls.  we were NOT allowed to ever hang up unless we had an "approved" reason.  But I started saying goodbye and hanging up when she was rude.  If she was (gasp!) actually polite, I'd talk to her for 15 minutes.   My shortest phone call was three minutes because I had to walk around furniture to reach the base to hang up.   Many were around five minutes.  It was only after months of this that the phone calls started lasting longer (towards the 15 minute mark.) as part of her was getting the message i wasn't going to tolerate the disrespect anymore.

My brother isn't allowed in my house - If I actually see him, it will only be somewhere I can get up and leave with no notice.  (for a restaurant, I'll have cash and leave it on the table.)   I can ignore (big. eye. roll.) his emails - usually just forwarded from some crazy site, almost never is he actually saying anything.   

The point is - you have the power to have control, but first you have to stop caring about her opinion. I learned enough that one day when one called and .. . . shocker . . was *nice*!    . . . . I'd learned enough by then to take nothing at face value, and my first thought was: "you're being nice, what do you want?"   Narcissists love bomb when they feel like they're loosing control of you.  Don't be deceived, they want you back in their power.

Before I started enacting boundaries, I felt like I was expected to give her a knife so she could sacrifice me upon the alter to her ego - or kiss her muck covered feet while she kicked my face with steel toe boots.
 

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4 hours ago, BakersDozen said:

Which is why I flee to the Hive to present situations that make me say, "Huh?? What did I miss here?!?!"

Me, too, BakersDozen. So many times. You just know these behaviors are not normal on some level, but then sometimes you question things to try to make sure you really haven’t overreacted, or that you aren’t exaggerating in your mind how awful it really is or was. You just get so turned around and need some other perspectives. 

You sound very level-headed to me. One thing someone said to me here is to trust my gut. When you feel as if you are being gaslighted, that’s important. 

I thought Gardenmom’s post above was really good only because I thought it’s just really great insight, not because I thought you are necessarily guilty of being too accommodating. It’s just really good to be aware of things from that angle.

Im sorry you and your daughter have to deal with this. I could sure tell you my own stories, believe me.

But come here anytime you need to!
 

 

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2 hours ago, BakersDozen said:

This makes everything in me cry because this isn't how it should be. Ever. But this is exactly how it is with my mom and I hate feeling this way.

I was even afraid when I found out she died.  I was scared that she arranged to get some kind of last stab at me after her death.  If she did, I'm unaware of it other than the knowledge that I will never see my childhood photos to show my children and to enjoy pictures of me and my deceased father since they are gone with her.  I really was afraid of her.  We lived far away from her but there was one time I thought she was local and the doorbell rang and I thought it was her and I hid in my own house because I was afraid she would see me.  Crazy that I was afraid of her when I was in my own home with the doors locked.

 

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26 minutes ago, Seasider too said:

I have to ask…. why do you keep exposing your kids to this?

My mom arrived at the house after she returned home from her trip and had a snack for the kids. She was fine - acted fine, all was well. It wasn't until after she left that the drama began. Thankfully, she has not done anything in front of our younger kids (yet) and I think that's because she knows I will remove her from the home immediately. She pulled the worst scene back in 1998 when our third was born and she got kicked out - literally handed her bags and shown the door. So in that regard she knows to never, never do something in front of my kids. And we have them here with us - the kids do not go to her house without us. And even in that we have only seen her maybe half a dozen times since December as she has been thoroughly busy with buying stuff and going out and about by herself.

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22 minutes ago, Kassia said:

I was even afraid when I found out she died.  I was scared that she arranged to get some kind of last stab at me after her death.  If she did, I'm unaware of it other than the knowledge that I will never see my childhood photos to show my children and to enjoy pictures of me and my deceased father since they are gone with her. 

My mom would not give any of us our photo albums/baby books, so when I was unpacking her boxes last year and saw that she'd had them boxed up in storage since 2012, I took mine as did my brother. I don't know if my mom has caught on yet as she still has boxes left unopened, but I knew if she had them that she would either burn them in anger or shred them and send me the shreds. And oh yes, I am bracing myself for what she'll leave for me when she dies which I expect will be that my part of any inheritance will go to her Favorite Grandchild (my oldest dd). Something...there will be something...

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2 hours ago, gardenmom5 said:

I remember the feeling the day I learned - it wasn't me. I wasn't crazy, etc. it was all *her*.  It's a mix of emotions - one of which is relief, because you finally know for sure, you're NOT crazy.

Same. 

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52 minutes ago, Seasider too said:

(Also, iirc, she was/is living with you but went to stay with a friend until she *really* moves? Or am I confusing you with someone else?)

She lives 2 streets up from us. She would never live with us and we would not invite her to do so.

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2 hours ago, gardenmom5 said:

Don't.  Never confront the narcissist - it will always backfire badly on you.  Your suggestions will likely trigger narcissistic rage.

So what?

Who cares if someone that awful gets mad over something completely reasonable?

My view is that it is crucial for your kids to see you stand up to this at times.

And my opinion at this point in my life is that I feel better about myself when I don’t cringe in fear of narcissistic rage.  I can do ‘assertive but not aggressive’ and it feels good to me.  It is a position of strength that is worth considering at times.  It can be a boundary in and of itself.  It does not require engagement or excitement, and in fact, if I felt those I would avoid it as the timing would not be right FOR ME—I don’t actually care whether the timing is right for the narcissist, because if someone is verbally abusive and dishonest, it doesn’t matter whether the timing is right for them.  It’s more detached, like projecting calm firmness to a toddler.  AND IT FEELS STRONG.

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1 hour ago, Carol in Cal. said:

So what?

Who cares if someone that awful gets mad over something completely reasonable?

My view is that it is crucial for your kids to see you stand up to this at times.

And my opinion at this point in my life is that I feel better about myself when I don’t cringe in fear of narcissistic rage.  I can do ‘assertive but not aggressive’ and it feels good to me.  It is a position of strength that is worth considering at times.  It can be a boundary in and of itself.  It does not require engagement or excitement, and in fact, if I felt those I would avoid it as the timing would not be right FOR ME—I don’t actually care whether the timing is right for the narcissist, because if someone is verbally abusive and dishonest, it doesn’t matter whether the timing is right for them.  It’s more detached, like projecting calm firmness to a toddler.  AND IT FEELS STRONG.

When I stood up to a narcissist in my life, they became violent. Not all of them are willing to sit and stew in their own juices. Some of them will keep escalating. 

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6 hours ago, Kassia said:

I'm sorry for all of you experiencing this.  My mother was like this, too.  It was exhausting.  We became estranged and it was so freeing for me but I realize that's not for everyone.  She still went after me and my kids sometimes, but it was still much much better than when we were in contact.  She was a constant threat to me when she was alive.  

I am so sorry

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I didn’t read all of the replies, but…

I just want to offer a virtual hug because your experience really resonates w me. 
And my mother is really happy right now which just fuels the cognitive dissonance. I’m sure you get this. 
 

I wish we could go to lunch and discuss. I really wish I had someone irl I could talk to about it. I thought I had found someone once, but she went no contact. And that’s what she preaches. I can’t do that.
 

 

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Also, in skimming I saw someone say how could you let your children continue to be exposed to this…

I’m sure this just seems cut and dry if you aren’t living this, but it’s NOT. 

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3 hours ago, Carol in Cal. said:

So what?

Who cares if someone that awful gets mad over something completely reasonable?

My view is that it is crucial for your kids to see you stand up to this at times.

And my opinion at this point in my life is that I feel better about myself when I don’t cringe in fear of narcissistic rage.  I can do ‘assertive but not aggressive’ and it feels good to me.  It is a position of strength that is worth considering at times.  It can be a boundary in and of itself.  It does not require engagement or excitement, and in fact, if I felt those I would avoid it as the timing would not be right FOR ME—I don’t actually care whether the timing is right for the narcissist, because if someone is verbally abusive and dishonest, it doesn’t matter whether the timing is right for them.  It’s more detached, like projecting calm firmness to a toddler.  AND IT FEELS STRONG.

Because some of them can do a lot of damage to people when they throw a tantrum.  Some people are still living with the narcissist in their life, or are otherwise dependent upon them.   Yeah - it's easy to compare it to a toddler's tantrum, but they're still an adult and they have more resources and tools in their box.    And as for telling them what you really think . . . . you might feel better, but did they actually learn anything from what you said?  no.   

I'll admit, I became exasperated with my brother and told him what I really thought of him - didn't change his behavior any, and in the long run it was pointless.  Dissecting some of the insanity he spews, not to 'attack' him, but to walk him through why it's insane - does shut him up and he will never broach those subjects with me again.  But he still holds to them.  

You are more likely to get what you want by not directly confronting them.   simply not tolerating it.  (which is what you want your kids to learn).  e.g. "well, we have to go now".   "no that doesn't work for us"  (why?  because we do.  . . end of.)   No the kids can't visit you at your house.  No, the kids need to be in car seats, and since you're not able to use them (instead of "you are refusing to use them") - I can't allow you to take them anywhere (or babysit them, since I don't know where you'll take them when my back is turned.)

That would have helped me a heck of a lot more - if my mother didn't care what her mother said, and just had boundaries and refused to cater to her absurd and damaging demands.  Confrontation isn't a mature response either - it's just an opposite response to being a doormat.  There is nothing productive about how to deal with other difficult people from it.

 

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