I haven't posted here for a very long time but visit frequently and appreciate everyone's posts. Prodigal, your story sounds so much like mine, it's not even funny.
Would I do it again for my N mother? Reading between the lines, I'm thinking that maybe there might be an unspoken part to this subject-line like, "knowing what you know now"?
Yes, I would do it again but only in the capacity that I have currently achieved after umpteen yrs. of abuse and growing pains. I don't mean to sound arrogant by saying "achieved" and I am quite sure you all agree that if one comes to where they can handle an N and not be depressed and without any self-esteem, then it is an achievement! I'm thinking I have enough on-the-job training to have a PhD in how to be and survive being an ACON. I would help my N-mother again only because I cannot morally let an elderly person survive completely alone when she does have one family member (me) that can still (barely) stand being around her. She is a 92 yr. old narcissist, divorced when she was 38, never remarried. I swear it is true that they (N’s) do statistically live longer.
How I function in the “relationship” with her now, after uncountable trials and tribulations, is very structured both emotionally and physically, in every sense of those words. My two sibs (who are both now deceased (having both died prematurely) and I strongly encouraged that she get into an assisted living several years ago. She finally consented to move to an AL after it became evident to her that she would benefit (and be able to remain the center of someone’s attention, wink).
1) I don't talk about or share anything deep, just superficiality. I don't give a crap if she knows that is the state of our relationship. I am logical and pleasant most of the time. Narcissists try to but can't fight pure logic, it stops them cold.
2) I don't spend much more than a couple of hrs. with her at one time, and that is once every two weeks, unless I absolutely have to spend more time due to an appointment or a “real” emergency. My visits to her used to be kept to once a month when she was healthier and able to be more abusive. I have made her aware that, if she abuses me now, the frequency of my visits will decrease accordingly and she may have to hire outside help because I will not stand by and take it anymore.
3) I have adopted, adapted and practiced a repertoire of responses and methods that work for almost every "situation" she presents. These are designed to stop her manipulations, protect myself/my dignity/my space and time, which in turn protects my marriage as well.
4) I have no problem with the simplicity and effectiveness of the word "NO" and no longer go forward after saying it by defending myself in any way. When she pushes for me to defend myself a blank stare into space or silence will do. I have done enough listening, talking, explaining, reasoning, defending to last a lifetime… I’m done. I use the fewest words, actions and thought processes possible! Do not get me wrong, when she goes into one of her funks, I have to remind myself to just watch, listen, take a time-out to think and let my blood pressure/anger subside before I can think clearly, recall my empathy for an elderly mentally ill woman, not take it personally, and use my repertoire of methods.
5) Her doctor has actually diagnosed her with a personality disorder and so I have been able to inform the caregivers at her residence of such. This way I am comfortable in explaining to them the symptoms they will see in her and the necessity of the structure I’ve had to enact in our relationship. They have all eventually been on the receiving end of her personality difficulties and are now very amenable to helping when I am at the end of my energy with her. Therefore, I lean on them within reason and within the parameters of their duties and this is a huge part of my salvation. These caregivers deal with all types of people as they age so at least have methods that work in difficult situations with other elderly people. Plus the caregivers are less enmeshed. I can honestly say that several of the more astute caregivers have indicated that she is a challenge that they have not seen before. They do an amazing job! I have learned from them as well and am so grateful to them.
6) I have on several occasions prior to her appt. called her MD or his nurse to inform them of what she’s been up to. A few times it has been obvious to her MD when he gets the E.R. reports in which the E.R. doctor could find nothing wrong other than an anxiety attack. Luckily her MD is very good at communicating with her in a manner which makes her think about how things could be worse or could get worse if she doesn’t get a handle on herself. This ticks her off, but she calms down for a while!
I am 56 yrs. of age with no other family to help with her. My sibs died and other family live far away and have washed their hands of her after being victims of her antics. Very sad. I will always believe that the stress that she created in my sibs lives helped them along to their premature deaths. If only we had been aware of what we were dealing with and had the tools to help us deal. We had no father to balance things either.
Sadly, we ACONs are forced into some passive-aggressive methods in order to survive and must be superficial with our parent, of all people. If we did not employ such methods to protect ourselves, it would be like crawling along in the desert waiting for the tiniest drop of rain out of a very black cloud. Not living my life that way, thanks.
Now, how do I deal with myself? This is one of the toughest tasks, thanks Mom.
Quite simply, this…
She made it clear to me as a child that what she thought of Me and what others thought of Me was number one in importance.
Of course, the many things that she told me that she and others thought of me were never the positives. I still have to force myself to examine all of the self-effacing/self-blaming/panicky thoughts that so frequently ruminate in my mind due to my extensive training. I have a formula for that too that gets me out of depression and back to loving myself (eventually). It can be very exhausting, but less so, as I get better at the formula. And (this has been a biggie) I have actually come to BELIEVE that I am good, my perceptions are acceptable and what others think or want is not always number one in importance in MY life. Sometimes others are not going to like me or my “stuff,” and that’s normal, okay, I can still love myself, not always have to change myself just because I differ from someone else, I can be empathetic to others without totally losing myself as their caretaker, I can trust others to not totally dislike me just because I am different than them. I now know that I don’t have to be everyones’ mirror! And I know that she won’t change, period!
This is what works for me. Of course, there always seems to be some new challenge that she can present! Hopefully this will help someone else along the way.
Good health and healing to you all!