How do I communicate with my difficult mom?
posted by December to human relations (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've posted previously about high-drama during my stepdad's visits to my home. Well...the long, dramatic part I omitted relates to the difficulties I have with my mom. For years and years, and for reasons that are incomprehensible to my brain, my mom delights in mocking and belittling me in front of virtually any audience. "Remember that embarrassing thing you did when you were four? Well, let me remind everyone that..." When we are one on one, she's fine, but as soon as there is family, friends, or even just a line at the grocery store, she'll start in with some tidbit from years ago, painting me in a negative light. I've explained over and over and fucking over to her that this is very hurtful to me and I need it to stop. Doesn't matter. Stories continue. Friends and family are sensitive enough to apologize for her behavior on her behalf, so it ain't all in my head.
Secondly, mom requires amounts of attention I just can't give. There is a reason I am childless and that is because I do not have the requisite patience to deal with a two year old, which is pretty much the behavior my mom exhibits with me: constant shouting and demanding my attention (even when I'm on the phone or having a private bathroom moment), interrupting/overtalking me as I'm speaking, infusing herself in situations that require my intervention or run the risk of developing into worse conundrums (e.g., losing her medication, technological cluelessness in re answering phone, etc.). There's a sort of weird entitlement that attaches to her visits, along the lines of pushing my things out of the way to make room for hers, messes that I repeatedly indicate are troublesome, failure to follow 'house rules' I have.
Thirdly, within the past few years she has begun taking medication (Lyrica) that has altered her personality to the point it is very difficult for me to communicate with her - already a problem before the meds, but now worsened. She went from being super organized and lucid to being forgetful to the point of endangering her safety. Her thought pattern is such that I have a difficult time understanding her. I also admittedly tire of repeating and repeating and repeating, only to have her forget it again.
She's, as previously described, highly melodramatic to begin with and talking with her, both before and after meds, is really a challenge. Talking to her in person has resulted in virtually no change (the first two issues have been discussed ad nauseum for roughly ten years). Furthermore, she now claims to have no memory of these discussions at all due to her medication. Talking in person usually results in her crying, making dramatic statements, walking away, putting her head on the table, or, my personal favorite, her pretending everything is just hunky-dory and she has no idea there are any problems in existence.
So I've tried the email route, laying out my concerns and explaining, again, that the behavior really needs work if she'd like to visit me again. I thought putting things in writing might be better in light of her memory problems and also be less heated. The last two visits to my home were so unbearable I actually went and stayed with friends for a few days while she stayed at my place.
Now she wants to visit - and I've said we must find a hotel for her in order to prevent the above things that clearly aren't changing. This has led to major squawking on her part and full usage of The Parental Guilt Trip, a favorite from her arsenal. Fer real, guilt trippin' along the lines of "you're going to put me in an old folks home" and "you need to honor your parents." Yeah.
Where do I go from here? I explained that because we are not achieving positive results from our discussions (read: she's not changing her behavior), I need to change mine. I explained a hotel would be a good start and would help eliminate some of the problem behavior. In short, a hotel would be a good step to improving our relationship and eliminating some friction. She doesn't see it that way at all.
Have any of you been in similar situations and how did you make peace with them (or not)? Any suggestions as to how to move forward in this relationship? Part of me wants to salvage, but part of me wants to throw in the emotional towel because this is exhausting. Am I asking for unreasonable things from her?
Also, YANAD, but does anyone have any experience with Lyrica? Is extreme forgetfulness a common issue with this medication? (I ask because her mom has Alzheimer's and I don't know if my mom is headed down the same path or if she's just medication-induced.)