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How to deal with a narcissit mother who had back surgery.

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  • #871654 Reply
    avatarUuna
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    Hi everyone, I was hoping to get some advice on how to deal with a narcissistic mother who is in actual pain from back surgery.
    My mom s not a full blown narcissist but has some nasty traits. When I realized she had narcissistic tendencies, I lowered my expectations and set boundaries, our relationship got a lot better.
    We have a nince relationship and she´s been a good mother in spide of her NP.

    The thing is, she´s had back surgery a month and a half ago. It was a very complex operation, and it was very painfull.
    Everything went well, but the recovery in itslef is a painfull process.
    My brother, my aunt and me are taking care of her. We also have a lot of help from Angie, a woman who worked at my mom´s house for 30 years. She´s there 3 times a week, for 6 hours. We are doing everything we can to help, and making sure she has everything she needs ( medication, attention, food, and also we go, just to be there, to acompany her, because she feels extra lonely, as expected)
    She needs to do some excercises to elongate her back, strenghten her core and abs to help her back heal fully. She also needs to walk.
    The doc said she needed to start slow (“Today, you´ll walk one block, tomorrow you´ll walk two, the day after that , three and so on. When you come back to see me in 3 weeks, you need to be walking 20 to 25 blocks a day”)
    How many blocks did she walk in a month and a half? 6.
    So, the pain isn´t going away, mostly because she is not doing what she needs to do. And when we ask if she was able to walk today, she feels attacked (obviously) and snaps at us.
    We all knew it was going to be hard, but right now we are all getting tired of her attitude.

    I mean, I know she is in pain. And we are doing everything we can to help her through this.
    But whenever she speaks to us ( me, my brother and my aunt) she is either crying (because the one day she was on her own, she had to walk to the fridge to get water, food, etc. So she had to walk to the fridge “a million times”)or being really mean to us.
    I also realized there´s pain and there´s “pain”. Pain is real, and part of the process of healing. She deals well with it.
    But “pain”… only comes – in her own words- “saturdays, sundays and holidays” (the days Angie doesn´t work, and mom wants to make sure somebody will be there, which we do! we always go. She´s been on her own probably 8 days in past 45 days, and well after the doctor told her to resume her normal life).
    Each of those 8 days were hell. And the following days even worst because she made us pay.

    I´m reaching my limit of sympathy.
    2 days ago she asked me go to her house to programm her TV because she was so bored and alone.I don´t mind doing those things. What really bugs me is that she asks things crying. Like she thinks I won´t go if she asks normally. I found her in the living room in bed (we brought a bed downstaris, because she can´t climb up to her room, and set it in the living room) , in the dark. All windows closed, all lights off. At 3:30 in the afternoon.
    When she has another perfectly working TV, the exact same size , in a beautifull bright kitchen, with really nice chairs and table. I even offered to take the recliner to the kitchen to make sure she can be more comfortable. She didn´t want me to because she said her chair is just as comfortable. Ok.
    What took me to my edge, that day after I turned on the lights and programmed the damn living room TV, my daughter (6) was sitting next to my mom, and said she was bored. So my mom poushed her from the bed and told her “fine, go away”.
    That is not cool. I get you are in pain, but it isn´t my fault,and certainly not my daughter’s.

    So… my kid won´t be visiting grandma anymore for now.
    And I´m getting tired and snappy myslef.
    I´m fed up with her swinging from tears to rage.
    Of course when her friends go to visit her, she´s wonder-woman. No pain, no trouble, all laughs and good times. And complaining about how we are mean to her. Because we ask if she was able to walk at least a little.
    Today I´m taking her to see her doctor. I´m not sure what else he can do, since she isn´t doing what he tells her to do. She just wants more painkillers. She should be laying of them , not getting stronger ones by now. The doctor already told her that. To start cutting them down, as the pain should be going down with the excercises and walks. She says she can´t walk because it hurts. But not her back/spine. The muscles around it. (So you all can see how this is walking in cirlces…she won´t walk because her muscles hurts, and the solution to it is move the muscles and walk).

    If any of you have some advice or encouragement, or ideas to decompress, I´ll be very gratefull.

    I´m sorry this was so long. Thank you all for your time and attention.

    #871662 Reply
    avatargolfer.gal
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    Good for you for learning about your mom’s narcissistic limitations and setting boundaries in your relationship. That’s hard to do. Do you have a therapist? This would be a great topic to bounce off of one, and would be worth going even for just a few sessions.

    It sounds like it’s time to start stepping back from caring for your mom as if she was still right out of surgery. I’d use the doctor as a starting point-ask him how much help she should need at this point, and whether she needs someone with her every single day at this point in her recovery. The answer will obviously be no. Then stop going over there as often or for as long, cut phone calls/visits short when they include crying or raging, and in general start returning to how you were previously. Use some short scripts like “mom, I’m sorry your in pain and I hate hearing that. But the doctor gave you clear instructions on how to feel better and it’s up to you to do that. I’ll see you sunday/call you tomorrow/ talk to you later”. Or “mom, I know it’s hard for you to be alone, but as much as we love you we cant be with you all the time. If you got back to your normal life you’d start to feel a lot better, and the doctor gave you clear instructions on how to do that”. “Ok”, “hmm”, “I’m sorry to hear that”, and “i cant be around when you’re screaming at me, let’s try this again later” are also all acceptable answers before stepping away from the conversation. Basically stop asking her if she’s done what she needs to do and start treating her as though she has.

    You can’t control what she tells her friends about you unfortunately. And the reality is, even though you’re giving her exemplary care, she’s going to say you aren’t because it gives her the attention and sympathy she craves. So your goal cant be to please her, because that will literally never happen. Good luck and stay strong, I know it’s tough

    #871669 Reply
    avatarLisforLeslie
    Guest

    This is when tough love is your friend. You have to manipulate her, using her narc side for your own purposes.

    Determine what her key motivations are, loneliness, looking stupid, whatever it is, you may have to be harsh to be kind. She gets dressed and goes for a walk otherwise you’re walking out the door. She gets up and goes for a walk otherwise you’re calling her doctor. You’ll call her friends and tell them that she refuses to do her exercises and you don’t know how to encourage her to get out of bed. You’ll organize a church group with the ladies she hates to come to her house with casseroles because you can’t continue this level of care.

    Does she qualify for PT? Get someone who is not emotionally tied to her to come to the house (or you take her there) to go through PT. If she’s putting in the work and it’s still too much, then it’s back to the doctor – but if she’s wallowing for the sake of getting attention – then figure out the consequences that she would detest to get her moving.

    #871673 Reply

    Are you going to the appointment with her? Because I would tell her doctor exactly what is going on, even if she’s in the room. I know that could blow things up between you, but that might not be a bad thing.

    #871676 Reply

    So I bet she is in pain because she’s not doing what she supposed to be doing. She’s probably also bored and lone,y and you and your family are “safe” people she can take her feelings out on. Not that I think that’s fair, because clearly it isn’t. Is there a way you can arrange help on other days? Otherwise, telling her doctor, creating some boundaries and definitely keeping your kids away are the best things you can do.

    If she is abusive, “Mom, I will not allow you to yell at me. Call me when you’re feeling calm and we can talk about this.”

    I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time with her. You sound very empathetic and like you’re doing the beet you can.

    #871677 Reply
    avatarUuna
    Guest

    Thank you all so much for your replies! I found all of them very helpfull.
    I loved “figure out the consequences that she would detest to get her moving”.

    I´ll do that.

    Also, @Golfer.gal, thank you so much for the scripts. That change of approach could be very helpfull changing the way she´s affecting me. Thank you so much!

    And @anonymouse, I´ll definately will tell the doctor everything.
    If she blows up, it just can´t be much worse than it is already. Thank you!

    #871680 Reply

    This doesn’t help you, but a lot of people fall into serious depression/hopelessness when they are compromised from surgery or other medical issues. I wonder if there is PT available to her? Or you could try and get her friends to check in with her more often?

    #871691 Reply
    avatarbrise
    Guest

    I would take a back seat. Don’t involve so much attention and energy. Call once a day, visit her on a schedule, not everyday, alternately with your other relatives, and hire, with your brother, a nurse or a visit for the days off of her employee, so she has company.
    Can’t she get physiotherapy to move and make her exercises, for her recovery? It is hard to do that all alone when you are in pain and fragile after surgery. The patient is also in great risk of doing it wrong and being in more pain. I would ask the doctor for an appointment with a practitioner and if he doesn’t prescribe it, well, it would be some money well invested to hire one at least once a week. Or you could buy her a month or two at a gym so she can walk on a machine or cycle slowly under supervision for one hour per week. She has to move, that is important. I would focus on that.

    #871694 Reply
    avatarUuna
    Guest

    @anonymouse, Thanks, yes, 3 friends told me about post-surgery deppression. I´m asking the doctor if her behaviour could be or lead to that.

    And Brise, yes. I think hiring a physio-therapist would be the way to go.
    She won´t listen to us, but she´ll do what she´s told if a professional is there to “make her”.

    #871695 Reply
    avatarLisah
    Guest

    “Thank you all so much for your replies! I found all of them very helpfull.
    I loved “figure out the consequences that she would detest to get her moving”.

    I´ll do that.”

    I am concerned by this statement. You are working harder on her recovery than she is. Don’t! Please go back to the basics of your original boundaries that you created for your own sanity. She has ramped up her manipulations and you are falling in line and doing what your told Nd disrupting your life and that of your child. She will suffer the consequences of her actions if you quit enabling her. If you quit showing up she will get up. I don’t reccomend manipulating her back and trying to get her to take walks. Seriously, I would assume that you are a better person than that. Please don’t play manipulation games with a narcissist. You will lose. Bottom line: reset your boundaries to presurgery boundaries.

    #871735 Reply

    I don’t think she’s just falling in line. She wrote in here, she’s going to speak to the doctor. You can have a manipulative or abusive parent and still love and care about them. She’s taking steps to make this better for herself.

    #871773 Reply
    avatarAnge
    Guest

    I ran into a lot of people like your mother when I was doing group PT for my back. They didn’t want to do the work, they just wanted the attention and pity for their pain and suffering (while the rest of us there were also in pain and suffering). The PTs were very good at managing these sorts and even if they did nothing for the rest of the week they at least got some exercise in during the session. If you feed her need for attention it’s less likely she’ll want to get better, a PT is a great neutral person who won’t fall for that nonsense.

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