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A Mean, Verbally Abusive Woman

Question:

I am a 50 year old woman, married for 23 years, 5 kids, 7 grandkids. My problem is with my mother who lives across the street from me Being the oldest, one brother in prison for child pornography, one other brother, two sisters and my father is still alive. My mother is and always has been a mean, verbally abusive woman. She caters over backwards to my prisoner brother, my liar brother, and slut drug using sister. My other sister fortunately lives in Illinois and does not have to be around the abuse that I take every day. I am the ONLY one who does anything for the woman or buys her things to make her feel better…… I am the one she takes everything out on. All of her anger, hate and ugliness is directed to me. I would leave if i could, but my grandchildren 16 and 14 live in the house with her and we own the house across the street. For 48 years i held my tongue, never said anything back…. then i had had enough. Now we fight constantly. I want to leave but my house is under construction and my grandchildren are so close. My husband says he will not leave his job and i am stuck here. I cannot take anymore. Any suggestions?

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Answer:

It looks like in your family you were drafted into the roll of caregiver. Sometimes long term caregivers end up with assertiveness problems. That is to say, they take on so much responsibility for others that they aren’t able to get their own needs met. It doesn’t have to be this way. You have far more power than you may realize. For example, caregiving doesn’t have to take place at your mother’s whim, or when she is abusive towards you. During such times, you can simply refuse to help her, only choosing to take care of her when she treats you better. This suggestion may come across like I’m urging you to betray her, (and she may lay that trip on you as well), but that’s not what it is. It’s a matter of defending yourself when you are attacked, and using the power you have to enforce her compliance. If you decide to try this, recognize that you’ll be challenging years of accumulated history and that many people may become upset with you and treat you like a bad person. It won’t be fair, but you’re the one who’ll be rocking the boat, and so you’ll have to pay this price (which is worth it). You’ll have to be insistent in order to set new precedents. You’ll have to do some reading on the subject (the library will have books to read for free, or there is a lot of good material online). It can certainly be done, but it won’t necessarily be effortless. Whatever else is true for you, you’re certainly frustrated, bitter and very angry. You’re also probably feeling all alone, with no one around you supporting you. I’ll bet you’ve been in this position for years. What you need, in part, is an advocate; someone (or someones) who can care for and support you. Look for advocates in community support groups, and through counseling which exists for exactly this purpose – to help people like yourself become more effective by supporting their growth. In addition to providing support and general guidance, counselors and therapists can also help with assertiveness skills.

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