Mother problems

My 90-year-old mother has been verbally and emotionally abusive to me my whole life and I just sat quietly and took it. She doesn't understand me or even tries to. Everything I say is wrong, a lie, or has to be verified by another person to make it right. She likes to argue with me and demean me often. She views me as someone who doesn't know much about anything. She often offends me, mocks me, and makes fun of me. She always singles me out. the whole family treats me poorly. Last summer they all blatantly got together and instead of parking their dump trucks for a weekend while I clear out of the mess by myself that my hoarder mother has accumulated all over the house, I was working on the basement, they tell me no (they leave them sometimes over here for weeks and aren't worried about anybody stealing them) suddenly they're worried about someone stealing them. So, they all rush me and told me to separate things that I want and toss them in a day. so, I did that, but they came the next day and just threw everything away including all of my personal belongings. they blamed me for the mess. I was crying and I had the worst panic anxiety attack of my life in front of them and they didn't care. They did the same thing to me two weeks later. none of them care or love me and never did. I expressed that to my mom and she basically blamed me saying that its my fault that they didn't care about me 30 years since my arrival (I'm a foster child) I remember when I was blamed at 15 for her being in the hospital, my mom when she gets upset or angry because she doesn't understand my choices in life or understand my Pov, she'll say that I can see why you have no friends or husband because someone would kill you. over the years they have been dismissive of the fact that I feel scared and alone because a neighborhood man told me that he would rape and hurt me when he gets out of jail, they also dismiss the handyman's sexual harassment towards me, telling me that I should go somewhere else while he's here, not hiring him anymore isn't even considered. They all told me that they will blame me if my mother gets sick because of the virus. my doctor told me that I could be injected with that shot labeled as vaccination, but everyone is still insistent that I do it if I really "loved" my mom. She is going to kick me out because for some reason she thinks that will lessen her chances of catching the virus, they all think that. it's been a very tiring long and emotional rollercoaster with them. they don't respect me. I have been here almost 30 years and not once have they had an actual conversation with me or asked me anything about myself. the short conversations include instructions. just like open the door or something. they don't even know what I like to watch on tv. they also try to revoke everything that they find out that appeals to me like cutting the grass, feeding & finding homes for stray cats around my neighborhood. now it's cleaning. i have a bad heart, take care of their mother 24/7, and a sick dog, manage the household finances, clean, etc... and now they are insulting me saying that they're going to hire a cleaning service to come. I ask them not to have anyone cleaning my room because I have OCD, and a lot of anxieties, and it will worsen and they said no. my mom said so what if is worse it's not going to get any better. they take away all of my joy. I don't have much happiness now. I'm tired. I want to leave but have no money, also I don't want the guilt of leaving and her dying soon after on my conscience. what do I do? should I keep trying to get her to see me for the person that I truly am and to stop verbally and emotionally abusing me. also, she calls me an idiot, brainless, and insinuates that something is wrong with my intellect. do I stop being angry and shouting at her because she's 90? should I just remain quiet and lose the war?

Regular Contributor

"should I keep trying to get her to see me for the person that I truly am and to stop verbally and emotionally abusing me"


You have two wonderful answers already, but I want to give you a short answer from a 'natural' daughter who has experienced some things similar to what you've described.




You've wasted enough time on people who don't appreciate you.  There are people out there who will value you, your friendship, your caring nature.  (Just try to stay away from the ones that will try to take advantage of you.  You've had enough of that already.  There are actually truly nice people out there!!)




Have you ever watched a soap opera and one of the cast is replaced?  I didn't watch soap operas & never understood the complaints of my sister who did when this happened until I finally did watch one for a few weeks & someone was replaced.  The new person just didn't fit in.  It was really jarring.  That was it for me with soap operas, lol.


You and everyone in your family has been assigned a 'role'.   When you try to change your role / how people perceive you, it is very upsetting and threatening to the others in your family.  Even if they saw it as a good change, their natural inclination would be to try to get you back to 'being you' (bring back the previous actor!!!).


You will not be able to change others directly.  All you can do is change you -- what you do and say, how you react.  When you act differently, others have to figure out how to deal with that.  That takes thought and energy whereas rote responses don't. [Too much effort!  what is your problem?!!]  They have to change in some way to deal with the new you.  Unfortunately, you might find the change they make worse than how things were.


You sound as if you've had more than enough.  You sound exhausted.  I think you'd be better off with a fresh start with people who have no preconceived notions about who you are.  It would be wonderful if, as suggested you could have the support of a therapist, got yourself out of that environment as frequently as you can until you can make a permanent change -- if only to take yourself to the library to sit.  Volunteer work is good as it will take you out of yourself and your problems and will give you the opportunity to meet other NICE, CARING PEOPLE, other volunteers!  (It might also lead to a job doing something you enjoy -- so don't pick just any volunteer job, pick something you like.)  It will make the time more bearable as you, hopefully with some help, work on finding a better home for yourself.


Well, longer than I intended, as usual, lol.


Best wishes for you getting the life you deserve.  You've taken the first big step, recognizing that what you've got is coming up way short, and deciding you're ready to make a change.  (Just remember, the only person you can change is you.  Don't waste your precious energy trying to change someone else.  Move on to the people you naturally fit in with and spend that energy on forging relationships with them!)

AARP Expert

Dear Sara,

You have been through so much. I honestly do not know how you've lasted so long. I think you've done everything you can to take care of her, put up with her and your siblings, and survive in heart mind and body. 


It's time for you to begin a journey toward wholeness and health.  I strongly recommend psychotherapy. If you are a foster child who joined this hateful family years ago, then you have experienced significant loss from an early age. I am a therapist, and I work with severely traumatized people. I can't diagnose you or treat you via messages, but I would wager that you have childhood PTSD, complex trauma, and that your experience of abuse and neglect, which is ongoing, has distorted your sense of self worth. If you have no health insurance and no Medicaid, there are community mental health clinics. You have every right to mental health care. 


As for your family situation and your caregiving responsibilities, you do have choices. Why are the other children of this woman not helping her?  If her retirement income is enough, she could be paying for a home health aide to come in, a house cleaner, having her yard cared for, etc. If she is low income, then the state may provide free home health care. The website for finding out what she's eligible for is at


Do you have any income at all? SSI? SSDI? One thing you could do is apply for subsidized housing, which takes 2 years here in rural Oregon for example, and when a place opens up, just move. Let your siblings know you're out of there, and its their turn.


I mean, truly, what DO you owe these people after years of abuse??


I agree with JenniferP. You are not in any way inadequate. My word. You are a soldier and its long overdue to get out of the war. 


Please write back. You are an awesome human being. Keep talking.




I am so sorry to hear of your mother being dismissive of you and treating you differently from your siblings. Her comments towards you about "useless" and "idiot" are horrible and I can understand why you get angry when called names. The next time she gets insulting towards you, try to take a brief break away from her (walk outside/do something else) to calm down. It does not need to be a long time; just long enough for you to calmly go back to her. 


You aren't brainless, an idiot, and don't have anything wrong with your mental capacity. Your mother sounds like she is somewhat bitter and is taking out her frustrations on you. 


Your siblings are enabling her behavior towards you and they also seem to have adopted her attitude towards you. At this point, your siblings should also be involved in helping out your mother; it should not fall 100% on you. I would talk with the siblings and just tell them bluntly how you feel that they are not providing equal help with your mother. I understand that you are with her most of the time, but you should be able to take a break and have one of the other siblings step up. 


Since you have a history of being abused, you might want to also check into some counseling. If you are employed, many employers have an EAP (employee assistance program) that is free. If you are not working, calling your local NAMI chapter is free and they can refer you to reduced cost or free help. 


You don't have to stay with your mom if she is this way to you. A goal would be to save money where ever possible and look into activities (volunteering) that get you out of the house to give you a break from everything. 


You also don't have to remain quiet. You can use "I" language with your mom/siblings to let them know that their words or actions are making you feel bad. "I" language makes the receiver less defensive. Instead of saying "You are being very unfair!" to the person, try using "I am feeling (confused/upset/angry/etc.) because I feel that sometimes I am not appreciated". I would not stay quiet and if you can't talk with your mom/siblings then look for another outlet. 



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