So confused about my boundaries....

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-23-2010
So confused about my boundaries....
Thu, 02-07-2013 - 5:22pm

as I've posted in the past my sister was diagnosed with lung cancer which has spread to her brain.  On Dec 30 she was airlifted to the hospital and placed on a ventilator due to massive blood clots in her lungs.  I am pleased to say she remains in the rehab hospital but very weak and unable to walk at all.  Her husband and children spend as much time as they can with her which is understandable since she is too weak for chemo which might make this so much worse.  She was strong enough to fight for her life on the ventilator but without chemo the cancer will continue to spread.

I've posted about the strong boundaries I have placed with my Mother due to her narcisstic behavior.  It seems confusing now because I don't want to rock the boat and make things worse for anyone BUT she is at her worst ever!  She constantly criticizes my sister (yep my dying sister) and her husband and children.  I can't take it....she now questions my behavior during those frightening hours we were told that she would die.  My Mother now says she always knew that she was going to live and she doesn't understand why we all overreacted the way we did.  (this is not true....we were told multiple times with her in the room that the clots were so massive they didn't see it going any other way).  She's cocky and doesn't stop bringing up an argument that she had with my sister a few years back where my sister called her a miserable old hag.  My Mother is still angry at my sister for this.  She made a comment the other day on the phone that she hoped my sister learned something from sister?  What about her?  I don't call her frequently and I can't take the additional stress of my Mother and her complaints.  She even complained that my sister's husband and children spend too much time with her in the rehab hospital.  Seriously?  We prayed so hard for my sister's recovery from the blood clots knowing it could only be for a short time due to the cancer.  If your spouse was in a rehab hospital with cancer wouldn't you be with that person as much as you can?  My Mother is insane!

I need to find some extra $$ to continue seeing my counselor.  Since I went on medicare he isn't an option.  He is giving me a discount and I would love to see him monthly but I can't afford it. 

Anyway there is more to this and it's all family is so broken but it's my family. 

Thanks for letting me vent.


iVillage Member
Registered: 01-22-2004
Fri, 02-15-2013 - 9:58pm

What I know about boundaries is that everyone has different boundaries, and might need to change them depending on the circumstances. Denial is a surviving mechanism of the ego to avoid pain and to not accept any responsibility for our behaviour.

 So I would suggest not to confront your mother anymore. Spent the least posible amount of time with her. E.g. If she enters in a room, you need to go to the bathroom. Try to be a kind of Houdiny with her.

If you have to listen to her. Try to pretend you are listening to an insane elderly person in a hospital. Try to agree with her, or at least not to disagree. SHE IS NOT GOING TO CHANGE. My mom was an expert in expressing all the opposite of what she knows I think and belive, just to drive me crazy.Think if this is not the case here.

Try not to be that hurt with her words. The best we can do with nonsense is to igonre it. I know it is easier said than done and most of all in this very `difficult moments, but at least try.

About your sister, put her in God´s hands and accept what ever He decides, because He knows what is the best for all involved.


In sume. Datach, detach, detach Detach in anger, detach in love.


Hope this helps you a bit and (((HUGGS)))

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Sat, 02-09-2013 - 1:20pm

I think pardgimshifter hit the nail on the head. 

Don't engage.  You can be friendly or curtious (i.e. if you were all at the hospital together and going or food, you would obviously ask everyone if they wanting anything) but leave it at that.  No more, no less.  As P said, keep it all business and end the conversation.  State you are not going to engage in this conversation with her.  Period.  And hang up or change the conversation.

You said she was insane, and in a way you are right.  She is sick.  Pray that she gets everything you want in your own life.  In recovery we call it the resentment prayer.  You may have to do it daily for weeks, but it really does work. 

Hang in there....


CL-Making a Second Marriage Work

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-14-2003
Sat, 02-09-2013 - 10:49am

San, you mother sounds so toxic.  During this time when you can't avoid family (namely, her) work on setting up an emotional barrier.  Put your mental and emotional armour on because you can't avoid her and you know she won't change.  Speak to her on the phone only where it concerns the matter at hand, that being your sister.  Do not entertain her complaints, her nasty comments about your sister, you, your sister's family, etc.  Treat her like an unavoidable interaction because of the circumstances and not like she's a part of your life that you are obligated to endure.  You don't have to.

The comments she's making - about your sister "learning" something to her family being there for her are just disgusting and toxic all at once.  It is so off-the-wall that I have no doubt in your assessment that she's got a personality disorder. 

One of the things I learned when faced with the necessity in cutting off my toxic FOO (family of origin) is that cutting them out of my life didn't mean that i didn't love them.  It meant that I loved myself.  Believe me it is completely doable to love them but not have them in your life.  You can love her from a distance, as your mother, but refuse to deal with her PD. 

I wouldn't call her to chat.  I would only call when something unavoidable needed to be discussed and at that point it's all "business".  Cut her off and end the conversation when her PD starts to take over.

I am so sorry that you have this added stress with the illness of your sister.  It's a hard enough situation without having the toxicity thrown in the mix.  I hope you can find another counsellor because it would really be helpful to have a professional help you to navigate this minefield. 


iVillage Member
Registered: 02-23-2010
Fri, 02-08-2013 - 6:43pm
Yes I've confronted her and found she denies it all and accuses me of lying or she starts to cry uncontrollably and asks me why I'm treating her this way. Its a lose lose confrontation so I don't. She uses everything she can to manipulate me. No more and the more I distance myself from her the more hostile she is towards me.
Avatar for sunset5000
Community Leader
Registered: 10-10-2007
Thu, 02-07-2013 - 6:10pm

((big hug))  my goodness, how can a Mother be like this to her own child?  I am so sorry for you and your sister.

You may have answer this already in another post, have you ever confronted your Mother?  I am guessing you probably already did that and it made no difference.

What does your sister say about all this?  I agree, how could you visit someone too much.  I would be there every day, as it sounds like her husband and children do. 

Sigh ... I don't have any words .... except .... unbelieveable and sorry.  Please vent anytime. 

Take care