jmcrae:*So, here’s what I’m imagining.
You say, “Mother, I would really prefer that Mittens not play on my bed.” *
Or "Mother, I’m taking Mittens off my bed. She’s playing–no, she’s pooping on it."
*She says, “Now, don’t go changing the boundaries on me, here!” *
Mom, this isn’t court. We tell each other what bothers us, and we come to agreements as we go. We are a family, not Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Mother: “Clearly, you don’t love me, because you won’t let my darling kitty cat poop on your bed, even though you never said that you didn’t want her to do that! You’re a cruel and heartless daughter!” (Anguished weeping)
Mom, no one lets Mittens poop on their bed. Grandma won’t put up with it, your neighbor Miss Tilly won’t put up with it, and we all love you. I know you and Mittens have grown accustomed to my bed being the exception, but you can both adjust.
Mother: “MY CAT ISN’T STUPID!! You’re so ungrateful!”
You are right. I was very upset, but I should never talk about Mittens that way. I do apologize for that. That was out of line. I hope you’ll forgive me.
RULE: When you are wrong, apologize for what you did, even when you are not the most wrong. Don’t make excuses for yourself–that is, don’t say, “I should never talk to Mittens that way, but I was very upset.” When the reason comes after the admission of wrong-doing, it sounds like a rebuttal of your apology or a mitigating circumstance.You are going to find that if you don’t expect a quid-pro-quo apology, you are also going to be easier to apologize to, as well. If your mom is more wrong and doesn’t apologize, don’t demand an apology. Just concentrate on enforcing the boundary without accusation of willful wrong-doing.
**I think we could both use a little time and space to calm down. I’m going to go take a walk, and maybe when I come back, we can talk. **
Sorry. I don’t mean to make light of your situation - I think all of us go through this phase with our parents, trying to learn how to communicate with them, adult to adult. And so many of us are dealing with crazy people, quite honestly, and the whole thing can feel quite impossible.
Anyway, it sounds like you’re making progress - at least she is acknowledging that you have boundaries, even though she can’t seem to notice when she’s crossing them. Baby steps …
Exactly. She’s assessing whether these are real boundaries or merely hoped-for boundaries that might be convinced to go away, if they are made unwelcome enough.