How do I get out of the vicious circle of my relationship with my 90-year-old mother, who is always asking for more presence and affection when each of our meetings is painful for me and frustrating for her? His expectations are immense and very precise. I feel unable to answer and feel guilty about it. Maritchu, 58
Psychiatrist and psychotherapist
There comes a day when we realize that our life will soon be interrupted. In the light of the approaching death, our attempts to deny it are progressively undermined and it is then a dull and often unconscious anguish that sets in. We panic sometimes because we feel completely helpless to face it ... There, we then begin, unconsciously, to put in place strategies "to face" and to try to regain control. Very often, these strategies are in fact only the strengthening or "stiffening" of the protection mechanisms that we usually put in place in our lives to deal with stressful situations.
Thus, we may not realize that it is the awareness of our close end that pushes us to make a thousand and one demands to our entourage, asking them always more and being always more frustrated because we do not not getting the expected answers! This is normal because, beyond the multiple expectations to get this or that, we ask not to leave, not to die, to no longer be confronted with the fear of losing this life whose end is being squeezed ... Now, no one is able to answer this ultimate request.
Maybe that's what your mother is trying to tell you. So, what to do? Already, try to understand it in the light of what has just been said; also do for yourself (and without guilt) the acknowledgment of your inability to respond to the impossible and, beyond your (perhaps) irritation and your need to protect yourself, try to show him what you can of your love. Please, do not put yourself in a position to regret your anger or the fact of having put it too far away, if, one day, your mother comes to disappear.
Christophe Fauré is a psychiatrist and psychotherapist