I didn't know it would hurt me so much... so I guess I need some safe space to talk about her.
She's extremely intelligent but... that intelligence goes wrong way.
I just recently got vaccinated and all excited, phoned her with all the details. She reacted defensively. Read my excitement as an attack on her. She doesn't want to get vaccinated and she went lenghts and lenghts not to actually tell me what she's afraid of. Instead, she accused me of attacking her and wanting to send her to a labor camp. What the hell?
I'm sad. After all my therapy, building friendships, even establishing civil relations with my inlaws - I learned to be true to myself and it's damn worth it - but I can't be true to myself with my mother. I never know what would trigger a really nasty response, passive agression aimed at inflicting maximum pain.
I learned not to take it personally but it still hurts when it happens.
I once read a book where a term "inner Machiavelli" appeared. I definitely have one. She has, too - but she denies his existence so when her inner Machiavelli takes over, he's totally uncontrolled.
But what are all that her psychological defences guarding? Whad demon hides there, behind all the opaque layers of denial, projection and twisting the reality? I sense some fear and a lot of disgust but that's all I could have ever tell.
Recently, I realized a possible tragic confllict in her: she despises feign but she's incapable of being honest.
Oh, man. Multi-generational C-PTSD sucks.
The only thing I've ever found to help in such relationships is managing expectations (yours, obviously). It's very difficult since we all have a place inside where we long to be able to connect with our own mothers more than anyone else, or at least feel safe and protected, but sometimes that's not possible.
From my personal experience, when she's lashing out, she'd defending herself. Not from you per se, but protecting whatever not-so-healthy mechanisms she developed to protect herself. At her age, it's too late to change that and such a change would probably have a devastating effect on her anyway.
Obviously, the only things you can control here are your own actions and to some extent, emotions. If you manage to fully accept that she'll never change or open up to you, it might become easier to deal with such instances or just avoid triggering them. I know this isn't great and it sounds like walking on eggshells, but from a pragmatic POV it's the only thing you can do to protect yourself while also allowing her to do the same.
I've been in this kind of situations where one side feels compelled to defend/protect their self-image, delusions or world view at all costs, while the other is basically just forced to defend themselves and it can be incredibly tricky, particularly with a parent. Because you need to watch your every word and reaction around them and it can be incredibly stressful and exhausting. And every time you slip, you'll be promptly punished in some form.
It's really very sad all around (and surprisingly common), especially when you have compassion and understanding for the other side.
I’ve not much practical advice. I was six when I realized my parents couldn’t care for me. So I have not gone through the yearning for a close relationship with either parent. I can see it would be awful to have to live with the toxicity you describe. Remember you are right and she does not have to acknowledge it to make it so.
Congratulations on getting your vaccination!