Question: Dear Luise: I have read a lot about you. Some friends here in Kansas referred me to you. Maybe you can advise me what to do. First of all my oldest son hates me because when he was born in 1983, we lived in my parents home and he was raised by my Dad and Mother. (His father went to prison when he was born.) My parents were helping me with my college expenses and other important financial things. In college, I met a young man; we fell in love, and got married. My son was 5 years old. I asked him if he wanted to live with and my husband and me. He said no, he did not want a stepfather, so I left it at that. Years passed by but I kept in touch with my son. I lived in the same town, maybe 7 blocks from my Dad and Mother. I remember my son begging me to stay and not to get married. I cried so much that day. I told him I still love you, but he was so sad. You know it’s like a black out for me I can’t remember spending time with him or being a Mother to him. I remember going to visit his school. Going to his program and some sport games, taking him out to eat. As he was growing up he missed that bond with me and his father. His father went to prison when he was born. I hate myself for not taking him with me when I married. I missed out on a lot. I wish I could turn time back, but I can’t. I have lost his love that he once had and his respect. He has embarrassed me in front of my daughter-n- law and my grandchildren. He has so much hate and anger, and a rage for me. I’m scared of him. God knows deep inside of my heart I love him, but I never have shown him nor talked to him or looked him in the eye. I’m so guilty for not being there for him when he needed me the most. I cry myself to sleep thinking that I don’t blame my son for hating me. I never did show him my love as a mother. I now have two more sons, but I kept the second one and gave him a step- father. I felt lonely. I married him and he raised my second son but they don’t get along. My worry now is getting my first son’s love’s back and also his respect. I want him to feel that I do love him the same as the other two boys I have. Please what can I do? D.
Answer: Dear D.: I don’t know of anything you can do. How you want your eldest son to feel and how he actually feels are two different things. You can’t change that. He had his own experience of his childhood and his reactions to it are his own.
Someday he may forgive you or he may not. That is his choice but you need to get on with your life. Living in the past and anguishing over past mistakes doesn’t change anything. Feeling guilty is a natural reaction but it can also become self-pity, which doesn’t do anyone any good.
You did your best in a difficult situation. Now you need to let go of how it turned out and move on. Treat yourself with compassion whether others do or not. Forgive yourself whether others do or not. Stop punishing yourself and start the healing process. You deserve peace and only you can give yourself that gift. Blessings, Luise