Question: Dear Luise: I grew up in a very abusive household, with alcoholic parents. I have harbored so much hurt and anger over the years, but my mom was diagnosed with cancer almost 2 years ago, and we mended our relationship then and during her recovery. Unfortunately a big mess ensued when I bought my first house and she hasn’t spoken to me for 3 months. During this time, I wrote a letter explaining exactly what the problem was and how to fix it. I detailed several traumatic events. It was therapeutic for me, and I expressed a desire for both of us to enter counseling together and work through it. I am currently in therapy myself. Unfortunately it was not well received and she hasn’t spoken to me since. I found out today that over the weekend she had fluid in her lungs and had to go to the hospital. My dad did not call me and let me know, so I had no idea. Several family members have expressed worry that she might be dying. I tried to call, but no one picked up the phone. What do I do? I want us to be mother and daughter, but I can’t pretend none of it ever happened. I don’t want her to die with this mess between us though. I’m so torn up inside, and I feel 100% alone. Please help me. R.
Answer: Dear R.: I would suggest you let the mess go. If she can do the same thing, you have a chance to connect before she leaves…(if that’s what happens. Go see her and tell her you never should have written that letter and you are sorry. (That doesn’t mean you didn’t mean every word in it but you can be sorry you sent it.) Letters are one-sided with no exchange and no body language or tone of voice.) They are easy to misinterpret and then you aren’t there to explain. If she refuses to interact, there isn’t much you can do about it. If she accepts the olive branch, stay away from the subject. I’m sure your counselor will help you with the unspoken words and what it will cost you to do that. My guess is that if you do, and then she dies, you will feel you gave it your best. Blessings, Luise