Question: Dear Luise: I have an issue that is really upsetting me and I hope that maybe you can help me. My mother and I are very close; she is my best friend. Or at least that’s what I thought. I talk to her about everything and lay my darkest person fears at her fee; mostly being that I am a failure as a parent. I suffer from PTSD that has caused depression and anxiety and at times I am short with my children. I never get physical with them or anything like that but sometimes i am not “there” emotionally for them. This is something I am working on a lot. My mother always tells me how great I am doing and what a wonderful mom I am. I just found out (via a forwarded email I wasn’t supposed to ever see) that she talks about me to other people. About how bad of a mom I am … her actual words were that my kids “live a dogs life” I AM DEVESTATED! I trusted her and I thought of her as my best friend. I don’t even know what she mean s by that but its killing me that she thinks that way, lies to me about it, and then talks to others about it. What should I do? Should I confront her? She has no idea I know what she has said. PLEASE…I NEED ADVICE! A.
Answer: Dear A.: Good for you for trying to think this through without reacting unwisely. What would you do if your best friend wasn’t your mother? Show her the email and ask for a direct communication from her? If you let this go, you will have to find a way to get past it on your own. Can you?
There are all kinds of abuse and it doesn’t have to be physical to do serious damage. This may weigh heavily on your mother. She may want to encourage you while at the same time it may be more than she can stand to hear and see. We are all short with our kids once in a while…but she may feel it goes beyond that.
Your mother may be trying very hard to support you and at the same time, she may need to have someone know how difficult it is at times. Do you see how that could be?
Can you go to her with compassion and ask for a more honest approach to this very difficult situation and he conflicted feelings? Most of us say things to others about people we know that we wouldn’t necessarily say to them one-on-one. It’s not a good trait but it’s pretty common. If you have never done it, you are the exception. Your mother is human and may need to be given room to be less than perfect.
If it feels like it would help, talk to a counselor about this and get some support for yourself. You might both profit from going together. Blessings, Luise