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Ask Eleanor
Ask Eleanor, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1517
Experience:  Marriage & Family Therapist/Prof. Counselor for 20 years
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Im 49 and my mother, for the first time, tells me that she

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I'm 49 and my mother, for the first time, tells me that she can't talk to me, and that she is on my shit list again and to get use to it because there is already a lot there. This all started because she made a comment on Facebook to a professional that my sister has to buck her sister who is an educator and kudos to her. I responded to her via email "what was this all about and thanks for putting me under the bus. What should be my next move be? As my mother has made no effort to finish this conversation as I've asked what did I do to deserve that comment".

Ask Eleanor :

Hello, I am here for you and am happy to respond. I need a bit of clarification. When did she make the FB comment? Who was the professional to whom she made the comment? Did she say she is on your shit list or you are on hers? Are you the educator? Was she with your other sister in Florida when she made the comment? Did you agree to talk this Spring? Thanks

Customer:

The comment was made in February of this year. Some professional regarding dietary supplements - no connection with education. She said she was on my shit list "again". I'm a first grade teacher. She lives in Fl during the winter and vermont in the summer - my sister lives in vt. Yes I did and I figured she would make the move as to when.

Ask Eleanor :

Why does she feel she has been on your shit list in the past?

Customer:

Kind of guessing at that myself. She divorced my dad 22+ years ago and left him for another man. I didn't speak to her for about 3 weeks after she told me. That is my only guess

Ask Eleanor :

Just a few more questons. What has your relationship been like with her in general over the years? Does she live in the same city as you?

Customer:

I thought it was okay, but I've always had a feeling that I'm the outsider and my sister is the insider. I'm the oldest of 6 and my sister is the second oldest (only a year apart). Last summer when she came home she only visited my house (only cause we had a 50th party for my husband) and she didn't visit any other time the whole summer, but visited everyone else in the family at least once or more.

Customer:

I live an hour from her during the summer.

Ask Eleanor :

I am going to begin my answer. It will take a few minutes.

Customer:

Kind of a loaded question I'm sorry. I also have 3 children that have hardly seen her also, but she seems to make quite an effort to see everyone else. She emailed me a message about a month ago telling me she had a calendar on gmail and that I should book a time for her to come and visit us. Really??

Ask Eleanor :

First, you responded to her in a very thoughtful and caring manner and most importantly, privately via e-mail. The FB post she made was very passive-aggressive, taking a shot at you publically and then refusing to talk with you about what is going on. People are passive-aggressive when they feel they have no power in the relationship; she is afraid to really talk with you about her feelings. So she is going to keep avoiding you. If you want to talk with her about all of this, you are going to have to make the first move. ...... continuing .......

Customer:

When I see her this weekend everyone will be around. Should I just act like everything is fine? I'm sort of frustrated that I have to be the "adult" in this situation and take the high road.

Ask Eleanor :

I believe that her hurtful behavior towards you over the years stems from her feelings of guilt over leaving your father for someone else. Also, to give you some context, first borns are nearly always closest to their fathers and 2nds to their mothers, so some of this is birth order related. ...... continuing ....

Customer:

Yeah and to make it worse, my father passed away 14 years ago. I really feel like I'm on my own.

Customer:

Do you think if I do approach her that she is going to be honest with me? If she is could this permanently ruin our relationship? I really have some hard feelings that I'm sure I should never say to her, and her as well. I feel that she needs to tell me something, as this feels like "I don't like you." In class I have the children talk it out, but with this not so sure. I also hate to "fake" stuff. I'm not a fluffy person and say it like it is mostly.

Ask Eleanor :

I know you are frustrated, but the reality is that you are the adult in the situation, her behavior is that of a powerless child. I suggest that you make an appt with her via e-mail saying that you want to talk with her about the problems between the two of you. Tell her you are going to do this when you see her this weekend. Then be pleasant. This way she will know everything is not fine, and you will not have to be rude or upset with her in front of your family. I know you miss your father and I am sorry you lost him at such a young age. Do this feel like something you can do toward resolving this issue with your mother? I just saw your last response. I want to reply and continue our chat but I have a 12 appt. Could we continue mid-afternoon?

Customer:

I'm visiting my daughter in New Hampshire and heading home around 1:00. What time where you thinking?

Ask Eleanor :

Anytime after 3, what is good for you?

Customer:

I probably won't be home until after 4:00ish as we are shopping and then driving 3 hours home. I guess I could just take this guidance and go with it. I'm curious as to what you have to say though. Could you respond via email and then I can read it when I get home which will be after hours for you?

Ask Eleanor :

How about 5 pm, dear?

Customer:

I will try. How do I get in touch with you?

Ask Eleanor :

You will receive an e-mail from Just Answer that I have sent you a chat message, or you can just check your question. Don't worry about the 5 pm time, I will be available this evening.

Customer:

Thank you!!

Ask Eleanor :

You're welcome. Talk with you later.

Customer:

I'm back on ...plans have changed slightly..welcome to summer! I have about 1/2 hour then we are leaving. Are you there?

Customer:

Got to go. I'll check in after 5 or so. Thanks.

Ask Eleanor :

I am here when you are free.

Customer:

just got home sorry, are you still there?

Customer:

Thanks for your help.

Ask Eleanor :

I see you are now offline, dear. Sorry I missed you. And you are most welcome. I want to make one other suggestion. Since there are long standing issues between you and your mother, I believe a Marriage and Family would be very helpful to you. I would suggest that you find one and see her/him for a couple of sessions. Then, the therapist could invite your mother in for family therapy with the two of you. Having a professional present and the structure of therapy in a neutral setting could greatly facilitate your being able to talk with your mother. You may go to www.TherapistLocator.net to find MFTs where you live. It has been my pleasure to help you. Please remember to click on the green accept button so that I will receive credit for my professional time with you and response. You may return to this Q&A for reference at any time after you accept. Whatever you decide to do, I wish you all the best in healing your relationship with your mother, take care, Eleanor

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