My friend suffered a lifetime of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse by family members and various unrelated men. Her then-boyfriend shot her four times, then killed himself, 17 years ago.
She survived, met a divorced cop who supposedly had a vasectomy. But she became pregnant. She then discovered that he was a rapist (raped women while on duty), and suspected he molested his daughters too.
She went into hiding, rented from her brother’s friend, and became involved with him. They’re still together. Her daughter, age 12, thinks he’s her father.
Recently, an angry relative blurted out that he wasn’t the father. It was glossed over somehow.
Now my friend’s unsure what to tell her daughter and when. Withholding the truth could shatter their close relationship.
The most important need is for her daughter to believe she’s deeply loved by her mother and the man who’s been the only “father” she’s known.
While she must learn the truth (since more will be “leaked”), this should be done in stages.
The couple needs counselling help to know how much to say now.
A therapist might recommend telling her, initially, that Mom was already pregnant when she met “Dad” and hasn’t heard from that other man since.
It’s when the girl keeps pressing for more information that more must be revealed. The harshest facts may be withheld until absolutely necessary. Counselling will help the girl, and the couple, through the process.
My spouse of 36 years suffered a brain injury a dozen years ago. She needs help with everything, can’t be left alone. I’m her sole caregiver.
Her mother has developed dementia which is progressing. She and her husband are pressuring us to take her in if something ever happens to her husband.
My spouse agreed to this, but I’ve been clear with my spouse that her mother can never live with us. It’d be impossible for me to alone care for two severely brain-injured people.
My spouse doesn’t have the ability to comprehend her own deficits. I don’t mind her telling her mom that she can live with us, due to their already difficult relationship caused by their conditions.
It also helps her mother cope with anxiety about being left alone.
But I worry that if the husband does die first, my spouse wouldn’t accept me refusing to allow her mother to
live with us.
Her mother can’t live alone, and would need care. How would that happen? Would she be able to move near us? Who’d be responsible for decision-making since her daughter isn’t capable? No other relatives are still living.
Start the process now. Research home-based elder care and nursing home placements in your community.
In the early dementia stage, depending on the couple’s financial resources, look for community care agencies that send personal care workers and housekeeping help into the client’s home.
Meanwhile, inquire about nursing home access and apply for a bed. The waiting lists are usually long. Again, depending on finances, some are subsidized by the government or pension-based.
Talk to her husband. He may not die first but he has a responsibility to explore this with you, and to accept your decision that you can’t take her.
He needs power of attorney (POA) now, but you need to convince him that you should have that power if he dies or isn’t capable. A lawyer will verify that her brain-injured daughter cannot hold POA or make these decisions.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman whose friend is upset because she’s dating her ex of 12 years ago (Nov. 24):
Reader – “I totally disagree with your advice. The ex-girlfriend is having a totally immature and selfish reaction. She sounds like a princess to me.
“Did she think she could put her ex-boyfriend on a shelf ready for her to grab?
“My advice to her is to forget this relationship with this girl. Let her sulk. And please, how could you advise her to apologize again?”
Ellie – While the former relationship was 12 years ago, the two women’s close friendship was now. And the writer knew her friend felt rejected by him and wished he were still interested in her.
All she had to do was tell her up front that they were seeing each other. She didn’t. That’s what she needed to apologize for.
Also, the writer still wanted the friendship. I was responding to that wish.
Tip of the day:
Helping a child learn disturbing truths about themselves calls for ongoing professional counselling.