We’re three girlfriends, late-40s, who received an odd email from a former close friend of us all.
We rarely hear from her. She’d become secretive about her personal life and distant. She often doesn’t answer her phone, emails, or even her door.
She wrote that her son’s getting married within this year, and that we’d be invited. She added that she was going through an acrimonious divorce, which she’s trying to keep private.
Her email was rambling and hyper-sounding, full of confusions about how to handle all the arrangements involved. One recipient told me, “If that were you who wrote this, I’d be right over to see if you’re alright.”
What do you think this was about and what should we do?
It was a cry for help. She may not even know it – especially if she shuts down when she has troubles. Yet she reached out to three of you, whom she once trusted as close friends.
Email back. Say that you’ll help her with the planning/event any way you can. Tell the other two recipients to also send offers of help, if they agree.
More important, show up at her door, just as one friend described. After all, if not now as the time to show support, when? Come prepared, if she doesn’t answer the door, to put a note in her mailbox.
Keep it short but direct: You’re available to sit with her and listen, or not talk at all while helping her with whatever’s needed for this wedding, at a time when there’s too much else going on in her life.
My daughter, 16, has emailed me that she’s now living with her dad and refuses to discuss it. (I left him as he was psychologically and emotionally abusive to her and it was escalating. He was like that with me too).
I’ve been my daughter’s main nurturer since birth and loved it. However, since the divorce eight years ago, our relationship changed.
She was mostly in my care, then it dwindled to 50:50. She’s endured much of her pain and angst (from him) when she’s been living with me.
The latest episode was mostly fuelled by his hatred for child-care payments and dragging her into it. He re-partnered one week after the split. I’ve remained single to give her a calm, safe, space.
Her rejection is agony for me. She’s dictating the terms: “I’ll see you for three hours on my birthday, contact you when I want.. in the next two weeks or not...”
She’s behaving in a bullying way in her speech, choices and attitude. Learned behaviour.
How do I move forward with her? I understand she’s made a choice (coerced largely). I’m leaving well alone to help her settle into her new life.
But since I’m cut out, how do I communicate or gain any access to talk it through, or see her on equal terms?
Respond as she’s asked, for a while. It’ll show respect for her right to choose (in many jurisdictions, courts rarely intervene with a 16-year-old’s choice to live only with one parent).
Despite your own hurt feelings, this is about her, not you. Whatever your feelings towards your ex, she may be tired of hearing and sensing them.
When you do hear from her, try to act naturally, don’t pepper her with questions, nor comment on her choice or the time it took to make contact. Just be warm, and natural. Let time heal you both.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman caring for an ill husband and mother, and receiving anonymous nasty notes about her casual lawn care (Oct. 22):
Reader –“Installing a small security camera or two would give the police something to go on if the notes continue, and also provide evidence if the nasty person escalates into other types of harassment.
“Simple cameras are cheap nowadays. Less than a couple of hundred dollars is cheap for purchasing peace of mind.”
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the daughter with a rare esophageal condition that only tolerates mushy food (Sept. 24):
“In Canada and the U.S., a "registered dietician" is a person who’s licensed and has the appropriate education and experience to be a specialist for both food and nutrition.
“The concerned mother should contact a dietician who has experience with dysphagia/swallowing disorders. In Canada, contact www.dietitians.ca. In the U.S., contact www.eatright.com for help and to start the search for someone in her area.
Tip of the day:
Answer a cry for help swiftly, and ready to listen without questioning.