Dear Readers - Here’s why YOU matter to this column as much as my responses to the questions I receive.
As long-time followers know, letter-writers to the column reveal their personal experiences, complicated relationships, budding worries and inner fears by writing to me. Then my job is to find a pathway through their stories that leads me to offer the advice they seek.
Next, after publication, so many of you play an important part in the process by generously sharing your own related experiences with the hope of helping the letter-writer, sometimes helping themselves, too.
Following are significant examples:
Reader’s Commentary - Regarding the mother who refers to her strained relationship with her adult son, as ''a stone in my heart” (February 25):
Reader #1 – “I do not believe this issue can be one-sided and attributed solely to her son. While he certainly plays a part in their dispute and shouldn't keep his daughter away from her grandmother, I can absolutely relate to someone whose mother, while not meaning to hurt them, may still be hurtful.
“My own mother often missed important days, moments, or simple opportunities to bond with me due to her lack of interest in what I liked and using her routine as an excuse not to be of any help.
“She only helped once when my first baby was born, and the day had to be planned at least a week in advance. If I called out of the blue for help (which every new mother needs!), she’d automatically say that she could not do something so short-noticed.
“She's missed graduation, moving days, showers, and other events for similar reasons, even though I live less than an hour away. Worse, she thinks this behavior is totally normal.
“It’s put a strain on a relationship, which became even worse when I became a parent, as I couldn’t understand how anyone can be so absent in their child's life. Therapy has helped me let go of the resentment and she now has a great relationship with my children. I, however, don't believe that she and I will ever be close, and that’s something that I'll always miss.”
Reader #2 - same column reference, headlined “Be the loving and forgiving parent your son requires:”
“I was amazed at how closely the question mirrored my relationship with my own son and our difficulties. It was almost like reading the same story, only a few details were slightly different. The timing couldn't have been better as there is, yet another family crisis.
“I’ve stopped trying to defend myself in recent years, as it really doesn't help the situation. I just try to be loving and supportive, if it will be accepted. I’ve almost written you many times before, but I do now know what you would say. It helps me that your opinion in the letter-writer’s case is a lot like my own. It’s also helpful to know of someone else with the same problem.
“I'm sure there are many who have been helped just by reading stories like their own.”
Ellie - Two viewpoints differing on the same story, also showing what each side feels and believes about their own experience and sharing what they’ve learned.
That insight alone can help bridge the gap between a parent and child when each believes that the other has been the difficult party and not been able to hear and consider the other side.
Reader #3 – “I’ve struggled with depression for 20-plus years and spent a lot of money seeking help. When the Feb. 25 column connected depression with anger, I immediately started work to understand and heal a major cause of my depression.
“I used psychotherapists, psychologists, shamans, hypnotists, attended open AA meetings, prayed to God and more! I walk, hike and run barefoot in all seasons. I only take cold showers.
“I, my spouse and our children, have struggled for decades! I accepted a wrong diagnosis from a well- intentioned psychologist, then spent years in treatment, hallucinated and realized that I’m not bipolar, I am depressed. I then spent years getting undiagnosed.
“My father on his deathbed asked me why I’m angry at him. Fortunately, I was able to tell him I am not angry with him.
“Thank you and your letter-writer for sharing their journey. Every day is now a new day for me.”
Tip of the day:
There’s much to be learned from the relationship struggles of others, especially if they bear some similarities with your own situation.