Dear Amy: I am a 37-year-old woman who was adopted at the age of 6. My adoptive mother, “Jane,” encouraged me to find my biological mom, “Kate,” after Jane had recently connected with her biological family (she was also adopted). I reconnected with Kate four years ago.
Mom quickly became very upset about the developing relationship between Kate and my brother and me.
She would cry and drill me for information about Kate. I reassured her that she was my mother and even though I wanted a relationship with Kate, it didn’t mean I loved her any less.
My relationship with mom has always been fragile. There was some sexual and physical abuse that happened by the hands of my father. I told her when I was 12. She did report it, but she asked me to lie about the severity of the abuse, and I did. She made me feel guilty because she had also adopted my brother. I didn’t want him to lose his family. I have forgiven her, but this has left a mark on my heart.
Now she is interfering with my relationship with Kate. She will go weeks without speaking to me. She tells me I’m a horrible daughter and that I don’t love her. She threatens to quit talking to me.
I only talk to Kate (mainly texting) a couple times a week. I talk to my mom at least four days a week. I’m trying my hardest to keep our relationship solid.
My question is, am I correct in standing my ground and not choosing between the two?
Dear Worried: You should continue to stand your ground, but don’t be afraid to also make a choice. Realize that you will never be able to balance these two relationships, because your mother, “Jane,” won’t let you. So stop trying. Your relationship with your biological mother is your business. If Jane wants to quit talking to you because of this, then let her.
You should never have to prove to your mother how much you love her. You are already worthy. The person who continually demands such proof does not deserve to receive it.
Your mother is being cruel, manipulative and emotionally abusive. She has put you on an emotional roller coaster, and her behavior is designed to keep you permanently off-balance.
Your background is complex and challenging. All of your choices now should foster your own emotional health and growth. You can’t grow if your mother is constantly forcing you to serve her own needs.
You would greatly benefit from talking with a therapist who could continue to coach you as you sort out these relationships. I’m rooting for you.
Dear Amy: I appreciate your straightforward advice. For years I’ve had a good, respectful relationship with my in-laws. We see each other regularly, despite being on the opposite ends of the political spectrum.
However, this election changed all of that. I can’t get over that they supported a candidate whose actions directly impact me (and hence my family), in a negative way.
They have not acknowledged how drastically things changed for me since the election, yet they continue to carry on like nothing happened. How do I move past this?
Dear Disappointed: Did you offer an acknowledgment to your in-laws when your candidate won the election eight years ago? You can assume that they were probably pretty disappointed, but (I assume) you expected them to cope with their disappointment without a special acknowledgment from you.
We are currently experiencing a period of extreme political and cultural challenges. But the way for you to move past this is to buck up, get busy, let your anger turn toward advocacy and simply stop expecting people on the other side of the political spectrum to ever feel sorry for you.
My theory is that when you understand and accept this about your in-laws, you will be able to peacefully and respectfully wave at them from across the divide.
Remember this feeling, and …come the revolution, be kind.
Dear Amy: I can’t believe you pressured “At a Loss” to invite her selfish and disruptive mother to her wedding. The worst day to try to deal with this nightmare would be on your own wedding day. The wedding day should be about the bride and groom.
Dear Upset: Public weddings are in essence family and community events. If a bride wants to ensure that her wedding day is all about her, then she probably shouldn’t invite guests.
Email Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.