Dear Feelings Doctor: My mother is really mean to me. She has been since I was a child. I am 39 years old now, and she still continues to embarrass me when she has the opportunity. I am well educated and the only one in my family with a college degree, but still I am kicked in the knees whenever I am around her. I am so mad.
How can I change her and the way she treats me?
— Just Plain Mad in Santa Barbara
Dear Mad: The scenario you describe here can leave one with a heavy heart, but here’s the good news ...
You are doing the work right now that your mother did not. Sometimes when people don’t know how to show affection or love and have been mad for so long, "mad" is the only way they know how to operate in the world. Generally under that mad there is a deep sadness that has been there all along. It’s a learned behavior that is so deep that it will take awhile to peel away all the layers.
If you are ready today, right now, you will need to let go of your mother being anything other than who she is and who she has always been. The anger you feel today is a natural response to what has been happening throughout your life, and you do not need that dynamic any longer.
Today you are searching for something else. Bless your mother for being and doing what she was capable of, and if possible, tell her just that. Also let her know that you are no longer available for mean, hurtful behavior from her. We teach people how to treat us, and this is your time to be the kind, loving, caring person you need to be in your own life. To try and attempt to change more than one person is a futile endeavor, my friend. The one and only person you do have the power to change is you! It’s a fantastic journey, and you will be great at it.
Good luck, and thank you for sharing your story with me. Keep in touch.
Dear Feelings Doctor: I live in a small community and have a very busy life driving my children to school — each go in different directions! I dash to a workout class just in time for "me" and continue my day in workout clothes.
I heard some ladies talking the other day about how offensive it is to wear sweaty clothing all day long and pick your children up looking like that. I feel so hurt. I do not have time in my busy day to worry about my outfits! I am making dinner and focused on the connections my family and I have.
P.S. I am not making very many friends. Help!
Dear Hurt: What others think about you is none of your business. It’s what you think of yourself that really matters. Would you honestly want to be friends with women who judge you by your outfits everyday? Sounds like an episode of Mean Girls to me.
Like you said, you are too busy taking care of things and people who really matter. Be true to yourself and your ethics. Your path will cross with someone who really will be a friend and actually knows how. Being a good mother and partner is so much more in style than a new pair of Jimmy Choos or a toxic gossip group any day.
You say you don’t have time to worry about your outfits. You really do not have time to worry about women who spend their days wading in the shallow end of human kindness either. When those women approach you; run as fast as you can in the opposite direction.
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Imagine This ...
When a thing can no longer offend you, it ceases to exist in the old way. The root of upset is like and dislike. Try to talk your mind out of anything and you will be there all day long! Instead, take a different stance. Begin just watching — only that, just watching. Not taking part in anything else.
When the words “I don’t want that to happen!” come out of your mouth, counter it with, “I’ll be fine with that! Oh, I hope that happens, it would be such good growth. I will be fine with that.”