Thursday, September 20 , 2018, 8:43 am | A Few Clouds 58º

 
 
 
 

Louise Palanker: Coping with an Alcoholic Mom, Excluding a Friend, and Eating Disorders

Question from Amanda S.

Weezy ... Please help. My mom makes me cry almost every night. She forced me to go to this “mother-daughter bonding camp” because she thought I had issues. After that, she was nice for a few weeks but then Tuesday she was like, “Oh, that’s why you’re such a porker.” With a sarcastic “oops” on the end.

Tonight I was telling her that I thought my two aunties were stealing from my other auntie and my mum said, “DON’T MAKE THIS ABOUT YOU.”

She gets drunk and then angry, and yesterday I overheard her yelling at my dad about how I have no friends.

I don’t know how a mother could possibly make her child physically curl up in a ball and cry herself to sleep, and then be completely fine with it and pretend like nothing’s wrong ... My dad’s on her side and I can’t tell a family member or a friend, and there’s no way I’m setting foot in a counselor’s office ...

Weezy

Your family is dysfunctional and this is very unfair, but it is your situation and so it must be addressed. No bonding camp is going to heal a relationship between a daughter and a mother who has a problem with alcohol.

The drinking may be a symptom of your mother’s wounds. But alcoholism quickly creates its own giant heap of trouble. None of this is even remotely your fault.

You are describing a bit of your mother’s relationship with her sisters, which tells me that your mom comes from her own dysfunctional family. Do not get in the middle of that. Just look at it and say, “This will not be me. It stops with my generation.”

If your dad is siding with your mom it is only because he is adhering to the old adage, “Happy wife. Happy life.” That may be true, but not when you add alcohol to the mix. In this case, he needs to dig in and protect the child. He is currently choosing not to do that. Which brings us to either therapy or placing a call to Child Protective Services.

I wish I could simply tell you to do this or to say that and the problem would be solved. But you are describing a deep and serious situation that will require outside intervention.

You have not caused this problem and you cannot fix it. Your mother is ill. If she had a broken arm, you would run for help. She has far worse than a broken arm. You must tell someone. You are in harm’s way and until you reach out to a responsible adult for assistance, this is not going to get any better.

Ask for the help you need.

Here is more advice from Meg Haston at Gurl.com:

(Gurl.com video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Eva C.

Hi! So over the summer I went to a camp and my closest friend group was five other girls and me. One of my friends in the group invited me to her birthday party along with everyone else in our group — except one person who is one of my best friends.

I feel bad because I know what it’s like to be excluded and I don’t want my friend who wasn’t invited to feel that way. I don’t know if I should respond yes or no to going because I feel like, for example, if there are pictures that are posted I don’t want her to feel left out, etc.

And part of me will feel guilty about everyone in the group besides her being there. What should I do?

Weezy

First talk to the girl having the party ... Do this on the phone, not via text. Say, “Is it OK if I ask why Samantha was not included, because I just feel badly for her?”

That is an acceptable question if it is asked without judgment. It will help you better understand the circumstances.

Keep in mind that friendships click and develop and shift over time. A group of six girls may not remain a tight group of six girls forever.

A mom may say, “You can have four kids over. That’s it.” And this friend is then forced to choose.

I believe that you should still attend the party. With social media being what it is, we will all have our feelings hurt when we notice a gathering that does not include us. That is the way of the world. You can not protect everyone, nor can you get every friend invited to every party.

What you can be is kind and supportive to the friend who is not being included and say, “This sucks, and I’m really going to miss you. Let’s do something else fun really soon.” Then make a plan with her.

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Sierra G.

Weezy, I have a problem. I’m 15 and I don’t want to eat. I am not even hungry anymore. I just want to be thin, and I panic if I gain weight or if my pants feel tight. So, for me, the best solution is just not eating at all, but I don’t want my parents to notice so I eat a little and then I feel horrible about it.

Weezy

You are describing the symptoms of an eating disorder.

Among the toughest lessons we must teach ourselves are those of  moderation and personal discipline. When it comes to food, this means learning how to eat healthy foods that provide us with the fuel we need to be well and happy.

Paring it down to the basics: Eat when you are hungry. Stop when you are full. Drink plenty of water. Get lots of good exercise.

Doing all of this requires a certain amount of self control, and we live in a world full of sweets, treats and junk food. But simply deciding not to eat is the opposite of moderation. It’s deciding not to decide. It’s a cop-out and it can be deadly.

Remember that as your body is growing, you have no right to deprive it of essential nutrients. Every moment of every day, your cells are working hard to create strong bones, tissues, organs and brain circuitry that will serve you throughout your life.

Obsessing about a flatter tummy or a thigh gap is robbing the Future You of a healthy body and mind. Imagine holding a baby in your arms and deciding not to feed her. I know you wouldn’t be able to do that.

Neither do you get to starve your own body. You have left your mother’s arms and so your ongoing care and feeding are increasingly your own responsibility, so you must nurture yourself the way you would any child.

You have been given this life. You must take care of it. You cannot do this alone. Reach out for help.

Click here for more information from the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa & Associated Disorders.

People with eating disorders do experience food very differently than do most of us. To better understand Anorexia, here is Dr. Laura Hill at TEDx Columbus:

(TEDx Talks video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Got a question for Weezy? Email her at [email protected] and it may be answered in a subsequent column.

Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (Family Band: The Cowsills Story is currently airing on Showtime Networks), a teacher and a mentor. She has a teen social network/IOS app and weekly video podcast called Our Place, built around a philosophy of cyber kindness. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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