I received a sweet, endearing email from a 24 year-old worried about his mom and seeking divorce advice to help her move on and be happy again.
Hi Ms. Pilossoph,
My mom is the most amazing person, but she is still having a hard time dealing with her divorce over 5 years later.
I can’t blame her, I’m still really bothered by how everything went down. My father put us through so much and continues to do so today. He got us in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt then took off, and because we’re trying to sell the house, my parents have to be in touch more often than I’d like. My mom gets so mad when she has to call him because she is worried she will hear “her” voice in the background. My father was living two lives, one with us and one with his mistress and her kids. He has been with his now wife for 17 years and my parents have only been divorced for 5!
My mom has back issues so she can’t work a full time job, and because she can’t provide for her kids the way she wants to, she feels like a loser. It makes me want to cry because she is so far from being a loser. She has overcome so much and I want to give her the world. She has very low self esteem and I know that comes from being in a terrible relationship for 25 years.
Another thing to note is that she is 100 percent turned off to the idea of dating/getting married again because of what she went through with my dad. My mom means the world to me and I just want her to be confident, full of self esteem and above all else…happy.
The first thing I want to say is that I am beyond touched by your outreach on behalf of your mom. For a son to care so deeply that he would go to this extreme says a lot, both about you as a person, and your mom.
She sounds like a wonderful woman who got dealt some really bad cards and for that, I am so sorry. Let’s talk about how to get her back on track and happy.
Perhaps the most difficult thing for divorced men and women is letting go of what happened. Your father led a double life and had another family. That is horrific and devastating and beyond unacceptable. He then chose to be with the other family, which is unbelievably hurtful to you, your siblings and your mom. All of you are grieving terribly which is completely understandable.
Here are the positives: when the house sells, there will be no reason for your mom to talk to your dad again. So, at least we know there’s an endpoint to the communication. My advice: sell the house as quickly as possible.
Also, ask your mom this: If she could be either herself or the woman your dad is now with, who would she rather be? I would hope she would choose herself. Your mom is in a way better position than the other woman who is continuing to live a lie and share a life with a cheater and a liar, who in my opinion will cheat again if he isn’t already.
Your mom has nothing but time and a wonderful life ahead of her if she wants, but the only way that will happen is if she lets go of the past. I’m not saying it’s easy. It is one of the most difficult things to achieve. She has to find a way to stop focusing on how “happy” he and his new wife are because they aren’t! She also needs to focus on the life she wants, and figure out how to get it.
Work and money
This is where I have to offer tough love and tell your mom to stop acting like a victim. I get it. She got a really bad deal. But at some point, she has to figure out her passion for work, a way to make good money, and hopefully a way to combine the two. I had to do it, and it took me a long time, but I did. Over the past few years, I have worked harder, longer hours than I ever have in my life. Holidays, weekends, nights, early mornings, while trying to be a mom and actually have a social life. The thing is, I’m not complaining because I have found more joy and self-esteem than ever before and I absolutely love what I do. Ask your mom what it is she loves to do, and then have her start reaching out to people. Life is really about getting what you want to make you feel happy and fulfilled. The hardest part is figuring out what that is.
Dating/Getting married again
Notice there is an order to my advice, and I chose to put this after the other things your mom needs to do. This is just my opinion, but dating (for me anyhow) is something I consider as “a bonus.” In other words, if I meet the man of my dreams, I will be ecstatic, but I don’t HAVE to have a man in my life to be happy. I consider my health, my children, my career and my family amazing gifts, and I do think I’d like to be married again someday, but it’s not a priority for me. When/if it happens, I will be just that much more blessed.
I think if your mom is able to let go of the past and get her career in order, the dates will come. A happy, successful person attracts men. The victim mentality and bitterness deters them.
I hope this helps your dear, sweet mom, and I wish her all the best. I do want to say one more thing. Have you ever considered getting therapy for yourself? You are a young man and this should not be your burden. You need support as well, (not that your mom isn’t giving that to you) but you need someone to guide you through what happened to you –your dad leaving, etc. Please consider that.
Thanks again for trying to help your mom in this way. I have a young son and I can only hope he grows up with a kind heart like yours! See? She’s done a great job in raising such a thoughtful, kind person!