I received a sweet, endearing email from a 24 year-old worried about his mom and seeking advice in helping her in dealing with divorce and being happy again.
Hi Ms. Pilossoph,
My mom is the most amazing person, but she is still having a hard time dealing with 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.
My advice for you for your mom still dealing with divorce
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 raising you.
She sounds like a wonderful woman who got dealt some really bad cards and for that, I am so sorry. Let’s talk her dealing with divorce, and 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 have to talk to your dad again. So, at least we know there’s an endpoint to the communication.
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 whose relationship started with lies, deceit and cheating. The guilt and shame that are buried deeply in your father won’t just go away. They will cause him some heartache in the future. I’m not happy about saying that, and I don’t wish bad things for anyone, I just think at some point, his guilt and the realization of what he did will consume him–whether he chooses to admit that to anyone (even himself) or not.
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 and starts focusing on now. I’m not saying it’s easy. It is one of the most difficult things to do. 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. That might mean talking to a therapist, or friends, or business contacts or a life coach, or even just self-reflecting, journaling, praying, and trying new things.
Work and money
I’m so sorry your mom has a bad back. That must make it really hard to get motivated. To live in pain is awful. I get it. But, she sounds very smart. She just needs to figure out her passion for work, a way to make good money, and hopefully a way to combine the two.
Ask your mom what it is she loves to do, and then have her start reaching out to people. Life is really about feeling happy and fulfilled. The hardest part is figuring out what that is.
Dating/Getting married again
Once these other things fall into place, and your mom is dealing with divorce in a better, more productive way, I think finding love becomes more realistic. Of course right now she is turned off to dating or marriage, and that’s good, because that’s not the answer to her happiness.
She needs to find herself, her passion and her happiness as a mother and an independent woman. Once she gets to a place where she’s working, getting emotional help in dealing with the divorce, getting financially more stable, and starting to find joy again, that’s when she should start dating. A happy, successful person is very attractive and that’s when opportunities for love arise.
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 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!
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